“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit” – Aristotle
One of the most commonly used examples for how to save money is cutting out your daily coffee.
Now I used to buy a coffee every day. I’d tell myself – it’s just few dollars, it’s not costing me that much. But I knew how much I could save if I stopped buying a takeaway coffee every day. At $3.50 x 5 days x 46 weeks (roughly) it was around $805. Now that’s pretty good from just one money habit.
But you know what? Like most coffee drinkers, I REALLY like the smell of a freshly brewed coffee. And I kinda liked the ritual of going and getting it – the mental break away from the desk.
There are plenty of articles online that suggest 21 days is the magic number for how long it takes to break a habit. However a book called Making Habits, Breaking Habits by Jeremy Dean explores the science and evidence on habit formation. In one study he found that it took 66 days on average for a new habit to form. Not surprisingly he found that an easier habit like drinking a glass of water each morning formed much quicker than a harder habit, say a 20 min run each day.
When I cut the takeaway coffee, it probably took about 5 weeks for the habit to form. I STILL like the smell of a freshly brewed coffee but now I don’t miss heading out to get it. I actually prefer that I am keeping the extra dollars in my pocket!
Saving some extra money is not always as simple as looking at the numbers. Sometimes you need to form a new habit – and it might take some hard work.
What do you think – what has your experience been?