Image: Gift © Brian Hagiwara, Brand X, Corbis

Hoping to get your financial house in order in 2013? You’re not alone.

Nearly half of all consumers will make financial resolutions to close out the year, according to a study by Fidelity Investments. More than half (52%) of respondents want to save more, 19% want to spend less and 19% want to pay off debt.

If history is an indicator, though, more than a third of us will fail, regardless of how well-intentioned we are. If that sound like you in previous years, here are some tricks you can use to make sure you achieve your goals this time around:

No. 1: Get detailed and specific. Making goals without getting into specifics is a recipe for disaster, says Gary Ryan Blair, the president of GoalsGuy Learning Systems, a training organization that helps consumers achieve personal and professional goals. 'Getting out of debt' could mean paying off a $1,000 credit card bill or paying off the $10,000 balance on your car note. Until you come up with a specific goal, you can't craft a plan to take you there. Write down your target so it becomes tangible, says Nicole Cutts, a clinical psychologist and success coach in Washington, D.C.

No. 2: Give yourself a reason. If you say you want to save $5,000, but you don't know why this is such a great goal, your resolution will go down the drain the minute something tempts you to spend the money.  If you want to save $5,000 so you can afford a larger down payment on a car, write that down when you write out your goal. Your reason for improving your finances can also be to avoid the sleepless nights that come with financial worries. "Pain, fear and discomfort can be massive motivators," says Blair.   

No. 3: Make it realistic. Coming up with specific targets can help you determine if your plan stands a chance. For example, if you need an extra $15,000 to pay off all your credit card debt, "that might not be a realistic goal if you make $50,000 a year," says Cutts.

And sometimes other obstacles can make a goal unreachable. For example, Kinelam Bolgaire, a social media expert in New York, didn’t stick to his resolution of tracking his expenses on a weekly basis because, "the goal was not realistic for the amount of time I have available any given day," Bolgaire says.

A goal that requires an overwhelming amount of effort on your part, such as having to work three jobs to save a certain amount, should also be scaled back because it will be difficult to maintain. "Maybe instead of eliminating all of your debt, you can say you'll reduce it by half in 2013," Cutts says.

No. 4: Learn from past failures -- and successes. The Fidelity study showed that some consumers met with failure before eventually achieving their goals. "It takes some time to get into the habit and find what works for you," says Ken Hevert, a vice president for Fidelity Investments. Instead of beating yourself up about past failures, consider what went wrong and adjust your plan accordingly. And don't forget to incorporate the aspects of your previous plans that did work, says Cutts. You can also learn from the failures and successes of others, she adds.

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