Friction: How it can help you achieve your money goals

January 05, 2022

Friction is about making it a little bit harder to keep up bad habits and a little bit easier to keep up good habits. Here’s how to use it as a powerful financial tool.

 

Does it feel like some of the best habits are the hardest to create and some of the worst habits are the hardest to break? If it seems that way, it’s because often, it is.

Let’s take subscribing to a service, for example. Companies intentionally remove “friction” from the purchasing process so that subscribing can be as easy as one click. However, when it comes to unsubscribing from that service, companies often add friction by hiding the unsubscribe button, requiring you to call customer service to cancel, or some other tactic that makes it a time-consuming task. This added effort is called friction and it discourages ending the service.

When it comes to building better financial habits, we can take a hint from these tactics by making positive habits – like saving – easier to do, while making negative habits – like overspending – harder to do.

Adding and removing friction to your daily habits can be a great way to stay on track with your short-term and long-term financial goals. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

 

Remove friction from positive habits you want to increase.

  • Download your banking app: Having your banking app on your phone, where you see it most, is a good way to keep it top-of-mind and that can help you control your spending and savings. Seeing where your money is going is a good way to stay aware of your financial situation and your long-term goals – and thus less likely to make unplanned purchases. 

  • Automate bill pay and savings: The adage of “out of sight, out of mind” rings true with money. By enlisting the help of autopay for your bills, you’re more likely to stay on top of your payments and avoid late fees. And with automated savings, you can set the amount you want to put aside without having to make a conscious choice to save. Even a small amount saved from each paycheck can grow your savings without any additional effort. 

  • Make better choices more convenient: Review areas where you spend money that you’d rather not. For instance, if you’re spending too much money on takeout, try planning out your weekly meals instead. By writing down your meal plan you will be much less likely to opt for takeout and your grocery list will include only items you plan to use. Or, if fees from rush deliveries on household items are eating away your funds, set aside time to take inventory each month and replace them in advance.

 

Add friction to negative habits you want to break.

  • Remove one-click spending: Many websites make it effortless to make a purchase with one click or stored payment information. While this instant process may be satisfying in the moment, it can deter your long-term goals. Try unlinking your card from accounts that have made impulse buying easy. If you need to enter your card each time you make a purchase, you might find the friction created helps you make more thoughtful purchases. 

  • Clear temptations from your phone: It’s easy to fall into autopilot and use apps and websites where you’re automatically logged in and your preferences are saved. Consider deleting retail and other convenience apps to create friction. Even something as simple as clearing your browser search history and deleting bookmarks can provide the extra steps needed to slow down unnecessary purchases. 

  • Unfollow brands on social media: Do you find yourself easily influenced by the accounts you follow on social media? It’s common to want the newest beauty product, kitchen appliance or tech gadget the minute we see it on social media. If you tend to be motivated by these posts and it results in spending beyond your means, consider unfollowing accounts that entice you to splurge.

 

Explore more about financial wellness including tips on how to reach your financial goals.  

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