Instead of waiting for some huge moment to save money or payoff debt, can you create change in your finances through tiny habits until you hit your tipping point? Create the tipping point by slowly changing your habits, thus your finances, over time until you create the point of never going back.
Change your finances by creating your own tipping point
When you are struggling with your finances, I think it is always so easy to think that “on Monday, I will be better with money” or “this is the week that I don’t use my credit card” or “this is the last time”.
In my own experience, this does not work. It takes a lot of motivation to stick with this. Much like getting healthier, there is no someday. And waiting for someday can take a long time.
What if you changed how you approached your finances and made small financial habits, slowly, over time to actually push you to your own tipping point?
Your tipping point is important because that’s the distinct moment that you never go back to old habits that don’t serve you.
By working on small habits – a little at a time – there will come a point when you really grab onto this finance stuff and become a superstar. That’s your tipping point. Yes, really!
I mention this because in talking to my clients and through some research I have been doing lately, I have noticed that some people have mentioned either waiting for inspiration to suddenly “get their financial house in order” and others have had some kind of event that forced them to make financial changes they needed.
It does not have to be all or nothing.
Like a frog sitting in a pot of water that is slowly warming up, that could be you until you become exactly the financial person you want to be.
On the other hand, waiting for that symbolic pot of water to boil….well, that could take years. Waiting for some kind of event to finally push you to make those financial changes may never come. It seldom gets better without intervention from you.
So, what if you could get there more quickly by just trying some small habits in the first place?
The tipping point as defined by Malcolm Gladwell
In case it’s been awhile since you last read Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (it’s been years for me!)…..let me catch you up.
“The best way to understand the dramatic transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.” (Source: the blurb about the book on Amazon.com – not an affiliate link – I just think’s a cool book).
Sure, this book kind of goes into why some things seem to gain traction to be the tipping point – go viral, if you will – but I think it totally applies to finances too.
Could tiny, good-for-you financial habits go viral (in your life!) and forever alter how you deal with your money forevermore?
Wait for an an event to make changes?
We all hear of those stories when someone draws the line in the sand about debt. They are so fed up that they take action.
There is a turning point. And you wish you could have just half their motivation, right? Like they were injected with some kind of magic elixir that makes them be done with debt or so-so finances. Something that fundamentally dictates the shots for them going forward.
Sometimes it comes from:
- the end of a relationship
- having a blank slate due to the sale of a house 🙋♀️
- job loss, rebounding from illness, or loss of a loved one
- a new chapter of any kind
Any of those resonate with you?
All of these are generally unpredictable and you can’t time. Also, it generally is never a happy event that forces you to realize that it’s time to change your finances.
Instead of waiting for that mega ounce of motivation to work on your debt, what if you manufactured it yourself instead to create your tipping point with finances?
My own tipping point
I think it’s important to give you an example – let’s use my own financial history – to show how what the tipping point looks like with a real-life example. This summary is how the “little habits” played out in my own financial life leading to my own tipping point in 2010.
This was kind of an accident. Completely unintentional how I got here.
From 2006-2010, I gradually changed my habits until one day, my financial habits went into the tipping point. My previous tiny habits were what our financial success was built on. I share this with you so you can be more intentional than I was during that time.
Also, let me take a minute to say that it took me four years to get to my tipping point….what if you did it faster?
I broke this out as four different habits or phases. It was not only my fourth pivotal moment that eventually led me to the financial person that I am today.
Here are the habits/phases that led to my tipping point:
New Habit #1 (2006): No more credit card debt 🙌
We are gonna start with how I was always in credit card debt from 19 to 27 years old.
It all changed in 2006 when I sold my condo in the Chicago suburbs to move to Austin, TX for graduate school. I used the proceeds from the sale of my condo to wipe out all my credit card debt.
From that one thing, I never paid credit card interest again and still true to this day – over 13 years later.
I would like to point out that paying off my card every month in full was the only thing I changed for this first habit. Nothing else.
