Bad money habits can be hard to break. You decide to put something on a credit card once, and before you know it, you’re in a downward spiral of consumer debt. In breaking a bad habit, it helps to understand the foundation on which it’s built.
Credit card picture from Shutterstock
Cash Cow Couple outlines the process of building a bad habit, explaining how "first decisions" work:
Most likely, the first time you went into debt, you knew it wasn't a great idea. You knew you'd pay for it later and that you'd have interest rates on top of the initial expense….You didn't see that these 2 decisions would lead to countless others just like it. In the words of Dan Ariely, in his fantastic book, Predictably Irrational, "You've already made this decision many times in the past, so you now assume that this is the way you want to spend your money." So, in order to take over the bad habit you want to break and to find a starting point for a new habit you want to develop, pay close attention to the very first time you make a choice.
They also point out that habits aren't just hard to break because we're used to them -- they're also addictive. They use the example of eating out too much and how it fulfils the six basic human needs. For example:
1. Certainty: You know that when you go to a restaurant, you'll be satisfied. You have the certainty that if the restaurant is open, you'll go home full tonight.
2. Variety: You know that you don't have to go home and eat the same pot of soup you've been working on this week. You can choose something completely different than your pallet has been tasting lately.
3. Significance: When you eat out, you can associate yourself with those that can afford to eat out. You feel significant because you appear to have money.
They suggest reviewing the six needs (outlined in their post) to make a desired habit more "addictive". Check out Cash Cow Couple's full post on the subject. They go into greater detail and offer helpful tips on how to counteract the formation of a bad habit.
Bad Habits Die Hard (But You Can Break Them) [Cash Cow Couple]