3 financial experts share the strategies that helped them crush their money goals this year

Courtesy Karya Schanilec

If you have lofty financial or career goals you'd like achieve in 2020, you're not alone. About one third of New Year's resolutions made are to save more or spend less money, according to 2019 data from Statista. And 16% of resolution-makers want to find a new job.

New Year's resolutions, though, are notoriously difficult to keep, so it can be hard to know where to start. How do you set the right goals? And then how do you stay focused and succeed?

Here's what three financial experts say their money goals were for 2019 and how they achieved them.

Keita Williams, Founder of Success Bully

Courtesy Keita H. Williams

The goal: Keita Williams's goal for 2019 was to quit her corporate job and go full time with her side hustle, a career consulting business named Success Bully, all before she turned 40. Her efforts paid off: "I turned 40 on August 20 and my last day in my corporate job was August 19," she says.

How she did it: "My expertise is all around goal-setting and accountability, and I became my best client," she says. She made a plan with a mentor to slowly phase out of her full-time tech PR role. "I started at 30 hours at week, then stepped down to 24. I had the support of my network behind me and my mentors."

She also created physical reminders of her goal. "My goal was always in front of me," she says. "It was a screensaver on my phone. I was carrying around a note card in my wallet with it."

At home, "I took all the art off my walls in the living room," she says, and replaced it with a giant 2019 calendar. "Any time I walked into my living room I would see this big sticker for my 40th birthday, and see when the project was launching. And so every time I came into my living room I saw my big goal."

Williams also invested in her own development. "I hired a coach who helped me with the business side of coaching and things from a marketing angle," she says. That helped her use systems to contribute to her business's success.

Chris Browning, Popcorn Finance Podcast

Courtesy FinCon

The goal: Earlier this year, Grow talked to Browning about how the podcast host paid off $27,000 of debt. With that out of the way, his goal for 2019 was to get on track with retirement planning. "I put a focus on putting more money toward retirement, for both myself and my wife," Browning says. "I wanted to up the percentage [I contribute], and my wife to max out her IRA."

How he did it: "In order to put more money towards my retirement I did a couple of things. One easy thing was shifting a portion of my raise directly to my retirement plan," he says. "I made the change on my very first paycheck so that way I didn't feel the pain of my pay increasing and then going right back down.

"The second thing that I did was increase my automatic contribution at the beginning of the year. This higher contribution meant I had less money to work with each paycheck, and I had to hold myself more accountable to my budget each month because that money is going to come out regardless."

Tori Dunlap, Her First $100K

Tori Dunlap.
Courtesy Tori Dunlap

The goal: Dunlap heard about another woman saving $100,000 by the time she was 25 and set that same goal for herself. "It was an arbitrary goal, and then I hit it nine months ahead of schedule," earlier this year, she says.

How she did it: "The first thing I like to acknowledge is that privilege is part of my story," she says: She graduated from college without any student loan debt.

Still, saving $100,000 in three years required a multipronged strategy. Dunlap lives in Seattle, an expensive city, and during her savings push her salary was never more than $80,000 a year. "I was really focused on automating my savings. I always paid myself first," she says.

Dunlap worked her way up to the point where she was setting aside 27% of her pay. She also boosted her income with side hustles. "I started my business as a financial speaker and coach," she says. "The nice thing about side hustling is after taxes and expenses, I was able to take all of that money and put it in investing and savings. Over three years, the profit I probably made from side hustling was $45,000."

More from Grow: