I have a confession to make: I’m an annoying morning person. And I swear, it gets worse with every year that passes.
I’m that overnight guest you never want to have because I’m up at 6:30 am trying to sneak through your kitchen to find coffee. I made a rule for myself that on weekends I’m not allowed to start pestering Jordan until after 7 am. And yes, that means I often wake him up at 7:01.
But despite loving the morning, for most of my life, those early hours have been wasted. I’d poke around in the kitchen, debating for 20 minutes about what I should eat. Slowly put on an outfit, only to try on 3 tops and decide that none of them are right. Or scroll through my phone for 30 minutes doing absolutely nothing.
A few years ago I heard about the benefits of a morning routine. Most of us have heard that claim that if you establish a good morning routine you’ll magically become more motivated, have more time to yourself, and GDS like never before.
I figured a morning routine would be easy for me since I was already a morning person. How difficult could it really be?
Yeah…no. For the past 2 years I’ve tried to make a morning routine work for me. I tried the normal things people recommended: writing in a journal, meditating, exercising, reading. Those tactics never stuck. They weren’t exciting enough for me to jump out of bed and want to do.
After waking up one too many times in a terrible mood and not being very productive, I decided to change it up. I didn’t even realize I was creating a routine, but I finally fell into my groove.
This new morning routine has left me feeling a bit more productive, peppy, and positive about the day ahead.
But it’s also had a surprising effect: my spending has somehow naturally decreased.
I didn’t notice this immediately, but while on my walk yesterday morning Jordan suggested I pop into a coffee shop to grab a latte or a breakfast snack. I stopped and realized that I didn’t have my wallet with me.
It had been over a month since I’d stopped to pick something up and I hadn’t even noticed.
What used to be a regular treat on a morning walk had disappeared from my routine completely. As I thought about it more I realized that other spending habits changed as well. I didn’t go to a cafe or the corner store for a mid-afternoon pick me up. I didn’t try to avoid my to-do list by scrolling through a bunch of online stores.
Things have changed. And my morning routine seems to be a catalyst for that change.
When I’m happier and focused on my priorities, my spending reflects that. If I’m stressed, or having a rough day my spending also reflects that (I only have so much willpower).
I do subscribe to the money management idea that you should spend mindfully on the things that make you happy and cut out all the rest. This concept is made infinitely easier when you make other lifestyle adjustments that also make you happy.
If I start my mornings out happy and productive, it’s easier to avoid being tempted to pull out my wallet to buy something that isn’t really what I want.
Here’s what my new morning routine looks like:
I roll out of bed and throw on yoga pants that I usually have sitting at the end of the bed. After quickly feeding my dog and starting the coffee maker, I head back to my room. I make my bed, hospital corners and all (I’m crazy), and put on a fun Spotify mix. I then do 15-20 minutes of something that resembles yoga, which is basically my version of stretching, breathing, and getting myself mentally ready for the day. While I may drag my feet to start stretching in the morning, once I put on the music and start relaxing into easy stretches, I feel a boost of positivity.
After that, I head back to the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee, a cup of hot water with lemon, and a quick little snack and walk directly into my office. The night before I usually write down one thing to focus on and spend this time doing that thing (more often than not it’s writing). Sometimes it’s the most important task I need to do that day but other times it’s the thing I’m most looking forward to doing.
I head out the door with Jordan as he heads to work and take our dog Hattie for an hour walk.
Half of the time I listen to a podcast and the other times I start brainstorming other things I want to do or to write about when I get home.
I usually spend 15-20 minutes getting showered and dressed. I then make myself a quick breakfast and eat it while scrolling through the news or reading my email. After that, I fill up my water bottle, grab another cup of coffee, and head into my home office to get started on work by 8 am.
If I’ve stuck to this morning routine I’m usually peppy and ready (dare I say, excited) to start my workday.
Waking up that early sounds aggressive – and it is – but I’m a morning person and would much rather prefer to wake up early than stay up late. When I try to stay up past 10 pm on a school night I turn into a monster the next day.
While this morning routine works to make me a happier person, it took me until recently to see the connection to my money. Here’s how it’s made an impact on my bank account:
Bye-bye bagels and coffee:
I work from home and I always felt the need to leave my house before starting my day. It was the motivation that I needed to actually put on pants in the morning and look like a decent human being before sitting down at my computer. Leaving the house used to revolve around grabbing a latte and/or a bagel. Now that I’m up so early and I take 5 minutes to eat something good, I’ve naturally stopped wanting to grab something while I’m out.
Except when the bakery has cinnamon rolls. I’m not a robot.
My browsing has stopped:
I think because I get into my work so early with a morning “win” – by doing something that either gets me excited or makes me feel accomplished – it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Rather than browsing online while avoiding my to-do list, I focus on getting more wins during the day.
My energy is up:
I used to look forward to lunch because I’d be exhausted and need a break or a change of scenery. While I would only go out to lunch once a week, I’d find myself doing other things that might mindlessly cost me money. I’d buy a new book to read or do a little online shopping. Or I’d pop down to the corner market to get a few snacks (read: candy).
I’d look for something, really anything, to give me more energy to get through the midday slump.
I spend better:
Before you think this is a “stop drinking your lattes and online shopping article”, I wanted to point out that how I spend has shifted. I spend less money, but I still do spend intentionally on things in my morning routine that make me really happy.
Every Friday morning our town has a farmer’s market. They’ve usually just set up by the time I’m finishing my walk and I stop by to browse the stalls. I seriously love this. I usually grab some goods for dinner that night or brunch on the weekend. Or a cinnamon roll that I devour on the walk home.
I might also grab a new coffee bean roast or some flowers to brighten up my office (England is so dark and grey right now).
I actually enjoy spending on these things and as a win-win, that amazing brunch at home or the artisan roasted coffee beans add a touch to my day that leaves me feeling anything but deprived.
How do you find the same money-saving morning routine flow?
Identify where your day is going off the rails and find a morning activity that will help prevent that.
If you find yourself always in a rush out the door only to spend hours of your life in line at the Starbucks, try a routine that incorporates getting up a little earlier and enjoying a cup of coffee while you do something that makes you feel great. It doesn’t need to be yoga related. Pick up a good book, journal, meditate, or make your bed with perfect hospital corners. Trust me. Those corners are therapeutic.
If you find yourself toiling away in the evening over a to-do list that you’ve avoided all day, try incorporating that one most important thing to do each day into your morning routine. You’ll get a boost of happiness from getting that thing done early. That could help save you from too many nights spent hunched over your computer eating mediocre takeout.
If a midday slump has you reaching looking for a quick fix, does moving early morning help boost your energy for the day? A walk and my attempt at a yoga session in the morning does more for my all-day energy than anything else. So does taking some time to fully drink a cup of coffee before it gets cold.
If you find that you’re generally unpleasant in the morning and always dreading what’s in front of you for the day, try adding a little mindfulness into your morning. A gratitude journal, some breathing exercises, or taking some quiet moments in the morning silence can help prepare you to approach your day more positively.
Figure out where your day might be consistently getting off track and devise a morning activity to add to the routine.