The older I get, the more I realize that some things are just harder for some people than for others. That seems like a really obvious statement, but in American society we always hear stuff like “where there’s a will there’s a way” and “keep a positive attitude and you can do anything!” Those little adages are cheerful and encouraging, but the subtext, of course, is that if you’re not doing something or not doing it well, you’re either too negative, not trying hard enough, or lazy.
But the truth is that a lot of hard working, competent people just struggle in certain areas. I, for example, struggle with anything involving leading a “healthy lifestyle.” Other people happily jump out of bed, go for a run, munch veggies all day, then head to yoga in the evening. I am just not that person. Exercise is an excruciating chore for me and most vegetables make me gag. It’s much more natural for me to eat a burger, smoke a cigarette, and sit on my ass. It’s really, really hard for me to be healthy and probably always will be. However, there are a lot of other things that come naturally to me that don’t to other people. Such is life, I suppose.
This idea, that certain things come more naturally to some than to others, carries into personal finance. Well, at least for me. There are some behaviors related to personal finance that just fit very easily into my personality and that I adapted to quickly when I started overhauling my fiscal habits a few years ago. Others….not so much. In fact, there are some money management habits that I still haven’t gotten the hang of. For example:
- Saving – This is kind of a doozy. Saving is supposed to be a PF blogger’s greatest joy. But I
sucksuper, duper suck at saving. I feel about saving the way I feel about exercise: it doesn’t excite me, it doesn’t feel good, and I don’t have a clue why other people love it so much. Unlike exercise, though, I force myself to save. I just wish I could get all psyched up about it like other people do, and I wish I didn’t view it as such torture. Le sigh.
- Dining at home – The thing is, cooking is such a pain. I’m not bad at it, and now that I have a dishwasher, maybe it won’t seem like as much of a hassle. But for now, if the choices are take-out or pony-ing up to the stove, take-out usually wins.
- Using coupons – I should be clear: I use coupons when they fall into my lap. I’m not one of those people who thinks coupons are for grandmas or annoyingly frugal people, but by the same token, I don’t go out of my way to get my hands on coupons either. I just don’t have what it takes to do all the searching and clipping necessary to save $.50 on my toilet paper, I guess.
But I’m not bad at everything! Some personal finance habits have been easy for me to stick to, like:
- Paying off debt – Saving, I’m not so good at. But paying off debt? I pretty much rock at that. Like right now, I have no desire to contribute to my savings account, but I get super excited about the idea of paying extra on my mortgage. I can’t explain why, but I’m much more energized about the idea of hacking away at debt than saving, which I suppose is why I’ve been way more successful at debt payoff.
- Making (and sticking to) monthly budgets – I’m very diligent about making a new budget on the 15th of every month, and I almost never go over it. I think this is the “planner” in me – I like having a plan for where my money is going, and the idea of screwing up that plan is very distasteful to me, so distasteful that I go out of my way to stick to the plan I’ve set. For this reason, budgeting was something I took to like a fish to water.
- Questioning every purchase – When some people start loosening the purse strings, they get a little lazy with questioning their purchases. Questions like “do I really need this?” or “is there a free way I could solve this problem?” stop entering their minds. Not me. I still scrutinize everything I buy and get so pissed when I feel like I’ve wasted money on something I didn’t really need. Maybe this sounds cheap, but I’m happy I’ve stuck to my guns as far as conscious consumerism goes.
What about you? Which money habits are easy for you to stick to, and which are really hard?