In 2019, Amy Sutherland started treating her husband, Scott, like a sea lion. She was so tired of his missing keys, piles of dirty clothes, and chronic lateness, that she tried changing his ways with the advice of exotic animal trainers.

"The central lesson I learned is that I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don’t. After all, you don’t get a sea lion to balance a ball on the end of its nose by nagging. The same goes for the American husband."

Spoiler alert: It worked.

And it turns out, we're all Scott. There's a science to breaking habits and creating new ones (and making a list is just the beginning).

Harnessing the habit loop.

The New Year is here, and we have good and bad news. You can't will yourself into changing. (And the "DRINK MORE WATER" notification on your phone probably won't do the trick.)

In the book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes something called the habit loop, a neurological process made up of three events —

The Cue: A trigger based on a reward you’re seeking.

The Routine: An action you take to get the reward.

The Reward: The satisfaction you seek by following the routine.

Want to start running? Or waking up earlier? You must first learn to harness this loop and reward your brain for positive behaviors. That way, your subconscious can decide if this new experience is worth remembering and craving in the future.

TLDR: Forcing a new habit won't work. Be kind to yourself, start small, and positively reinforce your new desired behavior.

The Playbook take

Creating healthy financial habits is especially hard, and it's not just because you keep forgetting your bank login.

The reason is simple: money makes us feel shame. In fact, more than 80% of Americans have financial regrets (and that survey didn't even include Nicolas Cage post-dinosaur skull). And when we feel negative feelings, our subconscious becomes avoidant and demotivated. You don't repeatedly touch a stovetop after it burns you, right?

So the trick is to make financial planning delightful, rewarding, and achievable. If you want to be "better with money" in 2022, create a system of rewards every step of the way.

We built Playbook with these very principals in mind. We build you a personalized financial plan, and you get to track your progress with positive, celebratory, and achievable checkpoints along the way.

Here's a resolution for you: In 2022, money doesn't have to be stressful.

To financial freedom and beyond,


The app for growing your money.