CNBC Make It is posting a new financial task to tackle each day for a month. These are all meant to be simple, time-sensitive activities to take your mind off of the news for a moment and, hopefully, put you on sturdier financial footing. This is day three of 30.
Habits make up around 45% of our daily behaviors, according to research from Duke University. No matter what your larger goals are, forming habits that align with them is integral to achieving them. That goes for your money as well.
Today, take 20 minutes to consider financial habits you'd like to form. It could be saving more consistently from each paycheck, tracking your spending or simply checking your bank account balances each morning.
Whatever you do, start small, experts say. Just as you can't lift 100 pounds without building up your strength, it would be difficult to transition from saving nothing to saving $1,000 each month. Habits take time to form, and hitting smaller milestones can be motivating.
"When you go tiny, you don't need to rely on willpower or motivation," BJ Fogg, founder of Stanford University's Behavior Design Lab, wrote in his book, "Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything." "Tiny will grow bigger, just like a seed grows into a tree."
Consider which habits will be easier to form now that you are spending less of your time out and about and use your home-bound state to your advantage. Here are some ideas for financial habits to test out now:
- Stick to an essentials-only budget for a week
- Institute a "no spend day" every week or month
- Keep a money journal to write out goals and make observations about spending
- Wait 24 hours before buying anything online
- Set up account balance alerts for your credit cards and checking account
- Read a chapter of a financial book every week
- Plan a monthly money talk with your significant other
- Review your bank and credit card statements each weekend
- Write down what you're grateful for each day
- Contribute to a "sinking" fund each week or month
Keep track of your success, either in a money journal, as mentioned above, in a planner or with an app like Streaks.
And remember, you don't need to do it all on your own. There are shortcuts that can help you. If you want to save more each week, for example, set up an automated transfer from your checking to your savings account. By making it easy and streamlined, you're more likely to actually stick to it.
- Review how your spending has changed over the past few weeks
- Set up a system to track your spending
- Working from home? It's a great time to complete these 6 financial tasks you've been putting off