There are definitely a lot of money-specific savings techniques that I have talked about before here, and the same is true of pretty much everyone else who has ever written here on TFD. Rather than focusing on saving money as a habit, however, I’ve noticed that some of my life-habits trickle down into my bank account, even if they aren’t at all financial in nature. When I act a certain way, or do certain things regularly, my relationship with my money is always heavily affected.
The number in my account goes up and down depending on what kind of life decisions I make outside of how I actually handle and budget my money. Here are six non-financial life habits that I’ve noticed affect the number in my account more than anything else I do as a daily practice.
1. Walking every single damn day.
For some reason, I do way better in every area of life — including my finances — when I have some sort of regular physical activity. Since my gym membership expired (yasssss) I’ve gotten into the routine of getting up early every morning to go for a walk (or a run, if my asthma decides to be kind to me that day). My daily walks keep me feeling energized enough to not want to splurge on an extra cup of coffee, healthy and motivated enough to make myself healthy meals at home instead of dropping cash on dining out or ordering in, and confident enough to not feel like I need to always update my wardrobe to make myself feel better about my body. I’ve found this to be probably the most effective tip for me in improving my physical health, mental health, financial health, and overall wellbeing.
2. Keeping my space well-stocked and well-organized.
As a formally super-broke college kid, I got used to living in messy spaces that seemed to have everything scattered everywhere except for the one thing I actually needed. College kids are pros at being crafty and substituting weird junk for stuff we actually need (I vividly remember using rain boots as flower vases, and putting old leftover ice cream in my coffee when I didn’t want to buy milk), but I’ve come to a point where I’ve realized it is easier to just spend the damn money on the shit you need, and then keep it neat and easily-accessible. I never find myself tearing my room apart looking for some item I need, wondering if I ever even bought it in the first place, running out to get it, and then finding it a few days later underneath some pile of clothes. No mas!
3. Being an avid reader.
This is a hobby that I wasn’t always sure would be a habit of mine, but it has seemed to help me in many areas of my life. Aside from helping become a better writer, it is also an inexpensive hobby, because although books can be expensive if you’re buying them brand new and hardcover, you can get them for super-cheap at used bookstores (which are also so much fun to explore), or totally-free from libraries. Just return them — seriously. And aside from being an inexpensive hobby itself, it is also one that prevents me from getting restless and bored to the point of running out and spending on entertainment. Which leads me to my next point.
4. Learning to enjoy my own company.
This was a big one for me, because sadly, socializing is often pretty expensive. As much as I like to give tips like “host a board game night and have everyone bring their own wine!!!” or something, that probably won’t happen. (Although it really should, I freaking love board games.) Once my schedule got a little crazier, I started to really see the value in spending a Friday night at home, working on creative projects, cooking a good meal, doing housework, or catching up on some good old Netflix. Getting rid of all of my FOMO spending is one of the most impactful thing I’ve ever done financially. I don’t really remember the last time I spent a Saturday recklessly charging my tab at a bar and feeling like a broke doofus the next day. And I’m not saying I don’t see my friends, socialize, and have fun — I’m just saying that I now acknowledge that spending money isn’t the only way to have fun on the weekend, and definitely not worth it if I’m feeling strapped for cash. I feel comfortable and happy to spend a night in, having fun alone.
5. Physically writing things down instead of relying on my phone and laptop.
I mentioned in a post last week that I forgot to write down a due date for a rented textbook, totally skipped dropping it off at the post office, and was charged a late fee. I can say with absolute certainty that this happened because didn’t write the due date on my calendar. It was on my little on-the-go to-do list that I keep on my phone, but I don’t reference that one like I do the big paper one one hanging over the desk I sit at every day. I need to write things down (usually in two or three different places) in order to be sure that I’ll remember them. When I don’t, I miss important reminders, tasks, payments, due dates, etc. I seriously write a list next to my calendar of every monthly bill I have, and the date it needs to be paid (or the date the money will be taken automatically from my account), and then also write a note about it on the date on the calendar itself. It sounds excessive, but I’ve never missed a payment or date because of this system. (Well, except last week with the textbook. I’m a human — I’m flawed.)
6. Being as kind and mindful of others as possible.
It isn’t really any secret that being a jackass makes you feel all-around terrible. I find that when I give into my moodiness, I’m more likely to get down on myself or upset about my own life because I feel bad for being a whiny, unhappy person. And when I get down on myself, I’m more likely to spend to fill the whiny, unhappy void. Example: I used to be kind of an angry little punk-ass-bitch in high school and early college, and it definitely got me into a place I didn’t want to be — constantly unhappy, always deeply stressed for no good reason, and definitely not mindful of my decision-making or my goals (financial or otherwise). It took many years of figuring out why I was miserable (mostly the company I surrounded myself with at the time) and finding ways to remedy the issues (which, for me, included taking up yoga and becoming a certified teacher).
It is probably a good life practice to just be kind to yourself and those around you, but it is definitely an added bonus that with emotional health comes better decision-making skills. I’ve found that if you feel happier and lighter as a human, you’re probably going to be less likely to want to drown your sorrows at happy hour, or go online shopping, or do any other feel-good spending that you think might help you be less of a mope-y loser. Feeling peaceful and happy on the inside usually translates to making healthier decisions and life-choices.
Mary is the summer Media Fellow at The Financial Diet. Send her your summer intern stories (your lessons, failures, triumphs and good advice) at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image via Pixabay