Webinar: Train your brain for smart financial habits

Get some insight on the psychology behind why and how we make financial decisions.

Tags: Budgeting, Goals
Published: July 22, 2020

In this webinar, you’ll learn about the quirks and patterns behind people’s spending decisions and get some clever tips for outsmarting yourself. 

View video transcript

Train your brain for smart financial habits

Now, I'll turn it over to today's presenters. Take it away, Jill.

I am Jill Ross. I am one of the goal coaches here at U.S. Bank. Prior to working at the bank, I was in the military, in the navy for several years. And when I got out, I worked my way up, entered the business world, eventually becoming an HR director and then project manager. And now, I'm here with the bank. Meg?

Hi, everyone. My name is Meg McCall. I'm here with EVERFI, which is the technology partner powering financial education for U.S. Bank.

Good morning, everyone. My name is Danielle Hartman. I am the branch manager at the U.S. Bank, University of San Diego office. I have been in banking for 11 years. I've been with U.S. Bank for eight, and at the USC location for four years.

My branch is unique in the fact that we are located on the campus of the University of San Diego. I can tell you that out of all the locations I've been, being at USC is my favorite place because I get to help a lot of students with their very first financial experiences. And that's been really rewarding. So I'm so excited to be here with you guys today and share with you all the great information we have.

Awesome, thanks, Danielle. So good morning, everyone. We are going to start today with a poll question. So take a minute to answer. We're going to have two poll questions today. So take a minute to answer this as you're settling in.

Did you brush your teeth today, yes or no? Seems like a strange question, but we're going to get to that later, I promise. The second poll question we're going to ask today is how do you feel about starting new habits? Are you the I'm all in, why wait for a new year to get started on a resolution? Or are you more on the ugh side of this poll?

Take the first couple minutes while you're settling in today to answer both these questions. And we will get to the results towards the end of the presentation. And I'm going to go ahead and just get started.

What is a habit? We're talking about habits today. So what is a habit? Simply put, a habit is an action performed regularly, like brushing your teeth. This is a perfect example of a habit you probably do without much mental effort. You might even have specific cues that tell you when it's time to brush your teeth, like your toothbrush and your toothpaste sitting by your sink.

Maybe you're a tech type person. You have an electric toothbrush. Maybe you have flavored toothpaste that helps you get the job done. Or maybe, like me, you connect toothbrushing to other activities. I know I am the person who, every morning, it's the same thing-- brush my teeth, take a shower, get dressed for work, and then straight to the coffee maker.

And since brushing your teeth is such a simple activity, again, if you're anything like me, you're probably thinking about other things while you're doing it. When I'm brushing my teeth, personally, I'm not quite ready to face the day. So my mind wanders to a billion different things. And I usually find myself thinking about pointless stuff, like what is the origin of the word tooth, or will Pinky and the Brain ever get a reboot?

On the other hand, maybe your brain is more serious in the morning. So when you're brushing your teeth, you're thinking what if saving money for my future was as simple as brushing my teeth? Or what if my budget was as predictable and easy to follow as my brushing routine?

So today, I'm going to share some tips for creating and maintaining those smart financial habits. First, we'll talk examples of habits you might want to create. And then I'll show you some cool brain tricks to help get us there. Before we get into the tricks, however, Danielle is going to get us started with smart financial habits. Danielle?

Yeah, thanks, Jill. Yes, let's talk about what are some smart financial habits? So first off, who doesn't love an acronym? I know when I need help remembering something, creating an acronym really helps me retain the information better. So here's one that we put together for you guys with five SMART-- see what we did there-- habits that align with the letters of the word "smart."

So S, Start with your financial wellness checklist. These are the handy resource you can find on usbank.com/smart-habits. And it's a great place to get started if you're not even sure where to begin.

It has five different categories to help you start your journey towards better financial health. The categories are decide what drives you, track your spending, deconstruct your debt, assess your assets, and start taking action. You can print it out and get the satisfaction of checking each off as you go.

M, Manage your budget, so a budget is an ongoing account of your income and your expenses, so your income minus all of your expenses. If you can make budgeting a habit, you'll have a lot more control over your money. You can visit our Financial IQ site. There's so many different budgeting tips on there. Also, make sure that you download a budgeting app. There's so many great ones out there.

