Consumers are more likely to track health and fitness data than changes to their credit | Jackson Progress-Argus Photo Slideshows

Accountability is key to keeping resolutions on track. Studies indicate that those who write down their goals and set up a way to track progress are twice as likely to reach their goals. Big business has known this for a while now, putting into practice SMART goals, the famous acronym designed to help employees reach their specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals. Tracking SMART goals might be too much paperwork for the typical consumer, but finding a system for tracking your success in meeting your financial goals can pay off.

Fortunately, recent technological advances (chiefly access to smartphones) are giving individuals the power to measure many of their specific, achievable goals in 2024. Unfortunately for some resolution-makers, the effectiveness of tracking saving and spending with a financial smartphone app still lags behind fitness apps on those same devices. Steps and weigh-ins are more reliably trackable than spending from multiple accounts for your morning coffee and other ad-hoc purchases you might make throughout the day. And it’s at these micro-levels—counting steps, calories or pennies—that resolutions are often made or broken.

Regardless of their effectiveness, there’s clearly a lot of demand for some technological accountability in tracking fitness and finance goals. A November 2023 Forbes survey of consumers found that while improving finances tends to be a very popular resolution, the goal remains a runner-up to improving fitness in the new year.

The bottom line

Even though tracking your finances may not be as seamless as tracking mile splits with a smartwatch, financial planners and economists have been studying consumer savings behavior for years. In fact, behavioral economics may have already, imperceptibly, made a positive impact on how much most workers save for retirement today, by implementing automatic savings increases annually for many 401(k) and other workplace retirement savings plans.

And as far as credit is concerned, establishing a pattern of on-time payments is the best way to improve your scores. 

The result that more people monitor their physical activity more frequently than their credit makes some sense: After all, most consumers’ credit scores won’t likely change as often as, say, their step count. Nor are all consumers in need of new credit in the short or intermediate term, which may cause them to check their credit score less often.

Methodology: The analysis results provided are based on an Experian-created statistically relevant aggregate sampling of our consumer credit database that may include use of the FICO Score 8 version. Different sampling parameters may generate different findings compared with other similar analysis. Analyzed credit data did not contain personal identification information. Metro areas group counties and cities into specific geographic areas for population censuses and compilations of related statistical data.

This story was produced by Experian and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.