Get the app
Get the app

Join millions of investors on Stash

Investing, simplified

Start today with as little as $5
Get the app
Teach Me

Stash’s “Break Your Bad Financial Habits” Guide

December 12, 2018

2 min read

Meeting your financial goals requires discipline. It also includes building better money habits.

Taking ownership of your financial life is one thing. Putting it all into practice can be a little more difficult.

Just like brushing your teeth or exercising, it all comes down to habit. Better money habits can be tough to build but once you nail them, they can easily become part of your everyday life.

If you’re serious about getting your finances in order and preparing for the future, here’s a simple method you can adopt and repeat. But you’ll have to break your current bad-habit cycle first.

Perhaps ideally, your paycheck-to-paycheck money habits should look something like this:

Unfortunately, this may be more representative of your relationship with money:

This is what living life from paycheck to paycheck looks like. While it may get you from meal to meal and rent payment to rent payment, it’s not the recommended way to build wealth and plan for your financial future.

With a few tweaks here and there, though, you can put yourself in a good position to reach your financial goals.

If you prefer a step-by-step breakdown, try following the steps (modify to fit your particular situation, of course) and repeat them every time you get paid.

1. Pay day!

There’s money in your bank account! Woo-hoo! Now, be smart with how you’re spending it.

2. Consult your budget.

Your budget is a financial blueprint and guide. It’s absolutely critical that you stick to it to make sure you’re staying on track with your spending. If you don’t have one, create one.

3. Contribute to your savings (i.e. emergency fund).

Aside from a budget, an emergency fund—a savings account containing at least three to six months’ worth of expenses—is your most important financial ally. If you don’t have any money saved up, this should be your top priority.

4. Contribute to your investment and retirement accounts

It’s critical that you think long-term. That means investing for the future, no matter how little you have to spare. After stocking up your emergency fund, find room in your budget to stash away what you can.

5. Cover the essentials.

Go grocery shopping, pay your rent and utilities, and knock out that phone bill. These are fixed expenses you can’t skip.

6. Pay other bills and debt.

Target your other bills, including debts. If your budget allows, pay more than the minimum payment to chisel away at outstanding balances, which will help you get out of debt faster.

7. Spoil yourself. A little bit. Maybe.

It’s okay to treat yourself, as long as you stay within your means. Your budget should even include a bit of money for fun.

8. Stick to your budget, stick to your budget, stick to your budget…

Money can get tight as you wait for your next paycheck to hit. Stay disciplined, and stick to your budget. The whole point is that you don’t find your bank account at zero, and the cupboards bare.

9. Pay day—back to the start!

Learn better money habits every week by subscribing to the Stash newsletter.

By Sam Becker


Next for you
The Easiest Budget You’ll Ever Make

Investment Profile

Bonds Worldwide

An International Bond ETF on Stash

Learn more
Explore more articlesChoose a topic to learn more about
pop culture Retirement Technology social media politics

This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, represents an assessment of the market environment as of the date of publication, is subject to change without notice, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice or opinion. Stash assumes no obligation to provide notifications of changes in any factors that could affect the information provided. This information should not be relied upon by the reader as research or investment advice regarding any issuer or security in particular. The strategies discussed are strictly for illustrative and educational purposes and should not be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell, or an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. There is no guarantee that any strategies discussed will be effective.

Furthermore, the information presented does not take into consideration commissions, tax implications, or other transactional costs, which may significantly affect the economic consequences of a given strategy or investment decision. This information is not intended as a recommendation to invest in any particular asset class or strategy or as a promise of future performance. There is no guarantee that any investment strategy will work under all market conditions or is suitable for all investors. Each investor should evaluate their ability to invest long term, especially during periods of downturn in the market. Investors should not substitute these materials for professional services, and should seek advice from an independent advisor before acting on any information presented. Before investing, please carefully consider your willingness to take on risk and your financial ability to afford investment losses when deciding how much individual security exposure to have in your investment portfolio.

Past performance does not guarantee future results. There is a potential for loss as well as gain in investing. Stash does not represent in any manner that the circumstances described herein will result in any particular outcome. While the data and analysis Stash uses from third party sources is believed to be reliable, Stash does not guarantee the accuracy of such information. Nothing in this article should be considered as a solicitation or offer, or recommendation, to buy or sell any particular security or investment product or to engage in any investment strategy. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission. Stash does not provide personalized financial planning to investors, such as estate, tax, or retirement planning. Investment advisory services are only provided to investors who become Stash Clients pursuant to a written Advisory Agreement. For more information please visit