Too often, we see change as a mountain, and we neglect to take the first step. Forget the big picture. Progress is made in small day-to-day efforts. Here at WECU, we like talking about the idea of a 1% change. Consider two lines that are running parallel. The top line is where you want to be. By simply adjusting the bottom line by just 1%, eventually, you get to where you want to be.

Here are three 1% suggestions.

Save your raise and avoid lifestyle inflation. Say you make $40,000 per year, and you get a 3% raise this year; that’s $1,200. To keep things simple, let’s say you ignore taxes for the moment and say you get about $100 more a month in your take-home pay. Maybe that first month, you celebrate a little with the extra money, but after that, consider using that $100 for your retirement fund, maybe a rainy day fund, or pay off high-interest debts.

Try not to make any same-day purchases. By same day, I mean, limit the amount of times you decide you want something and in the same day, you go out and purchase it. Planning your groceries ahead of time prevents a quick decision to run to an expensive convenience store. 

A friend gave me a more modern example. This friend never buys anything the same day on Amazon. He puts it in his cart. He sleeps on it. If he still really wants it the next day, he buys it.

Another idea is to try a one-month financial detox. People often do time based diets, like, Whole 30. It is not so much that they expect to go without sugar, carbs, or anything processed forever, but the challenge creates the motivation to test what habits they should change. Afterward, they go back to a more normal diet, but perhaps they are able to stay away from some of those excesses that they had before. A financial detox works the exact same way. For a short period of time, let’s say a month, you sit back and you look at your budget, asking the question, what do I actually need to spend money on? The detox resets how you see money, which can be super healthy in the long run.

Remember, it is really not about the size of the step, it’s that you take it.