A, Act on your goals, so think about the life that you want your money to enable. Create short and long-term goals that are achievable and help keep you motivated. For example, a short-term goal would be maybe you want to create an emergency fund, $1,000 emergency fund in three months.

So if you round that up, 1,000 divided by 3 months, that would be $334 per month. Or if you get paid twice a month, then that would be $167 per paycheck. So when you break it down like that, it's much easier for you to achieve. And it just seems much more attainable.

So R, Respect your credit. Get in the habit of checking your credit score regularly. I would check your-- I check my score up to four times a year. U.S. Bank customers, you can go to our U.S. Bank site, usbank.com/freecreditscore, and check your credit score free there.

Otherwise, you can check your credit score from the three different credit bureaus once a year. So those are from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. So what I would suggest is going in once a quarter, so once every three months, and reviewing your credit score, so you know what your credit score is and make sure that everything looks OK on there.

T, Track your online security, so set up account alerts so you can notify if someone changes your email address, your phone number, or your address, or if money is spent from your account. You can also customize the alerts so that you receive notification anytime a withdrawal comes out of your account. And you can customize the amount of that.

So maybe if you don't want an alert every time a withdrawal or transaction comes out of your account, you can customize it. So every time maybe something $100 or more comes out of your account, you'll be notified. So you can receive a text message or an email. So you can review the transaction and make sure that it's one that you made.

Also, it's important to sign into your online banking regularly to review your balance and just check your transactions to make sure that everything looks accurate. Another thing you want to make sure that you're doing is creating strong passwords. So create passwords that not everyone is going to guess. Make sure you're not putting your birthday on there, maybe your dog's name. Make them a little more complicated.

Also, I know I'm guilty of creating the same password for all of my log-ins because I forget my passwords easily. So I'm like, I'll just create a password for my one checking account here, my savings account there, my Amazon, my Gmail. I create the same password for everything so I don't forget them.

Well, the problem with that is then if somebody hacks into one of your accounts, now it's going to be much easier for them to hack into your other accounts. So create different passwords for all your sign-ins. Hopefully, now you can get started with some of these habits or create some of your own.

That's awesome. You know when we were prepping for this webinar, I had to go back and look at my passwords because I was doing the exact same thing. Oh, it's the same password for all 37 things that I had. I'm so bad at that.

All right, so let's talk about favorite habits that I like to share with people when I talk to clients and different people. The number one habit that I really like to share, and I recommend to everybody, and I follow it myself is the 48-hour cooling off period. Why? Simply put, because I want it all, and I want it now, right? New kayak, yes, new car to carry the kayak, obviously, new landscaping complete with the outdoor pizza oven, who wouldn't, right?

Then it starts to hit us, thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. And that's when we start saying, wait, what? We all like shiny new things that make our lives more fun. But those costs start to add up quickly.

So give yourself some time. Give yourself that 48 hours before you make that purchase. That way, during that 48 hours, you can ask yourself, am I really going to use that $2,500 pizza oven I just put in the backyard? Do I really need that?

The next thing, create checklists or wishlists. Remember when you were a little kid, and you used to make a wish list for Santa? Apply that same practice now. Make a list of all the things that you want, and figure out how or if you can fit them into your budget. That way, each time you're able to make the purchase, you can just check it off the list.

Talk it out. We hear people say this all the time. Talk about it first. OK, when we hear things said out loud, it makes us think more about what we're doing. So have a conversation before you make a major purchase, even if you're talking just to yourself.

Stand in front of your mirror and have that conversation. And you're probably delightful. So it's going to be a great conversation. If you don't want to talk to yourself though, and no one else is available, just improvise.

Talk however you want to talk. Figure it out. Listen to yourself say it. Jokingly, I actually advised a client to get a volleyball, name it Wilson because we all remember Castaway, and to talk through big decisions. Well, my client recently told me that she took my advice.

She bought her volleyball. She drew a face on it. She named it Wilson. And she talked through this whole new car purchase that she was going to make. Talking to her Wilson, and hearing her say that her new car payment was now going to jump up to $600 was enough to make her stop, wait. And she's still driving her vehicle that's actually only two years old.

