Financial plans are all well and good, so long as they are specific and hold you accountable. But the problem today is that most people’s financial plans aren’t anything of the sort. A recently study b the Fidelity group found that the most common financial resolution people made this year was to “save more,” closely followed by paying off their debt. But, as Forbes pointed out in a recent article, this is all rather vague.

Hersh Shefrin is a behavioural economist at a top university. His advice is that people get to know themselves really well before making any financial commitments. He says that they need to figure out what it is that they want from their finances and then make a doable plan to get there, one step at a time.

A money shotFlickr

Hersh points out that most people get into financial trouble because they repeat the same mistakes, over and over again. He suggests that individuals try to turn these habits around and create new habits that are actually beneficial.

Here are some smart habits that will help your finances rule in 2017.

Automate Everything

In the past, automation of your personal finances simply wasn’t possible. If people wanted to save, they had to rely on their own free will to get the job done. Not anymore, says John Sweeney, a senior investment manager at Fidelity. He says that with automation, people don’t need to consciously make sure that they are putting money away in the bank every month: computers and banks can do it for them.

In a sense, things like direct debits are “free” free will. They require no effort, and they take away the need for you to personally use your own willpower. Sweeney suggests offloading as much willpower-related stuff as possible to your bank and other financial institutions so that you don’t have to think about it from month to month.

Keep A Close Eye On Your Credit

If you’re somebody who regularly takes out unsecured loans, it’s a good idea to keep track of your credit. Pull up your report from one of the big three bureaus, including Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. In some countries, you’re entitled to a free report once per years. You can get reports more regularly than this if you stagger your reports every four months from the three big providers. Make sure that all the information on the report is correct, as this can affect your score and your capacity to borrow. And check to see if your credit score makes sense. If it’s down in the 500s, but you’ve never missed a payment, then there’s a good chance something has gone wrong.

Tell People About Your Financial Goals

For reasons that are too complex to get into here, talking about your financial life has been historically taboo. But sharing details about it can help you achieve your goals. Telling your friends and family what you want to achieve makes you more accountable and gives them the tool to help you get there.