Most Americans (and indeed, most people throughout the world) make New Years resolutions. Some people let their imaginations run wild, wishing to win the lottery or otherwise get richly quickly, get a priced possession they cannot yet afford, repair a broken relationship, or suddenly become happy.

While these are worthy goals (and things every truly deserves), there is sometimes very little thought behind making these wishes a reality. The truth is, New Year’s resolutions are not letters to Santa Clause; they must be worked at!

What makes up a good, realistic, attainable 2016 resolution? People may be surprised to realize that one simple resolution (that, admittedly, takes some effort) can bring one closer to the more fantastical dreams that start with the stroke of midnight.

Below is a comprehensible list that explains why smart, careful budgeting of your finances should be your 2016 resolution. You may be surprised to see how budgeting can lead to surprising and delightful results that last the whole year!

  • Start with this example. Person A has a generous yearly income of about $200,000. Person B has a modest income of $12,000-$14,000. Without a budget, both of these incomes can be depleted just as quickly, over the exact same period of time!
  • Even if you think you don’t make enough money to cover all your monthly or yearly expenses, budget anyway. There are two reasons to do so. First, you may be surprised to find enough money is there, but due dates for payments make it seem like there isn’t. Second, budgeting (even when you don’t have enough) can show you where certain changes can be made. It will also show you where the most significant problem spots are. It will help you prioritize.
  • Prioritize your budget items. Growing a savings is absolutely essential to your future well-being, so that should be placed in the mandatory category. Other items like insurance, mortgage payments, and past due utilities should also be in the mandatory category. Other things, such a clothes, going to the movies, or going out to eat could be placed in the low-priority area. After all, if you save now, you can spend more on entertainment next month.
  • Not only does a budget help you set clear, easy priorities that you no longer have to obsess over, it also helps relieve family stress, anxiety, and constant second-guessing. Both your emotional and physical and emotional health will benefit when you are honest with your self in your monthly budget.
  • Budgeting also helps you take realistic, concrete steps toward long-term goals. If you want a house one day, you need to plan for it, right? Budgeting allows you to plan and begin to take steps toward dreams that might otherwise seem unattainable.
  • Sometimes, sticking to a budget is hard. However, sticking with it can improve your mental health significantly, while restoring your sense of control over your future. Some people see a budget as a shackle on their independence. On the contrary, it can liberate you from the stress and uncertainty of an unwieldy future.

The above factors are why a financial resolution in 2016 is an optimal choice. With better understanding of your finances comes less anxiety, more control, and great peace of mind.