Do you start ambitious budgets only to abandon them after a few weeks—or days? Good news for the noncommittal: researchers say you can train your brain to become better.
New habits are formed in 66 days on average, according to a 2009 study from University College London.
Easy goals—like eating fruit each day—become habitual quickly (no surprise there). More difficult pursuits can take up to nine months to feel automatic (although two months is the average).
The secret to reaching that tipping point, researchers found, was being extra diligent in the beginning, when your new behavior is taking root. Some suggestions: Instead of wrangling with your budget once a week or once a month (say, when your bank statements land), do it daily. Create a simple check list that corresponds to your goals, whether it’s saving more and/or spending less, or sticking to specific spending caps. Review it each day. Reinforce your budding budget habit by doing it at the same time (right after dinner) or place (the dining room table). Researchers found that environmental cues help the habit form. With each passing day, your budget will feel less like a chore and more instinctive, like brushing your teeth twice a day. (Here’s hoping that’s already a habit.)
Get in the budgeting groove—start the 66-day Challenge today!
No pain, no gain. What got you through the start-up phase of budgeting?
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