One year ago I picked up a large, 8 cup, water bottle to help force me to drink more water, and after staring at it day in and day out I’m proud to say I’m still going strong and hydrating my body :)
It’s rare stuff like this sticks, but according to my psychology loving friend James Clear, this is the power of “physical triggers.” Items in our life that remind us to do, or think, something specific. Every time I see this large ass bottle sitting on my desk I’m reminded to keep drinking!
We’ve blogged about these triggers before, and how I’m also obsessed with sticky notes which are my all-time favorite triggers (the current one I have on my computer screen simply says “lifestyle” to remind me of why* I blog and work so hard online), but after seeing this email from a new reader of the site, it reminded me to share some others I’ve since come across as well.
Here’s what Janice sent me:
“I love the little games we play with ourselves to motivate. Right now I am working on getting rid of my Starbucks addiction. Every morning that I don’t get one, I drop a $5.00 bill into a big glass jar next to my desk so that I can visually see what I am saving. Silly but effective! Once it is full, I will deposit the money into savings and start over.”
Nice and simple right? And even though I’m a huge fan of spending money on things that make you happy like especially coffee (so long as it’s budged for and a priority!), the idea here is pretty solid. And can easily be used to curb other splurges as well.
Here are a handful of other money triggers that might help too:
Big thanks to everyone who shared these with me at some point over the past handful of months! Some really REALLY good ones here :)
Password Trigger: “Make your passwords a goal you want to accomplish so every time you log into your laptop, download an app, etc. you’re reminded of a different goal you have set for yourself. BEdebtFREE!2016, DEC15FinishBook, DrinkH20NowJ$ :)” – Heather Stephens
Pile of Crap Trigger: “When I was in credit card debt and realized what I was doing, I piled up all of the crap I bought onto my bed and took a picture of it all. Then I carried that picture in my wallet. Whenever I wanted to buy something I saw that picture and it made me think, “is this just going to end up on the pile of crap that I don’t even use/wear?” It really helped me a lot.” – Jon @ Money Smart Guides
Parking Lot Trigger: “My parking spot at work is a trigger to check my goals before entering the building” – Catina Mount
Savings Graph Trigger: “This kind of physical graph is a very powerful tool to help you achieve any of your goals, having them in front of you every day. I find it way more powerful than digital graphs because it is tangible. The target is to be always on track with the pink line (or above!) if we want to own our home in 3 years. I do update our stash amount every month and this is great to see the black curve trying to keep up with the pink one.” – Mustachian Post
Net Worth Text Message Trigger: “I run a quick net worth calc each afternoon and text the wife the day’s number. It keeps her focused on the goal.” – @Andrew_Dad
Blackberry Trigger: “I have a recurring weekly reminder on my Blackberry that pops up to tell me to “Save Money”. I only set it a few months ago, but it seems to help me stay focused.” – Weenie
Comparison Trigger: “I always have this quote on my computer screen, “Never compare yourself to anyone; you are only comparing your worst to their best.” It really helps me put things into perspective especially after a long hard day. – Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen
Financial Independence Trigger: “Today, I have my financial independence number all over the house. It’s taped to my computer monitor, on my message board on my wall and in my bathroom on the mirror. I see it all the time and it reminds me to keep pushing ahead to reach my goals.” – Jon @ Money Smart Guides
[EDITOR’S NOTE: If you want to copy Jon here but don’t know what your financial independence number IS, download my early retirement spreadsheet shown above and you’ll be able to calculate it yourself… Though, fair warning, it could shock you ;)]
Spending Money Trigger: “I withdraw all my free spending money in cash. See it leave my hand. Buy something online reqs re-deposit.” – @ebruenner
Gmail Trigger: “I have automatic reminders set up on my gmail calendar. I initially set them up while working but I left them there for now (1.5 years into early retirement). “Look for new work opportunities” – ha ha. “Invest spare cash” – on the 25th of each month. “Download credit card transactions” – 6th of month after the statements close. “Prepare quarterly financial statement and review with wife” – quarterly on 1 Jan, 1 April, etc.” – Justin McCurry
Closet Door Trigger: “I keep a graph of our monthly income, expense and net worth à la “Your Money Or Your Life” on the closet door of our master bedroom. Having the daily visual as I go to bed and when I get up and get ready in the morning keeps me focused on our goals.” – Free To Pursue
The Purpose of Money Trigger: This is a note I personally have in multiple places that simply says “Freedom > Money > Stuff” to remind me that it’s not about the money itself, but what the money can GIVE you. Namely, freedom.
[feel free to print this off and put it on your wall/fridge/wallet!]
Decorative Rock Trigger: “When I because a financial advisor I bought one of those decorative rocks with the word believe on it. There were very few female advisors (sadly still an issue 23 years later) and it was my focus word. It still sits in my office and when I find myself beginning to doubt, I look at the rock and remember how far believing in myself has taken me.” – Shannon @ The Heavy Purse
Work Trigger: “I have a quote from Vince Lombardi hanging on my wall by my PC: “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” It is my trigger to keep going with my work.” – Rich Uncle EL
Coupons Trigger: “We keep coupons where we put our mail to remind us to use them!” – Alan Steinborn
And then here are some other cool life triggers:
Light Switch Trigger: “They are at the exit to every room. As I reach for the light switch, I look around really quick… is there something in this room I should take out? A dish? trash? shoes that shouldn’t be in here? Especially helps as you’re winding down the day.” – Not Quite Sexy Darrell
Pillow Trigger: “For some reason it ALWAYS seems like I remember something that has to be done just as I climb into bed and get comfy. So, I reach down, grab one of the bazillion extra pillows scattered around our bed and chuck it across the room. Vonnie will ask, “What are you doing?” My response: “Reminder pillow.” The next morning when I get up, I’ll stumble across the pillow in the doorway and think to myself, “Hey, why is there a pillow laying….. ooooooh yeah, right” and I instantly remember what it was I had forgotten to do the night before. :)” – Travis Pizel
1440 Trigger: “I have 1440 written on my board. That is how many minutes there are in a day. Next to it, I draw 11 empty tomatoes. Google Pomodoro technique if you don’t get that.” – Not Quite Sexy Darrell
Activity Tracker Trigger: “I bought an activity tracker. I see everyday if I hit my steps goal or not. It’s become an addiction. I have hit my goal every day since November 24, 2013. At this point, I just don’t want to break the streak! My wife laughs when I am running around the house at 11:30pm trying to get in the last of my steps (it’s only happened twice thankfully!)” – Jon @ Money Smart Guides
Floss Trigger: “Remember how the girl had glasses of water everywhere in “Signs?” That’s me with floss. My trigger is when I see a nice smile on TV, doesn’t have to be a toothpaste commercial. If I haven’t flossed, yet… boom. – Not Quite Sexy Darrell
And, lastly, one more trigger from the peanut gallery when I polled Twitter ;)
What triggers do you incorporate into your lives/money?
PS: Here are a handful of other financial triggers as well.
* The “lifestyle” sticky reminds me to keep focused and grow my online biz, and money, as naturally and purposely as I can. When you’re surrounded with kick-ass entrepreneurs making all kinds of money and businesses around you, it’s easy to get sucked into trying to beat them all regardless if it matches your own goals and/or priorities. Kinda like the “Joneses” with money, only in business :) And after being self-employed in this world for over 4 years now, I can tell you that this is a sure way to failure and burn out. So this sticky is a reminder to ignore it all and only do the things that get me closer to my own dream lifestyle of working on whatever I want every day without financial worry. I don’t need to take over the world or become a multi-billionaire – I just
need want my ideal lifestyle!