18 Financial Habits to Develop for Better Money Management

18 Financial Habits to Develop for Better Money Management
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Personal finance often arises in discussions of wealth, savings, and striving for a better quality of life. However, the recent pandemic and the hardships it’s brought to people worldwide have shown that money management wasn’t at the forefront of many people’s thoughts. Financial literacy is still a difficult trope to grasp for a good portion of citizens from all walks of life. In light of this, it’s never a bad idea to reinforce your perspective on finances with simple financial habits. 

One can never know what the future brings. With that in mind, here are 18 financial habits to develop for better money management.

Related: Guide 2022: Planning for your retirement in Malaysia

1. Financial habits: Knowing where your money goes is

Always keep track of where your money goes, even to the cent. There are a plethora of apps to help you improve spending awareness. Once you are aware of your spending habits, you can make a plan to improve those habits.

2. Curate a realistic budget

Financial habits - money budget

Knowing where your money goes means creating a budget. However, a lot of beginners curate an unrealistic budget. They budget to the penny, but there will always be unexpected expenses in life, and one has to consider that when creating a weekly, monthly, and yearly budget. Put some money to the side for these unexpected expenses; if you don’t use them, great! Transfer them to your savings account.

3. Build up your savings now

Speaking of savings accounts, many people procrastinate in setting up one. They believe they’ll be in their cushy jobs for the rest of their lives, and the thought of things turning on their heads is impossible for them. This is not true.

Start today, even if it’s just using the coins on your couch. Automatically save a small number of your earnings in a savings account and forget that the money exists. You’ll be surprised to find how much you have by the end of a year, or even a few years, when you realise you have that account that your money secretly goes to, and it’s really helpful in times of strife or emergencies.

4. Financial habits: paying your bills on time

To keep more money each month, review your budget for costs like these and consider terminating any needless memberships.

Yes. Bills are a hassle and boring and take your money every month. However, accumulating late fees should scare you into immediately paying these bills. Companies are businesses, not people; their interest rates for late payments are such that people have been known to lose everything to late payment fees.

On that note, be aware of your subscription services. These services charge your card automatically, and you might lose track of where your money goes. Cancel any unnecessary subscriptions and hold on to more money every month.

Related: The Concept of “Time Value of Money” in Islam

5. Cash for big purchases

Big purchase - financial habits

There are necessary loans, such as a house or a car. However, when you decide to buy something big that’s not a necessity, go the way of saving up and paying it in one lump cash sum. 

You can avoid generating interest and creating debt when you pay in cash, so leave that money in a bank account and let it accumulate interest that can be put towards your purchase, as it will also feel like you’ve worked hard for something and it’s your reward.

6. Start an investment strategy

Investing doesn’t have to start big. You can bank in a tiny amount, and it’ll be a good start. Keep practicing this action, add more money when you can, and your total invested amount will snowball over time. Before you know it, you’ll have cash in hand that’s yours because you decided to start small but intelligent.

Related: Halal Investment: A Beginner’s Guide

7. Financial habits: Set financial life goals

“It’s not the destination; it’s the journey,” they say, which is true. But the journey is better if the destination is a good comfortable life during your twilight years. Figure out your:

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  1. Lifestyle
  2. How much do you require to keep that lifestyle for the rest of your life
  3. When you want to retire and live that lifestyle

Knowing this will enable you to set up your financial goals and put plans into action.

8. Pay off credit cards in full

Financial Habits - credit cards

Credit card interests can be a bane in the future and should always be avoided whenever possible. If you buy something with your credit card, pay it full next month. Not only do you earn the points the bank offers, but you also don’t have to pay extra for what you bought.

9. Set up automatic savings

Most banks have an automatic savings system, where you can set up that they take out your money at a specific date every month and transfer it to another account. Set this up and do so, as it will give you peace of mind knowing you’re doing the responsible thing without the hassle of physically doing it.

10. Financial habits: knowing your credit score

Credit scores can affect you in ways you never expected. There have been cases where the nicest people in the world are rejected from renting a house or getting a car loan because they have unhealthy credit scores. Know your credit score, and if it’s unhealthy, work on ways of fixing it.

11. Negotiate for goods and services

When it’s possible, negotiate for goods and services. We say when it’s possible because you can’t negotiate for a dozen eggs at 7-Eleven. You can, however, negotiate for eggs and other produce at a farmers market if you buy in bulk from the same person. A smile, politeness, and not being too greedy can help you endear yourself to the seller, who might decide that the cucumber she’s selling can go for 1-2% cheaper.

12. Be aware of the financial climate

Know the financial climate, and be aware of the bubble. Even housing bubbles, initially thought to be safe, burst in 2008, leading to a worldwide economic downturn that affected millions of people. Being aware will make you more responsible with your investments and big purchases.

13. Learn to maintain anything

Financial Habits - maintain anything

Every day, a new condominium or shopping lot is being built. Yet slightly older condos and malls already look like they’re sets from zombie movies. Learn maintenance on everything you possibly can, from cars to shoes, and don’t throw away that shirt just because a button came off. Learning to sew, repair or service your equipment can be a financial lifesaver, and you might even find a new hobby.

14. Live below your means

You receive your promotion and decide to treat yourself with a new car or gaming station. That’s fine. However, that 10% bump in your paycheck doesn’t mean you live the life of Paris Hilton now. Live a simpler life for the sake of your wallet.

15. Hire a financial advisor

Once you’ve saved up a decent amount, hire a financial advisor to help you diversify your portfolio. Revenue streams can come from all over, and if you’re too busy working on researching where to invest, hire someone to do it for you.

16. Financial habits: the 50/30/20 rule

Set your life to Warren Buffet’s 50/30/20 rule:

  • 50% on needs (bills, food, transport, etc.)
  • 30% on wants (games, movies, nights out, etc.)
  • 20% on savings 

17. Be careful of new commitments

You have a kind heart. Someone comes to you and asks if you’d like to donate a certain amount every month to help the environment or people in need. There’s nothing wrong with this; you can claim it during tax time, but be aware of what you commit to monthly. Too kind a heart, and you might end up being one of the people in need in the future.

Related: How to Boost your Financial Resilience

18. Financial habits require practice

Being good with money takes practice. If you practice the steps above and make it a habit, you’ll be surprised to find how easy it is to save money and reap future rewards.

Money comes and goes, but good habits are difficult to attain and can pave the way as building blocks to growing wealth. Be sure to internalise these tips and turn at least some of them into powerful habits that gradually lead to better personal finance practices.

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