An Interesting Way to Make Saving Money a Habit

It’s New Year Resolution Time.

Maybe you’ve decided: this is the year I will start saving for a home. Or maybe for a new car. Or maybe just… start saving.

Maybe this isn’t the first year you’ve made the resolution to save money. Maybe in the past, you’ve set goals to save 10% of your paycheck. Or 5%. Or whatever’s left over at the end of the month.

Maybe that hasn’t worked out for you- for many of us, saving is not a natural habit.

So how do you make it one?

B.J. Fogg, a psychologist and professor at Stanford University, has a new suggestion: to make a real habit, train your brain to succeed at making small adjustments.

In an article, Fogg identifies three steps to make a behavior routine.

  1. Identify your goal: the specific outcome you want
  2. Identify “tiny habits,” or “easy-win” behaviors that nudge you towards your goal
  3. Identify a “trigger”– something you already do as a habit, like check Facebook- and add the new tiny habit to it
  4. Pat yourself on the back

“After I ____(existing habit)____ I will ____(new tiny habit)___.”

After I make my cup of coffee, I will put an apple on the counter.

For instance, if you want to eat more healthfully, attach a tiny habit onto something you do routinely: maybe put a piece of fruit by the Keurig when you make your cup of coffee in the morning. Fogg suggests that you don’t even need to eat the fruit- just place it on the counter, and… well, since it’s already there… might as well eat that instead of preparing a pop tart…

How does this apply to saving?

Try attaching a tiny saving habit onto your existing habits. Maybe every time you check your phone, you check your bank account app. Maybe every time you shut off your alarm clock in the morning, you think about your dream house, or car, while lying in bed waiting for the snoozed alarm to repeat. Whatever you regularly do, add something that reminds you of saving to it.

Tiny Habits:

  • I will check my money app like Mint
  • I will look at a picture of my dream home
  • I will put my change into a savings jar
  • I will transfer $.50 into savings
  • I will think about saving 10% of my paycheck
  • I will open a budget template

Possible Triggers:

  • After I brush my teeth…
  • After I start the washing machine…
  • After I put my keys down…
  • After I open my email…
  • After I clean up dinner…

IMPORTANT: After you’ve completed a tiny habit, give yourself a pat on the back or a quiet “Yay!” This will positively reinforce the behavior, and make it become automatic faster.

It’s 2017- time for a change. Why not make it an easy one?

For more information, sign up for our Homebuyer Education Course today and learn how to start managing your finances.