We all know the expression “Money can’t buy you happiness.” But while I agree that obsessing over money is bad, I think it’s important to have enough money to positively impact your life, family, and the world around you.

According to a recent survey, 38.1% of American households have credit card debt, with the median amount being around $5,700. So, true, money can’t buy happiness—but I guarantee that eliminating your debt and building up a cash reserve will at least remove some major unhappiness from your life.

Improving your financial situation requires discipline and deliberate action. Really, when you think about it, the money you keep largely depends on your daily actions (i.e., your habits.) So, building a few of the following actions into your day will have a positive impact on your financial situation.

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#21. Track Your Expenses

Type: Keystone habit

Best time to complete: Evening

Frequency: Daily

Benefit: Tracking your expenses is the most important financial habit you could ever develop, but it’s also the hardest because it means you must be 100% diligent and honest with yourself about your spending.

The process is simple: At the end of the day, write down everything you (and your family) purchased. Over time, you’ll notice spending trends that can be curtailed. Often, this means making sacrifices and even having a hard conversation about the difference between what you “need” and what you want.

Again, it’s not easy to build this habit, but it’s an important one because it’s the first step in the journey to mastering your money.

Description: Get started by keeping all the receipts, credit card statements, and notes (in an emergency) for each expenditure. Then, at the end of the day, jot down a description of the purchase and the amount. (This should be a daily habit because it’s easy to forget those small purchases that you make throughout the day.)

From there, input this information into one of the following tools:

•      A notebook (yes, this is a low-tech approach, but some folks like having a string of notebooks that they can use to maintain their records).
•      A spreadsheet program, like Microsoft Excel.
•      A Cloud-based software program and app like Mint.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each strategy, but I prefer Mint because it tracks your spending and provides numerous suggestions for saving money.

#22. Review Your Financial Situation

Type: Support habit

Best time to complete: Morning

Frequency: Daily

Benefit: Let me start by repeating one of my favorite quotes by Peter Drucker: “What gets measured gets managed.” When it comes to building positive finance habits, this saying is a reminder that the simplest way to control your money is to review your financial situation daily.

Description: Get started by merging all your accounts into a tool like Mint or Personal Capital. This includes your credit cards, checking account, investments, and personal assets (like your car). Don’t worry: both websites use a high level of encryption to protect your sensitive financial information.

Mint is designed for people who need to stick with a budget and want to track their daily spending. Personal Capital is designed for folks who don’t have a lot of debt, have a few investments, and need a single interface where they can get a full picture of their finances. My recommendation is to choose the one that matches your personal situation.

This habit is straightforward. Once a day, log into this account and do a quick scan of your finances:

•      Did you make all the purchases that it records?
•      Is there any spending habit that you can reduce or eliminate?
•      Do you have enough of an emergency fund?
•      How much credit card debt do you have?
•      How much interest are you earning on your savings?
•      How much are you spending (and saving) each month?
•      Do you have a savings plan?
•      What are your mandatory expenses?
•      What are your spending triggers?

Yes, the answer to some of these questions can be tough. However, if you’re willing to constantly monitor your spending, you’ll be one step closer to mastering your financial situation.

#23. Review Your Budget

Type: Keystone habit

Best time to complete: Anytime

Frequency: Daily and weekly

Benefit: Sticking to a budget is yet another tough but necessary habit. It requires that you do more than simply tracking your expenses. Here you’ll think critically about your spending and look for ways to cut corners on your outgoing cash.

There are many benefits to having a budget. You’ll:

•      See where your money actually goes.
•      Find opportunities to cut down on frivolous purchases.
•      Create an organized approach to your finances.
•      Understand the difference between a necessary expense and an impulse purchase.
•      Teach good financial habits to your kids. (In other words, they’ll understand why they can’t have that $300 pair of distressed denim jeans.)
•      Relieve stress. Even if you’re not getting “good news,” you’ll feel in control because you’re taking aggressive action to improve your financial situation.

Every household needs a budget. It’s a building-block habit that will have long-term rewards as you improve your financial situation.

Description: There are two budgeting habits that you can build. The first is the daily checkup that fits neatly into any regular stack. Here, you’ll look at your budget as a reminder of what you’re allowed to spend for each category.

