My To-Don’t List

One of my favorite blogs recently talked about the idea of a To-Don’t List and why it’s just as important to consider – if not more – as a To-Do List.

Here’s why:

A to-don’t list is a list that includes things you should never do because they are either time wasters, bad habits or things that hold you back from having a happy and successful life… To-do’s, while a great success tool, only get you half way there. To-don’ts take you the rest of the way.

I’ve never sat down to create such a list before (sounds like a parent’s dream!), so today I thought we could run through the exercise together and see what we come up with. Tom’s studied hundreds of millionaires over the years whose habits are the main focus of his blog ( and his book (same name – Rich Habits), so I feel like if it’s working for them it would work for us too ;)

Here’s what I came up with. My very first To-Don’t List!

  • Don’t ignore my kids
  • Don’t ignore my wife
  • Don’t ignore my budget!
  • Don’t go shopping when bored
  • Don’t hang around toxic people
  • Don’t say “yes” to every opportunity (if it’s not a “hell yeah” it’s a “hell no”)
  • Don’t stare at a screen every 5 seconds
  • Don’t think about money all the time
  • Don’t worry about what other people are thinking
  • Don’t eat every donut I ever come into contact with
  • Don’t take myself so seriously
  • Don’t be jealous of all the awesome things people are doing
  • Don’t be jealous of all the awesome money people are making! (So hard to do!)
  • Don’t forget to review your expenses every now and then
  • Don’t forget to dream every now and then
  • Don’t get into debt for something stupid
  • Don’t be so hard on myself
  • And most importantly, don’t forget to have fun :)

I swear I need that last one stapled to my forehead whenever I get sucked into “adulting,” haha… Remember when we were kids and all we were concerned with was having fun? And we still managed to accomplish it without a penny in our pockets? Boy how times have changed…

Anyways, that’s my To-Don’t List! Your turn to jot some down and help balance yourself out :)

What would be even more interesting actually, would be seeing how many of the to-do’s we check off in spite of our to-don’ts!

“You finally landed that promotion you’ve been working your ass off to get? Congrats! Btw, here are the divorce papers from ignoring your wife, womp womp…”

“I’m having the time of my life on this cruise – look at me, weeeeee! Oh, wait. I have to pay off that $5,000 I just slapped on the credit card? *Face palm*”

Haha… This list is looking more and more important the more I think about it ;)

PS: Here are a handful of other habits wealthy people do too.

[Tattoo pic by robandstephanielevy / Tweaked by J$]

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  1. Mrs. Mad Money Monster | @madmoneymonster December 21, 2015 at 5:43 AM

    Some of the items on my To-Don’t List:

    -Don’t forget to value my family above anything else. They can never be replaced.

    -Don’t buy a bigger house (it doesn’t hurt to keep reminding myself of this).

    -Don’t buy that BMW you’ve ‘wanted’ since middle school (again, a reminder never hurts)

    -Don’t value money over quality of life.

    -Don’t go on an extravagant vacation of its not in the budget

    -Don’t drool over friends’ new _________ (insert anything trendy, cool, or expensive)

    -Most of all, don’t be an a$$hole :) Hopefully, this one will be easy.

    I need to print this out!

    Rock on!
    Mrs. Mad Money Monster

    1. J. Money December 21, 2015 at 11:54 AM

      Haha… I like the last one best :)

  2. Slackerjo December 21, 2015 at 6:06 AM

    I used to be an ardent follower of “don’t take myself so seriously” and it backfired professionally because nobody else took me seriously. I changed it to “don’t sell yourself short.”

    1. J. Money December 21, 2015 at 11:57 AM

      Ahhh, yes – fine line there to walk with such things.

  3. Brian @DebtDiscipline December 21, 2015 at 6:29 AM

    Giving what went on this weekend. I’d say don’t spoil the new Star Wars movie for anyone or you might get a beat-down. :) Seriously I’d say

    Don’t care what others think.
    Don’t let things outside of your control affect you.
    Don’t forget to tell those important to you that you love them.

