Most of us have our hands full. Too many times, our finances, health, and homes don't get the attention they deserve.
We’re going to be talking about how you can reset your habits and simplify finances, home, and life so that you can have some big wins this year!
Reworking Your Habits
For multiple reasons, 2020 was a challenging year.
Even if you weren't directly affected by the pandemic or the financial fallout from it, chances are you were impacted by the things that were going on.
If you are a parent, you had another layer on top of that.
You had to not only work from home and stay productive, but make sure that your kids were doing well with remote learning, but we've made it it's a new year.
Many times people use this as motivation to change and pivot the direction they're going with.
One of the best ways you can do that is by shifting your habits.
It may seem like too small of a thing to really make an impact, but we found out from personal experience and talking with other families that that's made all the difference.
By having better habits and having systems in place, it made it much easier to hit the goals that we had and they had.
So we're starting off the season of the podcast by focusing on that- how do we shift things with our habits, how to recreate these systems?
I'm glad that Peter Polson from Tiller is here to talk about building better habits. We're going to be focusing on financial habits, but we're also going to be covering some other topics today.
We're going to be discussing:
- why habits matter, especially with your finances
- how to choose the best goals for you and your family,
- how to break things down and build up a system that will help you hit your goals faster.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Listener Mailbag: Best Personal Finance Books, CoastFI, and More! – Simplify and Enjoy Podcast
Key Resources to Help You Change Your Habits
Looking to reset a few things to get some family and financial wins this year? Here are some fantastic resources to help you!
- Money Apps for Families: Personal Capital, Tiller, Mint
- Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money
- Tiller’s 30 Days of Financial Wins
- Tiny Changes with Big Results
- The Power of Habits
Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!
Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union. If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today!
Building Better Habits
I really enjoyed my discussion with Peter. Even though our focus there was about improving your finances, there are a lot of key points that you can use in other areas of your life.
Developing habits is absolutely important to that, but before we get into how you can do it, let's talk a bit more.
What is habit? How would you define it?
In essence, a habit is something that you almost do automatically. If you had to break it down, there are three key components to it.
I admit that might sound a little bit dry and boring, but when you understand how these work together, then it's easier to make changes.
Now you might feel like it's impossible to change your habits, or it's almost impossible, but that's not the case.
You already are a habit forming machine.
New York times, reporter Charles Duhigg studied the neuroscience and psychological research behind our routines in his book, The Power of Habit.
He cited a study in his book that was done at Duke University and researchers there found that over 40% of the activities we do on a daily basis is a habit.
Before the pandemic, if you were going to the office, you probably had a set pattern or schedule of what you did and some of it almost felt automated.
Your commute, for example, you may have gaps because you do the same commute to the location it's automated in your brain.
During the pandemic, if you were working from home, you probably had to recreate a new routine to fit your new normal and to continue working and be productive.
It is possible to change and adjust your habits based on your goals and your circumstances.
How do you do that?
Changing Your Habits
So let's go back to those three parts, the cue, the routine and the reward.
Your cue is your trigger for the behavior we're talking about, could be a time, for example, your alarm clock, telling you at a certain time, you got to get up and start the routine.
It could be the location when you're at the office and you log on. The first thing you do is you check your email.
It could also be the presence of certain people. It could be emotions, how you feel, or it can be actions that you've taken before.
Most times we're not immediately aware of what our queue is, but if you pay attention as you're doing the routine, you'll start seeing that there are certain things that kind of clue you in and get you started in that habit.
Pay attention the next time you're trying to change that habit and see what is the thing that triggers you to do that habit.
The next part is the routine, which is your actual habit.
Maybe at the beginning of the day, you go to the home or your regular office and you log in and you immediately go to email. You might want to change the routine.
When you sit down, instead of emails, you sit down and write out the most important tasks that you need to accomplish for work that day and have that by the desk so that you know, that that is the must do for the day and that you put that first.
The last thing that you can manipulate is the reward.
For example, you're talking about snacks, swapping out the snacks, that reward of you feel good.
You're taking a break, you're relaxing, but instead of having that processed food, you've picked some fresh fruits, Apple and peanut butter or whatever you like.
You're still enjoying that break. Maybe talking with someone and catching up, but you're not having unnecessary calories added to your diet.
Those are a few ways, but really nailing down those three key points can make it so much easier and just focusing one at a time absolutely makes a huge difference.
When you're able to identify what your trigger is, then you're better able to manipulate and swap things out so that you can change your bad habit and put a better habit in.
Figuring Out Which Habit to Pick Up
This can sound a little bit hard to wrap your head around because we're just talking about cues, rewards and habits.
Let's look at some goals that people have or areas in their life that they want to improve. Then we can break that down into habits and goals that they can pick up.
Let's talk about health. Maybe you want to get healthier this year? What does that look like? You can have several different goals.
Maybe you're looking specifically at weight. Maybe you don't feel as strong as you used to or as athletic.
Let's break that down into different areas and see what goals can be there and what habits we can pick up.
It could be a matter of exercising more. It could be making better choices with your meals and snacks throughout the day, or it can be something like drinking, more water.