The second habit is the weekly budget review. This thirty-minute routine is important because it gives you a complete picture of where you’re spending your money and if you’re sticking to the plan.

During this weekly analysis, look at each category and ask questions like:

•      “Are my expenditures under what I’ve allotted for that category?”
•      “Should I increase or decrease the cap for a particular category?”
•      “Is there a type of spending that I can completely eliminate?”
•      “Why did I purchase each item? Is it because it’s a need or a want?”
•      “Are there substitute habits or purchases that can minimize what I’m spending?”
•      “Can I find any additional ‘financial holes’ that can be plugged?”
•      “Is my money being spent on the things that truly matter to me?”
•      “What was the last item I regretted purchasing?”
•      “What’s holding me back from taking action?”
•      “How would my budget look without debt payments?”
•      “What’s my true hourly wage?”
•      “What can I do to increase my income?”
•      “If I died today, would my family be okay?”
•      “Am I setting a good example for my children?”
•      “Where do I want to be financially one year from now?”
•      “Do I have enough of an emergency fund?”
•      “How much am I spending (and saving) each month?”

Mastering your budget is an ongoing process. You won’t get it right during the first review. Instead, use these weekly reviews to make small, incremental corrections on your spending.

Finally, you can use programs like Excel or Mint to monitor your spending, but if you want additional help, then you should check out a budgeting-specific tool like You Need a Budget. This is a multiplatform software program that’s specifically designed to help you stick to a budget without feeling like you’re missing out on life.

#24. Check Your Billing Statements

Type: Support habit

Best time to complete: Anytime

Frequency: Monthly

Benefit: There are many small charges that are tacked on to your monthly bill statements, such as credit cards, cable, Internet, utilities, and ATM fees. All of them seem like a small amount, but when you add them up, the total amount wasted each month can be startling. They are the proverbial death of a thousand cuts.

By creating a monthly habit to review these bills, you can identify opportunities to reduce or eliminate your recurring expenditures.

Description: Once a month, go through each statement and highlight any questionable item. Also, if you feel that you’re spending too much money in a specific category, then earmark that expenditure. You’ll call this company and negotiate a lower price, which we’ll talk about next.

#25. Negotiate a Lower Price

Type: Elephant habit

Best time to complete: Anytime

Frequency: Weekly

Benefit: Another way to master your finances is to stop bleeding money. In other words, reducing your monthly expenditures can help you reduce your debt and/or start putting more money into your long-term investments. All of this can be achieved by calling each company and negotiating a reduction on many of those small charges.

This tactic works because most companies understand the cost of acquiring new customers. Usually, it’s much lower than the price reduction you’re trying to negotiate. So, if you’re aggressive enough to call each account and ask for a deal (or a price reduction), you can save a bit of money on your bills each month.

Description: Each company requires a different approach for negotiating better terms. If you want specific scripts of what to say and how to say it, then I recommend signing up for Ramit Sethi’s free email mini-course, The Save $1,000 in 1 Week Challenge.

Use the list that you compiled in habit #24, then call (at least) one company a week to negotiate better terms for your contract. Sure, this might take a month of effort (and a little bit of your soul while you listen to elevator music), but the result can lead to a significant savings on your monthly bills. This is money that can be reinvested into your credit card debt, student loans, mortgage payments, or long-term investments.

#26. Find Coupons for Necessities

Type: Support habit

Best time to complete: Morning

Frequency: Daily

Benefit: There are some products that you are going to purchase no matter what they cost, so it makes sense to find (and use) coupons to save money on these mandatory items.

Description: Look through your daily newspaper or browse the Internet for coupons for necessary items like toilet paper, garbage bags, or paper towels. Cut the coupons (or print them from the Internet), then put them into your wallet so you have them next time you buy these necessities.

If you’d like to take your couponing efforts to the next level, then here are a few additional ideas you can use:

•      Learn all you can about the ins and outs of couponing. (This means setting aside thirty minutes daily to educate yourself.) Go to the sites listed below that specialize in couponing hacks:
◊      Ebates
◊      Coupons.com
◊      Groupon
◊      Amazon
◊      FatWallet
◊      RetailMeNot
◊      ShopAtHome
◊      SlickDeals
◊      Savings.com
•      Get weekend subscriptions to several different local papers, which is the cheapest way to get the best deals in your area.
•      Buy items because you need them, and not because they’re discounted through a coupon. Purchasing unnecessary goods is nothing more than a fast-track to hoarding or even winding up in the poorhouse.
•      Throw brand loyalty out the window. If your beef stew must be made by Dinty Moore, then couponing may not be for you. Brands should not matter. What counts is getting the necessities at an affordable price.

