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11 People On What They’re Planning To Do Differently Next Year, Financially

We all have things we wish we did a little differently, but are always searching for the opportune moment to put the plans into action. A new year is a beautiful clean slate to do just that — maybe nothing as severe as the “new year, new me” thing people get worked up about, but just some small, simple things that you’ve wanted to do differently and have never found the right time to start. 

I asked 11 people what they’re planning to do differently in 2018 with their money — this is what they had to say.

1. “It’s pretty unoriginal and boring, but I’m going to make an Excel spreadsheet to track every cent I spend. I’m moving in two months and I have a $800/month student loan bill to pay, so I can’t afford to be loose with my wallet.” — Madison

2. “Buying lottery tickets — one a week all year. Not necessarily going to help me, but I still want to do it. I could hit it big!”  — Josh

3. “Nearly everything. But I graduated from college this year, so I am giving myself a break for not really hitting any important financial goals over the past few months. I think this year was for setting myself up to set and reach bigger money goals next year now that I’ve figured out how to survive in the real world.” — Samantha

4. “2017 was the year I got divorced, and my ex took my son because I really just had no concept of being an adult. I recently got my first job — seriously my first job ever — so I’m excited for 2018 to be the year I learn how to earn and manage money and do what I need to do for my family.” — Clare

5. “I keep reading that you’re supposed to start saving for retirement early, like in your 20s — and I know that is the way to go, but things have felt so tight since I graduated from school and entered the workforce full-time that it keeps becoming a ‘next year’ thing. But this year I think I actually have to do it. I keep waiting to start earning more money and forgetting that some people never earn more, they just get better at saving and managing it.” — Sidney

6. “I’m definitely trying to more aggressively save. I’ve been ‘saving’ for a long time now in that when I have extra money at the end of the month, it goes into savings, or if I get a chunk of unexpected money from somewhere (a gift, a random babysitting job or something like that) I’ll toss it into savings. But I don’t actually budget for savings (or anything), so I think I need to create my first real budget and add a section to it where I make sure I’m putting a lot into savings every month. I’m 26 and I want to buy a house one day and let’s not forget that it is almost impossible to do so without an extremely dense savings account.” — Marissa

7. “I moved out of my parents’ house in 2017 and used my apartment and ‘living on my own’ as an excuse to party constantly. I wanted to make friends in my new neighborhood, so I went out constantly, and I kept my at-home bar stacked so I could frequently entertain. Alcohol and nights out and bars and restaurants are expensive. I need to give a lot of that up in favor of less expensive activities in 2018 if I don’t want my funds to dry up by the middle of the year. “ — Peter


8. “Get an accountant! Because I freelance and doing taxes is so hard. I feel like it is worth the money to have someone really taking care of everything for me and making sure I’m doing everything the way I need to be.” — Daniela

9. “I still don’t have a budge that actually works for me to the point where I follow it. I have a loose plan of where my money needs to go every month, but if something comes up and I feel like adjusting it, I do without a second thought. If my budget really worked I would probably not be changing it all the time. So my plan is to make a new one that makes real sense for my life and my expenses so I actually stick to it and accomplish the savings I would like to this year. — Kristin

10. ” I need to def stop going shopping as an activity because I spend way way way too much money on clothes I only bought because *insert cool YouTuber here* went shopping today and it gave me the urge.” — Jo

11. “I’m not trying to be one of those people who vows to get fit in the new year and go to the gym every day, but I think my health and finances depend on each other getting their shit together this year. I spend so much money on alcohol and greasy post-alcohol food and I really just want to get that knocked out so I can start living the kind of life I want, where I eat a nice affordable salad and sleep 8 hours and kick ass at work and save money. It all goes together.” — Ryan

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at!

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  • HL

    Oooo fun article! 2018 is the year I get serious and start aggressively paying down my debt. I got myself into a lot of CC debt from big-ticket purchases this year that I want to focus on wiping out in 2018. Looking at my budget, my goals for this are definitely possible but it’s going to involve some serious lifestyle changes to make it work. My student loan debt can’t be paid off in one year no matter how much I budget, but I’m at least going to start paying more than the monthly minimum and trying some snowball-esque methodology for making more progress on it!

  • Counterpoint to #9… my budget changes *constantly* & I think any good budget does. As long as you’re not re-allocating money from rent to bars, your budget should adjust to your needs. I fully subscribe to the YNAB methodology. Even if you don’t use their software, their rules about “embracing your true expenses” and “rolling with the punches” are helpful in any budgeting scenario. If your grocery bill is $200 every month, consistently, then just set your grocery budget at $200 rather than trying/failing to lower it to $150.

    • McKenzie

      I really want to get into YNAB, but I don’t understand it no matter how many YouTube videos I watch. ugh. Any tips?

      • Oooh I never watched any YouTube videos but I did read basically their entire site before starting haha. I also did the workshops ( and read a lot of questions/topics in the forum (

        My best advice is to keep it really simple to start with… I started with just my checking account (I rarely used credit cards when I first started) and then slowly added my savings account, investments, and credit cards as I got more comfortable. Also I got rid of all their default categories & created my own that made sense to me at the time.

        It’s also a lot of trial & error… maybe just dive right in & see where you get stuck? I truly believe it’s worth understanding though — it’s changed my finances dramatically.

  • alyjarrett

    2018 is the year I shift from an “early retirement” mindset to a “mini-retirement” mindset. I’m already saving aggressively (about 25-30% of income), but the thought of grinding without a break for the next couple decades drives me crazy. For every 5 years of work, I can afford to take a year off, so my goal is to start building up that mini-retirement fund so I can focus on my passions, like writing novels. Now that I’m debt-free and have all the basics of personal finance covered, I’ve learned that time is more valuable than money, so I want to build wealth to buy back my time and escape the rat race!

  • Kait

    18 in 18!! As in maxing out my 401K to the tax-free maximum of $18,500 in 2018. After a series of raises at work, I think I can maximize my retirement savings without affecting my take-home too terribly much. I am 28, and spent most of my 20s in school or working lower paying entry level jobs, and feel like I have a lot of catching up to do in the retirement department. I don’t have any other major financial goals for the next few years, and I feel like I spend so much money on frivolous things like eating out and clothes, so there’s some room to cut back my consumption.

  • LynnP2

    I just reviewed all my spending for the year (yay YNAB reports), and came to a rather sad realization: if I’m going to reach my financial goals, I really need to cut back on my travel spending. I don’t spend much on clothes, eating out, entertainment, etc, and truly love and value travel, but I need to cut that line item significantly this year if I’m going to succeed in paying off my student loan ($3100 to go!) and starting to save for some of the big ticket items in my future. This means less travel (obviously), but also being more frugal for what I do have planned.

  • jdub

    Really hammering down on the strict budget this year! In December I just kind of forgot (neglected) to update my spreadsheet at all, and I ended up dipping into my savings and using my credit card more to cover my ass at the end of the month.

    Now that I’m all caught up, I can focus on rebuilding my savings and pay off my credit card before I get married in May! We are paying for the wedding out of pocket ourselves, so my biggest goal is to just not go over the 4k budget that we’ve set for it. Also to stop eating cookies, but that’s less a financial plan and more a “hey stop it before this gets out of hand” plan.