Good financial hygiene: making better money habits to achieve financial fitness
What is financial hygiene and why is it so important? It’s all about making better money habits and once you develop a better money saving routine, Discover best practices for protecting your financial identity and personal information.
From the time we’re toddlers, we’re taught about hygiene. “Wash your hands before eating, brush your teeth before bed and don’t go sharing your ice-cream with the dog.” Then we become parents and teach (or try to teach!) the same hygiene habits to our own kids.
Why? Because simple personal hygiene habits go a long way towards staying healthy and in the same vein, financial hygiene habits performed on a regular basis go a long way towards helping you staying financially fit and healthy!
What is financial hygiene?
Financial hygiene is kind of like handwashing for your money (not to be confused with money laundering, which is something completely different)!
Basically, financial hygiene is a set of habits that help you to get and stay financially fit. These habits aren’t arduous or time consuming tasks; they’re quick ‘to dos’ that become part of your regular money saving routine.
Why is financial hygiene important?
It’s a bit like brushing your teeth. Missing one morning isn’t going to hurt but neglect your dental hygiene for too long and it may have serious health consequences down the track. Along the same lines, financial hygiene is a small investment of time that can save a heap of hurt in the future.
Financial literacy used to be all about managing money and paying bills. These days, an important part of being financially literate is understanding how to protect your online information. This includes protecting your bank savings accounts, credit cards, superannuation or retirement investments and your credit history.
But money can feel complicated
Cleaning your teeth is one thing—getting your finances in order is another, right? Money can feel complicated. For a start, you’ve probably got multiple bank accounts and lots of different bills to pay.
Take a look inside the average wallet or purse and you’ll see multiple debit and credit cards, not to mention forms of personal identification. Then there’s the information you store on your mobile phone or computer.
The next level again includes apps, websites and agencies that store your personal information. This includes government agencies, such as Centrelink and the Australian Tax Office, as well as private agencies, such as Experian, a credit reporting service that calculates credit scores.
So, how do you clean up your finances and make sure your financial information is protected like the asset it is? What are the foundations for good financial health? What’s the key to breaking bad habits and setting new better money habits that might be compromising your security? And why do some people make good financial habits look so easy?
Make better money habits by getting into a good money saving routine
The great news is that better money habits don’t have to be time consuming or hard work—it’s all about routine!
- Daily habits: When you study the better money habits of good savers, you see the same repeated patterns. Taking your lunch to work, for instance, is a small habit that can save thousands of dollars a year. Even something as simple as changing from boxed cereal to oats for breakfast, can save a family around $800 a year.
- Weekly habits: What do you do with your bills after uploading them to your budget? How about the receipts in your purse or wallet? It’s a good habit to keep a copy of your bills and receipts together, which could be an email folder or a physical folder.
- Monthly habits: It’s important to check your credit card and bank statements at the end of the month, not only for accuracy but as a review of your spending habits. How are your financial goals tracking? Review your goals to see if you’re on track or your budget needs adjusting.
- Annual habits: There are a host of ways to save thousands by spring cleaning your finances once a year, from comparing your home loan interest rate to getting new quotes on home, health and life insurances, as well as shopping around for cheaper utilities.
Automate your money
MyBudget founder and personal finance expert Tammy Barton says, “A lot of people struggle with money because they don’t have a system or, if they do, it’s often a jumble of good and bad habits. When you look at their system as a whole, it often doesn’t support the person’s financial goals properly.”
The most powerful systems are automated. In fact, with the right systems in place, your financial goals will largely look after themselves. Automation is one of the reasons MyBudget clients are so successful at achieving their financial goals. Structure + automation + human expertise = better money habits.
Scams and phishing schemes are always somethings to keep an eye on and that’s why it’s vitally important to secure your digital accounts with strong passwords.
But who has the brain space for all those numbers, letters and special characters? A password manager can help to store your passwords behind an encrypted firewall.
Another recommendation is to enable two-step authentication, where possible.
It’s also important to keep track of your digital footprint. Finances have a habit of creeping up over time. One credit card becomes two. Plus a store charge card. And an Afterpay account, a personal loan, phone contract, and so on.
One of the best ways to keep track of your financial footprint is to minimise it. Close accounts you don’t need, delete apps and cancel subscriptions you’re not using, and roll multiple superannuation accounts into one.
Give every dollar a job
Are you tired of wondering where your money went? Creating a budget is a powerful way to build the bridge between where your finances are today and where you see yourself in the future.
A detailed budget, that takes into account all of your income and expenses over 12 months, will help you map the shortest path to your financial goals.
And when every dollar has a job, you know for certain that you’re making the most of your money. The financial stress of ‘not knowing’ goes away and you have a clear, straightforward map that makes it easy to stay on track.
Achieve your financial goals
Create a better money saving routine to save faster for a house, baby, wedding or holiday, pay off credit card debt, prepare for retirement, or simply make your money go further.
Call us on 1300 300 922 or enquire online to book your free budget consultation. The budget we design for you is yours to keep.
This content has been updated from the original post published in June, 2020.
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