Big Changes Through Little Habits

Why did I call this site ‘An Attitude of Habitude’?

What is a ‘habitude’ anyway?

To be honest, it’s an old word nobody really uses anymore

‘An Attitude of Habitude’, to me, is creating the life you want by harnessing the power of habits.

These habits happen automatically.

  • Like when you wake up & immediately use the bathroom.
  • Or how you always brush your teeth right before bed (right???)
  • Or how you might automatically turn on the tv when you get home from work.

We’ve done these activities so many times we don’t have to think about them.

So when I advocate for an ‘Attitude of Habitude’, I’m talking about taking your life goals then breaking them down to the smallest habits (like brushing your teeth before bed, or automatically investing each month) so you can create big changes (like having no cavities ever, or retiring early!)

 


Let’s See Some Examples

Retiring early – that may seem like a big, vague, & ambiguous goal. But that’s okay.

Taking that “big” goal, we’ll create some habits to get us on the right path.

  1. Put a set amount of money in retirement each month – as much as you can afford
  2. Trim expenses, if needed (let’s be honest – it’s always needed!)
  3. Earn more money, if needed, and invest it
  4. Focus on designing your life so you can live a full one now instead of waiting ’til retirement

Break it down even smaller

Put a set amount of money in retirement each month

How can we create this habit? Small, simple steps:

  1. Evaluate your finances & decide how much you can invest
  2. Automate it, if possible (your employer will do this or you can set up automatic withdrawals at your investment bank)
  3. Schedule the same day you contribute each month (I do this on the 2nd of each month when I’m paying my bills)

Done. Now I’ve created a habitude that I do every month. It’s small, and after some initial prep, is simple.

Over time, the investing will happen over and over and over and over again. If it’s automated, I do very little.

Interest will accrue. The market will go up & down – and I won’t really know because I won’t watch it and neither should you!

This small habit will put me on the path to retiring early.

 


It’s So Easy! Not Always…

Not everything is easy to create a habitude for – like trimming expenses. Ugh, we all hate that!

You can do it once, maybe twice a year if you’re dedicated. But how do you make it habitual?

Me? I feel the pain each and every month.

In GNUCash, I track each and every penny coming in and going out. Once a month, I run a report that tells me how much we spent.

I take this report and type each number into a spreadsheet, which shows me how much we spent every month that year.

It is tedious, but I feel the pain each month when I see how much we’ve spent. For me, I have to see exactly where our money went to feel the pain of how much we spent.

On the flipside, this also lets me see how much we’re saving. On another spreadsheet, I track our net worth. I add up all our assets, subtract our liabilities, and see our net worth!

Seeing how much we save each month gives me a confidence boost. I know we’re on the right track. This makes it easier to invest every month instead of feeling like our savings is being depleted.

This year was a good example – we moved to a different state, sold a house, and bought a new one. Our expenses were insane! But our net worth kept steadily rising each month and that kept my panic at bay.

 


Wrap It Up!

Those are some of my habits to help me retire early (or at the very least, on time!)

They’re small and I do them regularly.

Most importantly, I enjoy doing them.

Seeing my net worth increase gives me a confidence boost every month. Keeping a handle on our spending gives me a feeling of control over our budget.

More than anything else, those boosts keep me coming back each month (that, and the incessant bills that must be paid). I keep my larger goal (retiring early) in mind – but it doesn’t always get me through the day to day. My habits have to be a little bit fun too.

TLDR;

Habits lead to big changes. Start small and build up over time. Don’t be afraid to change if something’s not working.

 


What about you?

What are some big goals you’ve set for yourself? Can you break them down into smaller habits? How small can you go & what’s fun about each one?