Want better money habits? Then make your bed.

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Having a routine is essential.

Whether you want to get to work on time, develop healthy habits or do well in your education, something that resembles a routine goes a long way to helping you achieve these goals.

Without a routine you’ll find yourself disorganised, prone to confusion and as a result more likely to experience stress and anxiety.

But these routines don’t have to be strictly structured and followed to the nth degree, they can be malleable and come in all shapes and sizes. The important thing is that the idea is at least there.

A routine can be as simple as making a tea every morning when you get up; reading for half an hour before bed; taking 10 minutes in the evening to make lunch for the next day.

These routines help you set in motion positive and familiar behaviours for the rest of the day, or something that rounds of the day nicely each night.

It’s the familiarity of knowing, no matter what happens today, this one thing in your day is going to happen and is under your control.

My thing is making my bed. Every morning I do it without fail; I can’t leave the house without doing so. For some reason it’s just one of those things I have to do. But doing so brings a sense of stability and normality to my mornings no matter what the day is promising to bring. It’s that knowing that no matter what, I’m coming home to a comfy, well-made and welcoming place that’s mine and mine alone.

And that’s exactly the mindset we want when we’re managing our finances – particularly when we’re investing.

When investing in an index fund it’ll move up and down (more up than down according to decades of data) – imagine playing with a yoyo while going up on an escalator – but the one thing that we can control is how much we’re contributing each month which many platforms will allow you to do automatically.

Consistently investing each month is your routine. Automating this process means you let your bank send money to your brokerage platform without even having to think about it.

It’s so important we take this one step at a time or we risk overwhelming ourselves right from the start.

A routine or habit like this must be first established before it can be improved upon. It has to become the standard in your life rather than the exception before you can scale and optimise it into something more substantial.

Taking these tiny, incremental steps towards a much larger goal gets you used to just ‘showing up’; completing a routine, no matter how small or trivial it may be.

These small but consistent routines will begin to filter through into every aspect of your life.

Nobody can go from 0-100. Tackle the small things, build little routines and eventually with the compounding effect of time and consistency, you’ll craft better financial habits.

It’s why I champion the snowball method of paying down debt. Regularly ticking things off a to-do list and seeing the numbers of tasks dwindle is a lot more motivating than pushing towards a larger goal that seems like a long way off or even unachievable.

It’s important to caveat that the snowball method could be more costly in the long run if you don’t pay down the higher interest debt first – but at the end of the day this is just down to personal preference.

It’s difficult to get your head in order when there are so many tasks taking up your mental ram. How are you supposed to get your finances organised when you have other things in your life that aren’t in order or that are distracting you from getting out the spreadsheets and budgeting apps?

At least by making your bed every morning this is one thing you can rely on being done, kicking that out your head to make space for the rest of your day.

Making your bed is a great example of starting with something small and building from there.

It’s easy. Everyone can do it. It takes no time at all and it neatens up your environment. It’s the equivalent small beginning step of just downloading the budgeting app with a view to eventually start putting in your budgeting details.

I’m not saying to never be spontaneous

Developing too much of a routine in too many aspects of your life could be seen as being too rigid and not open to new things, stifling creativity.

Habits and routine don’t tend to restrict spontaneity or freedom. It’s often those with no positive routines that have the least amount of freedom.

Think about it. Those that don’t have good financial habits will forever be wondering where the next pay cheque is coming from. Those with bad health habits find they have less energy to do things. Not having a good financial routine or habits means you’re less able to accept a spontaneous trip to the pub or weekend away.

By crafting and mastering these routines, you’re setting aside specifics moments in your day/week/month to do these things and therefore free up the rest of your calendar. This will, in turn, allow you to take advantage of the spontaneous opportunities in the safe knowledge that those important things have already been taken care of, or at least have a designated moment to be taken care of soon.

Giving a little bit of time and energy to developing a small routine around the most important aspects of your life create more freedom, both physically and mentally.

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Routines can be difficult to set up and maintain. But what is easy is pulling apart that routine and slowly implementing the building blocks of a routine.

Want to start your day in a positive way? Make your bed.

Want to start budgeting? Just start by downloading the app or saving a blank spreadsheet to your computer. Tomorrow you can take the next step.

Want to pay down debt? Just start by writing anything you owe down so you can organise and visualise it. Figuring out which to tackle first or how you’re going to do so can come tomorrow.

Want to start investing? Just open the account and pop the absolute minimum in for now (this can be as low as £1 for Freetrade or £25 for Hargreaves Lansdown but others are also available). You can look at tweaking and optimising the regular amount later. For now you just want to get used to the idea of investing rather.

2 thoughts on “Want better money habits? Then make your bed.

  1. I’d always argue for paying off debt using the avalanche method – it makes no mathmatical sense (to me) to ignore the debts incurring the highest interest not being paid off first. It’s how I paid off my 5-figure credit card debts and back then, no friendly internet community to help or guide me!

    It was a lonely journey but my motivation was seeing the interest being added each month dwindling as I was paying off that debt.

    But like you say, it’s personal preference and at the end of the day, if the snowball method works for other people, it’s still better than not having a plan to pay off debt.

    Anyway, great post about routines – I think some people think they are boring but I’m all for them because they become one less thing to think about. If you don’t make some things routine, you end up never doing them, even if you intend to, eg investing and exercise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I think the avalanche is definitely the most sensible on financial level and for most people should be considered first as it’ll cost less in the long run. The snowball is probably more to help with the psychological aspect if people are struggling I suppose, but could be a good way to get started and then progress to the avalanche once the routine of paying debt has become the norm.

      Kudos to you for paying it all off on your own – I didn’t actually know this was your situation before FIRE.

      Definitely! And like I said having a routine gives you freedom in other areas of your life too that’d otherwise be restricted without a routine.

      Liked by 1 person

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