Making financial habits stick

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Many people saw improved money habits because of the Covid pandemic. But now that things are easing, how can we make them permanent? 
Keep a ‘money journal’
To keep track of your newly ingrained financial habits, a daily journal is a useful way to record your spending. It’ll literally be written down on paper in front of you, so you can track your progress and spot improvements in your outgoings, no matter how small. Or go digital – current account spending can be tracked by some online banking apps, and you can get text and email alerts so you know when money’s going in and out.

Out of sight, out of mind
Keep your environment free of financial temptations. Let’s say you’ve got a credit card – nothing wrong with that per se, but do you need it with you every day? It’s unlikely, so why not keep it at home in a safe place? That way you’re less likely to use it for non-essential purchases. If you sometimes get a bit trigger-happy when browsing Amazon, stick a post-it on your computer asking yourself ‘do I really need this?’
Reward yourself for spending well
And it doesn’t have to be a financial reward. It’s easy to give yourself £50 to spend on the high street as a well done for putting your monthly savings pot away, but ultimately this would be working against your overall goal which is to save money. Pick something you like that’s personal to you – and reward yourself with it for keeping your spending under control.
Relying on memory to make payments and put a bit away can’t always be relied on, so wherever possible, automate your payments by setting up automatic transfers. This puts the saving of your cash effectively onto autopilot and makes it less likely that you’ll miss a payment.
Get an app
Lots of apps can help you manage and save money. Take a look at Plum (free but you’ll need a Facebook account to use it), a digital assistant which analyses your spending and helps you set and meet savings goals, all through Facebook messenger. There’s also Chip (free) which analyses money coming in and going out and identifies places you can save.
Compare and contrast
From time to time, cast your mind back and think how different your new financial situation is from, say, this time last year. If you’ve significantly improved your spending, you’ll be able to look back and realise how much your spending has improved.
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