I had a bit of a shock last week as I realized that school would be starting and September would be here. It has been a very busy summer and time has just gotten away from me. Back in May, we began the transition of finding another rental in our price range that would accept dogs. Thankfully, I found an awesome place, though it was a bit more than our previous rental. The pluses were that we wouldn’t have to deal with oil heat and there was a Swim Spa (which the landlord describes to us as a 8 person hot tub). This place is my dream house. It has a covered wrap around porch with a swing perfect for watching thunderstorms, a great back deck, plenty of room in the kitchen and bedrooms, plus an office! The downside to all this is the move wiped out my savings. Thankfully, I was still teaching this summer, but the check was late getting to me so we did have several bills that were paid late. Fun times, fun times!
I haven’t posted anything since May, but between the move, teaching, and the dissertation, I have been extremely busy. I attended my third American Library Association Conference, but I got very sick while there and two months later, I am still recuperating. This has left me with very little energy to do anything. We have eaten out a lot this summer just because I have had little energy to do shopping let lone cooking. I still haven’t even finished unpacking from the move! So there has been no Instant Pot experiments happening. Oh, but I have plans on all the yummy stuff I want to make.
It hasn’t been all chaos though… We met our new neighbors at National Night Out. Everyone is really nice and it is a very dog friendly street. I even remember everyone’s names, but that is mainly because the neighborhood representative gave us a sheet with everyone’s contact info on it and I studied that sheet for days leading up to the street party we had for NNO. My son also has classmates that live in the neighborhood. That is the first time in his life that we have ever lived close enough for him to walk to a friend’s house.
I wish everyone a good start to another school year and hang in there! Change is an opportunity…at least that is what I keep telling myself. 😉
So if you remember, a couple of weeks ago, I posted about how much I love the service Betterment. Last week I decided to activate my Acorns account. It is still early to compare the two, but I am impressed by both of them. Mainly it is because once I set it up, I basically didn’t have to do anything other than sit back and relax.
The concept being used here is similar to Shawn Achor’s 20 Second principle from the Happiness Advantage. In this principle, you are setting things up in advance that will help to make good habits easier. The idea is that if you have to exert more than 20 seconds of energy to do something, you won’t do it. So make it easier on yourself to get started by using automation. In my above example, I have automated building a nest egg through the two micro investing services. Both invest my funds for me and rebalance when needed. I have Betterment set up to deposit every payday. My acorns account monitors my credit cards and bank account to deposit the rounded up change from all my transactions and invest every $5 it collects. This past week, it deposited over $12 from the rounded up change on my purchases. By not having to think about it, I am able to build a good savings habit to help protect my finances for those rainy days.
Another way to save money is using grocery lists when shopping. This is another way that I automate things to make it easier. I have an Amazon Alexa Dot right in my kitchen. When we are either out of something or running low, I just tell Alexa to add it to the grocery list. Then when I am in the store, I just pull up my list. This helps to curb the impulse buy instinct when you can’t remember what you need from the store. I keep saying that I wish I had an Alexa for my car so I could add things while driving, and I just found out that my husband’s car has Alexa built into it…hmmm…the possibilities.
The 20 second principle can also be applied to your time management. I plan out my work outfits the night before by using Alexa to check the weather for the next day. Then I pull the items I plan on wearing and hang them on my mirror. This way I am not rushing in the morning to find something to wear. In the morning, I set a timer on Alexa so I know when I need to start hustling with my hair or makeup. This gives me time to make my lunch and my coffee…again, ways to save some cash.
So what can you do to help build happy healthy habits to keep you on track? Have you used the 20 second principle?
Around this time of year, you will see posts of all kinds toting that a new year is a perfect time for a new you. Call them resolutions if you will. However, I find resolutions to be not quite the right mindset to have when you want to make a change…I mean, it is a great idea to decide that you want to change something about yourself, but just saying it, will not create change, you have to actually do it. You can’t just say, this year I am going to lose weight or this year I am going to stop smoking. You need to have a plan and if you can’t break the habits that got you there in the first place, then it is going to be a rough road.
To change a habit, you need consistency. A good reminder of how long it takes to change a habit is to think of it in terms of 21 days. When we do things consistently for twenty-one days it changes the makeup in our brains so the action becomes a habit and then we don’t even have to think about it…or in this case not doing it. So if you want to break a habit, try substituting it with something else for twenty-one days. Something healthy! For example, instead of reaching for the donuts, try an apple with peanut butter. Instead of binging on Netflix, read a book.
So are you up for a 21-day challenge? What is it about yourself that you want to change this year? What is your plan? Be specific “This year I want to change x by doing x”. Post a comment and check back to let us know how things went. If you need some more information about habits to get you started, check out the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. He has a great story about how he broke his afternoon snacking habit.