Habit Forming

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…


10 Responses to “Habit Forming”

  1. A Says:

    Yeah for habits! I totally understand about already doing lots of this stuff. I love to read over other bloggers “100 ways to save more money” lists, but often I already do them. Becoming vegetarian was a little hard at first, but now it is totally habit and saves us tons of money a month on groceries. And ohh- I love coupons!

  2. Emily Says:

    You know what I heard recently that seems like it would be really motivating for trying to be healthier and thinner?

    Being thin feels better than junk food tastes.

    It is really hard to commit to a lifetime of health and fitness but it really does feel great when you do.


  3. Good Fountain Says:

    I admire this quality about you so much. I feel like I am good at being savvy on big-ticket purchases, but when it comes to the everyday stuff, I am not at all.

  4. Lisa Says:

    Em, I’ve also heard “Every bite tastes like the first bite.”

    The stupid thing I do with my healthy food purchases is save them. I love fruit, but I buy it and think, ooh, I don’t want to eat that now, I want to save it! And then a week later it’s gone bad and has to be thrown out. I hate when I do that! So for me, I’m just trying to get into the habit of eating it now, because fresh produce does NOT have the shelf life of a Twinkie!

  5. Feeling the Link Love, and More Carnival Fun « Are You Going To Be This Way The Rest of The Time I Know You? Says:

    […] at This Wasn’t In The Plan was also kind enough to mention my article Habit Forming in her Friday Night Link Love. She’s got some terrific recipes and lots of fun stuff to make […]

  6. Festival Of Frugality #114 Says:

    […] Just Shoot Me Now writes about frugal habits. […]

  7. wanderer7 Says:

    the goal is to make it automatic, autonomous

    especially learning a physical skill, like a sport or music

    you’ve mastered it when you can carry on a conversation while practicing your skill

  8. What a Deal! Just Not for YOU, Florida… « Are You Going To Be This Way The Rest of The Time I Know You? Says:

    […] of you who are regular readers know that frugality is not just a hobby for me, it’s what feels right. So to miss a special like this, on my home court, is just so very wrong. My first emotion was a […]

  9. Alexandra Says:

    One good way to get more fruit into your diet is to make it part of the meal. For example, along with a meat and starch, have a salad, one or two vegetables and some grapes, or cut-up apples arranged prettily on a plate, or orange slices. They make the dinner table look more festive, they’re delicious, and they tend to mean that a smaller percentage of your meal will be the heavy-calorie stuff. (1/5th, not 1/3). I don’t eat as much fruit when I don’t incorporate it into other parts of my life. Another trick is to make it PART of my dessert. For example, instead of having a large amount of ice cream, I might have a small portion of ice cream AND a cup of strawberries, or fruit slices. That way, I get two different things to taste, not just one, and I can savor both.

  10. Monday Morning Carnival Linkfest « Are You Going To Be This Way The Rest of The Time I Know You? Says:

    […] Festival of Frugality was hosted at No Credit Needed this week, and included my article on Habit Forming. I was intrigued by the Pennies to Publix article at Pennies to Nickels, and then I found out […]

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