Monday Morning Quarter Buck 11/12/2018: Financial Planning Habits by Kerrie Beene

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“Depending on what they are, our habits will either make us or break us. We become what we repeatedly do.” ―Sean Covey

This past Friday we released a podcast with Joe Messinger.  Joe works with other financial planners to “train” them on a college planning process.  Joe has worked with several of our planners on the “pre-approval” college planning process and the habits that planning for college require.  As financial planner Kerrie Beene states below, habits are a formula that require choice and not memory. We hope you enjoy last weeks Wine and Dime Podcast as well as Kerrie’s Blog.

Habits

By Kerrie Beene

I recently read a book by Charles Duhigg called, The Power of Habit, that I consider life-changing. The book is a must read. Duhigg explains that 40% of our actions performed each day are not decisions, but habits. A habit is a formula that automatically follows: when I see a cue, I will do a routine in order to get a reward. A case study explained in detail in the book, tells the story of a 71 year-old male who lost his medial temporal lobe, which causes short-term memory loss. Once home, he started going for a walk everyday with his wife, and as long as she was with him he was fine and no one was concerned. One day he disappeared and everyone was preparing for a man hunt. However, within about 20 minutes he returned home. That is when scientists discovered that habits are formed and operate entirely separately from the part of the brain responsible for memory. He had found his way home, even without his short term memory. He had created a habit that didn't need his memory. So, a habit is originated as a choice that you made once and then again and then again.

The book was helpful in identifying some of my habits, good and bad. Think of the habits you have and consider replacing one bad habit, slowly over time. My bad habit is not exercising consistently. I am all about it one day and then fall off the wagon easily. So, this is my one habit to focus on until I do not have to think about it anymore.

One good habit that I have created is creating and sticking to a budget. This is something that scares a lot of people because it is too hard or too restricting... or maybe for nerds. We recently went on vacation and let my habit of budgeting go for a few weeks, thinking I needed to give myself a break. Things didn't go as well as I thought. Before we left, I didn't update my spreadsheet where I keep my budget and do the check off of the monthly bills. Therefore, I completely forgot a bill. It happens. I let my habit go, and then I paid the consequences. Not that it was a life-changing mistake; but, it showed me that I have better control of things when I stick to my good habits! Another thing about the budget is it actually gives you some freedom to do the things you want when you put it in the budget, and you don't have to feel guilty about it. Going on vacation was something we had saved for, and we took cash and never used our debit cards..... a great feeling too because we came back with some of that cash!!

So, everyday is about choices. Just make those good choices a habit! If you have never done a budget and it seems intimidating or nerdy, I promise it is worth the effort to make the commitment and just do it. If you would like help figuring out the best way for you to budget (spreadsheets, pen and paper, fancy online software), I would be happy to help! I love that stuff, and I know---something is wrong with me!