Accountability, are you anything like me? Do you run to the nearest gym to jump on the latest exercise craze because Groupon promised you, yet again, that you're going to love this 24-hour gym even more than the 24-hour gym they told you you'd love last week? And then you believed them, so you bought the Groupon?

Find yourself an accountability partner, someone who can help you avoid these extra purchases and help you stay on track, someone you can talk to before you make the purchase rather than after, so you can avoid that week of binge eating Ben and Jerry's Rocky Road because you now haven't used any of the Groupons you've bought, and you have buyer's remorse. Number 5, break it down. For a big goal like paying off debt or saving for a major purchase, break it into smaller monthly or weekly financial plans before you commit.

Are you noticing the theme here about before we commit to things? So a client came to me not too long ago, and wanted to figure out if his budget could support, if he'd have a little wiggle room in his paycheck, and if his budget could support a $60,000 purchase. Fortunately, we were able to break down this purchase, looked at it. There would have been no wiggle room. Like, this guy wouldn't been able to take a sick day because he wouldn't have been able to afford it.

So by looking at that prior and breaking it down, he's waiting on that $60,000 purchase. So review your income and your expenses before making your large purchases, so you don't end up having to trade, say your dream beach vacation, for that blow-up pool in your backyard. Meg, talk to us about how to form these habits?

Those are really great habits, Jill. Thanks for sharing those. If anyone on this webinar attended the webinar that Jill and I hosted back in June, this brain image might look familiar. Basically, one side of your brain makes rules for the other, which is why it can be so hard to stick to good habits.

Your system 2 brain, which is the thoughtful and rational one, might plan to eat a healthy salad for lunch. But when noon rules around, system 1, which is the impulsive, unconscious brain, might be craving a cheeseburger. And who has the energy to chop vegetables and make a salad when the drive-through is so convenient? Definitely not system 1, that side of your brain never has patience to chop vegetables.

So the same thing can happen with money. System 2 makes your budget, and then system 1 makes your day-to-day spending decisions. So you might wonder how anybody ever manages to save money when the freewheeling, fun-loving system 1 is in control of the wallet. That's where science can save the day. We have a few tricks that we're going to walk through today that will train your brain to form habits that keep both sides working together in harmony.

Yeah, honestly, if it weren't for my system 2 brain, I'd walk around with a cheeseburger in one hand and a cinnamon roll in the other one all the time.

Sounds right.

But that's just me. [LAUGHS] So tricks to train your brain for better money habits-- how do we train our brain for better money habits? In this case, we become specific about our intentions. We use commitment devices.

We stack our habits. We bundle or should-dos with our want-to-dos. And then we add friction. So tip 1, to specify, if you want to change your habits, you need to start with a specific intention, meaning I will do this thing at this time in this specific place. And research has shown that there's a formula for an implementation intention that makes new habits likelier to stick.

So simply put, we specify the what, when, and where. So things like saying, I want to be more financially responsible, or I want to get in shape, or I want to eat healthier, they're very general statements. For example, when I personally make the statement, I want to eat healthier, all that really means to me is I'm now going to just add lettuce to my cheeseburger.

You're much more likely to be successful if you're detailed and take the time to think through what you're going to do. So rather than saying, I'm going to eat healthier, I now say, I'm going to eat a salad at noon in my office, so I'm not tempted to go to the cheeseburger place right next door to my office. The same thing goes for creating better financial habits. Instead of saying, I want to be a better saver, I now say, I'm going to transfer a specific amount of money to my retirement account every payday at 8:00 AM.

If you're not sure how to create these better financial habits, make an appointment with your goals coach. Or I'll point you back to the resource Danielle mentioned earlier, on www.usbank.com/financialiq, we do have a financial wellness checklist. We call it our 30-day adulting challenge. Spend a little time with it. And it can help you narrow things down to some tasks to start with.

And once you've set your intention, make it real. Schedule a reminder for yourself in your phone, on your calendar, or your Google, or your Alexa. And then take the time to write it down, for real, on paper because research has shown us that putting a commitment in writing causes us to take it more seriously. Meg, I know you had some stuff for us here.

