We are what we repeatedly do — at least that’s what I think! So, what are you busy doing? Hopefully, whatever it is, it’s moving you toward your goals and is something you enjoy!
Since first starting my blog, I’ve become a freelance writer and I make money blogging (and I even quit my job as an attorney). My habits over the last few years have lead to a career change and more fulfilling life. I believe that if you want to make life changes, you can, too!
Here are my top 10 suggestions to help you adopt more productive habits so that you’re growing and learning and not stalling.
1. Do: Say “no” to yourself once a day
Do not: Always say yes
Say “no” to yourself once a day (see this post if you struggle with saying “no”). Whenever you want to spend money because you “deserve” it, make sure you say “no” (see this post if you spend because you “deserve it”). Unfortunately, you cannot buy things because you deserve them. You buy things because you can afford them (I did not make up this rule; it’s just the way it is). By saying no to yourself, you’ll get in the habit of not spending, in addition to getting out of the habit of entitlement. Saying no will help you feel better about sticking to your financial plan.
2. Do: Save every paycheck
Do not: Wait until the end of your pay period to save
Pay yourself first. If you do this, you’ll get in the habit of saving every pay period. If you wait until the end of your pay period, you probably won’t have anything left. Paying yourself first sets you up for success.
3. Do: Track your spending
Do not: Overspend by using your credit card
Create a budget (or use an online tool like Personal Capital) to help you. If you can’t say exactly what you spent on clothes last month or what you think you’ll spend on gas next month, you’re not in control of your money; your money is in control of you. And if you’re charging things on your credit card and not paying it off every month, it’s even worse. So, get in the habit of tracking everything you spend.
4. Do: Read 15 minutes every day
Do not: Watch more than 1 hour of TV every day
Start reading something related to finance every day (here’s a list of the top five personal finance books for young adults). If you just start reading and learning about finance, you’ll become financially intelligent, which is priceless. Start small, devoting only 15 minutes to finance reading every day. More than that and you’re setting yourself up for failure (after all, you are very busy).
And to make sure you have time for reading and accomplishing your goals, try to limit the time you watch TV to 1 hour. I barely watch any TV at all (I don’t have cable, which helps). If you keep track of how you spend your time, you’ll live intentionally and have the time to accomplish your goals.
5. Do: Commit to completing 1 task toward a goal every week
Do not: Live unintentionally
What is the one thing that you want for yourself? The one thing that if you could change, you’d be much happier. Every week commit to completing one task toward accomplishing this goal. Again, start small so you set yourself up for success. Without a plan, you risk everything. Live intentionally by planning your future, so you can accomplish your goals.
Example: You want a new job. This week, commit to applying to 2 jobs. Next week, commit to following up on both jobs. The following week, commit to applying to 1 job and sending out an email to a couple of your contacts in the field. And so on.
6. Do: Cook at home
Do not: Think that dining out won’t add up
Be very careful going out to eat. Our culture is one where dining out is the norm. But if you do not have an 8 month emergency fund, a fully funded retirement account, and a nice monthly cash flow, then you should not dine out. If you’re somewhere in the middle (e.g., you have some savings and some retirement), limit your dining out to once a week or put a cap on how much you spend on dining out every month. And if you have no idea what you spend going out to eat last month, start tracking it now by budgeting. All that spending adds up fast!
7. Do: Get out of your comfort zone
Do not: Do the same thing and expect a different result
“If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing.” It is so important to push yourself to do more, if you want more. Learning, growing, and progress is what life is all about. If you stay in the same place, you’ve stopped learning. And that is a horrible place to be. And after you get in the habit of getting out of your comfort zone, you feel less uncomfortable doing it (which is great).
8. Do: Stop complaining
Do not: Complain
I’m a big believer in what you focus on expands. So, if you’re a complainer or are negative, that is what will expand in your life. Try not to complain for one full week (or maybe start with one day if you’re a big complainer). After you’re done, you’ll be happier, you’ll attract happier people, and you’ll find success comes easier. (You’ll also notice other people who are complainers now that you’ve stopped complaining!)
9. Do: Acquire assets (and know the difference between an asset and a liability)
Do not: Think your house with a 30 year mortgage is an asset
If you want to be wealthy, you need lots of assets. Simply put, assets are one of the following: 1) business (your own), 2) real estate (that provides cash flow), 3) paper investments (e.g.: stocks and bonds), and 4) commodities (e.g.: oil and gas). So, if you have some of these things, you’re on your way. As for your car – that actually depreciates in value every year, so it’s not helpful to your assets. And your house that has a 30 year mortgage on it does not provide you with income (cash flow) and may depreciate. Over time your primary house may become an asset. But for you new home buyers without equity, your house is not an asset. (See the 2008 housing bubble for further explanation.) Note: I am not saying do not buy a house for yourself to live in. All I’m saying is that you shouldn’t think of it as an asset. If you own a rental property that provides you with cash flow, then that’s a different story.
10. Do: Look for coupons before you shop
Do not: Pay full price for anything
At this point, I pride myself on finding the best deal. I’m a huge Amazon shopper. It’s like a game. I find coupons and pay less than the sticker price for everything. With so many coupons online, there’s really no reason to ever pay full price. A simple online search for a particular company coupon usually does the job for me.
A Final Note!
All of your daily actions are just practice for life. Are you practicing growing, reading, learning and loving life, or are you practicing drinking beer and watching TV?
I’m all about practicing to make money right now as I am on a journey to get out of student loan debt. By learning how to start a blog and how to freelance write, I have been able to change my life. If I would’ve been watching TV and complaining this whole time, my life would be completely different — in a bad way!