Top Five Atomic Money Habits To Exercise In The New Year With Foster & Motley

With every new year comes the opportunity to reflect, reassess, and find the motivation to set goals. When it comes to personal finances, there is no better way to reach your goals than by taking a series of small steps. With that in mind, Rachel Rasmussen, MBA, CFA, CDFA®, and Zach Binzer, CFP® of Foster & Motley have money habit advice inspired by the book Atomic Habits, which recognizes that a goal itself is not the reason for success, but rather the micro habits along the way. Read on for their top five atomic money habits to exercise in the new year.


Automate savings by “paying yourself first.” Much like employer deductions and contributions to a 401K or HSA that automatically come out of your paycheck, consider carving out a portion of your income that is allocated to savings immediately and automatically. It will make saving feel “out of sight and out of mind,” and serve as a way to pay your future self before paying your current self. Your future self will thank you!


Rather than letting loan payments and credit card debt get out of hand due to higher interest costs, set up an automatic payment that applies to the principle, not just the statement balance, to snowball the debt down. Both Rachel and Zach agree the amount depends on what you can afford, but the goal is to pay beyond the minimum when possible on larger loans and pay the entire balance of credit cards monthly if you can. Creating a repayment plan with both your current and future self in mind is one small habit to get into for the long run.


When it comes to wanting to make a purchase—whatever that something may be—write it down and delay the purchase, even if only for a short time. Revisit the list after a few days or weeks and determine if the desire for the item or investment is still strong. If not, you’ve given yourself an opportunity to resist the impulsivity of the purchase. If it is still there, you can now actively save up for the item in lieu of taking on debt or determine if the purchase is affordable (like a new car payment). 


The beginning of a year is a good time to take personal inventory of where you are in terms of what money comes in versus what goes out. To do this, treat yourself to a date—find a comfortable space, spring for a specialty drink or snack, and make this both a calming and enjoyable experience so that the project feels satisfying. Begin with yourself, but then invite family members and business partners to evaluate where you are as a team. Consider doing this not yearly, but quarterly, in order to track goals and successes along the way. 


Ultimately, the purpose of these pointers is to break down what may feel daunting and make it more manageable, giving it a greater chance of completion. With that comes the awareness that delegation can play a key role in goal setting and finding success. Any support, small or large, can help free up capital (both monetary or mental) to create balance and space, and create a more manageable plan for what needs to be done. Engage with professionals when it comes to managing assets or receiving financial planning advice and bring in partners to help share the mental load of planning for your future. Hiring support for things like cleaning, lawn care, training, taxes, or finances can help alleviate some of life’s necessary and reoccurring responsibilities.

In the end, any goal will be achieved not because it was set, but rather by taking the small and deliberate steps along the way to reach it. Rachel and Zach’s advice of making sure to take care of your future self through automated savings and paying down debt, while being self-aware of your current state through controlling impulse spending, taking stock of personal and familial finances, and seeking support for what can be delegated, is designed to make your goals achievable. And these attainable micro habits are anchored in doing what is best for you, which is a core tenet of Foster & Motley’s philosophy. The team at Foster & Motley is here to help in ways both big and small. Reach out today to begin your journey.

Images by Ross Van Pelt