Yeah, I think that's really great, Jill. I always find that it's helpful to be specific. One example I thought of around an implementation intention is that on the first Sunday of each month, I put a recurring hold on my Google Calendar for me to review my credit card statement. And for me, this comes right before my payment is due. So I am able to confirm the charges, flag any spending behaviors that I might want to be aware of and adjust for the next month, and then pay my statement off at the same time.


Courtney, can you walk us through the whiteboard activity?

Yes, I'm happy to. So we are showing a whiteboard on your screen at this time. You should now have access. And use the big T and the small t on the left-hand side of your screen.

Click on the whiteboard. And type in a response to the question what's your implementation intention? Be very specific and include your what, when, and where. We'll give a few minutes.

All right, let's see, we're starting to see some of these. I will check my credit after this call. Good choice, love it. Who else. And now I can't read it.

We had somebody ask if we can repeat the question. So our question is what's your implementation intention? Be specific with your what, when, and where. What do you plan to do following this call to create better habits?

Love it, somebody said I will check my credit after this call. I will download a budgeting app tonight. I will create a weekly or biweekly spending budget. I'll transfer a set amount of my paycheck to my savings each payday.

I want to get up early and do 20 minutes of exercise before I go to work, love it. Wow, all right, everybody's got something to say. I love this. That means people are listening, yay!

All right, thank you, guys, for participating. I really appreciate that. I'm going to move on to the next slide, which is our commitment device. So tip 2, our commitment device, basically, commitment device is a fancy phrase that behavioral scientists use to describe the concept of making decisions now to put limits on your behavior in the future. And while these can be helpful for anybody, different people use different types of commitment devices.

One of those is scheduling your future. It's a device that helps you make good decisions in the moment when you're motivated. So for example, pay yourself first. We move money from our paycheck every payday to our savings.

And so we know that this is a specific commitment. It's something scheduled. We know it's coming. There's nothing to surprise us. And it's easy to do. It becomes a painless way to plan for the future.

If you want to make this type of scheduling even easier, you could set up direct deposit. So it splits the account between-- sorry-- splits between the account you pay bills from and that secret stash you have for your special occasion you're saving for. But what if you're someone who feels like you could really use some professional financial advice before you do this? Take a minute to set an appointment with your advisor while your system 2 responsible brain has control. This way you're more likely to honor that appointment if it's already in your calendar until waiting till the next time the mood strikes you.

Removing options-- this is another great way to keep yourself committed. I have lots of friends who ban junk food from their houses. I do the same thing. This way you're less tempted to eat it. Living in Las Vegas, I've heard of a lot of people with gambling addictions who voluntarily put themselves on the banned list at casinos so they don't have that gambling option available.

The financial equivalent of removing options might be choosing to close credit accounts that you don't want to use or perhaps you want to put your savings into an account that's harder for you to access, or you have a penalty for early withdrawal. I can't give you that specific advice, so talk to your banker or your advisor to get the best option.

Social accountability, this one's kind of fun. So some people are really motivated by negative consequences. And some of us have friends who are completely ready to dish out the tough love. Years ago, when the writer Victor Hugo was trying to finish his novel, he took all his clothes out of his closet, gave them to his friend, told him to lock them away. Victor figured if he didn't have any clothes to wear, he wouldn't be tempted to leave his house and procrastinate.

In his case, he finished his book on time. And his friend eventually returned his clothes. So I'm not going to suggest that you give all your clothes away and run around naked because, if you are anything like me, eventually you're going to decide that you absolutely have to go to Starbucks. And even Starbucks frowns on wearing your bed sheet to pick up your coffee. But you get the point.

And something that I do-- so I'm in my MBA program. And I have a new class every eight weeks. To keep myself focused on my homework and not sticking my nose in a new book because I'm inclined to buy a new book just about every weekend, I've given all of my favorite books to my friend and asked her to store them at her house until I graduate.

And my friend is all about the tough love. So even on those days when I say, hey, I finished early, and I've got some extra time this week, I want to read, she refuses to bring me a book. She says, get started on the next week. So for me, removing my beloved books from my house has been what's keeping me committed to my schoolwork and not getting away from what I'm doing. Meg, I know that you had an example you were going to share for us here.