There are people who spend the bulk of their free time on couponing. However, if you follow the basics outlined in this section, then you can save a decent amount of money without spending too much time on this activity.

#27. Conserve Your Utilities

Type: Support habit

Best time to complete: Morning and evening

Frequency: Daily

Benefit: Turning off the lights and appliances in your home, office, or apartment can save you a significant amount of money when it comes to your monthly utilities. Not only is it simple to do, but it also helps the environment.

Description: Anchor this habit to your evening and “leaving the home” routines. Here, you’ll take a quick lap around your home, office, or apartment. Turn off all the lights and appliances that aren’t being used, then lower the heat (if it’s winter) or turn off the air conditioning (if it’s summer).

To supercharge your efforts, you can add a series of tiny actions into your daily routine:

1.      Turn off lights whenever you leave a room.
2.      Power down electronics when they’re not being used. (Many electronics will often go into “standby” mode that still uses some electricity.)
3.      Open windows and use fans for cooling in the summertime, saving the air conditioning for those oppressively hot days.
4.      Open the blinds and shades in the winter, which lets the sun shine in and warms your home without expending additional energy.
5.      Match your pot size to the proper sized burner. Using a small pot or pan on a larger electric coil means you expend more energy to get the same result.
6.      Use cold water to do loads of laundry. The results are nearly as good, but it costs about 40 cents less per load of laundry than washing clothes with hot water.
7.      Turn off the water heater if you are going to leave your home for a few days. It takes an hour to get a water heater to reheat the water and saves quite a bit of energy over the days you are gone.

I’ll admit that many of these actions seem inconsequential, but if you repeat them often enough, you’ll notice a dramatic reduction in your monthly utility bill.

#28. Pack a Meal, Snack, and Coffee

Type: Support habit

Best time to complete: Morning

Frequency: Daily

Benefit: Preparing and packing the food items you consume every day is both a healthy choice and a wise financial decision. Author David Bach often talks about what he calls The Latte Factor, where a simple way to save money is to eliminate those small, recurring purchases that add up to a substantial amount of cash. You can put his advice into action by preparing your coffee (or tea) and a snack before leaving your home in the morning.

Description: Check your kitchen for what you could bring as a snack or for lunch. Place it with your purse or car keys so you don’t forget it when you leave. Or make coffee at home and use a travel mug to take it with you.

#29. Scan “Garage Sale” Facebook Groups

Type: Support habit

Best time to complete: Anytime + lunch

Frequency: Daily

Benefit: As I mentioned before, I have an eleven-month-old son (at the time of this writing). If you have children, then you know how quickly they go through clothing. Paying full retail price for their outfits can quickly add up to a lot of money. The good news is you can dramatically reduce this expenditure (and a whole lot more) by purchasing items from “garage sale” Facebook groups in your local area.

My wife uses these groups all the time. She frequently finds whole bags of outfits for $10 to $20. She also uses these groups to purchase discounted furniture, decorations, and a variety of consumable items.

If you’d like to build a habit that will help you save money, then you should join the garage sale groups in your area and check out the listings throughout the day.

Description: It’s not hard to locate groups that specialize in selling and swapping items. Here’s a five-step process to find groups in your area:

1.      Go to the Groups tab on Facebook or download the Facebook Groups app to your mobile phone.
2.      Enter: [Your county name or local area] + one of these words: garage sale / swap / sell / moms. (The names of these groups vary, so you need to dig a little to find the one for you.)
3.      Click on the description and send requests to join the groups that cater to buying and selling used items.
4.      Read the rules once you’ve been accepted because each group has a specific process for selling items.
5.      Check in a few times a day (during a stack or when you have free time).

And if you’re confused about any of these steps, then check out the brief walkthrough on the companion site.

#30. Buy for Value

Type: Support habit

Best time to complete: Anytime

Frequency: Weekly

Benefit: Choosing quality over quantity with the things you purchase is the best way to prevent you from having buyer’s remorse. This way, every time you look in your closet or at decor around your house, you won’t experience the stress of not loving an item you have purchased.