  4. Roy Largo @ Band of Savers December 21, 2015 at 7:23 AM

    This is an awesome idea. I live by my to-do lists but just keep the to-don’t on just a mental list.

    Some of ours that I haven’t noticed above are:

    Don’t go shopping hungry
    Don’t make a purchase without getting your spouses feedback
    There’s lots of things my wife tells me I’m not allowed to talk about in public but I rarely know what they are before I say something I shouldn’t have and get informed later that it was on the “Don’t talk about list”

    1. J. Money December 21, 2015 at 11:59 AM

      Haha… I slip and say stuff I forgot I wasn’t supposed to too at times :) We could save ourselves a lot of trouble carrying that list with us alone!

  5. Natalie @ Financegirl December 21, 2015 at 7:28 AM

    I have a similar post scheduled for in a few months that’s about habits to stop doing — a lot of the similar stuff. You have to focus on positive, productive habits that make you your best self and are making your life and relationships better. That’s what it’s all about. Merry Christmas J!

    1. J. Money December 21, 2015 at 12:00 PM

      In a few months??? Do you have all your stuff scheduled out like that in advance? If so, I am impressed – wow. I literally write all mine the day before – hah.

  6. Andrew @ Shift Upwards December 21, 2015 at 7:55 AM

    1. Don’t compare myself to others (this will be on the list perpetually as it’s basic instinct to compare ourselves). I can do it less if I can remind myself more often!

    2. Don’t judge others because of what I’ve been able to do in my life. Yes, I’ve kicked ass at personal finance. But I’m also in a fortunate position with lots of resources to put myself in a strong position. Many people aren’t as fortunate. Even if they do have the means to save aggressively, and just haven’t done so, it isn’t reason to put myself on a pedestal. There is something to be learned from everyone, and everyone has their own story.

    3. Don’t get swallowed up on the every-day pressures and drama of my job. It’s simply a platform to a better future. Of course, I will keep working hard and doing my best. But it’s easy to take the drama/pressures home with me at the end of the day, and it’s just not worth it. Then it starts impacting other areas of my life. Life is too short for that nonsense.

    1. J. Money December 21, 2015 at 12:01 PM

      That’s the hardest part being self-employed online too – always being surrounded by “work” 24/7. So hard to shut it off whether you’re having fun or not!

  7. Brian December 21, 2015 at 8:01 AM

    I prefer to try to be positive and a “don’t” list seems to be the opposite of that. It would be pretty easy to spin your list into a more positive light ie:

    DO spend time with my kids
    DO be mindful of my budget


    Just my $0.02

    1. J. Money December 21, 2015 at 12:03 PM

      Hah – that’s what we do all the time here. Which is why I liked the change up :) (Though all the items on the list encourage positive behavior, as you noted)

  8. Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor December 21, 2015 at 8:13 AM

    Great list! Mine would look pretty similar. Maybe I’d add don’t ignore my friends, though I guess that’s not too tempting right now. I agree it’s easy to get jealous when reading about successful people all the time, but it helps to be grateful and remember I really do have the life I always wanted.

  9. Money Beagle December 21, 2015 at 8:28 AM

    Love this idea. I think I will have to come up with one of these for next year. Thanks for the great idea.

  10. Done by Forty December 21, 2015 at 10:12 AM

    *Don’t watch 8 hours of television when you haven’t written in a month.
    *Don’t let the dog kiss your face so much.
    *Don’t forget how lucky you are, dummy.

    1. J. Money December 21, 2015 at 12:05 PM

      Yeah! I never get why people let their dogs like them all over their mouths?? I don’t have one myself so maybe I’m missing something, but freaks me out every time I see them doing it to someone. Or when they *try* to do it to me! haha… I’ll let them lick a cheek every now and then but that’s the farthest I can go :)

  11. Fervent Finance December 21, 2015 at 10:33 AM

    I’ve been making to-do lists, because otherwise stuff just doesn’t get done. I usually make them in the notes section of my phone, or I’ll actually set an alarm for them in my phone, or put them on my Outlook calendar. That way – no forgetting things to-do!