I do. I love the scheduling your future habit. One example of this is every year, I look back at how much money I spent on medical expenses for that year, like, prescriptions, doctors visits, and copays, and remove anything that's not typical or that I wouldn't be planning for in the future.

But I can take that amount, and then allocate it into my flexible spending account, which is provided to me by my employer, so that my medical expenses are already removed from my paycheck each month. And I basically have that set aside. So it's one less thing that I have to budget and plan for. Danielle, did you have an example as well that you want to talk us through?

Yeah, yeah, what's really helped me is removing options. So this year, I knew I was going to owe on my taxes. So when November came, I calculated how much I was going to owe for my taxes when I was going to have to pay them in April 2020. And I found a CD that had a really good rate and was going to mature right before my taxes were due in April.

So what I did was I put the money that I knew I was going to owe for my taxes into this CD. So it would take away the option of possibly using it or accessing it before then. It also earned money because of the interest. So it was a win-win.

Nice, I had never thought of that. That's a great idea. That's perfect. So number 3, tip 3, habit stacking, habit stacking is great for habits that you're likely to forget or lose track of. So find a habit that you do with the same frequency and stack your new habit on top of it because we naturally form habits together, like cookies with milk, going to a coffee shop, your favorite coffee shop every time you're in that neighborhood, whatever that might be.

So I know someone who uses the changing of the seasons as a cue for all the things you're supposed to do every three months. So on the first official day of spring, summer, fall, winter, she's changing out the furnace filters, putting new baking soda in the fridge, pops a new filter in her water pitcher, and switches out her electric toothbrush heads. You guys knew this was coming back to toothbrushing, right?

If you have a rhythm like this, add a new financial habit, like check your credit, to that particular lineup. If you don't though, and you're currently mentally calculating the age of your water filter right now, maybe try habit stacking. Another example of financial habit stacking, you are entitled to the free credit report every year that we've been talking about. But do you remember the last time you got one?

If you don't, keep it simple. Always get your free credit report on the same day, like, your birthday or some random holiday when you're not overwhelmed with other responsibilities, like Arbor Day. Plant a tree and request your free credit report from all three credit bureaus at the same time. Meg, I know you had something for us on habit stacking. I love this.

I do. This example is a little bit out there. But very recently, I've started to try to be a houseplants person. And at first, I was finding that I couldn't remember when it was time to water the plants. I was overwatering or underwatering because they all had very different schedules. So what I've actually done is added my Sunday credit statement habit that I mentioned earlier into my plant watering routine. So on Sunday morning, check my credit statements every month, water my plants, and everything is bundled together.

That's awesome.

Danielle, how about you?

Yeah, I love that Meg. I'm having a hard time keeping my plants alive. I can keep my dog alive. But I can't keep a plant alive. So (CHUCKLING) mine has been, every morning, I have to walk my dog. She has to go to the bathroom every morning, nonnegotiable.

So I have a journal next to my dog's leash. So every morning before we go on our walk, I write down five goals that I want to accomplish for the day. And then, also, when I get back from walking her, I always make coffee.

So I make my coffee. And then once I'm sitting down, having my coffee, I sign into my mobile app. And I just review my account, and take a quick look, and make sure everything looks OK, and review my balance, and check my transactions every day.

That's great. I never thought to do that when I was drinking my coffee. Usually, all I can think about is how long until I can get to the next cup of coffee. All right, tip 4, temptation bundling, so like habit stacking, temptation bundling is about sticking habits together. But this one's a little extra clever because you're pairing a should-do with something you want to do. This is the reason, the whole scientific reason, that TVs in front of the treadmills are such a popular pair.

So another bundling might be working on your budget, your should-do, while you're listening to your Spotify playlist, your want-to-do. Early on, I bundled eating Oreos as my want-to-do, when I first started regularly working on my budget, my should-do. And now, my budgeting has become such a habit, I don't even need the Oreos anymore. I still eat the Oreos, of course. I just don't have to.

