Habits are hard to kick. We’ve spent our lives developing our money habits, good or bad. They can change your life for the better or for the worse. There is a lot of pressure to get it right. I’ve put together this list of my favorite money habits that can change your life. The vast majority of which are relatively easy to implement. Some of them are a simple change in your mindset and others will require some action.
1. Act as if you didn’t get a raise. Getting a raise is a wonderful sign that your hard work has been acknowledged. While it’s good to celebrate a little, don’t let it raise your standard of living. Use the extra money to build a stronger financial foundation for you and your family.
2. Act as if you didn’t get that bonus. These are too few and far between to include in your normal budgeted income. After all, they call them bonuses, not guarantees. Use this money to fill up that emergency fund or boost other savings you’ve been trying to establish.
3. Save Your Coins. This is an easy one. At the end of the day, empty your pockets and put all of your coins into a jar. It’s rare that you ever need them in today’s world. Save them up to help fund part of your next stay-cation.
4. Turn unhealthy habits into healthy ones. Instead of meeting a friend at Starbucks for some high calorie treat, catch up while taking a walk or riding your bike. Same goes with smoking. It’s an incredibly expensive habit, not to mention deadly. Catch up with co-workers while you walk around the office building instead.
5. Buy something new? Sell something old. This is great for kids’ toys and your closet. There are two second hand kid stores within 10 minutes from our house. When a birthday comes around, take some of the old, unused toys or clothes and sell them! Same goes with your stuff. Don’t be a hoarder.
6. Use the 48 hour rule. This one works for me constantly. If I’m at a store, impulse purchases are bound to happen. Retailers have turned this into a science. Walk away, take two days to really think about if it’s worth spending the money. 90% of the time, it’s not.
7. Track your spending weekly. Each week, I spend a maximum of 10 minutes sorting through our expenses. It’s even quicker when you use our quick and easy way to categorize your expenses. This very important habit will keep your spending top of mind and will keep you in check.
8. Always analyze your spending. This is an extension of #7. Don’t just sort. Consider your goals every time. These are more important than many of the frivolous expenses you’ll find.
9. Find a money making hobby. We should all find something to do that we enjoy in our free time. Why not try one that makes money. Things like photography and carpentry will certainly help flex your creative muscles. Post your work on social media. If you love to garden, sell your fruits, veggies and herbs to your neighbors.
10. Visit the ATM once per week. Not only will this help eliminate fees, BUT if you follow our logic, using a small amount of cash will help your budget! Give yourself a weekly allowance for “fun” money. Using cash will help keep you in check.
11. Meal Plan. This is a big one. By sitting down and being intentional about how you plan out your meals, you can take advantage of weekly sales and batch your meals around a specific ingredient so it doesn’t go to waste.
12. Turn every problem into a solution. This is a change in your mindset. Don’t wallow in your pity if something bad happens that turns into an expense. It’s done, it happens. Figure out how you can recoup, and move on. The quicker you react positively, the quicker you could be back on track.
13. Shop insurance rates annually. When it comes to your home, auto and other similar insurances, use an independent agent to make sure you’re getting the best deals every single year. That’s what they’re there for.
14. Check your credit report annually. I’m sure this is nothing new. We’ve been hearing it for years, and there’s a reason for it. Maximizing your credit score will save TONS of money when it comes to your mortgage, auto or other significant loans. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
15. Take care of yourself first. Just like in an airplane, you should put the mask on yourself before you help others. This goes for your money as well. You can’t help anyone else if you can’t help yourself. Build your own financial foundation first. Protect yourself.
16. Take a monthly “cheat day”. Just like a cheat meal when you’re on a diet, have a little fun! When you’re working hard to pay down debt or boost your savings, you need a break. It can be unsustainable. Once a month, spoil yourself in a reasonable manner. Buy that shirt you wanted or go out for a big family dinner. It will help you reset.
17. Check Groupon. Groupon is a great way to find cheap ways to have fun in your area. I know…duh. But, it’s just a reminder. Check it out when you’re looking for something to do on the weekend. You’ll save a few bucks. Why not.
18. Use a credit card. This will not only build your credit score, but it could potentially fund your goals. My wife and I are going to Nashville next week, for free. Our reward points funded the whole thing.
19. Don’t go broke saving money. This is one of my personal favorites. Just because it’s on sale, doesn’t mean it’s smart. If it’s not something you don’t typically buy or need, then move on. It’s still money out of your pocket.
20. Revisit your goals regularly. Go through this exercise to determine your goals at least once a year. They change quite a bit. This will help you stay motivated to make the right money decisions.
21. Thinking as if. This is another change in mindset. If you want to accomplish something or achieve a goal, think as if it is a certainty. Don’t worry about the odds or what it’s going to take. Just by making this slight adjustment in your thought process, you will automatically start steering your daily decisions to line up with that goal.
22. Pay off higher debt now. There is no good time to start paying down debt. It’s tough, it takes sacrifice. But every day you wait, you’re giving money away. Start with the highest interest rate. I don’t care what anyone else says, this is the SMARTEST way. There are a lot of fun, creative ways to make a little extra money to help speed up the process. We will share some of these ideas in our ongoing weekly content. Click here to subscribe.
My dad LOVED flying airplanes. We would go up in the small two-seater’s when we were younger. He would always try to teach me by saying, “small corrections”. It was his motto in some sense. It translates throughout our lives. Small corrections and habits can make for big change. It’s also very true with money. If you adopt even a handful of these “small corrections”, you’ll see a big difference over time.
What other money habits do you like to use? Let us know!
Sports Fan, Movie Buff, and Anything Outdoors sums it up. Brad loves spending time with his wife, Ashley, and their two boys. He helps empower people to take control of their money, bringing them the confidence to build the life of their dreams.
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About Matt & Brad
They are identical twins and money experts. Matt and Brad Ruttenberg have, combined, over 2 decades of experience as financial planners. They are known for simplifying money and helping others go from living paycheck to paycheck to thriving financially.
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