For the first few weeks after the New Year starts, people everywhere are still getting their resolutions together, but chances are — given the state of the economy — if you are one of the millions of people who bothered to set a resolution for yourself, it probably has to do with your finances.

While we are slowly climbing out of the recession, it is a slow climb indeed, and many people are still feeling its effects and wondering what they can do to beat it. Saving money is a difficult task for anyone no matter how the economy is doing, and at the end of the year, according to a recent study by Richard Wiseman, 88% of people don’t keep their resolutions to save more money.

If you are one of the many Americans who have set their eyes on savings for 2012, here are a few strategies that will help you keep your resolution, as well as your cash, all year long.

1. Break Down Your Goal

Rice University conducted a study on saving habits in 2008 asking one test group to budget savings monthly, and another to budget savings annually. At the start of the experiment, both groups saved nearly the same amount of money, but as time went on, the monthly savers were able to save more, and more reliably.

Essentially, they saved more because they were able to benchmark their overarching goal (saving money) by setting shorter-term goals. Every month they determined how much they would save, striving all month to hit that amount, and then at the end of the month could evaluate their progress.

If you’re trying to save money this year try setting smaller goals that you can hit every month; by changing the timeline of your goal you can keep better track of it, and find out what is working and what isn’t very quickly.

2. Don’t Go It Alone

Study after study shows that discipline is contagious. When people are trying to lose weight (or save money) they often find support and strength in groups of similarly minded people with the same goal — plus, they see results faster and more regularly.
The same holds true for finance. Instead of trying to tackle your debt alone this year, involve your partner, spouse, best friend, or sibling in your resolution. Especially if you are married, struggling with money puts undue strain on your relationship, and actually breaks some couples apart.

So sit down with your spouse, talk about your finances, and set goals that you can keep together. You will feel more secure knowing that you are united in your goals, and will probably feel happier around each other than you have in a long time. You might even find a way to accumulate assets neither of you never thought of alone.

3. Use Today’s Tools

Although the economy isn’t in the best shape of its life, we are living in one of the most tool-rich periods in history. And not only that, many of the tools have been democratized by the internet and are free to use! Use loyalty cards and coupons, give private-label products a try, sign up with local deal promotions, use websites like to reduce your cable, cell phone, and other bills. Everything you need to succeed is right at your fingertips; you just have to start looking for and using the tools that are out there.

It can be challenging to keep your New Year’s resolutions, but this year do some strategizing beforehand, and you will be able to stick to it like never before.

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online colleges, online degrees etc. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

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