Forming healthy financial habits takes time and effort. In fact, research by behavioral scientists (European Journal of Social Psychology) suggests that it takes more than 2 months - 66 days to be exact - for a new habit to form and before a behavior becomes automatic.
1. Live within your means:
Keep track of your monthly income and expenses and find ways to free up funds to cover your expenses if you need to. Set a budget for how you will spend the money you earn.
2. Spend wisely:
Get into the habit of dividing up your expenses into needs, wants and savings or debts. If it’s appropriate, aim to spend 50% of your income after tax on needs, 30% on wants and 20% on savings and debts each month.
3. Free up funds:
If you're not saving as much as you'd like, or find it hard to cover your costs each month, look for ways to reduce your outgoings. Also, think about how you might increase your household income.
4. Build emergency savings:
Aim to build up enough savings to cover at least 3 months of essential expenses, in case of emergency.
5. Avoid excessive borrowing and manage your existing debt:
Aim to borrow only what you can reasonably afford to pay back. Take steps to manage debt that you have already, for example, cut back to free up capital, approaching your lender for support, or consolidating debts.
6. Save for the future:
Start saving for your retirement as early as you can. The younger you start, the bigger your retirement fund. Remember that compound interest quickly mounts up, which is the interest earned on previously earned interest.
7. Protect what matters:
If you can, take out insurance to protect you from risk that you would not be able to cover yourself, like losing your household’s main income through illness or injury.
8. Beware of scams and fraud:
Online financial fraud is on the rise, so take steps to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime. Remember the saying if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
Next steps for developing healthy financial habits
HSBC has partnered with Everfi to create a series of modules on a variety of topics, including Savings, Banking, Credit Cards & Interest Rates, Credit Scores, Financing Higher Education, Renting vs. Owning, Taxes and Insurance, Consumer Protection, and Investing, giving you the tools to better manage your financial future. We hope these interactive digital modules can support your choices.
Additionally, HSBC has created the YourMoneyCounts financial wellness program which is presented by HSBC staff to the community in a classroom setting. Participant workbooks covering Budgeting, Credit, and Identity Theft and a budgeting worksheet are found through the YourMoneyCount link above. This program was created in partnership with the national nonprofit Greenpath Financial Wellness, and they provide free individualized support focused on your personal situation and financial wellness.