  12. Sharon December 21, 2015 at 11:03 AM

    LOVE it.

    here are some more _

    – don’t forget to say Thank You for miracles;

    – don’t forget to pay attention to synchronicity;

    – don’t forget to wash the windows;

    – corollary to above – don’t forget to revisit (aka clean) the ‘other lenses’ that we use to look at life

    – don’t forget to end each day being So Grateful for….everything, family, friends old and new.

    – don’t for get to say Happy Holidays AND Merry Christmas.

    And this one is really, really important — and I forget it so many times.

    – don’t forget to say to myself “I get to” instead of “I have to” when I need to do something I don’t want to do…that shift changes everything. I ‘get to’ do the laundry…refugees have few clothes to wash. I ‘get to’ go back to the store for something I forgot…some people don’t have the money even if they remembered. I ‘get to’ help my Mom into the wheelchair for the umpteenth time today….reason is obvious.

    And don’t forget to say, Thank You, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!!

    Thank you, J. I am so grateful I get to read this blog.



    1. J. Money December 21, 2015 at 12:08 PM

      Awwww, loving that “get to” vs “have to” idea :) So true!

      Reminds me of the “I can’t afford that” line vs “I CHOOSE not to afford that”. Which is much more applicable (and empowering) for those of us who can actually afford anything we want more or less regardless of the consequences.

  13. Kim December 21, 2015 at 11:32 AM

    I love the list and what others are adding!

  14. Tawcan December 21, 2015 at 12:03 PM

    Totally awesome, don’t stare at a screen….I do this way too often and should do better next year.

  15. Steve Miller December 21, 2015 at 12:13 PM

    Don’t ignore your To-Don’t list. :)

    1. J. Money December 21, 2015 at 1:54 PM

      Hah – #truth

  16. Maggie @ Northern Expenditure December 21, 2015 at 1:27 PM

    I love the “don’t eat every donut” one. Here’s mine:
    – Don’t ignore the husband
    -Don’t ignore the kids
    – Don’t let laziness trump exercise
    -Don’t let winter weather keep me from getting outside
    – Don’t forget to make personal goals that won’t translate into income
    – Don’t compare my progress with that of others.
    – Don’t take opportunities, people, and blessings for granted.

    Thanks for the prompt, J. Merry Christmas!

    1. J. Money December 21, 2015 at 1:54 PM

      And a very merry holidays to you too, friend :) Here’s to bloggy success in 2016!

  17. Adam @ December 21, 2015 at 2:31 PM

    I love the to-don’t list. When I came across this a few months ago, I started trying to write one myself.

    My big one was don’t let the little things bother me so much and let things go easier.

  18. Stockbeard December 21, 2015 at 3:00 PM

    My main To don’t:
    – don’t check my phone every 5 minutes while my wife and kids are here.

  19. Jason Butler December 21, 2015 at 4:33 PM

    I like the idea of a to don’t list. A couple things on my list are:

    Don’t procrastinate.

    Don’t lose focus.

    Don’t stop side hustling even once my income increases.

  20. Gerald December 21, 2015 at 4:44 PM

    I love your top five.

    I also want to stop checking my banking account every day. I know where its at. If I’m tracking my spending, there is little need to be so anxiety ridden about it.

    And don’t be so hard on myself. Don’t take myself so seriously. Don’t take it personally.

  21. Christine @ The Pursuit of Green December 21, 2015 at 5:37 PM

    Love your to don’t list! Especially this one:
    Don’t eat every donut I ever come into contact with

    Hahaha this probably takes the most willpower. Delicious donuts that are available basically anywhere I go! I pass by quite a few on my way to work every single day. Not only does it cost mula, it’s bad for my health, and will cost me mula down the line!

