I’ve often read that it takes a month for something to become a habit. After thirty days it becomes ingrained; no longer unusual or requiring much effort. Whether it be dieting or exercising or prayer it becomes a normal, everyday part of your life.
I don’t think that’s true for all things – at least not for me. Eating well and exercising, for example, have never become ingrained and have always required much effort. I need to constantly re-commit, constantly re-direct my focus, constantly keep my eye on the prize (being svelte, being healthy). Sometimes weekly, sometimes daily, sometimes every fifteen minutes. At times I have the energy and/or resolve and/or willpower for it, other times I don’t. They may become part of a routine, but never become a habit.
Other things I seem to assimilate with little or no effort; almost too easily. I don’t even notice it’s happened, or if I do I have no recollection of having started it. Turning off the water while I brush my teeth or do dishes is a water-saving habit that I don’t even think about. Shutting the lights when I leave a room, or doing dishes in the ambient light from the living room are habits, too.
Shopping for good bargains is another big one for me. I read PaidTwice’s article Start Planning For Next Year’s Valentine’s Day Now about shopping the after-Valentine’s Day clearances to stock up for next year and my initial thought was, ” Well, yeah. Doesn’t everybody do that?” I’ve been doing that for years. In addition to buying trinkets to save for next year’s holidays, I also buy nondescript, non-perishable after-Christmas candy for Valentine’s Day, after-Valentine’s Day candy for Easter. After 4th of July candy for Halloween, After-Halloween candy for Christmas. Then the cycle starts over. I won’t buy unless the sale is at least 75% off, and more often ( like today at Target) 90% off.
After-Holiday isn’t the only time I look for clearance items. When I walk into a clothing store I walk directly to the clearance racks. I rarely look at anything that isn’t on them. It’s not important to me to be trendy – it just has to look decent and fit adequately (perhaps if I was svelte fashion would matter more…). I do the same when shopping for my husband, my son and anyone else for whom I’m buying a gift.
And Target. Sweet Target. I’ve already written that every week I walk their aisles looking for bargains. Now that’s a habit!
Craigslist. Garage Sales. Clipping coupons.
I’m not saying I always get the best deal possible. I don’t. I even (gasp!) waste money, on extravagances (hello pedicure!) or buying healthy food that never gets eaten (see above healthy eating comment). And it’s certainly easier to get those great deals since I’ve become a stay-at-home Mom.
But frugal shopping is such a habit for me that it’s uncomfortable not to do it.
Now if I could only get eating right and exercise to become that same kind of habit…