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Make financial hygiene a habit, for yourself and your money

By Opinion Time of article published Dec 30, 2020

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As devastating as it has been to both the health and economic wellbeing of people across the world, Covid-19 has also provided us with a number of valuable lessons for the future. Interestingly, these aren’t limited just to the importance of good personal hygiene as a way of protecting ourselves from illness; there are also interesting parallels that we can draw between looking after our health and developing habits to protect our finances. Aneesa Razack, CEO of FNB Share Trading, offered a closer look at six of the main personal hygiene habits that we should all be applying to our finances going forward:

Money hygiene habit 1 - Take regular stock of your financial health. “Covid-19 has definitely highlighted the truth of that old saying that prevention is better than cure,” Razack says, “and it also applies to our finances.” She recommends investing some time regularly to give your finances a thorough check-up and ensure that the goals you set, and habits you have developed, are still serving you well as your circumstances change.

Money hygiene habit 2- Sanitize your spending. “Thanks to Covid-19, most of us are more aware than ever of the need to regularly wash and sanitize our hands to prevent infection,” Razack points out, “and we now need to transfer that good habit to our finances by making sure that we wash away any bad or impulsive spending habits that are impacting on the health of our money.” She says that this spending sanitisation is especially important as we approach the festive season, where the allure of sales and special offers can easily cause us to forget about our financial hygiene and spend money we shouldn't be, which inevitably leads to a financially challenging start to the new year.

Money hygiene habit 3 - Mask your money from debt infection. Masks are now largely accepted as an effective way of protecting ourselves, and others from infection. Razack highlights that it’s just as important to protect our finances from a form of infection that can also be devastating to our money – debt. “While debt is not all bad, and it can be a useful way of accessing what you need, the importance of managing it well, and avoiding exposure to too much of it can’t be overstated,” she explains.

Money hygiene habit 4 - Keep your distance from bad money decisions. Health experts advise that the best way to prevent infection is to minimise exposure to the virus through social distancing or avoiding direct contact with people who have been exposed to the virus. “The same rule applies to avoiding infection of your finances by bad money habits,” Razack says, “and the best way to keep your distance from those bad habits is by making sure you have a detailed budget in place and that you stick to it as much as possible.”

Money hygiene habit 5 - Avoid fiddling with your investments. Experts remind us to avoid constantly touching our eyes, mouth and nose, as one the precautionary measures against infections. According to Razack, the same advice applies to any investment portfolio, and we need to avoid the temptation to tinker with our asset allocations and our investment plans every time the markets change. “The best way to do that, is to avoid allowing yourself to be influenced by short-term market movements and keep your eyes firmly on your long-term investment goals,” she says.

“In the end, the keys to enjoying healthy money aren’t that different to those we use to ensure a healthy body,” Razack concludes, “and just by building a few basic hygiene habits into the way you manage and protect your money, you can ensure a healthy, happy and resilient financial future for yourself and your loved ones.”

PERSONAL FINANCE

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