1) Make it tiny (at least once a day and takes less than 30 seconds)
2) Attach it to current habit
3) Ensure it’s painless and requires little effort
As a way to train yourself to do the habit – you have celebrate success. Professor Fogg gives the example of saying “Victory” to yourself.
To be honest, forming the tiny habit reminded me of the method I used to train my dog in agility. In order to get him to jump over a fence, first I had to train him to follow my hand. But to train him to follow my hand, first I trained him to touch my hand. To train him to touch my hand, I rewarded him with a tiny treat and said “yes” when he touched it. I broke down his training into tiny steps that were painless and followed with a small celebration. Then I repeated it over and over until it built into a larger habit.
The basic format for a tiny habit is “After I [insert already established habit here], I will [insert tiny habit here.] For example, you could say “After I brush my teeth at night, I will floss 1 tooth.”
None of my initial tiny habits were related to personal finance. But here are 5
1) After I empty my pockets onto the dresser, I will put my extra change into the change jar.
This tiny habit will force you to collect your change instead of spend it. And coins quickly add up.
2) After I let my dogs outside, I will drink 1 sip of water.
Drinking water isn’t directly related to personal finance. But, if you drink more water, you’ll be less likely to drink things that do cost money – like soda and juice. Plus, you’ll likely eat less too.
3) After I take off my watch, I will put my receipts in receipt drawer (or take a picture of them with my Expensify App.)
I was notorious for losing my receipts (before I discovered the Expensify App. It lets you take a picture of your receipt so you never have to worry about losing it.) I couldn’t take countless tax deductions each year because I had no (IRS accepted) proof that I spent the money. But if you form a tiny habit to keep track of receipts, you’ll be adding dollars to your pocket book.
4. After I lock up the front door for the night, I’ll switch off my TV/DVD/Cable box power switch.
There are a few items in each house that consume most of the houses vampire electricity — aka power that’s used even when something is “off”. Apparently over 50% of US electricity is consumer by such vampires. In my house, the TV/DVD/Cable box area is one of those vampires. But everything is plugged into one power strip. And according to my Kill-a-watt meter from Belkin, I would save $20 a year for a habit that would take less than a second.
5. After I open the fridge to get a snack, I will do one push-up.
This habit also isn’t directly related to personal finance. But any habit you start that leads to better health will lessen your health care expenses in time.
These 5 personal finance tiny habits will make a big impact on your wallet. What are others that you can come up with?
This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2012. For more posts about goals and taking action see Goals and Taking Action Roundup.