Contributed by Sandra T.

I have had some bad money habits and realized it was time to break them.  Some were harder than others but one thing was clear to me: it was definitely time to make a change. Here’s are some steps that I have taken:

Decide what works for me. Before adopting my own views about money, my parents’ ideas rang in my ears. My dad was afraid to spend money and would regularly say, “Don’t spend any money. We can’t afford it.”  On the other hand, my mom’s refrain was, “Let’s just buy it. It’s only money!” Amazingly they were happily married and never fought about money that I knew of. But you can imagine the conflicting arguments that went on in my head resulting from these differing views. Sometimes I would spend senselessly and other times I would skimp. After I acknowledged the source of my conflicted views, I was able to silence these inner voices. It took me years but now I make conscious decisions about my money based on what I think, not solely what I had heard as a child.

Manage my direct deposit. Direct deposit is great – no more trips to the bank, no waiting for checks to clear – but the bad part is that if the money was in my checking account it was that much easier to spend it. When I learned that I could have my salary deposited across different accounts, I decided to fill out the paperwork to directly deposit my paycheck across my checking and savings accounts.  I thought I would miss it but instead, I wound up spending only what’s in my checking account and regularly saving something every pay period.

Set money goals. What do you want to do with your money? Create a retirement fund, a nice home, vacations once a year, a new car? Without setting goals you have nothing to aim for and wind up spending listlessly. I began doing this, starting with putting myself on a monthly budget, and it has been invaluable in helping me choose when and how to best handle my money.

Be patient. Remember that any change in behavior takes work. Changing your spending habits is like starting any new habit. For example, learning to ride a bicycle does not happen automatically. You might fall several times before mastering the balance that is required to stay upright. With practice and patience it eventually happens.  So, when I slipped up on my path to creating new money habits, I did not throw in the towel and say, “Oh well I failed so I might as well go on a shopping spree.”  Instead I learned to forgive myself and pick up where I left off. It is definitely paying off!

Do you have any bad money habits that you had to break? How did you break them? We invite you to share your ideas in the comment box below.