By Sarah Li Cain

I’ve never been a morning person, but it wasn’t until I became a mother two years ago that I realized how much I needed to improve my routine. I was sick of not having time to myself and feeling frazzled over work and family to-do lists. Even though I was sleeping nine to 10 hours a night, I rarely felt rested when my alarm clock went off at 7am.

So when a friend recommended last April that I read “The Miracle Morning”—a book about how incorporating a few morning habits can improve your life—I decided to try waking up two hours earlier, at 5am.

In theory, that should have made me even more exhausted…except it didn’t. Thanks to the habits I began practicing, I slept better, had more energy and was even in a better mood. The best part is that my morning routine didn’t just clear my head—it changed my money life, too.

I stopped spending so much on coffee and food.

One of the first habits I adopted from the book was daily exercise, hoping it’d boost my mental clarity, energy and self-confidence. In the past, I’d attended regular yoga classes, but stopped going consistently after having my son.

After just two weeks of practicing yoga at home every morning, I no longer needed two cups of coffee to wake me up. I also stopped experiencing that 2pm slump, which left me drained and craving takeout coffee and sugar (an old habit that cost me about $30 a week). I started eating healthier, too. Simply buying whole ingredients instead of prepackaged foods saved me just under $100 per month.

Money saved: About $2,000 ($1,300 from cutting out coffee and sugary foods, $700 at the grocery store)

I don’t go to the doctor as often.

For years, I had terrible eczema breakouts and went to the doctor’s office ($20 copay) every month to load up on medication, which cost another $20. But after quitting coffee and cutting back on sugar, my eczema started to go away. I realized my diet was likely contributing to my skin issues, and started eliminating other offending ingredients. In less than a year, my breakouts stopped altogether, and I haven’t visited the doctor since.

Money saved: $240

I picked up a lot of frugal habits.

The book also recommends reading in the morning as a way to learn from experts who’ve done what you want to achieve. At first, I started out reading just 10 minutes a day, but quickly increased it to 30 minutes, then an hour. I ended up reading 100 books last year, 40 of which were related to money and frugality.

Thanks to one, I learned to cut my hair, saving the $30 salon bill every six weeks. (I now cut my family’s hair, too, for another $400 saved in a year!) Another book taught me to negotiate bills—which led to saving about $50 per month on my smartphone, Internet and car insurance bills combined. (You can read how to do that here.) I also learned about investment fees, which can eat into returns, so I worked with my husband to select new, more cost-effective investments.

Money saved: $1,000+

I increased my income.

I also used my morning time to visualize new writing clients I’d like to work with—literally imagining the decision-makers loving my ideas and hiring me, which ultimately gave me confidence to pitch more. Within two months, I landed two new clients, which increased my monthly income by about $1,000.

Something else I started thinking about was owning rental properties. I’d visualize myself going to see houses, renovating and interviewing potential tenants. While this hasn’t happened yet, I’ve connected with a lot of real estate investors who are willing to mentor me.

Money earned: $6,000

To say that my new morning routine changed my financial life is an understatement. In less than a year’s time, waking up two hours earlier—and filling that time wisely—boosted my bottom line by $9,240, and counting.

Originally published at

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