Old Habits Die Hard
I’m 3 months into Project Money, and I’m starting to feel the pain. Like the pain you feel the day or two after you do a really hard workout or a physical activity that your body wasn’t previously accustomed to. You know you have to stay active and moving to work through the pain, but you want to just sit down with a bowl of ice cream and relax. I feel that way about my finances right now. I’ve been saving. A LOT. More than I have at any other time in my life. And I’ve been sticking to a firm budget. Just ask Ashley and she will tell you that when she asks me for money, instead of “No”, I respond with “Project Money”. Enough said.
I have been sweating through a serious Project Money workout and I can feel the burn. I know I have to keep pushing through, but I feel like I really want that bowl of ice cream – translation: I’m really, REALLY tempted to go on a shopping spree, throw caution to the wind and spend, spend, spend. But the idea of feeling overwhelming buyer’s remorse (and my competitive drive) has so far kept me going for the past 3 months and prevented me from that spending spree.
Studies show that in order for a behavior to become a habit, it takes a minimum of 66 days. And in order to create that habit, you need to repeat that behavior in the same situation. That means I created bad spending habits by repeating my trips to Starbucks, Ulta, Target, Amazon and the mall just to name a few. That habit developing 66 days flew by when I was spending money I didn’t have, and it spent pretty easily. I was excellent at that habit. I was so good that I memorized my credit card number to allow for speedy online checkouts and I rarely checked my daily checking or savings balances. Seemed fine at the time.
Here’s this week’s financial fun fact: breaking bad habits is very difficult, even when you are motivated to do so. The key is to control your environment so that you don’t encounter the cue that triggers your bad habit. That means I need to steer clear of Starbucks. And remove the Amazon app from all of my devices. And take a different route home so I don’t drive by Target or Ulta or the other Starbucks.
Here I am now, well over 66 days into Project Money and I still haven’t fully broken that bad spending habit. There’s an extra paycheck in August and I’m itching to spend it. New habits don’t stop the old habits, they just have to be stronger. Wish me luck in the next 6 months of Project Money. Old habits die hard.