Healthy money habits
Five ideas to save money and help strengthen your financial future
How long does it take to form a habit?
Whether you’re trying to stick to a household budget, pay your recurring bills on time (every time) or avoid splurging on that morning gourmet coffee, you know it’ll probably take some time – and a positive mindset. Some experts claim it can require weeks, months or potentially years to change certain behaviors based on your lifestyle. It’s also been suggested that repetitive actions can make up more than 40% of a person’s daily agenda.1,2
As a leading professor of psychology explains, “Habits are an adaptive feature of how the brain works.”3
But no matter your brainpower, willpower or superpower, establishing any new exercise simply starts with having a plan in place, especially when it comes to creating a successful formula for your financial future.
Start breaking old or bad money habits by incorporating these productive patterns into your normal routine:
- Build (and stick to) a budget
Allocate a certain amount toward discretionary spending every month and hold yourself accountable to that limit. You can track your purchases through free online tools or mobile apps —like the Personal Capital Dashboard — that record each purchase and show you how much you’ve spent in specific categories.
Tracking purchases can also help you practice mindfulness with your spending, which can be helpful with adopting and sticking to your savings goals. For instance, if your app says you’ve already spent this month’s clothes budget, you might take some deep breaths and consider whether you really “need” that new sweater right now.
- Consider increasing your retirement plan contributions
One sound strategy to implement into your retirement savings plan routine is to increase your contribution to 10% (or even more) to your retirement plan account. While your take-home pay will be reduced, your retirement nest egg has the potential to grow.
In fact, our research reveals that individuals who contribute at least 10% of their annual salary to their retirement plan account are on pace to potentially replace 100% (or more) of their working income for their future.4
- Say your goals out loud
There is something to be said about engaging in an old-school conversation and discussing your financial situation with your spouse or partner. Of course, 67% of adults who speak regularly with their significant other about their hopes for their retirement are better prepared for the future than those who rarely chat or remain quiet about their savings dreams.4
So, spill the beans. All of them.
- Put your financial plan in writing
Drawing up an official blueprint for your retirement picture can help you follow a more fruitful path and help you gain control of your finances.4
Empower insight shows that people who draft a formal financial outline for their future are more hungry for their next adventure when compared with those individuals who have yet to put pen to paper.4 Jotting down your wishes for retirement — like where you want to live, what activities you want to do and when you want to retire — can keep you on track as you get older.
- Get financial advice
Could you use a nudge in the right direction?
Stop and ask for help!
If you’re stuck in neutral when you’re mapping out your long-term investing itinerary, accessing professional guidance can steer you toward your desired destination. Contact your employer to discover what advice options, resources and tools are available to help you navigate your route to retirement.4
1 The New York Times, Tara Parker-Pope, “How to build healthy habits,” February 2020.
2 NPR, Hidden Brain podcast, ”Creatures Of Habit: How Habits Shape Who We Are — And Who We Become,” December 2019.
3 Time, Cassie Shortsleeve, “5 Science-Approved Ways to Break a Bad Habit,” August 2018.
4 Empower Institute, “Scoring the Progress of Retirement Savers 2020,” September 2020.