In fact, one important lesson I’ve learned is to think of your purchases as investments. If you know you’ll use an item frequently, then it makes sense to buy the best, most durable option. This can include clothes, electronics, food, furniture, and appliances. But you can also apply this logic to larger-ticket items like your home and car.

(For more on this, I recommend checking out this article on Lifehacker that talks about the importance of buying for quality.)

Description: This habit can take some time to master, but you should try to think carefully about the long-term consequences of each item that you’re purchasing.

For example, if you are in a clothing store and you try something on and like it but don’t love it, realize that you will never like it more than you do in the store. If the item does not enhance your self-esteem or your confidence, then move on to another item. But later, if you continue to think about this potential purchase, then you can always go back later and buy it.

Don’t go for the cheapest option when you are out shopping. Find items that are durable and that will last, so you do not need to replace them within the next few months.

One way to find the “best” of an item is by purchasing access to the Consumer Reports website, which is widely known as the top resource for testing products and giving them rankings on a wide range of factors.

#31. Comparison Shop for a Major Purchase

Type: Elephant habit

Best time to complete: Anytime

Frequency: Daily

Benefit: You should always research a major purchase by comparing the price on different websites. The bigger and more expensive the purchase, the more important it is to work this habit into your schedule. Not only will this save you money, it also helps you make a better-educated purchasing decision.

Description: Choose an item you need to buy. Explore different options on at least three retail websites and the magazine Consumer Reports. Check the features, details, availability, and price of the item to see which website has the best deal. Also, go through the negative ratings to see what people didn’t like about it, and then the positive ratings to see what others loved about it. Look for patterns in both to get an accurate picture of what it’s like to own this product.

You can take this a step further by creating a spreadsheet in which you list out the major features of your top selections. This will help you make a better-informed decision because all the data is right in front of you.

This habit isn’t just for physical purchases. You can comparison shop for any high-ticket item, like vacations, insurance rates, and credit card points programs. A little bit of extra effort in research now can mean serious savings down the road.

#32. Plan Your Meals

Type: Keystone habit

Best time to complete: Anytime

Frequency: Weekly

Benefit: We often make poor financial and health decisions due to a lack of proper planning. One reason people consume fast food is because they think about what they’ll eat at the last minute and then buy whatever is immediately accessible (like something from the Golden Arches). You, on the other hand, can prevent this from happening by building a weekly habit where you plan your meals for the next seven days.

Description: This is a twofold habit that includes looking up ingredients and shopping for them (see the next habit). Each week, think about your family’s schedule, identify the number of meals to prepare, and then map out what you’ll cook during the upcoming week. Not only does this help you eat healthy, it also reduces the amount of money you spend on takeout and restaurants meals.

There are countless resources you can use to find meal plans, but my favorite is 5 Dollar Dinners, which offers a combination of meal plans, coupons, and recipes for quality dinners that won’t break the bank. In fact, lately I’ve been slowly mastering many of the meals that Erin Chase (the owner) has featured on her website.

#33. Prepare a Food Shopping List (and Stick to It!)

Type: Keystone habit

Best time to complete: Anytime

Frequency: Weekly

Benefit: I have to admit something: I love Doritos. While they are probably one of the unhealthiest foods known to man, there’s something about this salty, cheesy snack that I crave. That said, you’ll never find a bag of Doritos in my home. I refuse to buy them because I know that I’ll succumb to my weakness one day and devour a whole bag. My strategy? Before food shopping, I write down a list and stick to only those items (which never include a delicious bag of Doritos).

I’ll admit this is another habit that sounds overly simplistic. But if you build a habit of only shopping for items from a list, then you decrease the likelihood of eating junk food—and you’ll save a lot of money along the way.

Description: Look in your refrigerator, review the meals you have planned, and check out your cupboard. Write down a list of only the items you need, and do it before you leave for the store.

Furthermore, be sure to shop on a full stomach. As you’re probably aware, it’s easier to succumb to a junk food temptation if your body is depleted and your mind is filled with all sorts of cravings for salts and sugars. (You can read this Cornell study to learn more about this phenomenon: Fattening Fasting: Hungry Grocery Shoppers Buy More Calories, Not More Food.)