    This is the one I use for myself
    Never compare myself with others cause I’m comparing my worst to their best

    In the end, there are always people who are doing better than me at certain things, and worse at other things, but everyone is going at their own speed so I just need to be concerned with myself.

    1. J. Money December 24, 2015 at 1:22 PM

      YES! And most people only share their best too and “forget” to share their worst ;)

  22. AMW December 21, 2015 at 7:25 PM

    *Don’t feel guilty if you need to take a break (or a nap).
    *Don’t forget to read for fun.
    *Don’t open your mouth before you think.

  23. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar December 22, 2015 at 8:13 AM

    I like this a lot.
    Don’t waste time on Reddit.
    Don’t waste time while at work (that much) *wink wink nudge nudge*.

    The second one is rough since it’s so close to the damn holidays. I’m basically checked out!

    1. J. Money December 24, 2015 at 1:23 PM

      You were totally at work when you left this comment, huh? :)

  24. Free to Pursue December 23, 2015 at 10:41 AM

    Yes! I’ve been big on the “to don’t” list for over a year now. Truly liberating to let go of what we just won’t do. It allows us to focus on the present as opposed to the should, would, could activities. Letting go of those activities means letting go of the guilt associated with them as well. *Sigh* (of relief!) I’ve been happy enough to turn it up a notch in 2016!

  25. Lisa December 23, 2015 at 9:42 PM

    I like this idea! My main one would be don’t forget about the simple pleasures. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day trials and tribulations.

  26. Chris December 24, 2015 at 9:46 AM

    I have to admit that I have never completed a To-Do or To-Don’t list! I learned several years ago that instead of creating a To-Do list at the beginning of the day/week and then feeling down when there are things that you did not complete it is much better for me to complete a To-Done list at the end of the day/week showing all that you accomplished.

    Just some food for thought (and it doesn’t go against your allotted daily calories which is oh so important during the holidays).

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    1. J. Money December 24, 2015 at 1:27 PM

      hah – love it! I actually started doing that in my daily journal inadvertently. I used to jot the few things I needed to get done that day in it, but after a while it got boring (and especially to go back and read later!) so I changed it to all the awesome stuff that happened the day before :) Now I get excited to write in it again as it’s more of a diary than a huge to-do list (and most things I already know I have to get done so it’s not too bad of a loss of reminder)

  27. Vanna Lindholm December 24, 2015 at 4:52 PM

    My is shorter :
    Don’t think about money all the time
    Don’t ignore my kid
    Don’t ignore my husband
    thanks for sharing

  28. Tim December 26, 2015 at 8:09 PM

    Balance the “To Don’t” list with the “To Do” list, then it becomes positive reinforcement for overall personal growth rather than a permissions/limitations issue. At least that is true for me.

    1. J. Money December 28, 2015 at 7:33 AM

      Yep! All about that balance.

  29. Brittney @ Britt & the Benjamins December 29, 2015 at 5:05 PM

    Just stumbled upon this, and it completely relates to an article I’m about to post about my New Year’s resolutions. I tend to play it on the safe side, and where’s the fun in that? So, my goal this New Year is to DON’T be afraid – to fail, of rejection, of the unknown. I’m looking forward to the challenge!

    1. J. Money December 31, 2015 at 11:47 AM

      BOOM! Love it!

      And totally going over to your blog now to check it out – sounds like a fun one :)

  30. Amber Tree January 16, 2016 at 7:53 AM

    It seems to me that listing things you should not do sounds more easy to achieve than things you have to do.
    Some examples

    Don’t ignore my kids –> Always have fun with the kids –> makes you think: what is next I can do to please them. The Truth is: sometimes they need their own “me time” (like my kids now: i can then read some blogs)

    Don’t stare at a screen every 5 seconds –> This might be an exception, especially in the current volatile markets. It sounds easier to say: Look at the end of the month to update your net worth