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14 Apr 2017

I CHANGED MY BAD FINANCIAL HABITS

Changing bad habits is a constant battle for all of us. It does not matter how not life altering the habit may seem. From eating in instead of dining out to raiding your closet for the next wedding instead of paying a designer for a new outfit. It takes a lot of discipline and intentional effort. I changed my bad financial habits and still continue to relapse and rework on them again and again. We need to understand that this is a ceaseless battle.

I changed my bad financial habits
I am fortunate in that, my own habits do not encompass carrying huge debt quantities. It is mostly shopping for stuff I do not need. Carrying consumer debt should be frightening for all of us. It is strange that when people are in that high debt situation, they tend to behave like frogs that are being boiled from low water temperatures. They simple adjust to their situations, and then start borrowing even more. The longer one is in debt, the deeper they tend to dig the grave.

Let me start by confessing, to demonstrate how easy this happens to most of us. A few months ago, I finally got myself a credit card. Phew! Was I ever so eager to get into debt? The thing is, I started an exciting, high capital and slow growth business. I was rushing the business to be self-sustaining ahead of its time. I'm not a patient type. It emerged that it is not happening anytime soon. I had to get a credit card to assist the business. I do not believe in bankrupting myself to assist the business but the situation called for it.

Well…I swiped the credit card for the business transactions and ahem, mine. In no time, the card was maxed out. I started having the business pay the debt, but it was very difficult. Instead of me working harder on doing this, I just got used to carrying this debt. I got comfort in the fact that I was not paying any interest because I was paying the credit card balance up monthly and transferring my money back again. The credit card debt was becoming part of me, until I realised that I was getting captured (as South Africans would say) and paid it up. The business may reimburse me someday.

A lot of people carry huge sums of credit card debt like it is a perfect way of life. Some have intentions to get out of debt but regress back to it. This is just one of the habits that keep us trapped regardless of our intentions. Then comes January, we repent and promise to get ourselves cleaned up. The main reason we don't permanently kick these habits is that, they somehow fill the void inside of us. You can only replace a bad habit with a good one. That void needs to be filled with something, Right.

I changed my bad financial habits by replacing them with good habits. I am a designer and tend to buy a lot of home stuff. I also have acute hoarding habits. I decided to have a business that sells used, vintage and antique home-ware. This enables me to acquire new stuff as often as I wish. I simply resell existing. You may not be reselling (I don’t see why not though), but need to replace the mall time with something that adds better value to your life.

We also need to understand that changing bad habits is a very difficult and lonely journey. The society is about spending and spending more. The higher your debt, the more likely you would be "liked". Our society shows a high level of respect for people who are flashy. Being one's own person often takes swimming against the tide. Do it despite everyone else's perceptions. It is your own journey and your own goals. Your ability to exercise self-control can stretch beyond your imagination. It is easier than you imagine.
  • Always keep your eye on the ball. Refer to the article on setting SMART goals posted in the blog.
  • Know what triggers your bad habit. If it takes cutting mall visits and people who are bad influence from your life, do it.
  • Keep busy with something else. Physical exercise could be one.
  • Get support structure if you must. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people does wonders for one's goals.
Those are a few steps I took when I changed my bad financial habits. I stay put most of the times.

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