A Hard Habit to Break

(Listen to this post, here.)

I’ve heard it said that clothing-wise, whatever you are wearing at 50, you will be wearing for the rest of your life.

Apparently, this is when the fashion cement hardens for good.

I don’t know if that observation is science-based, but I can tell you that my father, who turned 50 in 1971, was a living, breathing example. The 1970s was an era of extremely short shorts and my dad rocked those well into his late 80s.

In my case, as a man whose fashion cement also hardened long ago, this is particularly true regarding my choice of casual footwear: I buy the exact same sneakers over and over again: New Balance ML515s, grey, size 11 ½. 

Are these the best sneakers on earth? I have no idea.

I bought my first pair a few years ago for two reasons:

#1. The grip pattern on the bottom is spread out, so nothing gets stuck in them.

#2. My son Jonathan, a fashionista in his own right, was with me at the time and he gave his approval.

Now I just buy them online, over and over again.

Does this lack of creativity negatively impact my cool factor? Undoubtedly.

But I don’t care. My need to attract members of the opposite (or any) sex ended abruptly in 1989. At this point, I’m just looking for easy.

Habit Is a Blind Spot

When it comes to sneakers, there’s no damage in sticking with a routine.

When it comes to your business, however, it’s easy to keep doing things that, while they may have once made perfect sense, no longer do. (Insert your own joke about your husband, here.)

For example, and thanks to spending the better part of a week last year searching for opportunities, I have shaved nearly $1,000 a month off my operating expenses.

All I did was identify and eliminate things that I had been spending money on (for years) that no longer made sense.

Some examples…

  • I canceled my office landline phone. $110 in monthly savings.
  • I switched from Infusionsoft to MailChimp. $170 in monthly savings.
  • I got rid of my payroll service. $100 in monthly savings.
  • I got rid of my bookkeeper. $200 in monthly savings.
  • I shut down my S Corp and became an LLC. $1000+ a year in reduced tax prep costs.

I could go on, but you look busy, so I’ll stop there.

The point is, all of these things made perfect sense on the day I decided to move ahead with them. But when I took the time to look more closely, I realized that things had changed.

One Recommendation

The problem with habits, of course, is that they are hard to notice.

So, when it comes to tracking how you spend money, whether business or personal, I recommend setting up a “text alert” through your credit card (it’s free).

I’ve got it set so that any time one of my cards is charged, in any amount, I receive a text telling me what it’s for.

And let me tell you, the third time you get charged for some long forgotten online service that you no longer use… you’ll finally log in and cancel it.

One Observation

As business owners, we tend to focus on growing the revenue side: more clients, more projects, more money. All good stuff.

But, unlike revenue, expense savings are not taxed; every dollar you cut goes right to your bottom line. (Note to Bezos: Stop laughing, we know you don’t pay taxes anyway.)

It may not be cool, but your mother was right when she told you that using coupons is where the easy money is.

Here’s the bottom line.

The longer you’ve been in business, the harder it is to notice the logic (or lack thereof) behind what you do every day.

It’s fine to spend money on what’s necessary. Just make sure that yesterday’s necessary hasn’t become today’s mistake.

Regards to your husband.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What outdated fashion trend are you still rocking?
  2. What advice did your mom give you that you now know to be true?
  3. What’s the largest business-related, expense-saving move you’ve made in the last year?

Share your answers below…

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21 thoughts on “A Hard Habit to Break

  1. Bruce Horwitz

    Fashion Trend? huh, I’ve still got permanent press “dress shirts” my mother got me when I went off to college.

    If you have to ask (yourself) if it is moral/ethical to do something, it isn’t (goes along with “if it was published on the front page of the newspaper, would you do it).

    Like you, January 1st I shut down my S-Corp. I believe when we set up our S-Corps (yes, I’ve known you that long!) you could not have a single person LLC, which is why I went the S-Corp route….too bad we didn’t figure out earlier we could become LLC’s!

