Breaking Bad Habits Via Swapping

Ever consider how much that bad habit is costing you?  What am I saying?  You’re reading a personal finance article about breaking bad habits, of course you have!  So you also know that smoking those cigarettes or eating a ton of junk food is not only inching you closer to the end of the road *ahem*, it’s also destroying a part of your discretionary spending that could be building you wealth.  Extreme wealth

Swapping Habits

After committing to extreme frugality last year, we started to examine how we spend our time and every dollar of our money.  Turns out, we were blowing hundreds each month on eating out.  We REALLY love going out to eat!  Really.  But we realized that we were dropping about $200/week going out to eat.  Ugh.  I’m so embarrassed.  Then, things changed…

We were all set to go down the rabbit hole of American consumerism and lifestyle inflation and purchase a huge house that we could barely afford, until a microorganism saved the day!  The house was riddled with mold!  Yay!  We cancelled our contract, slept like babies for the first night in months, and decided our financial well-being was way more important than validating our lives through STUFF.  We both have the “frugal gene” lurking in our genetics.  This event just switched it back on.  We also realized that we were now full-fledged adults and we needed to start acting like it.  After all, time was slipping away and we were not focusing on what true adults should be focusing on.  You know…destroying debt, building wealth, and leading by example.

bad habits 2We decided to swap out our old habits for new ones.  Whenever we had the urge to go spend money, we suppressed it and replaced the activity with something not involving the outlay of cash.  Read on.

My Struggle With Cheeseburgers

Let’s just say cheeseburgers is a code word for all junk food and meals outside of the home.  This was our biggest cash suck each month.  If we had taken that $800/month we spent eating out and invested it in mutual funds for 10 years, we would have a whopping $150k after a decade!  Oh My God.

These days we swap out urges to go out to eat with a long walk around the neighborhood or a hike through the woods.  This activity has become just as enjoyable than sitting in a restaurant and blowing our hard-earned cash on crappy food.  We get to have the same conversation we would have over crappy, fattening food, while trimming our waistline!  We have also incorporated a candlelight dinner at home followed by some Netflix binge watching.  This sure does beat spending our entire night in some restaurant.  We’re saving money and watching engaging television that spurs more conversations for our long hikes.  Score and Score!

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Yummy

By the way, we’re not perfect.  When the urge to “go out” becomes too great and we feel that we would benefit greatly from a change of scenery, we hit one of our favorite coffee shops.  We just make sure this doesn’t happen too often and we only order coffee or tea.  We typically get outta there for less than $7!

You Can!

Here’s a challenge.  You can do this too!  Pick a habit that is moving you in the opposite direction of your goals and swap it out with a positive one.  What are you going to swap out?

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Now What?

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7 comments… add one
  • Mr. Groovy (@FreedomIsGroovy) Jan 8, 2016, 11:54 am

    This is Mrs. Groovy, logged in with Mr. G’s WP credentials. I’m all messed up with this Gravatar stuff, trying to get the same icon on the .com sites. Anyway- Hi. Mrs MMM. I finally clicked in from a comment you made at Two Cup House and I’m glad I did!

    I’m trying to swap out my morning routine for a better one. I get up at 6:20 am to start work from home at 8:30. And I’m usually not ready until 9. I do a few productive things like a workout for my shoulders, and I tend to Groovy Cat, but I need downtime for coffee and reading. Mr. G does the Miracle Morning so I’m trying to muster up the dedication to at least try the 6-minute version. I can do anything for 6 minutes, right?

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 11, 2016, 7:36 am

      Nice to meet you, Mrs. Groovy! You can handle 6 minutes. I have confidence in you 🙂 It’s amazing how quickly I was able to gain enjoyment from swapping one activity from another. Thanks for stopping in!
      Mrs. MMM

  • Mark Jan 8, 2016, 10:49 am

    My problem is I have too many good habits I can not afford too. Such as I would love to do crossfit but the membership is un-affordable for me at this time. I love downhill skiing and even with a cost effective ski club trips the price still kills our budget. I love biking and I have a now a bike that costs more than my first car. I am looking to get a bad weather bike I can ride in the New England winter and to commute to work but I have Cognac tastes. Right now for 2016 we are putting many of our good habit things that add value and true enjoyment in our lives on the shelf and doing like you are in no cost activities and finding the enjoyment in that. We are reorganizing our lives and priorities and making sure where we put our money is adding true value to our lives and long term happiness. I am banking it will pay dividends down the road. I am happy to see others share our sacrifice. I just wish we could have our cake and eat it too. Posts like this help so much!

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 11, 2016, 7:32 am

      I am in the same situation. I love high-cost activities. Skiing is one of them. I want to get my Mini Monster out on the slopes and get her involved in the sport. But, how do you do that on a beer budget? My answer is to just plan for it. Since I know that is important to us, I will cut back on something else to make sure the skiing happens. It’s all a juggling act. I hate competing financial priorities. The PF Community is a great place to stay motivated!

  • Matt @ The Resume Gap Jan 8, 2016, 10:14 am

    Oof, the dining out example definitely hits home for me. I’ve had successful months and I’ve had insanely high-spending months in that category, often correlated with activity level at work. I wish I were one of the naturally frugal people who genuinely prefers eating at home to dining out, but if I could do so frugally and healthily, I would probably dine out for every single meal!

    One of my big drivers for dining out is that I’ve been lazy about going grocery shopping. That’s probably the “swap out” I need to make — replacing walking to a restaurant with walking to the produce section!

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 11, 2016, 7:29 am

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I often said that my goal was to be able to comfortably afford to eat out for every meal. I just enjoy the entire experience. This IS my biggest downfall. Blah.

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