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Avoid Wrecking Your Finances: The Key to Changing Habits

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breaking bad habits

You may ask yourself,

“How can I get rid of this bad money habit?”

Getting rid of a habit is a huge mistake.


Keep reading.

According to the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, “When habits emerge, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. So unless you deliberately fight a habit, unless you find new routines, the pattern will unfold automatically. We know that a habit cannot be eradicated. It must, instead, be replaced.”

So the question you should be asking yourself is “What new routine can I put into place?”

Changing Habits: Routine is Key

After reading this book, I became aware of my own habits when it came to money. My bad habit was opening every email from Ticket Master in my inbox. I’d easily get drawn into buying concert tickets for upcoming shows. I’m guilty of liking all types of music too. I especially have a soft spot for “oldies”. I’m glad I had the chance to see Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, and Chicago. I tell my husband that “this person may never tour again. It’s not a misleading marketing tactic, it’s the truth. A real limited time offer.”

After realizing that the email was the cue in my habit loop, I changed my routine. I didn’t click on the email every time. So I now limit my spending when it comes to concerts.

My spending habit loop


Here are three other examples of people that changed a bad habit by replacing it with a new routine. I used the Talking Heads lyrics from their song Once in a Life Time as a theme to their answers.

You May Ask Yourself, “Where is That Large Automobile?”

Robert Berger at DoughRoller.net explains “I have had many bad money habits in the past, but one that stands out is buying stuff I don’t really need just because I qualify for 0% interest.  My wife and I have fallen into this trap with cars and furniture.  Zero interest can be great if it’s used to get out of debt faster.  But it’s no excuse to buy stuff you really don’t need.”

“The first thing that we did was realize that “free” money isn’t always free.  We came to understand that a 0% offer can cause you to buy more than you need.  That was the first step.  And the second was this—to desire to be debt free more than to have stuff.  It’s not magic.  It was about the right priorities.”


You May Ask Yourself, “How Did I Get Here?”

Doug Nordman of  TheMilitaryGuide.com says, “My bad money habit: books. Paperback books.  Lots and lots of them, starting at the age of 12 and continuing in the Navy.  I wasn’t just taking them to sea, I was also ‘collecting the whole set’ at the bookstore and paying full retail.  At one point in my 30’s I was storing over 3,000 paperbacks.”

“When I got married and we started tracking our spending, I was shocked that I was blowing over $1000/year– in the 1980s, no less.  I
quickly cut back to one book a month and did the rest through the library.  Today I keep a 10-page reading list and regularly run it
through a library search.  If the library doesn’t add a book on my list to its holdings over the next couple years then I buy it on
Amazon (used) and resell it after reading.”

You May Ask Yourself, “What Have I Done?”

Lisa Standring Crowley from EveryWomansMoney.com explains, “One bad habit that I had for a long time was not paying my bills on time.  It was not from lack of money, but from lack of organization.  I can’t tell you how much money I have wasted in over the years on late fees.  Never late enough to wreck my credit, just enough to get the fees.  I tried different things that would work for awhile but eventually would slip back.”

“The only thing that has helped is to set up automatic payments.  Now I don’t have to worry.  I have the payments made automatically and later go and update Quick Books. But one thing I have learned is the challenges that comes along with managing money have far more to do with the human side of things.  We humans just don’t always make sense.”


Now I want to ask you, how have you changed a bad habit?

Share with me in the comments below.


4 responses to “Avoid Wrecking Your Finances: The Key to Changing Habits

  1. First of all, props for the Talking Heads reference!

    Weirdly, my replacement that helped money-wise was *not* always saying no to my husband’s spending requests.

    He has pretty severe ADD, which means there’s a constant barrage of shiny objects luring him in. We were on a very tight budget, and it would exasperate me that he wanted all this stuff that would probably barely get used and that would cost money better used elsewhere.

    But my knee-jerk reaction of an automatic no really frustrates him. Issues of feeling deprived in childhood, etc. So we’d have a big fight, which drained my energy — which is a big deal for someone with chronic fatigue! Plus, after a few times of saying no, I’d start to feel guilty and cave on the something that I really shouldn’t have.

    So I’ve started trying to at least stop and consider it. The pause lets him feel that I’m not dismissing him out of hand — a big deal for anyone, really — and it gives my no more validity to him. I’ve thought about it, and it’s just not a good idea.

    And lately we’ve even reached a point where we can (gasp) have a conversation about it and maybe find a middle ground. I still sometimes knee-jerk a no, but it’s definitely helping.

  2. Thank you for the nice comment. I think it’s hard to feel as if you have to constantly go without. That’s frustrating. At the same time, you don’t want to feel that you’re caving in on something you know you shouldn’t do.

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