By Jamie Wiebe
Bad habits are so easy to fall into. But in the end, we know they only make us miserable.
They’re “the opposite of what makes you happy. They’re what make you miserable,” says M.J. Ryan, author of “Habit Changers: 81 Game-Changing Mantras to Mindfully Realize Your Goals.” Especially when they cost you money.
Here are some bad habits to break now for a happier homeowner (and maybe a fatter bank account):
Taking Long, Steamy Showers
Spending 20 minutes in the steam may be good for your pores, but it’s also great for mold and mildew. Run the exhaust fan while you’re singing in the shower, squeegee the walls afterward, and scrub that grout every few months.
Once you let the grout go, it gets worse and worse, and harder and harder to maintain. Grungy grout is a big turnoff for buyers. And redoing it is a pain and expensive to hire out.
Keeping Out the Sun
Shutting your shades on winter days might seem smart. More insulation from the chilly weather, right? Your energy bill disagrees. A sunny window can warm your home and lower your heating costs. And as a bonus, you could see a decrease in seasonal depression.
But your original idea wasn’t totally wrong. Closing those blinds at night can keep your home toasty.
Compulsively Buying Bargains
Finding a deal feels so good, but cheaper isn’t always better. In fact, budget buys might cost you more in the long run. For instance, dollar paintbrushes will leave annoying streaks, requiring a costly re-do.
And when it comes to appliances, permit a little splurge — especially if selling your home is on the horizon.
Always err with going for high-quality appliances. There is a noticeable difference between the cheapest and next-cheapest models. And buyers want to see stainless steel.
Running a Half-Full Dishwasher
You get a gold star for always remembering to start your dishwasher before bed, right? Clean dishes every morning! Go you! Yeah, about that: Your dishwasher wastes water unless it’s completely full.
Dishwashers do save more water than washing by hand (just try telling that to your mom), but most machines use the same amount of water regardless of how many plates you’ve stuffed inside, making a half-empty cycle significantly less efficient. For a household of one or two, once a day can be overkill.
A “tree volcano” might sound like a grand ol’ time, but it’s actually damaging your foliage. Too much mulch suffocates your tree, causing root rot and welcoming invasive insects.
Your precious trees really are precious. Each one can add $2,000 or more to your home’s value while saving on energy costs.
Protect your precious trees by packing mulch loosely, letting water filter properly toward the trunk.
Going on a Remodeling Rampage
Don’t break out the sledgehammer for a demo three weeks after moving in unless your home needs serious, obvious work. Give yourself time to understand the home’s quirks before renovating.
“You don’t know what your needs are when you first move into a home,” say experts. “You should live there for at least six months to figure out the space you need. If you do too much too soon, you’ll regret it.”
For instance, you could dump $15,000 into a kitchen remodel — only to realize the original layout would have worked better for holiday parties. Or you paint a room your favorite colour, Wild Plum, only to realize the natural light in the room makes it look more like Rotten Plum. Whoops.
You know clutter is bad, but you just… can’t… help it. You had to put that unused exercise bike in the spare room instead of by the road as a freebie because what if? Plus, there’s so much in there already, and decluttering seems like such an insurmountable goal — even though every jam-packed square foot is space you can’t enjoy.
If the task seems impossible, Ryan recommends starting small.
“Do one small thing,” she says. “Clean out a drawer or reorganize your counter, and then you feel the satisfaction of having done it. It becomes easier to do the next small thing.”
Just remember: Breaking habits takes time and a lot of slip-ups. “It’s important to be kind to ourselves when we blow it,” Ryan says. “When we create new habits, we’re building new wiring, but it’s not like the old wiring disappears. Don’t turn goof-ups into give-ups.”