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How to Break Bad Money Habits

Money a little tight these days? You might assume it’s due to rising costs, tightening credit and the fact you haven’t had a raise in, like, forever. But truthfully, if your basic needs are being met, problems you’re having are more likely a result of bad money habits you’ve picked up—behaviors you’ve repeated so often they’ve become almost automatic.

Woman stopping the domino effect suggesting she's breaking a bad habit

Don’t despair. In the same way you picked them up, you can replace bad habits with good ones: Stop the old behavior, and consciously repeat the new one so often that it becomes an almost automatic response.

Living without a spending plan

Spending money without a plan has to be the mother of all bad money habits. It’s like driving blindfolded. You don’t know where you are and can’t see where you’re going, so you don’t know when to stop. Pre-spending your paycheck on paper (also known as a budget) is the way to remove the blindfold so you can see what’s going on.

ALSO: Get Financially Fit With Good Habits

Paying with plastic

Depending on plastic—and I’m talking about both debit and credit cards—to cover your day-to-day spending might be very convenient, but it creates a bad habit. You stop noticing how much you’re spending, and that opens the door to overspending. Break this habit by figuring out how much cash you’ll need for the day, and put that much in your wallet. Leave your plastic at home, or put it in a less convenient place in your handbag or wallet.

Rolling a credit card balance

Credit card issuers know that once they can get you to cross the threshold where you owe more on your credit card than you can pay in a single month, they’ve got you where they want you—paying them interest month after month.

If you cannot pay the entire balance in a single month, you’re living way beyond your means. To break this bad habit, make it impossible to use it anymore until that balance is paid in full. Don’t close the account, but put that plastic far from you. Hand it off to a trusted friend or freeze it in a block of ice! Anything to help you break this bad money habit by replacing it with a good one. Then start paying down the balance as rapidly as possible.

READ: You Need to Kick Your Credit-Card Habit

Waiting to save

It might make sense to pay your bills first and then see how much you have left to put in savings, but that’s a really dumb idea. It will lead to a very bad result also known as no savings, because you will keep doing this same dumb thing month after month, year after year.

To break this habit, pay yourself first before you pay any of your bills. In fact, treat yourself as your most important creditor. Make up payment coupons like you have for your mortgage or car payment. Or set up an auto bill payment to “Myself.” Now move “Myself” to the front of the line so that the very first bill you pay each month is to You!

READ: How to Break the Habit That’s Eating Up Your Future

Even if it’s only $25—or even $10—to start with, do it. Over and over again. It won’t take long for that to become an almost automatic response and a very good habit!


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How to Break the Habit That’s Eating Up Your Future

Let’s not beat around the bush. Eating out is eating up your future. It’s gobbling down your present and keeping you stuck in the past. That heavy debt you’re hauling around didn’t happen while you were asleep. Chances are pretty good that you’re eating your way into debt. 

Breaking the eating out habit isn’t easy to do, but it can be done. What it takes is motivation, determination, and perseverance.

Restaurant hamburger and fries good enough to eaat

Cost

Let this exercise act as a quick-start motivator: For one week, track your household spending on every form of eating out including coffee, donuts, restaurants, cafes, diners, street vendors, food trucks, fast food … all of it.

Once you have that number, multiply by 52. But wait, there’s more. Estimate the cost of all of the food that you throw in the garbage every week because you buy it, then eat out instead. You may be looking at the reason you aren’t saving for retirement, building an emergency fund, or stuck in debt.

6 Ways to Stop Throwing Rotten Produce in the Garbage

Gross factor

I don’t want to get too graphic here describing a negative motivation that might persuade you to eat at home more often, so let me allow the CDC to do that: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that one in five restaurant workers admit coming to work while sick with diarrhea and vomiting—two main symptoms of the stubborn norovirus, which understandably is now running rampant.

The problem lies with these sick workers who take a bathroom break, do not wash their hands with soap then return to prepare and serve our food. Not only is it expensive to eat out, but your chances of getting sick are also increasing.

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How to Break the Acrylic Nail Habit and Help Your Nails Recover Beautifully

I just received an email message from one of my readers that stirred up some very poignant memories for me.

Hands with manacure on white background

 

For years I, like Carol, was on the fake acrylic nails bandwagon. From the first time I gave that manicure option a try, I loved it. Polish lasts longer on acrylic nails; my nails were always uniform—shaped perfectly and just the right length. All I had to do was go to the nail salon every three weeks to have them maintained.

The problem is it became addictive. I couldn’t do the maintenance myself. And if I didn’t go regularly to have them done, they looked horrible. I became a slave to my local nail salon and acrylic-applying nail technician. It was not cheap.

Anyone who’s ever had acrylic nails knows that they absolutely ravage your natural nails if removed incorrectly, or worn for years without taking a break. And no wonder. Part of the process is to sand down one’s natural nails to get the stuff to stick and not “lift” before the next appointment.

It was a difficult habit to break and I’m glad I did, not only for my nail health  (Google “acrylic dangers” if you dare) but even more so for my wealth. Here’s what Carol wrote:

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My Secret Battle with Procrastination

One of the toughest things I battle in my life is procrastination. My natural response is I’ll do it later.

There’s a part of me that despises that procrastinator and wages a daily war to defeat it. That’s how I’ve come to rely on the power of habits and routines. If I can avoid having to make a decision, I lose the choice to put it off until later.

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Habits are those things we do so often, they become automatic. Take my MacBook Pro. You’d be shocked to know just how many hours a day I am on this thing. The keyboard is part of me. My muscles have totally memorized every stroke, the location of every key. Until something changes. 

Due to a series of technical complications, I was forced to move the dock from the bottom of my screen to the left side. We’re talking about a 90-degree relocation from horizontal to vertical. And I’m ready to be committed. 

Everything in me wants that dock at the bottom. Every muscle recalls exactly where each tool should be. For nearly three weeks I have battled this annoying change and it is driving me to the brink of insanity. My routines are disrupted, my old habit is screaming in torment. My brain, muscles, and fingers are trained to reach effortlessly to get what I need. It was so automatic I didn’t have to think about it.  Read more