Create a “Stop Doing” List

by Kevin on May 19, 2009

A lot of advice out there in regards to personal finance is setup in a to-do list manner:

  1. set up a budget
  2. save money
  3. pay off debt

This is great advice and something I completely agree with. You should do all three of the items on that list.

Let’s put that thinking on its head for just a moment.

What Should You Stop Doing?

You know what you should do. Yet you are finding it difficult to do any of these things. There’s never enough money at the end of the month to save or pay off debt. You’re stuck in the same old cycle.

Instead of trying to think of things you should do, think of things you are currently doing that you know you should stop doing.

  • Going on expensive eating out and drinking binges with friends
  • Buying things on a credit card and not paying off the card immediately
  • Acting like a hermit and never spending money on anything (Frugality can be taken too far.)
  • Continually buying a new pair of shoes to go with each outfit you own, and you own dozens of outfits.

You get the idea.

The Psychology of Stopping

I’m no expert and I’m not psychologist.

But I think stopping doing the wrong things is easier than starting to do the right things.

Here’s why: you’re already doing the wrong things. For someone without absolutely no training in personal finance discovering and correcting wrong is bound to be easier. You don’t need to understand the complexities of stocks or mutual funds to correct problems.

You just need someone to show you the way.

Stopping is Usually Less Expensive

Generally speaking stopping doing an action is generally going to be inexpensive. I can’t think of many reasons that stopping something would actually cost you money unless it was something like stop eating processed food (all organic food would be more expensive).

Stopping also usually revolves around spending:

  • Stop eating out
  • Stop buying frivolous things
  • Stop taking vacations you can’t afford

Stopping is free.

What do you need to stop doing today?

{ 3 trackbacks }

Personal Finance Buzz
May 19, 2009 at 8:14 am
Barbaric Links: Summer’s Here Edition | The Corporate Barbarian Blog
May 26, 2009 at 3:58 am
Simple Financial Weekly Round Up- What’s Holding You Back? | Simplified Financial Lifestyle
June 5, 2009 at 1:10 pm


Baker @ ManVsDebt May 19, 2009 at 8:12 am

There is huge power in what you’ve outlined. Not just in our financial lives, but in other areas as well.

Jonathan Mead first turned me onto this concept. It’s worked wonders for me, especially since I tend to spend a lot of my time getting distracted on committing to things that I don’t really like!

I wish I had been smart enough to write about this concept! Well done, sir!

MK May 19, 2009 at 9:27 am

All I have to say is; good call! I actually just started my own sort of “Stop Doing” list this past week. My finances were starting to fall apart and I know exactly why and how that is happening. So now its time to stop all those things that are causing that!

Jeff@StretchyDollar May 19, 2009 at 9:35 am

I need to do a better job stopping wanting things. Not things that I really want, but like Baker said, getting distracted and going all out on something that I won’t even use three weeks later.

MLR May 19, 2009 at 10:01 am

Argh, I am always walking the “hermit” line. I hang out with friends a lot… but sometimes question why I often say I can’t afford to do ____.

I am saving a substantial amount every month… it is a driving force that I don’t understand in my psyche that prevents me from spending. I know I can afford to, I just can’t do it!

Corporate Barbarian May 19, 2009 at 10:56 am

I think you need to stop doing the “bad” things first. This will create a void for you to start doing the “good” things. Stop using your credit card, and instead put a few bucks in your savings. Stop the expensive dining out, and have friends over for dinner. I would start with one “bad” habit at a time so you’re not overwhelmed.

TStrump May 21, 2009 at 12:24 am

For me, it’s the small things like the daily coffees, or the weekly cocktails out with friends.
They sure add up.

Emily May 24, 2009 at 9:14 pm

I think creating a list is a great visual-I usually post my budget-related lists on the fridge because I am in the kitchen constantly!! I realize I need to stop stockpiling certain items (soap, cereal, and shampoo to name a few) that I have ALOT of!! I am always in search of the next deal but I could attack my debt even quicker by stockpiling a little less.

Kevin May 27, 2009 at 8:19 pm

@Baker: Thanks! The problem I have is not only being aware of the things I need to stop, but actually stopping them…

@MK: So it’s been a while since you commented — have you stopped doing just yet?

@Jeff: Ooof, that’s the worst. Especially when it hits you that “Wow, I totally didn’t need that apparently.”

@MLR: I think you would enjoy the post I wrote for today. I have a hard time with the hermit line, too.

@Corporate Barbarian: That’s a good way to think about it… if you can mentally realize that you’ve stopped doing the bad things and use that for motivation. I can see that being an issue sometimes, too.

@TStrump: They can add up, but as I wrote today (May 27) you’ve got to balance living like a hermit with living. Going out for coffee isn’t necessarily bad… going out for coffee 6 days per week can be bad.

@Emily: At least you’re stopping relatively good things (using the grocery game to get cheap groceries en masse). Better than trying to stop bad habits.

Funny about Money May 31, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Interesting. I find it harder to break old habits than to build new ones. It’s not so easy to stop doing things that are part of your daily routine–they leave a hole in the pattern of your life. Not that one shouldn’t try! 😉

Comments on this entry are closed.