Is your checking account balance so low it makes you want to cry? Does it seem like there’s never enough money to meet your basic expenses? If you find yourself consistently asking friends and family for a loan and you’re struggling to make ends meet, bad money habits might be to blame. If you want to regain control, now is the time to clean up your financial mess. Here are some ways to kick your bad money habit for good.
1. Analyze how you got here
How did you pick up this bad money habit in the first place? Did you completely ignore your budget? Did you feel pressured to overspend so you could keep up with your friends? Take time to figure out what led to your bad relationship with money. Knowing where you went wrong is the first step toward making the necessary changes.
2. Don’t make excuses
Don’t go easy on yourself by making excuses for why you handled money poorly. You can reason that those new shoes or that extra tech tool was a necessity, but at the end of the day, you’ll be the one suffering for your reckless spending. Be honest with yourself and own up to your missteps.
3. Exchange one bad money habit for a good one
If you usually shop during your lunch break, try working out or taking a walk instead. You’ll be healthy and wealthy—it’s a win-win! Also remember that change takes time. Whether you want to stop overspending and save more money or get into the practice of creating and sticking to a budget, it won’t occur immediately. Give yourself the time and room to go through each phase of change.
James Clear, author of Transform Your Habits, references a concept introduced by behavioral psychologists called the 3 R’s of Habit Change. The concept proposes that every habit, whether it is good or bad, follows a similar three-step pattern: reminder (the behavioral trigger), routine (the behavior), and reward (the benefit gained from the behavior). While you’re putting in the effort to change your bad money habit, allow yourself to fully complete each step in the process.
4. Enlist support from friends and family
Tell family and friends about your financial goals. If those close to you know what you’re trying to accomplish, you’ll have a network of accountability partners. That way, when you’re tempted to go off course, you can think about all the friends and loved ones who are rooting for you. Even better, carry a picture in your wallet of an accountability partner or even a character from a TV show who can visually remind you of your goal, like this guy. It’s kind of like a vision board, but for your wallet.
5. Get professional advice
If all else fails and you can’t seem to get back on track on your own, it might be helpful to consult a financial professional (specifically, a certified financial planner). You can even go one step further and hire a financial therapist. Some are certified as both financial planners and therapists. A financial therapist can do wonders for your money. While a certified financial planner can help you put your financial plan in motion, a financial therapist can assist you with understanding why you approach money the way you do and guide you toward steps that can help you break destructive money habits.