Another fun way to use temptation bundling is to tie a responsible behavior, like setting aside money in your savings, with your splurge purchase. So for me, I'm a Sephora person. And my responsible behavior temptation bundle is that if I can justify $60 for a fancy new face cream, then I can put $60 in my retirement savings at the same time. Meg, tell us about yours.

Mine is very similar. I love to pair a splurge with an equivalent in my savings. So I have two automated payments that are set up for my checking account each month. One is to pay for my monthly personal trainer fee, which is definitely a bit of a splurge for me. And then the other one is to transfer the same amount into my savings account. Danielle, what sort of temptation bundling do you do?

Yeah, so I'm right there with you, Jill. I love to shop, whether it's Sephora or purchasing clothes. And lately, I've been doing a ton of online shopping. So I made a rule that every time I purchase any kind of clothes, shoes, accessories, makeup, anything like that online, I'm going to transfer the same amount into my savings.

And this has really helped me be mindful of my spending because I'll reassess if it's in my budget to essentially pay double for what I'm purchasing. So if I'm buying something, maybe it was $100. And it was free shipping. And I'm like, that's not bad.

Well, now, I'm essentially paying $200 for it. So I'm like, do I really need that? Maybe not now, so maybe I'll change it to purchasing something for $50, which now is going to cost me $100 because I'm going to transfer another $50 into my savings. So that's really helped me curb my spending and be mindful of what I'm purchasing.

That's awesome. Yeah, and we have to do that because Amazon is not going to do it for us, right?


Ever. All right, let's talk about friction. Friction is the little bit of effort that can slow us down. It doesn't have to be a huge obstacle, just a little bit of extra work or inconvenience that, when applied to habits, does have a strong effect over time. Now, on the opposite end, removing friction makes it easier to do something and easier for that something to become a habit.

So for example, maybe you noticed how quick and easy it is to buy things online. You can store your credit card in your phone. You can use one-click shopping on Amazon. You can have something on its way almost as quickly as you can say, impulse purchase.

And this is not by accident. Amazon knows exactly what they're doing. And they get us every time. But you can add friction back into your habits to help you break the bad ones. So one of my clients continually dipped into her savings account. To break this habit, she moved her savings to a bank where she has to drive 20 minutes through city traffic to get to the bank.

She deliberately didn't get an ATM or a debit card for the account and never signed up for online banking. So she can still get to her money if she needs it. But she's personally added enough friction that she leaves her money alone unless it's an emergency. Meg, I know you have some great friction tips for us.

Yeah, creating friction is probably one of my favorite habits. I recently removed my stored credit cards from my iPhone and my Apple Watch because I found that, especially during the pandemic, I would go out for a walk to get a little bit of fresh air. And I would find myself popping into coffee shops and getting coffee that I probably didn't need or just tapping and spending. So now, if I do go out, and I know I'm going to need to purchase something, I must bring a credit card or cash.

I love it.

Yeah, mine is very similar to Meg's. I mean, when I go out, I've decided that if I go out with my friends, or I'm on vacation, I don't bring my cards anymore. So I leave my cards at home or at the hotel, and I only bring cash. So I budget for a certain amount of cash that I am ready to spend for that night. And that way, I can't overspend.

I know it's so easy when you're out and about, even if it seems like a small amount, you're like, oh, I'll pay for that. This next round's on me. And then the next morning, when you pull up your account, you're like, ugh, all of those added up. What did I do? And so now, by just taking cash and not having access to your cards, you're really eliminating overspending.

Yeah, there is nothing worse than getting up in the morning and saying, I spent what? Where? What did I do? Yeah, so today, we do have some additional resources from U.S. Bank and our partner EVERFI. So I'm going to have Meg walk us through those additional resources today.

Perfect, thank you, Jill. So as I mentioned earlier, EVERFI is the education technology partner that's powering financial education for U.S. Bank. And what you see on the slide here is a screenshot of what you will see when you visit the EVERFI site.

Our content is organized into playlists that will group relevant topics together for you to better find information that you're interested in, like financial foundations or developing healthy habits. You can navigate the learning at your own pace and get answers to some of your most pressing financial questions. On the next slide, we'll let you know how this learning will also help you to qualify to enter the scholarship from U.S. Bank. The U.S. Bank is offering a chance to win up to $20,000 in scholarships.

