Costs keep two-thirds of Canadians from achieving their New Year’s resolutions

Woman in the gym deciding whether to pay for her new year's resolution with a with credit cardImage: Woman in the gym deciding whether to pay for her new year's resolution with a with credit card

In a Nutshell

A New Year means resolutions. And many Canadians are confident that they’ll achieve their goals this year. But the financial costs can be a challenge to achieving success. Find out how to set resolutions while keeping your budget in mind.
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A new Credit Karma survey shows that many Canadians struggle with New Year’s resolutions — and the financial toll they take.

Even though most Canadians are optimistic about meeting their 2020 resolutions, it’s no secret that New Year’s Resolutions are tough to keep. Our latest research suggests this could be because setting and keeping resolutions is often too expensive.

Three-fourths of Canadians we surveyed (75%) say their New Year’s resolutions will cost them money this year. (Learn more about our methodology.)

And, cost has kept almost two-thirds of Canadians we surveyed (62%) from achieving a past New Year’s resolution. We’ve got some tips to help you make meaningful changes while keeping your budget in mind.

Key survey findings

Survey respondents’ top two 2020 resolutions are saving more money (70%) and eating more healthfully (60%); 67% feel confident that they’ll meet their resolutions.
Three-fourths of respondents (75%) say their 2020 resolutions will cost them money.
Nearly two-thirds (62%) say cost has kept them from meeting a past New Year’s resolution.
Almost two-in-five (38%) of respondents weren’t able to meet a New Year’s resolution in 2019.

Canadians’ top 2020 New Year’s resolutions

When it comes to 2020, Canadians have made a number of resolutions. According to survey respondents, here are the top five.

  1. Save more money (70%)
  2. Eat more healthfully (60%)
  3. Pay off debt (47%)
  4. Travel more (37%)
  5. Learn a new skill or hobby (34%)

Many respondents (67%) are confident that they’ll meet their resolutions.

The costs of meeting a New Year’s resolution

Our research shows that cost may be a major factor in keeping resolutions past and present. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of those surveyed cited cost as a reason they’ve been unsuccessful with a resolution sometime in the past.

This year, 75% of respondents say their resolutions will cost them money. And for half of those who plan to spend money on their resolutions, the cost will be in the thousands. Here’s a look at how much people intend to spend on resolutions in 2020.

  • Less than $100 (12%)
  • $100 to $500 (23%)
  • $501 to $1,000 (14%)
  • $1,001 to $2,500 (15%)
  • $2,501 to $5,000 (17%)

Setting yourself up for New Year’s resolution success

If you’ve had some trouble meeting your resolutions in the past, the great thing is you can always try again — 2020 is a new year, and these tips could help you achieve more success this time around.

  • Factor your resolutions into your budget. Costs kept almost two-thirds of respondents (62%) from meeting their resolutions in the past. Having a budget that accounts for New Year’s resolutions rather than just emergency expenses and basic costs of living could help. You can set aside money for specific resolutions or just set affordable resolutions.
  • Make SMART goals. If you’re among the 50% of respondents who didn’t set any 2019 New Year’s resolutions because you didn’t feel motivated, SMART goals might help. Setting resolutions that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based can help you avoid being overwhelmed by breaking down broad goals — like “exercise more” or “eat better” — that lack definition and accountability. 
  • Frame your resolutions as intentions. Although this might seem like the opposite of a SMART goal, some people may feel more motivated by considering things they “intend” to do differently in the new year, rather than things they “must” do. That way, you have more space to be kind to yourself rather than consider it a “failure” if you don’t meet a specific New Year’s resolution.


On behalf of Credit Karma, Qualtrics conducted a nationally representative online survey in December 2019 among 1,019 Canadian adults to better understand how they make and keep New Year’s resolutions.

About the author: Paris Ward is a content strategist at Credit Karma, providing readers with the latest news that will aid their financial progress. She has more than a decade of experience as a writer and editor and holds a bachelor’s… Read more.