Recently I’ve become more aware about how often I sit throughout the day. Research even suggests that too much sitting can be worse for you than smoking.
I sit a lot! Since I work in an office environment, I can be sitting at my desk for hours during the day and then come home and spend time writing on evenings and weekends – also while sitting!
Stepping up my game
I got a FitBit for Christmas and now I can track the number of steps I take in a day. My wife has one too, and so we can set goals and challenge each other to see who can take the most steps in a day or week. What a difference this little device has made in terms of getting me up out of my chair more often to get moving.
Now instead of parking in one of the lots on campus, I park at a free lot 10 minutes away (saving $50 a month in the process!). I can check my progress throughout the day with a handy smart-phone app, and when I notice my step count is lower than it should be then I know to get up and walk around, which has the added benefit of clearing my head and reenergizing me so that when I return to my desk I’m more focused on what needs to get done.
The point is that when you set up systems that help foster good habits, whether it’s health related or about saving money, you have a better chance of successfully reaching your goals.
I’ve had my FitBit for less than a month but have already noticed habit-forming changes to my daily routine, such as clipping the device onto my belt in the morning without even thinking about it, checking my step-count during the day, and consciously deciding to walk somewhere, rather than drive or do nothing, just to get my step-count up.
Good habits: From fitness to finance
Good personal finance habits have a lot in common with good nutrition and fitness habits. Think of having a budget and tracking your expenses as being along the same lines as having a diet and exercise plan and tracking your calorie intake.
Related: The real cost of bad habits
I’ve already formed those good habits when it comes to my personal finances. I try to practice conscious spending and mindless saving. Conscious spending means aligning our spending with our goals: to spend more on things that we love while cutting back in areas that don’t matter to us. Mindless saving means setting up automatic monthly transfers, or putting money in a couple of diversified ETFs, and then forgetting about it.
I think that my budgeting system has been successful over the years by not only keeping tabs on our income and expenses but by helping eliminate the temptation to overspend in certain areas. Through repetition and habit we’ve developed a predictable spending pattern that neither deprives nor indulges us (too much).
I have no doubt the same will hold true for developing a system of good diet and fitness habits.