#34. Plan Your Daily Errands

Type: Support habit

Best time to complete: Morning

Frequency: Daily

Benefit: Planning your daily errands is like reviewing your daily budget—it keeps you on track and in control of your spending. It also helps you avoid the stores where you tend to overspend. Finally, when you map out an itinerary, you’ll visit the places in the most logical order, which will save you time, gas, and money.

Description: Write a list of errands you need to complete. Then rewrite the list in the order you will complete each task. Make sure you stick to the list so you don’t go somewhere you didn’t intend to go and spend money on frivolous items.

#35. Unsubscribe from Catalogs and Junk Mail

Type: Elephant habit

Best time to complete: Anytime

Frequency: Monthly

Benefit: Receiving a never-ending stream of print catalogs with discounts and promotions often leads to unnecessary spending. Saving 20% on a purchase isn’t saving any money at all if you spend $100 to save that $20. You didn’t save $20, you spent $80. Keep that in mind the next time you receive a catalog or coupon that’s full of “savings.”

If you’re serious about eliminating needless spending from your life, then one of the simplest ways to do this is to get rid of junk mail and catalogs.

Description: I’d consider this to be an ongoing elephant habit that will require consistent effort every month if you want to get rid of all unwanted mail. You see, whenever you offer up your mailing address for coupons of “free stuff,” these companies can sell your information to third-party vendors. This means that if you’ve signed up for dozens of offers, then you’ll need to build a habit where you regularly opt out from the various places that are responsible for sending junk mail.

Get started by using a service like Catalog Choice, which eliminates most unwanted mailings. Usually it’ll take a month or so for the various companies to follow through on your request. Then you can use the following steps to make sure you’re completely off these unwanted lists:

•      Go to DMACHOICE.org to get rid of unwanted magazines and newsletters.
•      Go to OptOutPrescreen.com (US only) to get rid of unwanted credit card offers.
•      Write to the mail preference service (for the US or the UK) to opt out your name from the major mailing list.
•      Avoid placing your address on surveys, product warranty cards, and raffles.
•      Ask individual senders to remove you from their mailing lists.
•      Request to make your personal information confidential in the county and state database.
•      Add a “No Junk Mail” or “No Free Papers” sign on your mailbox.
•      Sign up to receive statements and bills electronically.

Sure, these steps require a lot of effort. But if you work at it a little bit every week or month, then you can forever eliminate the tide of worthless catalogs and mailings.

#36. Find Something Free to Do

Type: Support habit

Best time to complete: Anytime

Frequency: Weekly

Benefit: It’s possible to get out of the house and enjoy yourself without spending money, but many people often overlook this tactic because they think it doesn’t sound as fun as a fancy dinner. But think of it this way: dinner and a movie for two can easily cost more than $100. This money could be better spent on groceries or paying off credit card bills.

If you take the time to research free activities in your area and substitute them for those lavish nights out, then you can enjoy something fun without it negatively impacting your financial situation.

Description: Dedicate five to ten minutes each week to planning your schedule. Check your local paper or community calendar, or do a quick Google search for upcoming events. Then choose a few you’d like to do and write them down in your calendar so you don’t forget about them.

Here are some suggestions of fun activities that are completely free:

•      Leverage your library. Most libraries have extensive CD and DVD collections, activities for children, film nights, book clubs, and many other events.
•      Play your favorite board game with the family.
•      Figure out a walking tour. One of the truths of life is that most people only explore the history of the area they live in when people come to visit. You can be different by learning about your community and exploring it.
•      Visit a free museum or zoo.
•      Volunteer at a nearby charity or church event.
•      Set aside time to just relax and read books or watch movies.
•      Join a local club for a hobby that you love.
•      Plan a relaxing bike ride with your family in a scenic part of your area.

Notice how all these ideas are completely free? Most of the time, people gravitate to expensive activities (like a dinner out) because they don’t take the time to plan ahead. But if you set aside time during a weekly stack, you can easily find fun stuff to do that doesn’t cost much.

#37. Skip the Commercials

Type: Support habit

Best time to complete: Anytime

Frequency: Daily

Benefit: You and your family are exposed to hundreds of ads daily, which can have a negative impact on your spending habits. The worst culprit is television (especially children’s programming). They show a commercial, and you feel like you “need” whatever is being promoted. That’s why you should attach a “commercial skipping habit” to your entertainment consumption.

