Thanks to Erin from Living EZ for this guest post!
Do you feel like you slowly inch forward toward your financial goals?
Does it seem like everyone around you reaches their goals faster?
Are you trying trying to save money, live frugally, and spend less, yet you slip into old habits more than you want to admit?
Perhaps, you take two steps forward and one step backward each month. Regardless, preparation is the key to success, whether it’s sticking to a budget or life with a newborn. This is why many of us have monthly and even weekly plans.
However, if you still struggle to stay focused, motivated, and on track with your long term goals, you need to make daily goals.
Setting daily priorities each morning gives you the willpower and confidence you need to stick to your food prep schedule, say no to that Frappaccino, and put down those impulse buys in the checkout line. After all, a successful financial month consists of many consecutive successful days.
It’s the boring, unrelenting, day-to-day frugality where we achieve our long term goals. Unfortunately, many of us sleep through crucial opportunities to prepare ourselves for daily victory. The key is to adding (or revamping) your morning routine!
I speak from experience. Over the past 6 months, my life has been transformed (yes, a very extreme word, but also very accurate) by my morning rituals. Waking up an hour earlier allows me to focus on self-development and concentrate on identifying and achieving daily intentions. While I didn’t set out to save money through my new routine, I realized this practice helped us save a lot in various ways!
When I started reading Six Figures Under, my family had just relocated to Sydney, our rent more than doubled, and the cost of living jumped 40% higher than where we lived in the North Carolina. While higher paying jobs boosted our income, I suffered sticker shock constantly, and we struggled to maintain our previous way of life.
I started searching for, and implementing, ways to reign in our spending, such as meal planning, grocery budgeting, and looking for free activities, like never before. Despite all this effort, we inconsistently hit our financial targets.
Now, I consistently spend time outlining our necessary expenses, and more importantly, intentionally focusing on how we want to spend our money (traveling), which allows us to maintain a comfortable lifestyle without sacrificing our savings goals. It also helps my partner (mostly) remember that those amazing coffees by the office add up to airfare.
Here are a few ways that implementing a morning routine has saved us money:
Impulse Buys – Everyday I focus on my goals, and view each day within the grand scheme of our longer-term plan. Think of it as the “zoomed out” perspective. I look beyond small, daily struggles with super-sales and treats to the benefits of consistently staying on track. Before making time for my morning reflection, I succumbed to the occasional impulse buy at the grocery store when I felt stressed, overwhelmed, or just wanted a little something to perk my mood. I indulged in small novelty items – always on sale, so I could rationalize the deviation from plan as an awesome “deal.” However, these small purchases add up, and their sole purpose served to improve my mood, when I would have felt better celebrating our progress towards our next financial milestone.
Planning – In a day filled with buzzing technology and a rambunctious toddler, I treasure my morning quiet time to think strategically. I love creating a long to-do list and methodically checking off each item. My morning ritual is structured so that I quickly identify what I need to accomplish at work, home, and while shopping. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with a huge list, I narrow it down to the single most important item to complete each morning. When I finish my big goal of the day before 7am (… perhaps that’s too optimistic, at least 11), I feel productive and inspired for the rest of the day.
Motivation and Information – I read for at least ten minutes each morning. Sometimes I catch up on blogs, read a chapter of a parenting book, or other actionable and inspiring advice. Often times, I stumble across great ideas that save me money – like this stellar article on how to get babysitting for free (babysitting rates in our area start at $25/hour, which makes for extremely rare date nights). Regardless of the practical help I may receive, this time increases my resolve and commitment to our long term goals.
Now that you are eager to experience the extraordinary benefits from your new morning routine, let’s dive into starting your habit. First of all, a great morning routine begins the night before, you must create an environment conducive to success.
- Mental environment – Before you go to sleep, think about what you will accomplish in the morning. Get excited about waking up to be productive and proactive.
- Physical environment – Decide on what will cue you to get out of bed earlier than usual. Now that we are entering winter in Sydney, I moved my phone/alarm clock to the far side of the room. If my phone stays on my bedside table, I just can’t summon the willpower to get out of my warm bed. However, if I stumble out of bed half-asleep to turn off my alarm, I simply start my routine without too much internal protest.
A Basic Routine
Start with a 20 minute routine. As you progress, you will discover what activities work best you, but I suggest following structure to begin:
Wake up – Drink a cup of water
Physical Activity – 5 minutes. This can be so easy to overthink, but really the whole point is to get moving. Simply stretching out a littles and trying to touch your toes will energize your body and mind before you start thinking. Try 1 minute each of jumping jacks, lunges, planks, running in place, or yoga. Seriously, do not stress out about this!
Write/Dream – 5 minutes. Pull out a journal/notepad and write down your goals for the week. Refine this list into daily goals, and lastly, pick just one thing to accomplish each morning. On subsequent days, write about your envisioned future. What are you working towards and why is success vital? What actions will you take today to ensure this success?
Read/Learn – 10 minutes. Grab that devotional that you worked on for a few days and then stopped, or maybe Stephanie’s awesome book 😉 – anything that will provide positivity and value as you work toward your goals. In the first few weeks, I highly suggest not reading on your phone, computer, or tablet because it is a gateway drug to getting distracted by email, social media, and other notifications.
That’s it! It’s simple, but I truly believe in the power of taking small actions every single day because we are seeing the results in our family.
One last thing as you start your routine, social support is so crucial to nurture a new, fragile habit. To help with this, my husband and I lead a free 45 Day Positive Mornings Challenge where we help you transform your goals into powerful intentions to help you develop sustainable positive habits. There is an entire community of Positive People offering daily encouragement and support. All you have to do is commit five focused minutes each morning to being your ideal self. For additional support and accountability on your personal and financial goals, learn more here.
|Erin is an American expat exploring in Sydney with her husband and daughter. She also co-hosts free intentional morning challenges over at Positive Mornings. The next free challenge begins on June 20th, so visit the site to learn more and sign up. You can also check out her personal blog at Living EZ.|