After World War I, the United States of America underwent a period of growth from 1920 to 1929 that saw it become the wealthiest country in the world. Production of the Model T hit its stride, the Jazz music gained in popularity and Babe Ruth begin his 15 year Yankee career.

At the same time, a toothpaste named  Pepsodent was struggling to gain traction in the market.

It wasn’t because of Colgate and Crest either (that came much later). The issue was that hardly anyone brushed their teeth! It’s hard to imagine not brushing your teeth everyday now, but it took the work of Claude Hopkins, an advertising executive to create that habit in us.

Try this – run your tongue along the front of your teeth. Feel that film? It actually occurs naturally and is perfectly normal. Hopkins convinced the public that this film was causing discoloration and tooth decay. This simple cue was the trigger needed for sales of Pepsodent to explode worldwide. The brand became the market leader in only a few short years, a position it relinquished after more than thirty years at the top.

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t  brush your teeth for a year? What about ten? Thirty? It’s not about doing things once, but doing the same thing over again and again. It’s the little things that add up to a lot.

That’s what getting rich is like. Unless you win the lottery, inherit a fortune or find a rare antique, you likely won’t get rich overnight. Instead, it’s all about the habits that will build upon each other.  That $3 Latte may feel awesome today, but how much more awesome would it feel having an extra $1,095 in your bank account after a year? What about an extra $10,095 after ten years?

Every little bit counts and I’m going to show you how. Together, we’re going to save *pinky in mouth* ONE MILLION DOLLARS.

Action Jackson

Whenever possible, I’m going to include some action steps at the end of each article for actions that you can take to build good habits, increase your wealth and/or become happier. I’d love it if you reported what you did in the comments, but if you’re shy (it’s ok) and still want to share, e-mail me. I want to hear about it!

If you only have a minute: Write down any combination of three things in life you’re grateful for, or three events in the past week that were especially awesome. Enjoy your boosted happiness level for a month.

If you have five minutes: Write down five products that you use on a regular basis that you think you could either stop using or replace with cheaper alternatives. Post it on your fridge and remind yourself every day.

If you have ten minutes: Using the list from above, pick two and write out scenarios for why you buy/use the product, how it feels after you buy/use the product and what you could do instead to get the same effect.

Examples:

What: Starbucks Coffee
Why:  I want to wake up. I’m grumpy.
How it feels: I’m more alert. Happier.
What I could do instead: Jumping jacks to get heart up rate. Sleep more. Eat better. Drink office coffee.

What: Febreeze
Why: I like spraying everything because it makes me feel like I’ve “finished” my cleaning.
How it feels: Like I’ve accomplished something. Removes anxiety.
What I could do instead: Make a drink at home and relax for a few minutes just admiring my work. 

Note about Febreeze: I actually selected this as an example because the marketing wizards behind it actually encourage its usage in this manner. They want you to go through bottles of this every month which of course, adds up.

Sources:

Duhigg, C. The Power of Habit. New York, NY: Random House, Inc., 2012.

Emmons RA, McCullough ME. Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2003.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12585811

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kinjosan/1671002878/