I want to share a simple truth with you that will change the way you think about the products you buy and the habits you build.

There are plenty of great products out there, and there is plenty of junk. But here’s the thing: the product doesn’t always matter.

New products can be a great motivation for starting new habits, but financially, the product is not always necessary.

Before I confuse you some more, hear me out. Let me explain and give you a few examples.

Consumerism and Consumables

Between the TV ads, Facebook ads, ads on your phone and all of the billboards and public ads you’re constantly bombarded with, you see a lot of products. All kinds.

There are a lot of products. New products are being created everyday by the thousands. Every minute, Facebook users share 2.5 million pieces of content (even higher now). If you weed out the purely informative and the nonsense, that’s at least 100 ads every minute (ok, ok, I guess there’s not that much nonsense). More like a million.

The point is, you’re constantly being persuaded to buy a new product.

Consumerism is getting out of control, and we’re buying more than ever. Not only that, but it feels like we’re buying more things that we completely don’t need than ever.

How many things do you own that you do not use at all whatsoever, and if you’re honest, you know you never will?

The “as seen on TV” junk and the latenight-infomercial products (whether you actually bought it from an infomercial is irrelevant, you know the kinds of products I’m referring to). Junk advertising is out of control.

It’s Probably Not the Product

I have news for you. Even when the product does “work,” it’s usually not the product. Modern consumerism would have you believe otherwise, but what I’m saying is true.

I know there are a few products that are superior to everything else in their realm, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

Here’s what usually happens:

  1. You buy a product
  2. You start using the product
  3. You do whatever else you’re supposed to do while using the product
  4. You experience success, largely because of the habit you’re building
  5. You praise the product, and end up selling it to all your friends if possible

When we buy a new product, we often change a habit. Let’s go over some examples…

Examples of “Habit, Not Product”

I can think of a few, and I’m sure you know of more.

Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments so people can see more examples.

Here are the three most popular ones I can think of:

  • Diet Plans – It’s not this new amazing diet plan that’s working for you. It’s the fact that you’re consuming less, and likely working out, because the program recommends working out while you’re on it. Some specific diets can be great, but it almost always comes down to simply eating less junk, and exercising more.
  • Exercise Gear – It’s not the pushup device or the exercise machine you just bought that’s somehow radiating your amazing results, it’s the fact that you’re doing pushups now, and/or using an exercise machine consistently. The ground is also a great exercise machine, and it’s free. Stick to an exercise habit that doesn’t require equipment, for six months. Once you’ve done that, then go get the machine.
  • Skin Creams – There are some great formulas out there, I’m sure. But the skin cream you just paid $100 for (for a one month supply) may not be everything you think it is. It’s likely that moisturizing your skin daily is all that’s producing results. That’s the trick of the vast majority of “anti-aging” creams. Try lotion, coconut oil or cocoa butter oil for a few months and see how different your results are.

None of these products are evil, and if they motivate you to make positive change, go for it.

But remember, we don’t just talk about habits here. This is also a finance blog. So I’m trying to save you some cash.

The underlying point here is this: Don’t buy a product that requires you to do something you’re not already doing, until you start doing what that thing is first (either without the product or with a cheaper version). That’s the most important sentence in this article.

Build the habit, and then branch out to try products and equipment. But if you can’t build the habit, you’ll never use the product or equipment. Save yourself the time and money by building the habit first, and you may find that you don’t even need the product.

Creating positive habits can have a huge impact on your life. Focus on the habit.

The new year is right around the corner. Why not start now?

Don’t go buy a product. Start a new habit. Here’s what I do.