The Only New Year Resolution That Really Matters

We’re now two full weeks into January and during that time I’ve read a handful of personal finance articles from people espousing their resolutions for the new year with all the usual suspects dutifully mentioned:

Track your spending. Check.

Start a budget. Got it.

Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. Yep.

Pay off the charge cards. Good.

Pay yourself first. Uh huh.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah.

Don’t get me wrong; those are all great resolutions.

However, those noble commitments will ultimately mean absolutely nothing — bupkis, goose egg, naught, nada, zero, zilch, zip, zippo, zot — if you fail to spend less than you earn this year.

Making an annual commitment to spend less than you earn is the mother of all resolutions and one that should be renewed each and every year by good folks like yourself who wish to achieve the ultimate nirvana of the common man: financial freedom.

There is a reason why “spend less than you earn” is the first of my ten commandments of personal finance.

As personal finance new year’s resolutions go, it’s the only one that really matters.

If you abandon or fail to make that most-basic of resolutions, you may as well relegate all of your other personal finance commitments to that large and lonely scrap heap of forgotten pledges and promises that’s currently sitting in your backyard…

Or wherever you keep that thing.

Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee


  1. 3


    Great advice that I definitely plan on applying to my life. I will also stay tuned for the rest of your sage advice.I must confess, still cracking up over the 8-ball predictions post that turned me on to your blog to begin with!! God bless.

    • 4


      Good for you! I just want to let you know, Marta, that I came up with the advice for this article all by myself. I got absolutely no help from my trusty old Magic 8-Ball. 😉

  2. 7


    Len, that’s virtually an old fashioned concept (spend less than you earn) proving that if it’s new, it isn’t true, and if it’s true, it isn’t new.

    It really is the foundation of all financial resolutions. Not always easy to manage though when life throws one of those blizzard expense phases your way, but definately worth long term use.

    • 8


      I like that! I need to figure out a way to somehow fit that “if it’s new, it isn’t true, and if it’s true, it isn’t new” saying into my dinner conversation this evening. That should throw the Honeybee for a loop. 😉

      Nobody should ever beat themselves up for unexpected and uncontrolled expenses. Life happens to all of us. Although we can all try to minimize the adverse impacts of those blizzard expense phases by slowly and steadily building up our rainy-day funds over time.

  3. 11


    Too right, Len but Dickens got there first:

    David Copperfield’s Micawber Principle “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

    (A British pound used to be 20 shillings, and a shilling was 12 pence. We call this ‘old money’ over here!).

  4. 13

    Pineview Style says

    Fortunately, this hasn’t been a problem for me in the past. Although, there are some pretty expensive household expenses on the horizon (new roof, new upstairs heat pump) that I need to go ahead and start setting aside money for so hopefully I won’t have to go into the red this year when the time comes to start attacking those projects.

    “…Scrap heap of forgotten pledges and promises that’s currently sitting in your backyard…

    Or wherever you keep that thing.”

    Mine’s at the gym, which is a place I need to see more of this year….

  5. 14


    Too bad most of society can’t seem to understand this is so basic principle of financial freedom. Thankfully I can say that I always pay myself first. Thanks for the reminder.

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