#89 Get Out Of A Bad Habit

My wife and I had some bad habits. I have a tendency to hoard junk like old mason jars, shirts that are ripped at the elbow, and old flat pillows. My wife, on the other hand, tends to buy shoes, clothes, bags, and other things despite having plenty at home. 

Recall in #95, I talked about "intentional spending". Clothing is not a big part of our intentional spending list. Together we rather spend on experiences over things.

In the book Switch by Chip and Dan Heath, there are three ways to make a change. One that resonated with me is to construct your environment to make the path easier to follow.

For the last four years, out of sheer restriction by wealth, my wife and I have lived in a 540 square foot condo. Having moved from Vancouver to Toronto, we didn't bring much with us, so we were able to neatly store all our things in our little space.

Change Your Environment To Make Good Habits Easier

What happened over the next four years was perhaps not so surprising. Our environment made us create a rule: Don't Keep Junk. This meant that ripped shirts were either repurposed or thrown out, mason jars would house plants or be recycled, and my wife's clothes and shoes had to be donated before she bought new stuff. 

In the last 4 years, together we spent $1000 a year on clothes, which by many standards isn't much. Considering that over that time I ripped and replaced over 15 dress shirts. That alone accounted for half of my clothes spending, with most of the remainder being a suit for work. Not much choice but to be dressed appropriately for work.

Changing our environment (i.e. reducing the space to keep stuff), changed the way we spent money. Before we buy anything new, we asked ourselves, "where will this go in our tiny condo?", and "what am I willing to throw out to get this?"

The result has been that we buy fewer things, spend substantially less money than we would without this environmental change. And have now eliminated the bad habit without even having to think about it.


Save Money Retire Early is written by Jon Lo, a barely 30 something Chartered Financial Analyst. I believe anyone can be rich or poor, it's what you save that makes the difference.

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