You may have no problem turning down a request for a cash investment into a friend’s business or a get-rich-quick scheme, but saying no to life’s little investments can be a lot more difficult. All of us spend time or money on things that don’t matter, even when we know the payoff isn’t great. Maybe you’ve gotten in the habit of spending time on texts or phone calls from a needy friend or ex (the one who emotionally drains you but you love the drama). Perhaps you’ve been stress-buying gorgeous yet pricey handbags that no one will see during the pandemic. Or, maybe you’re just dumping time and money into a new hobby that doesn’t really interest you. Whatever your vice, it’s time to break those bad investment habits that monopolize your resources.
Sure, you may get a fleeting emotional return from giving in to these bad investment habits, but the reality is that you should be investing your time and money on people and things that offer good returns — not the stuff that bleeds you dry with no payout. There are only so many resources to go around, and if you’re wasting time on the things that don’t offer a return, you’re depleting your precious resources, sometimes without even realizing it.
If you want to shed your bad investing habits, it’s going to take some self-control and some determination on your part to pull it off. Don’t let that scare you, though. With the right guidance, you can wave goodbye to those bad investments you’ve been making and start making better ones instead. Ready to get going? Here’s how you can start.
Choose Your Friends (Not Your Enemies) Wisely
When it comes to friends, you may want to prioritize quality over quantity. Yes, it can be nice to have a lot of acquaintances, but do you really need the people who only come around because they need or want something from you? Invest your time in true friendships instead.
By doing this, you’ll get rid of those toxic energy vampires who monopolize your time or emotions. You know the ones — they only call when something is wrong or they want to pass the time. When you reach out, they’re MIA.
The best investment you can make is to prioritize the people who prioritize you, and ditch the people who can’t be bothered to learn who you truly are. You’ll feel more fulfilled when you surround yourself with people who truly like you as a person, and you’ll have a core group of friends to count on when you need it. That is an investment that pays off in spades.
Shed the Toxic Social Media Channels
You don’t want to know what your ex is doing these days. Promise. It may seem odd to disconnect for a while, but you really should put the phone down and log out of Instagram — at least temporarily. You may be emotionally hung up on the one who got away, but that kind of digital stalking you’re doing is draining you of your good energy. And so are those tone-deaf posts from your friends and family that you love to hate.
Thing is, you aren’t just scrolling to pass the time. As you do this, you’re investing time and energy into things that don’t matter, and maybe even into people who don’t matter. The best way to break that habit is to go cold turkey. Cut off your access to those toxic social media profiles, delete the apps, change your password, or block the profiles that you invest too much time in. After the initial loss, you’ll likely end up feeling refreshed and renewed — and you’ll have more time on your hands to invest in things that matter, like actually nailing the bread baking technique you saw on a post a few months back. Win-win.
Free Yourself From FOMO
Whether it’s indulging in the last slice of cake or buying your tenth pair of expensive sneakers (just because they’re on sale!), acting on the fear of missing out can lead you to making bad investments for your time, money, and body. You don’t have to say no to things like cake or new sneakers, but you should indulge in moderation. Evaluate what you really need and want, and stop acting on the impulse to make a move before the opportunity is gone and you miss out. The decisions you make should have a purpose that benefits you. If the action doesn’t have a payoff you can measure, don’t invest time, energy, or empty calories into it. Nothing good comes of acting off of FOMO, so stop doing it.
Reward Yourself for A Job Well Done
Rather than acting on the urge to impulse shop or binge eat (or drink), put some time into planning your indulgences instead. Think of them as rewards for your good behavior and try to spend money on things that bring you joy, make memories, or retain value — not the impulse buys you used to make.
Have you spent a ton of extra time and energy at work trying to reach a goal or get a raise or promotion? Reward your hard work with a planned splurge on that dream trip, some fun classes, or even a big purchase you’ve had your eye on. Doing this is a great way to stay on track with your spending while still treating yourself for a job well done. Plus, that vacation is much more rewarding than those expensive jeans you thought about buying last week when you were stressed. It will keep those smaller impulse purchases off your credit card bill, too.
Find Your Niche, Not Someone Else’s
Here’s the deal. Between work, self-care, family, and other obligations, our free time can be extremely limited. Stop spending what little time you have on things that don’t interest you. It’s OK to turn down your friends when they want to group enroll in that expensive group cycling class. You hate cycling. But you know what you don’t hate? Art classes, or baking, or taking up martial arts.
The reality is that it’s easy to get dragged along with your friends’ interests rather than pursuing what truly interests you, and doing that is a waste of money, time, and energy. Invest in what you want to learn, or conquer, or just get better at. Find your niche and your interests. If they align with what everyone else is doing? Great. If they don’t? Stop investing in the other stuff. Put your money and precious free time toward your wants and interests instead. You’ll live a richer, fuller life, and you’ll be a lot happier for it.
This Type of Investing Isn’t Easy — But You Can Pull It Off
The bottom line is this: if you want to stop the bad investments, you need to change your bad habits. It won’t be easy and there are days when you may struggle to stick to your plan. Don’t be too hard on yourself when that happens. If you pull up your ex’s social media and find yourself filled with shame for your behavior, let it go. And let that post go that you just scrolled past, too. Close the app or the page and move on. You’re human and breaking those bad habits will take time.
Give yourself some leeway and remember that investing in yourself is a process. Some days you’ll see a bigger payoff than others, but keep at it and the fruits of your labor will come to fruition eventually. What really matters in all of this is the end result, which in this case is a happier, healthier, and more well-rounded you — whatever that means for your situation.
Here’s to the Wellness of Your Wallet!