We all have mini habits we do every day that go unnoticed. For example, brushing your teeth, making your bed, or paying your credit card bills. Even though they may seem small at first, these small habits could amount to way more than just reaching a simple goal. Making your bed could be the baseline to having a more productive day at work and earning you a raise, rather than just having a clean house. Establishing and building upon these mini habits may be the ultimate trick to making your lifestyle and budget goals a reality. This trick to the trade is called habit stacking.
Created by James Clear, a writer and a personal development keynote speaker, habit stacking is the act of using simple habits to reach big goals. James highlights how habit stacking can help you get one percent better every day without experiencing burnout or overexhaustion. This habit stacking routine consists of adding actions you want to create on top of actions you already do.
For example, you may want to pay off credit card debt, but aren’t able to control your spending habits. To encourage mindful spending, make a habit of checking in on your budget each morning after you brush your teeth. This keeps your spending top of mind from the moment you start your day, and makes it easy to consistently carry out.
Interested in learning more about how habit stacking works? Keep reading, or jump to our infographic, to see how this may work for you and your goals.
What Is Habit Stacking?
Habit stacking is the art of combining your current habits with ones you want to start. Essentially, you take a habit you already do every day, and pair it with a simple one you want to do every day. For example, you may already make coffee every morning, and you also want to work out more. With this stacking routine, you could immediately do a few stretches while your coffee brews.
Once you’ve mastered the art of stacking one habit upon another, you build upon each habit until you have a full routine. This may turn your two-step stack into something like this: make coffee, do two push ups, make your bed, drink a full glass of water, and check in on your budget.
Stacking your habits is a great way to build routines you’re able to show up for, even when you feel unmotivated. Once you’ve proven your ability to show up for yourself consistently, you could grow your habits. Instead of doing two pushups after brushing your teeth, you may feel like doing 20. These simple changes help you establish your dream life, career, or budget.
5 Steps to Stack Your Habits to Improve Your Finances
Setting up a habit roadmap at the beginning of your journey will help you stay on top of your goals. Here’s our five-step approach to building, and sticking to, your ideal habit routine.
Step 1: List Out Your Current Habits
First, list out simple habits you already do when you wake up. Common morning habits include making coffee, brushing your teeth, checking emails, and working out. Note which habits you do every day, and which habits you only do occasionally. For example, if you only work out some mornings, you may want to habit stack on your daily cup of coffee instead.
Step 2: Brainstorm Money Habits You Want to Implement
Now, write out financial habits you want to create. Do you want to save more this year? Would you like to be more mindful with your spending habits? List out goals you’d like to reach and what habits could get you there. Here are some examples of attainable mini goals to stack onto your current routines:
- Read one page of a finance newsletter after turning on your coffee machine
- Check in on your budget after you brush your teeth
Step 3: Make Your New Routines Foolproof
Once you understand what habits will help you reach your money goals, make them as simple as possible. Your goal could be to spend money more mindfully. To do that, establish a habit of checking your budget every morning after getting out of the shower. Doing this could help you be mindful of your purchasing decisions. Plus, taking a minute to check in on your budget could feel too simple not to do every day.
Step 4: Attach a New Money Habit to a Current Habit
It’s time to habit stack to curate your perfect daily routines. Start by taking a habit you do every day and pair it with a habit you want to do every day. This may look like this:
- “When I make my morning coffee, I will check in on my budget.”
- “After I brush my teeth every morning, I will add a penny to my savings jar.”
While mapping out your habit stacks, use this model:
Step 5: Stay Positive and Consistent With Your Money Goals
When the goals and habits you want to create are broken up into mini goals, it can be easier to complete them. But, there will still be times you feel unmotivated — that’s completely normal! When you’re feeling unambitious, remember the goals you’re working towards. Checking in on your budget daily may motivate you to make your coffee at home over ordering takeout.
Habit stacking may be the perfect recipe for establishing self-care financial habits. To see how this strategy may look like in other avenues of your lifestyle, check out our infographic below. Before you know it, you may have stuck to your budget or saved more than you ever thought you would.