Quicken Resolutions Survey

A Resolution Revolution

How data can predict your New Year’s goals and even help you keep them

Time To Read 7 MIN READ

Most Americans make New Year’s resolutions in January. But by February, most have already given up. Why is it so easy to set goals but so hard to stick to them? Data can give us an answer — and possibly some hope. 

According to a recent survey from Quicken of over 1,000 U.S. adults, 62% bail on their New Year’s resolutions just six weeks into the year. About the same amount even spend money to try to help them hit their goals. The survey results show that data can predict the goals we’re likely to make — but can it also help keep us on track? 

There were clear distinctions in goals set among different groups: men vs. women; young vs. old; even Democrats vs. Republicans. This means that whoever you are, you probably have similar resolutions to others like you, and knowing what types of resolutions your peers are making — and why they’re breaking them — could help you plan smarter and adjust along the way, so you can avoid falling short. 

For example, did you know twice as many men will give up alcohol for a month to help achieve their financial goals than women? And Republicans make resolutions to diet or lose weight more often than Democrats? Take a look at what the rest of America is planning on accomplishing this year and see how the data lines up with your resolutions.

Who wants to do what

59% of respondents typically make New Year’s resolutions and 63% have spent money to try and keep them. 93% have failed in the past to keep a resolution. The most commonly set goals were: exercise/get in shape; diet/lose weight; eat healthier. Here’s the rest of the break down: 

For resolutions you didn’t keep, how long did you keep them?

  • A week: 7%
  • A month: 34% (41% cumulative)
  • 6 weeks: 21% (62% cumulative)
  • 3 months: 24% (86% cumulative)

Why have you broken New Year’s resolutions?

  • Got too busy 44%
  • Tried to do too much all at once 41%
  • Lost interest 40%
  • Didn’t see enough progress/discouraged by results 35%

What were your resolutions for 2020?

  • Exercise/get in shape 46%
  • Eat healthier 44%
  • Diet/lose weight 39%
  • Something for self-care 29%
  • Pursue new hobby/interest/skill 21%
  • Spend less/save more 18%

Ever used an app to help with resolutions?

  • No 72%

Would you consider using an app if you knew it had helped others?

  • Yes 84%

Not surprisingly, many American’s have their minds on their money in 2020. Finance related resolutions were important across all demographics and respondents gave additional insight into the impact of money on their daily lives.

If you made a financial New Year’s resolution, what would you be willing to give up for a month in order to achieve it?

  • Takeout/meal delivery 54%
  • Online shopping 43%
  • Sweets 32%
  • Alcohol 28%
  • Gym membership/fitness class: 12%
  • Smartphone 11%

How big a source of stress has money been over the past couple years?

  • My number one source of stress 21%
  • A top-three reason 48%
  • Generally moderate or low, but worse around the holidays 5%

When arguing about money, what do you fight over?

  • Spending 61%
  • Saving 43%
  • Credit card debt 35%
  • Planning for bills 32%
  • Giving gifts 14%
  • Student loan debt 11%

Taking a deeper look into the data also revealed some interesting truths about how different cross-sections of Americans approach New Year’s resolutions. We divided the results into three groups to see how men compare to women, how generations divide, and if Republicans and Democrats are really that different after all. 

Battle of the Sexes

The what’s and why’s of men and women’s resolution making gets interesting. 

What New Year’s resolutions are you making in 2020?

  • Diet/lose weight
    • 37% men; 42% women
  • Eating healthier
    • 42% men; 48% women
  • Pursue new hobbies, interests or skills
    • 22% men; 19% women
  • Something for self care
    • 21% men; 38% women
  • Spend less/save more 
    • 18% men and women

If you made a financial New Year’s resolution, what would you be willing to give up for a month in order to achieve it?

  • Sweets 
    • 37% men, 25% women
  • Alcohol 
    • 38% men, 15% women
  • Gym membership/fitness classes
    • 17% men; 5% women
  • Smartphone
    • 17% men; 3% women

Which of these activities would you be willing to do for a month to achieve your goals? 

  • Listen to political speeches 1hr/day 
    • 19% men, 35% women
  • Be vegan 
    • 17% men, 13% women
  • Sleep outside in a tent
    • 11% men, 4% women

When arguing with your partner about money, what’s it about?

  • Spending 
    • 64% men, 57% women
  • Planning for bills 
    • 28% men, 38% women
  • Giving gifts 
    • 18% men, 9% women
  • Student loan debt 
    • 14% men, 7% women

Generational Divides

Survey respondents ranged across three generations: millennials, Gen X and baby boomers. Seventy percent of Millennials regularly make New Year’s resolutions, while only 60% of Gen X and 46% of boomers typically do. 

