Chime® is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC.

Can Habit Stacking Work For You?

By Sarah Li Cain
June 12, 2017

We all know that creating positive habits can help you reach financial independence. So, why is it so hard to develop financial habits that will last? Because learning a new habit is hard – plain and simple.

For this reason, you may want to try a new approach to create a new habit. How about habit stacking? If you’ve never heard of habit stacking, this is when you form a new habit by stacking it on top of an existing one. Because your current habit is so strongly hardwired into your brain, adding another one will help you implement it more consistently and quickly.

Interested in habit stacking? Read on to find out how to start and use this technique to create better financial habits.

The One Thing You Need to Tell Yourself

It’s easy to start stacking habits on top of one another. All you need to do is ask yourself: What existing habit can I use to help me integrate a new one? In other words, how can you use an old habit to form a new one?

The key to do this successfully is to integrate your new habit right after an old one. For example, let’s say you already drink a glass of water right after you wake up in the morning. With this in mind, you already have a good spot to slide in a new daily gratitude practice. Try this out for size: Begin journaling about things you’re grateful for right after you drink your water – every morning. To remind you of your new habit, you could even place your gratitude journal close to the sink. This way it becomes a trigger when you grab your glass of water.

Now that you’ve got this concept down, let’s take a look at how you can use habit stacking to help you in your financial life.

Look At Your Current Habits and Routine

This is going to require some work as you’re going to need to write down everything you do habitually on a daily basis, as well as how long each habit takes. Don’t leave anything out. Yes, this includes brushing your teeth, taking a shower, driving to work or even watching TV (and what you watch). Do this consistently for a week so that you have an understanding of where you have time or space to add in new habits.

For example, if you shorten your 15 minute morning shower down to seven minutes, this frees up eight minutes to stack a new habit. Perhaps you can now use those available eight minutes to read a book or listen to a motivational podcast.

Get Specific With What Habit You Want to Implement

Being vague isn’t going to help you at all. If you’re writing down new habits you want to create like “save money every day” or “stop spending money on coffee,” this isn’t specific enough and you’ll be hard-pressed to find an old habit to stack these on top of.

Here are some examples of habits that are more specific:

  • Ask for a paper receipt and put it in your wallet every time you purchase an item.
  • Check your bank statements every time you turn on your phone.
  • Drop your change in a jar right when you walk in from work.
  • Every time you buy a cup of coffee, automatically transfer that same amount into your savings account.

Take some time to brainstorm what habit you actually want to implement, and make sure it’s specific enough.

Start Small and Keep Building

Don’t get too ambitious and start a habit that will take hours to implement. Instead, see what you can do to implement one in 10 minutes or less. For example, it’s not a good idea to create a new and complicated investment strategy, which might take hours. Instead, maybe you can focus on reading up on a particular type of investment – like a Roth IRA – while you drink your coffee. Or, perhaps you can start making weekly deposits into your savings account. When you’ve got that habit down, then you can work on learning about other investments, or even opening up a brokerage account. You’ll soon be on your way to creating an investment strategy that works for you. Better yet, this will be a habit that you will hopefully keep for life.

This guide is for informational purposes only. Chime does not provide financial, legal, or tax advice. You should check with your legal, financial, or tax advisor for advice specific to your situation. Your state or local unemployment agency is responsible for making all determinations on your eligibility for unemployment benefits. Please contact your state or local unemployment agency if you have questions.

Chime® is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services are provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC. The Chime Visa® Debit Card and the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card are issued by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit and credit cards are accepted. Please see the back of your Card for its issuing bank.

While Chime doesn’t issue personal checkbooks to write checks, Chime Checkbook gives you the freedom to send checks to anyone, anytime, from anywhere. See your issuing bank’s Deposit Account Agreement for full Chime Checkbook details.

By clicking on some of the links above, you will leave the Chime website and be directed to a third-party website. The privacy practices of those third parties may differ from those of Chime. We recommend you review the privacy statements of those third party websites, as Chime is not responsible for those third parties' privacy or security practices.

Third-party trademarks referenced for informational purposes only; no endorsements implied.

‡ SpotMe® for Credit Builder is an optional, no interest/no fee overdraft line of credit tied to the Secured Deposit Account. SpotMe on Debit is an optional, no fee service attached to your Chime Checking Account (individually or collectively, “SpotMe”). Eligibility for SpotMe requires $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to your Chime Checking Account each month.

Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of The Bancorp Bank, N.A. and Stride Bank, N.A. (“Banks”). Banks are not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).

Address: 101 California Street, Floor 5, San Francisco, CA 94111, United States.

No customer support available at HQ. Customer support details available on the website.

© 2013-2024 Chime Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.