I went on to use my student loans to fund my life. My life was entirely funded by student loans, which included travel throughout Europe and South America (random, but it was see my boyfriend, now husband, who was living in Chile), shopping without a budget, coffee shop at least 2-3 times a day and eating out frequently.
Verdict: awesome that I stopped paying credit card interest. But no other changes in my spending
New Habit #2 (2008): Tracking expenses
I had another fresh start. I was making six figures in my 20s. The little thing that I did was start budgeting and tracking all expenses. My bonuses went to paying off my student loan debt.
However, I still spent quite a bit.
I was renting a room from an awesome woman (who is still a good friend today!) and my living expenses were only $7,000 a year inclusive of utilities. It allowed me to save a bit, pay off my debt, but I was not really paying attention.
Verdict: great that I was tracking my expenses but hindsight says that I should have been absolutely crushing my student loan debt. I was too comfortable with my student loan payment of close to $1,000 a month.
New Habit #3 (2009): Cashflow large expenses
I was getting married! ✨ Maybe it was the influence of how good my husband was with money, but with my upcoming wedding and no financial help from family, I was super committed to paying for my half of our wedding and honeymoon expenses entirely in cash. I don’t remember why I felt that way but I remember doing all the spreadsheets of when we owed the photographer, down payment for the venue, my dress purchase, etc. I was paying cash for this. I drew my line in the sand that this wedding was going to be debt free.
Little did I know that paying cash for such a huge thing like a wedding was an amazing financial habit that could be applied to saving for home repairs, a new-to-you car purchase, etc. I changed no other behaviors.
Verdict: built muscles around saving for large purchases. Yes! Much needed skill to have!
New Habit #4 (2010): My tipping point (the wake-up call)
It took four years from when I really started making tiny financial changes until I had my “tipping point” moment. At that point, I drastically changed everything about our finances. I say “I” because my husband was very much involved, but it was my car debt and my student loan debt. He was always great with money.
During my wake-up call moment – AKA the tipping point – I literally woke up one day and realized we had over $220k of debt between our new-to-us mortgage debt, student loan debt, and my car loan. I became super focused on getting rid of our debt. Saying I was super focused was probably an understatement.
Those little financial habits that I built up along the way made my tipping point so much smoother and probably drove my success.
After all, it was not like I was starting from scratch….I had already been doing other good financial habits for years. So it made my eventual success with paying off debt, savings, owning a house outright, and becoming financially independent easier.
That wake-up call was so distinct though, more so than the other tiny habit changes I had made along the way.
Verdict: it took me four years of gradual changes to find my tipping point with money
Draw your line in the sand
I can’t say this enough, but you don’t have to wait for some scorching event to come crashing into your life before you take action. What if you employed some tiny habits today to produce your own tipping point with your finances?
Could you do small things – hopefully at a faster pace than me – that would one day add up to your own version of a tipping point?
Could you employ one tiny little habit every 90 days or six months? Something so small that it feels very manageable?
The idea is that you would be stacking your financial habits for improvement with your finances.
So, what is possible for you? What would your habits look like?
Ideas to get you started - pick one!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Meal plan
- Stop using credit cards or adding any new debt
- Track expenses through You Need a Budget, (not an affiliate link just loving it since 2011), Every Dollar, spreadsheets, Mint
- Review your finances each month
- Save for an upcoming large expense like a vacation, a repair, etc
- Use cash for buying groceries to stay in budget
- Set up direct deposit to send $20 a paycheck to a savings account
Not to overwhelm you, but if just committed to one new little financial habit every 90 days or heck, once a year…..you would totally get yourself to that financial finish line you are hoping for, right?!?
Therefore, the idea would be just commit to one thing for the next 90 days. Make it a habit that you stick with. Just one thing.
90 days later, add one more habit if you feel ready. Repeat for this cycle every 90 days or so. You would not even recognize yourself in a year!
You can do it!
So, what do you think??? Is there a small little financial habit you can change today and stick to it? Just one change? Either add something or subtract something…..it will add up, I promise!
Please leave a comment below and let me know if there is one thing that you can do.
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