What New Year’s resolutions are you making in 2020?

  • Diet/lose weight 
    • 32% millennials; 41% Gen X; 47% boomers
  • Spend less/save more 
    • 20% millennials; 18% Gen X; 17% boomers 
  • Quit smoking/vaping
    • 6% millennials; 11% Gen X; 5% boomers
  • Quit drinking
    • 7% millennials; 6% Gen X; 3% boomers

Why have you broken New Year’s resolutions?

  • Got too busy 
    • 50% millennials; 43% Gen X; 38% boomers
  • Tried to do too much all at once 
    • 48% millennials; 43% Gen X; 31% boomers
  • Lost interest 
    • 41% millennials; 36% Gen X; 43% boomers
  • Didn’t see enough progress/discouraged by results 
    • 33% millennials; 34% Gen X, 37% boomers
  • Didn’t fit my lifestyle
    • 31% millennials; 24% Gen X; 16% boomers

Who or what do you blame for not keeping New Year’s resolutions?

  • FOMO (fear of missing out)
    • 11% millennials; 8% Gen X; 3% boomers
  • Spouse/significant other
    • 9% millennials; 12% Gen X; 6% boomers
  • My kids
    • 10% millennials; 9% Gen X; 3% boomers
  • Lack of money to support the resolution
    • 17% millennials; 15% Gen X; 8% boomers
  • Myself
    • 80% millennials; 81% Gen X; 91% boomers

If you made a financial New Year’s resolution, what would you be willing to give up for a month in order to achieve it?

  • Takeout/meal delivery
    • 53% millennials; 52% Gen X; 58% boomers
  • Sweets 
    • 39% millennials; 27% Gen X; 26% boomers
  • Alcohol 
    • 24% millennials; 38% Gen X; 19% boomers
  • Gym membership/fitness classes
    • 16% millennials; 10% Gen X; 7% boomers
  • Smartphone
    • 18% millennials; 5% Gen X; 7% boomers

Which of these activities would you be willing to do for a month to achieve your goals? 

  • Listen to political speeches 1hr/day 
    • 31% millennials; 25% Gen X; 21% boomers
  • Be vegan 
    • 11% millennials; 17% Gen X; 21% boomers
  • Sleep outside in a tent
    • 12% millennials; 5% Gen X; 5% boomers
  • Post an unflattering picture daily on Instagram 
    • 8% of millennials and no one else

When arguing with your partner about money, what’s it about?

  • Spending 
    • 59% millennials; 60% Gen X; 66% boomers
  • Saving 
    • 56% millennials; 40% Gen X; 24% boomers
  • Credit card debt 
    • 29% millennials; 42% Gen X; 34% boomers
  • Student loan debt 
    • 19% millennials; 7% Gen X; 5% boomers

Across the Aisle

There were even some differences between respondents who identify as Democrat or Republican: 

If you made a financial New Year’s resolution, what would you be willing to give up for a month in order to achieve it?

  • Takeout/meal delivery
    • 52% Republicans; 47% Democrats 
  • Sweets 
    • 19% Republicans; 32% Democrats
  • Alcohol
    • 21% Republicans; 29% Democrats
  • Gym membership/fitness classes
    • 19% Republicans; 5% Democrats
  • Smartphone 
    • 15% Republicans; 8% Democrats

Which of these activities would you be willing to do for a month to achieve your goals? 

  • Stay indoors 24/7 
    • 10% Republicans; 17% Democrats
  • Be vegan 
    • 8% Republicans; 19% Democrats
  • Sleep outside in a tent
    • 10% Republicans; 3% Democrats
  • Give up sex
    • 10% Republicans; 4% Democrats

 

Overall, seeing how your New Year’s resolutions compare to others comes in handy when planning what to try or not try. And learnings like this can also help you turn the corner from not quite to nailed it with your goals. Here are three tips to make sure you stick with it this year. 

  1. A common resolution, not surprisingly, is money — save more, spend less. Taking advantage of technology that aggregates your financial data and makes tasks like saving and spending automatic can take the guesswork out of goal-hitting. For example, instead of manually tracking your 401(k) or savings contributions, use a personal finance app to set it and forget it.
  2. In last year’s survey, we found that 56% of people who make resolutions say they spend money on their goals in order to keep them. And those who did drop some cash to help with their resolutions were 25% more likely to make them happen. So, get some skin in the game and invest in something that will help keep you on track, like a class. 
  3. Make it competitive. We also found that 65% percent of men and 70% of women say that they are more likely to keep their resolution than their spouse is. That said, married couples overwhelmingly report that their spouse is a positive influence — 60% say that their spouse helps them keep their resolutions. Sharing is caring, so tell your partner what your goals are this year — a little friendly competition can go a long way.