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Good financial hygiene: money habits for financial fitness
By MyBudget Editor

Thanks to coronavirus, we’ve been talking a lot about hygiene—handwashing, sneeze etiquette and personal distancing. But what about financial hygiene? What is it and why is it important, especially now?

From the time we’re toddlers, we’re taught about hygiene. “Wash your hands before eating, clean 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. 

That’s because simple personal hygiene habits go a long way towards staying healthy and well. So much so, that handwashing is one of the frontline defences in the fight against COVID-19. 

In the same vein, financial hygiene habits go a long way towards helping you stay 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, it’s a set of habits that help you get and stay financially fit. When done properly, financial hygiene habits aren’t arduous or time consuming tasks. They’re quick ‘to dos’ that become part of your regular 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 can 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. It’s also especially relevant now that coronavirus has increased levels of financial stress for a lot of people. In an upside down world, routine has the potential to be stress-relieving.

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.

So, how do you clean up your finances? What are the foundations for good financial health? And what’s the key to breaking bad money habits and putting good ones in place?

Get into a good routine

Go to bed without brushing your teeth one night and nothing much will happen, but neglect your dental hygiene too often and it can have health consequences down the track. 

Financial hygiene is much the same. But the great news is that good money habits don’t have to be time consuming or hard work—it’s all about routine!

  • Daily habits: When you study the 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 insurance and more.

Automate your money

MyBudget founder and director 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 them as a total system, they often don’t support the person’s goals.”

The most powerful systems are automated. In fact, with the right systems in place, your financial goals will largely look after themselves.

Stay secure

Scams and phishing schemes have been rife during COVID-19. It’s really important, therefore, 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 instead of telling it where to go? 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.

MyBudget’s mission

Our mission is to help people achieve their financial goals faster! We do this by giving every dollar a job and by providing every client with the caring, expert support they need to succeed. 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.

Read more about COVID-19 financial relief measures, download a budget template, discover how MyBudget works, sign up for money tips on the MyBudget Blog or follow MyBudget on Facebook.

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