It’s the time of year when many people make New Year’s resolutions. But it’s likely that most individuals will fail to meet their goals by December of this year. And it's not only because people don't try or that the goals aren't good enough. World peace, while a noble goal we should all support, just isn't very attainable by any one person. Instead, try these five doable resolutions for 2012 that will help improve your retirement prospects. Making a realistic goal and meeting it is better than failing to meet any goals.
Find one lower-cost alternative this year. Whether it's finding a cheaper index fund that has the same prospectus or switching broadband providers to take advantage of a promotion, most people will find that there are always ways to improve our spending habits. Cutting costs not only reduces our expenses, but also allows us to put more away for the future.
Try a free and healthy activity. Instead of sitting in front of the TV, find one activity that's free. Bonus points for those who find something that lets you exercise at the same time, which helps you stay fit as well. You will probably find that free activities are, in general, more stimulating than the counterparts you need to pay for.
Change one thing about your workplace. Not everyone can command a corner office with a view, but there are plenty of things that are within your control. From developing a to-do list that can drastically help with time management to changing your sitting posture to a position that better preserves your back, simple changes can sometimes make a big difference. When we make our workplace more pleasant, we might also enjoy working a bit more. This could change the retirement conversation from, "Will I ever retire?" to, "Why don't more people enjoy their work like I do?"
Learn something completely new. A new activity might cost you some money at the beginning, but learning is such an enlightening activity that it will keep you energetic for everything else going on in your life. Trying something new will also give you a different perspective on life and give you a chance to meet new people, some of whom may become your lifelong friends.
Save more than last year. For some people, saving for retirement seems so daunting that they end up not ever starting the process at all. One surefire way to build a solid nest egg is to start small. By opening an account and starting with a few dollars per month, the whole concept won't be so overwhelming. Then, all you have to do is save just a bit more when you can. If you keep making improvements each year, you will soon be saving a good chunk of your income.
David Ning runs MoneyNing, a personal finance site aimed at helping others change their habits for a better financial future. He suggests that everyone to sign up for an online savings account to get more out of our hard earned money.