Be money mindful: How to develop a positive money mindset during COVID-19
You need to look after your financial health, not just your physical and mental health, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here's how to do it.
We know it's important to maintain our physical and mental health, and this is especially true at the moment. While there's so much uncertainty due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, looking after our health is something that can help us cope with changes to our work routine, spending less time outdoors and not seeing friends and family as often as we did before.
But what about our financial health? Your financial health and your relationship with money are just as important to maintain. Your financial health also impacts your mental and physical health, too, as the more on top of your finances you are, the better you'll feel.
Here are some tips to help you maintain a positive money mindset now and into the future.
Put together a financial to-do list, and start ticking things off.
A common strategy to help stay motivated and make the most of the extra time we're spending indoors is to keep busy and be productive. Perhaps you've rediscovered your love for puzzles, learned how to bake banana bread or started a new creative project that you never had time for in the past.
Having something to focus our attention and energy on is great for our mental health and can be a good distraction from the daily updates on the pandemic. Take this opportunity as the perfect time to tackle your financial to-do list.
I'm not saying you need to completely sort out your finances in a day. As a first step, try to at least write yourself a checklist of the things you want to get done. It might include that tax return you still haven't lodged, the insurance policy you need to switch or the emergency savings fund you know you should set up, but haven't yet. With new research revealing one third of Australians have been forced to dip into their savings since the COVID-19 outbreak, getting an emergency fund up and running is particularly important.
Once you've got your financial to-do list, put it somewhere you'll regularly see it (like on the fridge). Then set yourself some time each week to start ticking things off one by one. You'll feel much better for it, and your future self will thank you for taking the time today to look after your financial health.
Stay motivated by setting goals.
People often find it easier to work on their physical health and fitness when they've got a clear goal to achieve. For example, you might have a goal to lose 5kgs, be able to swim 10 laps of the pool or run 7kms without having to stop for a rest.
You're more likely to stay motivated if you know what you're working towards, and the same goes for your finances. Have a think about what it is you're trying to achieve, and be specific.
For example, if you want to save for an overseas trip when the pandemic is over, don't just have a goal to "save for an overseas trip". Instead, figure out how much it'll cost and how much you'll need to save each month to achieve it. This might involve looking for ways you can cut back on your day-to-day spending, too. A bonus savings account like MyState Bank's Bonus Saver will keep you motivated by rewarding you with extra interest each month you grow your savings.
With so much uncertainty this year, having exciting goals to work towards is not only good for your bank balance but good for your mental health, too.
Regularly check in with your progress.
You're not going to achieve your physical health goals after one single session at the gym (sorry!). These things take time, ongoing commitment and regular check-ins. It's the same with your finances.
Set yourself regular reminders to see how you're tracking with your goals and to assess your spending habits. Are you spending more money on takeaway meals than you said you would? Are your monthly savings on track to reach the goal you've set? If you've had a change in income, your cost of living has increased or you've had a large unexpected expense, you might need to adjust your savings goal. You need to continually monitor your progress and readjust your budget if it's not working for you.
Some mobile banking apps do this for you. For example, MyState Bank's app offers a Spending Insights feature which automatically groups your transactions into different categories so you can see up to date information on exactly how and where you're spending your money. If your bank doesn't offer this feature, consider switching to a bank that does or you can also use an external app that does this, such as the Finder app.
Developing a positive mindset now will help you stay on top of your finances well into the future.