Fresh off a year of rising interest rates and pervasive inflation, the New Year is an opportunity for Canadians to take stock and make resolutions. However, we all know that New Year’s resolutions are easy to make – and difficult to keep.
To understand the top goals heading into 2023, Finder asked 1,000 Canadians about their New Year’s resolutions and their confidence level in achieving these goals.
The results of the Finder: New Year’s Financial Resolutions report show that most Canadians (55%) resolve to save more this year – the most popular financial goal for 2023 – followed closely by paying off debt (42%) and sticking to a budget (34%).
A very frugal new year
According to the recent Finder: Cash for Christmas report, 27% of Canadians will be paying off their holiday purchases well into 2023, with 13% choosing to carry a balance on their credit card and 6% opting to skip or delay paying bills.
"Many Canadians take stock at the start of a new year, and after hefty price increases and so much economic uncertainty, it's not surprising that a large portion of holiday spenders are carrying debt into 2023," explained Romana King, senior finance editor at Finder, a personal finance comparison site with a mission to help Canadians save, invest, spend wisely and grow their wealth.
One impact of added debt is a reluctance to spend on discretionary or non-essential items such as vacations or household goods (13%) or through increased donations to charitable organizations (6%).
Canadians optimistic they can meet their financial goals in 2023
Various studies show that more than half of North American adults will make a New Year's resolution, but less than 1 in 10 will achieve these goals, according to a study from the University of Scranton.
But this doesn't seem to dampen the resolve of Canadians determined to meet their financial goals in 2023. According to respondents, 64% are either somewhat or very optimistic they will achieve their goals in 2023.
"There are many reasons why resolutions get derailed, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't make them," explained King. "It's the process of setting an intention that matters, not the outcome of the goal. To make a resolution, you need to reflect, take stock, evaluate goals, assign responsibility and find inspiration – all of which are critical to developing a plan and adopting new habits."
Cutting down to save up
Responses in the Finder: New Year's Financial Resolutions report confirm that most Canadians plan to cut down on discretionary expenses in the new year.
Most Canadians will scale back on daily indulgences and conveniences, with 51% cutting down on take-out food, 43% trimming their restaurant expenses and 29% reducing their alcohol and tobacco purchases. Only 19% (or about 1 in 5) were willing to cut back on streaming subscription costs, and 24% (about 1 in 4) would cut costs by eliminating vacations or travel.
Where will Canadians stash their savings?
The recent Finder: New Year's Financial Resolutions survey asked Canadians where they planned to stash their savings in 2023. According to survey results, the most popular was a high-interest savings account (37%), with a tax-free savings account (TFSA) a close second (36%), followed by a no- or low-fee savings account (27%). Only 21% planned to use their savings to invest in 2023.
Key demographic statistics
While Canadians are planning for a year of saving up and cutting back, the Finder: New Year's Financial Resolutions report highlighted a few key differences regarding a person's age and gender.
- Men are more optimistic (68%) than women (62%) that they can meet their 2023 financial goals.
- Far more (71%) Canadians who make more than $100,000 annually are optimistic about meeting their financial goals vs just 60% of those who make under $100,000 annually
- Canadians aged 45 to 54 were the only demographic who cited "paying off debt" as their top financial goal for 2023 (55% compared to the national average of 42%)
Top 10 tips to achieve your financial goals in 2023
Here are tips to help you stick to your financial resolutions as you go into 2023, whether your main goals are to save more, pay down debt or make a big purchase.
Resolution #1: Save more money
(1) Use the 24-hour rule
Did you find something you want or like? Don't buy it. Instead, practice the 24-hour rule (or the more extreme version, the 30-day rule). This requires you to wait 24 hours (or 30 days) before spending your hard-earned money on that item. What does this do? First, it eliminates impulse shopping – a knee-jerk reaction that can eat into your savings. Next, it forces you to examine whether that new, must-have item will bring you more joy than achieving your bigger, longer-term goals, such as saving up for an education, a car, buying a home or retiring comfortably.
(2) Go on a diet
The resolution to get healthier in the new year can seriously squeeze your budget and hamper efforts to save money. On average, each dieter will pay between $2,600 and $4,800 yearly to lose weight.
But getting healthier doesn't have to be costly. Another way to save money while sticking to a healthier diet is to reduce your meat and animal product intake. Meat and dairy products are some of the most expensive items in grocery stores. On average, Canadians spend almost $1,500 each year on meat. Skip the meat aisle and save more than $120 per month.
(3) Borrow more
How many of us have bought a tool, a book or an item that gets used maybe once or twice each year? This lack of use is a signal that we may not need everything we buy. This excess leads to clutter and higher expenses. Consider where and when you can borrow to reduce costs and save space and money. Check out tool rentals; make a point of going to the library; join share and swap trade groups and ask friends if they're open to sharing and swapping. The best part is borrowing saves you money and opens opportunities for community involvement.
