Breaking Bad Habits by Building a Plan

I am no saint, as anyone who knows me can attest.  I suppose if I opened this article up to input from friends and family, a very lengthy tome could be produced.  I’m not sure how entertaining it would be, but it wouldn’t lack for detail.

Negative or positive activities can turn into habits after prolonged and repeated performance.  Getting stuck in a rut of continued bad habits can be difficult to overcome. 

Rather than compiling a list of my peccadillos, I’ll confess to one strikingly bad I habit I had for years.  While living with a couple of roommates many years ago, I picked up the oh so attractive habit of using smokeless tobacco.  What began as an occasional thing quickly became a can a day habit.  We eventually started buying sleeves of ten cans at Costco to lower our expenses, but more importantly make sure plenty of “snoos” was always available.  Nicotine is a powerfully addictive chemical.

Fast forward ten years I was married, trying to have a baby, and still “chewing”.  After getting a verbal lashing from a friend about the need to stop, I began to seriously consider it.  (That friend actually became one of my first clients.)  Upon learning my wife was pregnant I knew I had to figure out how to stop.   

I researched how to break a bad habit.  There are three key parts to successfully eliminate a bad habit.  First, you should have a higher goal in mind, like longevity or health.  Mine was being a new father to a son or a daughter.  I wanted to be a role model for them.  I couldn’t do that if I was stuffing my face with tobacco every hour. 

Secondly, take it day by day.  Every day you can overcome the negative activity is a win. 

Lastly, break your routines.  Do things differently.  Change up your process, environment, or schedule.  It worked for me.  I haven’t had a “chew” in over 18 years.  My son’s birthday is in August. 

Financial bad habits can run the gamut from big to small.  Waiting to re-finance your home mortgage when you could be saving thousands is a big one.  Your $5 daily super latte that adds lbs. to your waist and deducts money from your wallet is a smaller one.

If you apply the three components above, you can break the bad habit of failing finances.  First, commit to financial health by building a comprehensive financial plan with the help of a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™.  This higher goal of getting your finances in order will help free you from the benign neglect that many suffer.

Two, financial planning takes time.  Some components will be designed quickly, others are more complicated and evolve over time.  Each plan is specifically customized to the needs of the individual or family.  No two are alike.  Be patient, but persistent in working through the process.  It will come as a relief when completed. 

As the plan develops, you and your planner will be addressing: Estate Planning, Risk Management, Investments, Retirement, Debt Management, Tax Planning, and Goal Funding.   Some of these issues are easily resolved, others will take more extensive analysis and review. 

Lastly, break the routines that have led to your current situation.  For some it is just apathy or inertia causing the lack of action.  That has become the routine and it continues on and on.  Break that routine! Take action!  Call your advisor today or find a CFP®.

After your financial plan has been completed, it should be reviewed every couple of years or when life changes have occurred, i.e. job loss/change, health issues, etc. 

If you would like to discuss this approach or other issues, please contact me at your convenience.  Feel free to share with others and make suggestions for future articles: peter.oneill@fiduciamwealth.com