I grew up in a large, Irish Catholic family – there’s a lot to unpack with that statement! (Full Disclosure: I love the history of Catholicism, but I am not a practicing Catholic.). Let’s talk about good and bad spending habits.

Habits Defined

There are a few positive take-aways from my strict religious upbringing. First, the long, flowing garments the nun’s all wear called, “habits”, are awesome. I mean, who doesn’t love black and white? And the sisters never, ever have to think about their wardrobe or worry if their jeans are just a bit too tight after a long holy week of prayer.

Second, for people who are comforted by routine, the Catholic religion–from prayers whispered bead by bead on a rosary, to the recitation of the Our Father during mass–is a faith founded on rituals and, the classic definition of habits.

Good or bad, habits form the core of how we all manage our daily lives. They dictate how we nav. our time: that early morning cup of joe (cream no sugar, please), the morning commute (same route, different day), yoga (6:00pm every Tuesday/Thursday). They are also the actions we default to for comfort and often dictate where we buy the things we buy…. 

Thus, it’s been shown that habits inform how we manage our health and our wealth. In his New York Times Bestseller, The Power of Habit, Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg  suggests that by becoming aware of our unconscious habits, we can change bad habits into good ones.

Spending Habits

If we truly want to take control of our lives, it’s important to take a conscious look at our spending habits. We all have good and bad spending habits. 

“Bad Habits”

We define bad money habits as the spending you do without really thinking about it and the purchases you don’t really need that add up.

Maybe it’s starting your day off with that $4.50 cup of gourmet coffee, shopping online for needless items, buying the book you could have checked out at the library, opting for an expensive lunch out instead of brown bagging it, or caving for those shoes you really wanted instead of waiting for them to go on sale. You can define them for yourself, but think of them as the little money that is spent on unessential items that could instead be saved or, better yet, invested and work for you in the long run.

“Good Habits”

There are a ton of blogs these days that talk about good spending habits. Again, you have to define this for yourself, and we recommend thinking about your goals first. Do you want to retire early? Or are you just trying to save an emergency fund? Are you trying to manage debt? Do you want to travel to every continent (maybe even Antarctica?) before you’re 35? Do you want to achieve financial independence by the age of xx?

If you define those short to long terms goals, the good habits are easier to act on because you’re focused on the big picture and not the momentary gratification.

We believe good money habits help you become a conscious spender. Maybe you pay with cash only instead of pulling out your credit card for every purchase. Maybe you evaluate your needs verses wants to help stave off impulse buys. Maybe you take the time to research the best price for those big purchases, or avoid shopping without using a list –why is it so dang hard to stick to that list?!

If you don’t have faith that changing bad money habits into good money habits will improve your financial well-being, check out: here, here, and here. Or you could just believe us:). 

Nav.it 101: Not All Habits are Black and White

What I hope you learn from reading this blog is that you have the power to consciously evaluate your daily habits and examine how they affect your health and your wealth. At Nav.it we call it conscious spending. This is NOT about calling yourself out on your sinful habits and feeling bad about them, to keep going with my Catholic analogy:).

Good and bad spending habits are about confessing which bad money habits might be holding you back, forgiving yourself for them (like Jesus taught!) and thinking about how you can tweak them just a tad. It’s about celebrating the good habits you have in place and giving yourself a break. It’s about just paying attention.

We are all creatures of habit, and replacing bad habits with good habits is a practical, easy approach to reaching your financial goals—because by paying attention you define what your priorities are for your money and how you want to get there. If we (who used to bury our heads in the sand and NEVER look at their bank accounts) can do it, you can do it with even more class and efficiency!

Hallelujah and Amen.