By completing online financial education lessons powered by EVERFI, you're eligible to win either $5,000, $10,000, or $20,000 in scholarships, as you see there. The more you learn, the more you could win. You can scan the QR code with your phone's camera on this slide or visit usbank.com/scholarship to get started.

Meg, I said this back in June. I'm going to say it now. Where was this when I was in college? Yeah, so I also want to share one more opportunity that we have for you guys to win $1,000. You would enter to win at complimentsofusbank.com.

Use the code HABITS. You can also send eCompliment cards to your family or friends and invite them to enter as well. And then we encourage you to share those eCompliment cards on your social media using the #ComplimentsofUSBank.

All right, so that takes us to our poll question results. First, I'm going to start with, so happy to see so many of you brushed your teeth this morning. You know what? Strong Tuesday, guys, I like it. I'm also happy to see that so many of you are excited to try the tricks and tips we have to improve your habits. For those of you that are still feeling ugh, don't worry about it. You're not alone, OK? Start small, and build, and you'll have great habits before you know it.

And this brings us almost to the end. So today, I want to close my part of the presentation by, first, thanking you for taking the time to prioritize this call and focusing on your financial well-being and your future. Remember, we all have good and bad habits.

So take a minute today to ask yourself, do my habits empower me? And do they help or hinder me from reaching my goals? And then how can I apply what I learned today to creating new habits?

Finally, I want to share with one of my favorite quotes. This helps inspire me to better habits and keeps me on a good track. Because good habits require discipline, this is important to me.

Abraham Lincoln once said to us, "Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most." So thank you for taking the time to listen to me. Meg, please close us, Meg and Danielle, please close us out.

So one little tip of inspiration that I have to share is it's nice to remember that a good habit takes at least 30 days of really thinking about it and being intentional before it starts to feel like second nature. So from the start, it can feel like some of these things will never really become true habits. But you just have to dedicate the time and the mindset to getting there. Danielle, I'll pass it to you.

Definitely, I really wish I had these resources available to me when I was younger and was able to take advantage of them. Remember, we have so many resources for you guys to use, so really take advantage of them. It's so important to create positive financial habits now, so it becomes second nature and sets you up for financial success in your future.

Perfect, so Courtney, we're going to pass it back to you for the Q and A.

Fantastic. Well, thank you to all of our panelists today. We received some fantastic questions during the registration process. And we're going to answer a few of those here today. Our first question comes from Leshawnia. And it is, "How to break bad spending habits?" Meg, I think you have some great insights about this.

Excellent, thanks, Courtney. And thank you so much for the question, Leshawnia. And believe me, I have been there. At EVERFI, we have a few recommendations for healthy financial habits.

First, at the top of this slide, you'll see a bit.ly link that will take you to the free EVERFI module on healthy financial habits. It's the same site that we showed earlier. This is made available again to everyone on this webinar through the partnership with U.S. Bank. So if you want to go ahead and type that into your phone browser or on your computer, you can do that.

If you're not already doing this, we recommend recording everything you spend money on over the course of a month or over the course of several months. If you're not measuring it, you'll never know what it is that you actually need to fix. So from there, you might notice spending patterns that you should be more mindful of, like, oh, I spend way too much money at Starbucks. Now, you know, every time you head out to get coffee, that you should be more intentional about exactly how much you will be spending.

Another recommendation that we talked about earlier is to create friction around your spending habits. Just to reiterate, one way to do this is by not saving your credit card information into your online account. That's actually going to make you get up from your computer when you're shopping to enter your credit card information. It's going to cause you to think a lot harder about the purchases that you're making. So again, thank you for the question.

Thanks, Meg. That's great advice. And I definitely need to remove my credit cards from my accounts, like Amazon and Apple Pay. Our next question comes from Anna. We'll have Danielle go ahead and answer this one. "What is the best way to stay on top of your habits and maintain them long-term once they have been formed?"

That's a great question, Anna. So a few different things that work for me-- plan ahead for expected expenses, so a lot of times, you're going to have expected expenses that happen every year. The amount may fluctuate every year. But this expense isn't going to necessarily be something that changes.

