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New Financial Habits for a New Year

It’s January. The first month of the new year. And the start of the year of the dragon. The time to start things anew. With a fresh perspective. Maybe you’ve decided to work differently this year. Start a new habit. Break an old one.

Maybe you are thinking about eating right? Exercising regularly? Quitting smoking? Drinking less? Reconciling bank statements monthly? Scheduling quarterly finance committee meetings in advance? Creating a financial procedures manual? Reviewing the general ledger monthly?

What ever you want to change you know you can’t do it alone. That you need support to keep it going. To stay on track.

“The Spread of Behavior in an Online Social Network Experiment” confirms the value of support. The study, by Damon Centola an assistant professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, says people need to hear a new idea multiple times before making a change. According to Centola, “Social reinforcement from multiple buddies made participants much more willing to adopt the behavior.”

What are you waiting for? Grab several buddies to guarantee your own success. Your buddies will help you stay committed to your new behavior. And you can help them stay committed to theirs. Celebrate together. Nothing like a round of applause to keep you on track.

Set a regular schedule to make it work. Everyday at 3. Tuesday, come rain or shine. The first Thursday of the month at 10. Whatever you decide, set it and stick to it. Mark it on your calendar for the next six months so nothing else can interfere.

Give it time to become automatic. Psychologists tell us that we need to give ourselves about 66 days (nine weeks) for a new daily practice to become an automatic behavior. Therefore, if you start now with your new daily practice, chances are good you will reach automaticity by April 1.

Start slow, with one new behavior at a time. Maybe not the most challenging one first, so you won’t feel frustrated when you hit a rough patch. Try an easy one so you can gain some confidence once you are successful. Then move on to the next.

Take this as our challenge or encouragement to build better financial habits. Let us know what financial behavior you want to start. So we can sing your praises and cheer you on.

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