Description: There are two ways to skip commercials. First, you can record all your favorite programs ahead of time and watch them later. Most television packages offer the digital video recording (DVR) feature, so all you have to do is program specific shows, watch them when you want, and then fast-forward through the commercials.

The second option requires a larger commitment—cut the cord from your cable subscription.

Now, I’m not telling you to stop watching TV or live like a monk. But technology is now advanced to the point where you can watch the same programming at a fraction of the cost and skip past all those annoying commercials. Let me explain:

There are streaming media devices like Roku, Kodi, or Amazon’s Fire TV Stick that allow you to access most of the same programs that you normally get through a cable subscription. Each of these devices gives you access to thousands of streaming channels. Some are free and some are premium. Even if you pay for two or three 0f these services, it still results in a significant cost savings.

For instance, my setup is simple right now and only costs an average of $40 (as of March 2017), which is significantly less than the $130+ cable bill we once had:

1.      Netflix ($7 monthly)
2.      Amazon Prime ($99 per year or $8 monthly)
3.      Sling TV ($25 monthly)

With Netflix and Amazon, you can watch most of the movies, documentaries, and premium TV shows that you love. And with Sling TV, you have access to your favorite network shows. It’s television-on-demand at its best, and more importantly, you don’t have to sit through commercials, which are distracting and reinforce negative spending habits.

If you want to create a similar setup for your home, then I recommend checking out the book How to Watch TV Without Cable by Stephen Lovely. This book talks about the benefits of “cord cutting” and how you no longer need to rely on cable companies to control your viewing habits.

#38. Set up Automatic Withdrawals

Type: Support habit

Best time to complete: Anytime

Frequency: Monthly

Benefit: You’ve probably heard the financial advice of paying yourself first. This means that before buying groceries, paying bills, or spending money on frivolous items, you deposit money into a long-term investment like an IRA, mutual fund, or savings account for real estate investing. The problem with this advice is that most people don’t do it. So, a simple solution is to set up automatic withdrawals and review these transactions monthly.

I’d consider setting up automatic withdrawals to be an anti-habit. It’s designed to remove any decision or action on your part. Instead, money comes out of your account each month without you doing a thing. This is important because it’s easy to make excuses about why you need the cash for something else. The interesting thing is when money is automatically pulled from your account, you suddenly “find” ways to tighten your belt and not spend as much that month.

Description: The first step is to understand your financial goals and set up withdrawals to match these outcomes. Do you need to:

•      Get out of debt?
•      Save for retirement?
•      Put away money for your children’s college?
•      Save for a large investment (like a real estate property)?

You should eliminate credit card debt before anything else because the interest rate is significantly higher than any interest you’d generate from any other investment. In fact, you could use the stacking method where you pay off your credit card in order from the highest to lowest interest rate.

After eliminating your credit card debt, set up an automatic withdrawal for each of the major categories where you save money (e.g., your investment account, college savings fund, and bank account). Time each withdrawal so the money is pulled out of your account right after receiving your paycheck. This is key because you don’t want to see the money in your account and feel you’re losing it.

Finally, review your bank statements once a month. If you’ve effectively implemented the other actions recommended in this section, then you might have a little bit extra left over. If that’s the case, then increase the withdrawal amount for each account. On the other hand, if you’re struggling to pay your bills, then you should consider lowering the withdrawal amount or looking for additional ways to tighten your belt.

#39. Read a Personal Finance Article

Type: Support habit

Best time to complete: Anytime

Frequency: Daily

Benefit: You can never be overeducated, especially when it comes to personal finance. In fact, I recommend building a self-education habit where you read books, listen to podcasts, and scan personal finance articles. If you don’t have time for these activities, then I’d recommend checking out at least one personal finance article a day.

Description: Here are a few personal finance websites that I’d recommend checking out:

•      Get Rich Slowly
•      Money Crashers
•      Budgets Are Sexy
•      I Will Teach You To Be Rich
•      Wise Bread
•      The Simple Dollar

If you want a simple way to scan these websites, then you can sign up for a free Feedly account, add these sites to your feed, and look through it during a regular stack.