For example, for me, it's my car registration. So every year, you have to pay your car registration. And knowing that you have the money set aside for that and are prepared for that in advance so that you don't have the financial stress of being unaware when that comes up, that really helps.

So for me, one time I didn't prepare for it. And even though it wasn't that much money, it was maybe a couple hundred dollars, I had an unexpected expense that came up that I wasn't prepared for. So then when my car registration came up, I was like, oh, no, I just paid more than that for this unexpected expense. And now, I have to pay for my car registration.

So that put me in a stressful situation. And I vowed that that wouldn't happen again. So every year, I plan for my car registration. I have that money set aside in a savings so that I'm prepared for it. And going forward, that is planned.

Save for a rainy day, so build an emergency fund. It's really important to have an emergency fund set aside. If you can start by having $1,000 set aside in your savings, and then work your way up to having at least three to six months of expenses saved up.

Set smart financial goals. So it's really important that you set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goals. So an example would be-- we used the budgeting example earlier. But maybe a fun one would be you want to plan a vacation.

So you're planning a trip to Cabo in six months. So I'm going to plan a $3,000 trip for Cabo in six months. So if you break that down, that would be $500 a month or $250 per paycheck. So I mean, once you break it down like that, it sounds much more achievable.

Create a monthly budget. We talked about this earlier as well. We have so many great tips for you on our Financial IQ site. But also, make sure that you're downloading a budgeting app.

One app that I use is called Every Dollar. It takes all of your-- it literally takes every dollar that you have from your income and then all of your expenses. It budgets it all out for you. So it's really useful.

Pay credit cards in full each month. So it's really important that if you are using a credit card, that you're not overspending on it, and that you're able to pay it off in full at the end of the month. Create monthly challenges. This one is my most favorite because it's something fun that you can create.

So create a challenge for every month of the year. So starting in January, create a calendar. And create a fun monthly challenge for every month of the year. So for example, in January, most of the time, people are-- you're starting your New Year's resolutions.

So you want to get fit. You want to eat right. You want to get your mind right, all these different things. So for January, I created a challenge of no eating out. So I won't purchase any dinners, lunches, anything for the whole month of January. February, maybe you're not going to purchase any coffee, so no Starbucks, no coffee at the little cafe down the street, for the whole month of February.

And this is creating something fun that is exciting and really helps show you how much money that you're saving every month. And hopefully, you guys can think of some fun challenges that will help you get excited about saving money.

I love the idea of creating a monthly challenge and definitely plan to try it next month. Thanks, Danielle. So last question that we'll be answering today comes from Tony. And we'll have Jill answer this question. So Jill, "What do you know now that you wish you knew 10 to 15 years ago?"


Tony, this is an excellent question. The two things that I wish I had known 15 years ago, above all else, is how easy it is to get stuck and how hard it is to get unstuck. And what I mean by that is this. Once we develop habits, good or bad, it's really, really easy to get stuck in those habits. If they're good habits, like exercising, being stuck isn't a bad thing, right?

But when the habit is bad, like constantly eating junk food or overspending, it catches up with you, especially if we start forming these habits young. Either way, when we get stuck in the cycle, when we get stuck in a habit, it's really hard to break that cycle.

So then getting unstuck, that becomes almost worse. Having to break that bad habit, like junk food, or trying to create those better habits, like better spending habits, can feel defeating as we get older. And so I wish I had known how difficult it would be to build those better habits as I got older, so I could have found the discipline 15 years ago when it would've been easier to make those changes.

You know, they say it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks, right? It's not impossible. It can be done. It's just harder. So I would say, if you can take anything away from this, teach yourself the new tricks now while it's easier. Thank you.

Thanks, Jill, that was fantastic advice. And we will just end by saying thank you for joining us today. We also want to give you a reminder to join us on August 4 for 11 insider tips for student debt. You can scan the code to the left of the screen here to register with by using your phone's camera.

If you can't attend the webinar or you want to review today's webinar as a recording, please visit usbank.com/wellnesswebinars. And we will have all of our recordings for webinars posted to that site. Today's webinar will be posted in about a week following this session. So thank you, again, for attending. And we hope you have a wonderful afternoon. Bye, everyone.

Thank you.

Bye. Thank you. 

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