Since we talked about finances, let's dive into that again. You want to have a better understanding of how your money works, so you start tracking your money
Maybe you're looking to pay down your debt or you're saving for a specific goal, like a house or for your kid's college or whatever it is. You have to develop this habit of paying yourself first.
Now we can transfer that to other areas like your personal wellness. Something that is underrated, but really helpful with improving your mood and your health is making sure that you get good quality sleep.
So whatever that number is six to eight hours that fits you would be a great improvement. Or you want to pursue a passion project? I'm not talking about a side hustle. I'm specifically talking about something that you really enjoy a hobby that enriches your life.
Perhaps you feel overwhelmed with everything so one of your goals for this year is to just have less stress. The best way to do that is to start tracking your schedule and making sure that you're putting the more important things first.
Finally, let's look around the house. A lot of us had to spend much more time around the house and maybe we realized we weren't as happy as we used to be, or that we realized we were with the place.
What are some things that we can improve? We can declutter unnecessary things. We could tackle that list of home projects we had been putting off.
You could do a review of what's already in your home. You could donate and sell those items free up some space and have less things to maintain around your home.
As you can see, there's different ways that you can break down your goals, not just with finances, but you look at your health, your wellness , your family and around the house.
Harnessing The Power of Focus with Your Habits
Now a challenge that people have is they want to fix it all. Maybe I've listed several goals that you want to achieve.
One of the best ways you can avoid burnout is by choosing and focusing maybe on one to two goals at a time. Once you get those habits into place, then you can move on to the next.
That's one of the reasons I think, why systems like the baby steps with your finances is so helpful for many is that it gives you one goal at a time to focus on.
As you hit it, then you can move on. You've had a win. You feel good about that. You progress forward. So then how do you figure out which goal or which habit is right for you?
I had mentioned to Peter that one of the goals I had during our time at home was exercising more.
I wanted to make this as easy as possible. The cue is the clothes right there where I can slip into them, get started my workout first thing in the morning. Then I can do my regular routine and that's made a huge difference for me.
We're looking for these Keystone habits that can kind of create this domino effect. Look for a small habit that you can do that can have a significant impact on your goals.
For example, you want to save up for a house down the line. What's one of the best ways you could do that? Paying yourself first could be a great key move. Making sure that at the beginning of the month, once your check is deposited, there's an automatic transfer for a certain amount that goes into savings for that goal.
Let's talk about health. One of the easiest ways you can do that even before you shift your habits is by tracking your meals and snacks.
We mentioned the power of tracking your money when I was chatting with Peter, because it brings us awareness. Tracking your habits currently can be a great first habit to develop.
With your health, when you look at the meals that you're actually eating in the snacks you're having and the amount of them, you may have some motivation right there to say, you know what? I don't need to snack as much, or maybe I can swap out.
Tracking your finances, your meals and snacks, or even your schedule can be a fantastic habit.
To help you hit your goals today. I want to focus on not just a couple of key takeaways, but on a monthly money challenge for you.
Now we've talked about Keystone habits and setting things in place so you're moving in the right direction.
So I thought the best way to start off this year is to focus on tracking your money, both on the income side and on the expenses.
Look, 2020 did a number on us, and we probably had to make some adjustments to our budget and reset a few things. So if we're going to pivot towards these new goals that we have, we should get a good idea of what our baseline is.
Where is our money coming from and where is it going? Moving forward, we can start making adjustments in the right direction.
There's several ways that you can do this. There's some great options out there with apps.
A few that I want to mention include tiller, which we had Peter over there doing that financial wins challenge.
Definitely want to join in on that. If you're looking for a community, I think that's great.
We also have personal capital and mint. And if you're a couple, that specifically is looking for ways to sync up and talk about your finances. There are apps that are specifically designed for that Zeta and honey fi can help you to get on the same page with your finances.
Maybe you don't want to use an app. Spreadsheets can be incredibly helpful. There's some great Google sheet in Excel templates. If you want, I do have on my site, my own like 50, 20, 30 budget template that you can use and adjust as you see fit.
And there's nothing wrong with pen and paper, if that's how you want to do do it. It's more important that you have a tool that fits you and your style, because if you're consistent, that's when you're going to start having the wins.
And a key takeaway I want to focus on are your money dates this year. Let's make them into a habit if you haven't already and make them fun.
This first month we're talking about tracking your money, just set it up. Don't talk about the numbers necessarily, but instead focus – what are the key areas with our finances around the house with ourselves, our health, our family, that we want to hit?
See which ones you can agree on. Sync up on that and start tracking your progress.
As always, if you want to chat with me in our Facebook group, thriving families, please sign up and join. It's free. We're a private Facebook community that's focused on helping each other with our family and financial goals.
We'd love to see you there.
Special, thanks to Peter for being a part of this episode. There is still time. If you want to join up tillers 30 days to financial wins challenge, it's a great way to join a community and start tracking your money. And they do offer a 30 day free trial. Just head over to simplifying, enjoy.com/tiller.
Support the Podcast!
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Music in this episode was provided by artists from Audiio.
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