If you're cutting it close with your finances every month, or not setting aside anything for your future, then your routine could use some tweaking. Identifying the financial habits tripping you up is the first step to making a positive change and moving toward life's bigger goals.
1. Identify three financial behaviors causing you the most stress and preventing you from achieving what matters most
It's crucial to separate the financial habits working for you from those working against you. While taking an Uber to work or visiting your favorite deli over your lunch break might not seem like hefty one-off costs, they can add up. Whether it's a car service or carbs, identify those habits that are impacting your budget.
2. List one thing for each of the behaviors that triggered you to do that financial behavior
Maybe you're too rushed before work and rely on Uber to be efficient? Then you eat out every day because you need a break from the office (not to mention food). Slow down and reset. Consider carpooling or public transportation, or taking a walk around the block during work breaks instead of venturing out for lunch.
3. Write down one thing that you will change today to put you on the path to what matters most
Picture a meaningful long-term goal—maybe it's homeownership or grad school. Now look at your list of what's getting in the way and plan accordingly. This might mean something as simple as bringing high-protein snacks to work so that hunger doesn't eat into your wallet.
4. Find one tip or idea from another person who experienced the same behavior and overcame it
Do you read personal finance blogs, or have friends already achieving your same goals? It's okay to mimic routines that work. In fact, it's wise. Make these habits your own and start sidestepping your pitfalls.
5. List three things you can do today to align your financial behaviors to what matters most to you
You've isolated the hurdles and triggers between you and your goal. So what about three ways to correct the path? These can include establishing new spending strategies or speaking with a personal banker. The previous lists were items to avoid and be aware of, but this list, focused on better spending and saving habits, is one to pursue.