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Exactly. It was only afer realizing that I every other solo I know seems to be an LLC that I looked into it!

      1. Jeremy Bromberg

        Hey Michael – It’s very possible things have changed (see, blog post!) but some years back I was registered as both an LLC and an S-Corp. I started as an LLC but was advised to register as an S-Corp to eliminate (reduce?) self employment tax. If you already know otherwise, then ignore this comment!

        1. Bruce

          Remembering that I’m only sharing my experience and not giving you legal advice here…..The only reduction in employment taxes (Social security and Medicare) that you get by being an S-Corp comes about by not paying yourself wages but rather just taking the corporation’s profit out as the owner. However, the government doesn’t like to see Corporations with no employees on the payroll so my accountant advised paying myself a salary that might be considered reasonably and taking the rest of the income as an owner’s “draw”.

          Whatever you might save you should realize that being an S-corp involves a whole other bunch of costs and paperwork… and that Michael and I only went the S-corp route because LLC was not available to solo practices at that time.

          1. Jeremy Bromberg

            This is very helpful and I’m glad you wrote it, Bruce! Thank you.

            I eventually fired the accountant who had me become an S-Corp.

  2. Carole Seawert

    1. Matching shoes and handbag. And hey, ‘matchy matchy’ is now back in again!
    2. Always have savings. (A friend who is a financial advisor targeting women clients has a great motto: A man is not a financial plan.)
    3. I’m working on it. I find it’s the little things that add up, like daily coffees which in London are now £3. Eek.

  3. Mark

    G’day Michael, your offering made me think of Peter Drucker’s concept “the Cult of Efficiency.” (BTW linking your ideas to those of Peter Drucker, well, you know, it’s a pretty special day) He said, “there’s nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Sadly, it seems that for most corporate types being a member of this cult is a mainstream organisational pursuit.

  4. Lovelynn Ivey

    What outdated fashion trend are you still rocking?
    ~ I started wearing a flower in my hair in the 90’s when I started swing dancing. We were all dressing in 1940’s vintage clothing. I’m still wearing that flower, it had become my signature.

    What advice did your mom give you that you now know to be true?
    ~Wear a hat in the sun

    What’s the largest business-related, expense-saving move you’ve made in the last year?
    ~Produce my own content videos. I don’t need a professional movie, just a video showing how much fun I am!

  5. Michele Elliott

    I still wear my cowboy boots with jeans, shorts and short dresses. Probably always will. Thanks for the reminder about credit card alerts. I set one card up for high dollar amounts but all transactions makes a lot of sense. I’ll get on that!

  6. Elly van Laar

    *Outdated fashion: bell pants. I’m never, ever giving those up.
    *Best advice my dad gave: Plan your work, work your plan.
    *Big business expense: I never signed up for the Typeform subscription, even though it seemed fantastic.

  7. Lisa Abell

    Michael I really enjoyed your webinar hosted by Ilise Benun. My biggest take-away from your talk was, Your comparison to leaving the corporate world: “It’s like moving out of your parent’s house…you have total freedom”!!!!!
    I had to pause the session I was laughing so hard.
    I pick you to follow because I want to use a sense of humor in my client’s promos. (Not that I have any just yet, but I do populate my future business visualizations with fantasy colleagues, such as Mrs. Maisel….Now I can just follow your newsletter and have real inspiration for how to corral my humor into a more tasteful arena….
    As for fashion habits, well I never paid attention…which means I need some new habits right now- pay attention to all things business, including business fashion!! Thanks!

  8. Patricia Hermes

    First, no I am not wearing the same clothes I was wearing when I turned 50. I guess that’s a good sign I’m not stuck in a rut.
    But there are other habits that may need to be tossed. So I take stock regularly, in work and life, and make needed changes both big and small. Could be an ADHD thing, but habits can also be hard to make. It takes conscious effort both ways.


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