A Fast Way to Create Good Financial Habits

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A Fast Way to Create Good Financial HabitsWhen I was 13-years-old, I gave up pop (or soda if you’re not from the Midwest) for Lent. Yes, I went 40 days and 40 nights without a single drop of the sugary ‘goodness.’ At first, it was difficult. I would crave pop multiple times per day. But as time went on, the craving diminished. Around day 25, I actually didn’t want pop at all. Do you know how I felt on day 40? I didn’t even want to touch the stuff. Yep, even when Lent was over, I didn’t go back to pop.

You may be wondering why I chose to give up pop. After all, most Americans drink pop like a nasty water replacement. Breakfast – pop. Lunch – pop. Dinner – pop. Maybe another pop in the afternoon to ward off drowsiness. Heck, even Warren Buffett admits to drinking 5 Cokes a day.

I gave up pop because it wasn’t good for me. There’s nothing inside one of those cans that will help make me healthier. The only thing making me want pop was a silly craving for an instant sugar rush. After day 25, I no longer had the sugar rush. Therefore, I no longer wanted pop.

Ever since then, I’ve been giving things up on a trial basis. Yep, I go for a trial basis that always turns into a permanent fix.

I simply tell myself that if I can go 40 days and 40 nights without something, I can have it at 12:01AM on day 41. Do I ever? No.

I take this approach with my finances. It works even when you’re trying to create a habit, not get rid of one. For instance, if I want to start a new side hustle, I simply give it 40 days and 40 nights. I try. By day 41, it’s a habit. I don’t want to go back to how I was before. I don’t want to give up the extra money I earn.

Biking to work is something I think everyone should try. I began biking to work for 40 days. On day 41, I was leaner, happier, I looked better, I saved money, and I respected myself more. Why would I give that up on day 41?! I wouldn’t. I didn’t.

On day 1, it’s not easy. But what gets me through the day is remembering a phrase: You are a summation of your habits. I couldn’t give up pop for one day and change my life. I couldn’t start a side hustle in one day and expect my income to change, I couldn’t bike to work for one day and expect to become fitter and richer. If I were to do something for just a short while, I may as well not do it at all.

Habits are simply amazing. It’s amazing how adaptable we are as human beings. We can change our situations in just over a month! It’s madness! If you live to age 85, that means you’ll have 1,020 months to get things right. I think anyone can get their lives figured out in 1,020 months.

Suggestions where you can begin your 40-day journey:

Saving money:

Bike to work

Stop using vending machines

Stop eating out on weekdays

Only eat out at restaurants below a ‘$$$’ price-point on Yelp

Switch from a private to public golf course

Cancel television

Limit yourself to an hour of YouTube per day

Go on a shopping fast

Don’t pay attention to any advertisements so you’re not tempted to spend more money

Earning money:

Become a mystery shopper

Start a blog

Become a bike messenger

Start detailing cars

Coach

Become a gardener after work

Become a painter

Become a personal shopper

Pass your knowledge onto others by becoming a tutor

Take a part-time job working for someone else (you definitely won’t want to hurt your reputation by quitting after only 40 days)

Investing money:

Decide on a small amount to invest. I recommend starting a Roth IRA. Pretty soon you’ll become a millionaire. I’m not joking. After you see your money grow, you’re not going to stop at day 41.

Invest the money into a business. Returns of this sort can be astronomical. The only concern of mine with this way of investing money is that it will probably take more than 40 days to see a good return. However, with some businesses, you can see a ROI quite quickly. For instance, if you’re a tutor, you can buy ads on Google AdWords, setup a website, and begin getting paying clients within 40 days. With the internet, 40 days is much shorter than it seems.

What will I do next?

For lent this year, I gave up watching more than one hour of television/YouTube per day. It was a bit of a struggle but I’m happy to continue doing it. I have more time worthy ventures. For my next 40-day challenge, I’ll be going to bed at 9:45PM and waking up a 6AM. I do best on 8 hours and fifteen minutes of sleep. My earning power increases when I’m most alert (as does everyone’s).

Even if your not religious, a 40-day trial can work for anyone. So I’ll leave you with one last question…

What financial habit will you adopt?

1 COMMENT

  1. There are a lot of great tips in here, and I especially like your strategy of taking any new goal 40 days at a time. Even your story about giving up pop shows how it works (the best part is anyone can do it, you don’t have to be Christian or religious).

    I’m going to go to bed by 10.30pm and wake up at 6am for the next 40 days. Let’s do this.

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