(4) Sleep better by lowering your thermostat
Want to sleep better and save money? Turn down your thermostat. According to the Sleep Foundation, turning your thermostat down to 18.3°C gives you a better night's sleep, plus you could save between $60 and $220 off your heating costs each year.
Resolution #2: Pay off debt
(1) Make a plan to pay down debt
Since debt can be expensive (and can hinder almost every other goal or New Year's resolution), it's critical to assess your debt and make a plan for how you will pay it down.
Start by listing all debts you owe and the interest rate charged on each loan. Then, plan how to pay these debts back.
One popular method is the debt snowball, where you make only minimum payments to all your debts but pay as much as you can on the debt with the lowest balance. Once that debt is paid off, you tackle the next debt with the lowest balance and so on.
Another tactic is the debt avalanche. You maximize the payments on the debt with the highest interest and start paying off the next high-interest loan once that is paid off.
The good news is there is no right or wrong way to pay down debt, so pick a plan that works for you and stick to it.
(2) Consolidate to lower costs and get debt-free sooner
For Canadians struggling to make payments on multiple loans or for anyone with high-interest debt, consider getting a consolidation loan. The loan amount will equal the total amount you owe, but the interest rate charged is lower so more of your payment goes towards paying down the debt.
For example, if you owed $1,500 on a credit card that charged 21% (with a monthly payment of $140), plus $6,000 on a credit card that charged 22% (with a monthly payment of $560), you should look for a debt consolidation loan of $7,500. Get the loan with an interest rate of 8%, but keep your monthly payments the same at $700 and you could pay off your entire debt in less than a year and save almost $600 in interest payments. Use the Finder comparison to find the best debt consolidation loan for your needs.
Another option is to transfer your credit card balance to a new card with a lower interest rate or even a 0% promotional rate. Just be careful, as the key to this strategy is to use the savings from consolidating debt to repay the loan, not take on more debt. To find a no-interest or low-interest credit card for a balance transfer, use the Finder guide on balance transfer credit cards.
(3) Review your credit report
When tackling debt, be sure your hard work is rewarded with an increase in your credit score. While many factors go into calculating your credit score, how much debt you carry and how responsible you are at paying it off are two critical components. To motivate yourself and confirm your hard work is being recorded, check your credit report. Confirm that paid-off loans are no longer on your record and that regular, on-time payments are accurately reported. Get your free credit report by filling out a form on the TransUnion Canada or Equifax Canada websites or ask your financial institution or lender if a free report is part of their customer package. Learn more about the advantages of a good credit score.
Resolution #3: Stick to a budget
(1) Track your finances and create a budget
The easiest way to develop a plan for making a big purchase is to track your finances and create a budget. It sounds boring, but by taking these steps, you get a clear picture of what you earn and how you spend your money. It also helps you identify areas where you can save – putting those savings towards that big purchase.
(2) Set up a dedicated savings account
Separating your savings into a different account accomplishes three goals. First, it makes spending that money harder (most dedicated savings accounts charge a fee for withdrawals or don't come with debit cards). Second, it clearly shows how much money you've set aside toward your goal – this helps motivate you to complete the goal. Finally, it allows you to earn more on these savings. By choosing a high-interest savings account, you can earn two or three times more than money saved in a regular day-to-day account. Check out the Finder guide on high-interest savings accounts to compare current offerings.
(3) Pay yourself first
Want to make saving a habit? Set up automatic deposits into your dedicated savings account. By making your savings deposits automatic, you remove the temptation to spend this money and solidify the habit of paying yourself first. This habit is critical as it's the foundation of all savings goals, whether you're buying a new computer, a car, a home or saving for retirement.
"We all make money mistakes," said King. "Rather than hide our errors, use this hard-won knowledge to motivate you. Last year was tough, so use this New Year as a fresh start."
The results of the Finder: New Year's Resolutions 2023 survey were collected through an online Pollfish survey conducted between December 1 and 2, 2022. The survey asked 1,000 Canadians from across the country about their opinion on financial priorities and goals for the new year. The estimated margin of error for the survey is +/- 3%, 19 out of 20 times.
Finder is a personal finance comparison site with a mission to help Canadians save, invest, spend wisely and grow their wealth. Each month Finder provides half a million Canadians – and more than 10 million globally – with independent and trustworthy financial information. Our goal is to help people make better financial decisions by providing objective, comparative insight on more than 2,000 products and services each month.
As a global fintech website and app, Finder provides consumers free access to smart money content. Whether it's expert insight, product or service comparisons or independent reviews, Finder helps consumers stay on top of their finances while saving time and money.
Finder is available to consumers in over 50 countries, including Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Initially launched in 2006 by three Australians – Fred Schebesta, Frank Restuccia and Jeremy Cabral – Finder's global reach now includes more than 2,000 products and services in more than 100 financial categories and provides expert content and independent reviews to more than 10 million users each month.