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How to stay financially healthy

An old couple is walking in the garden; image used for HSBC Malaysia how to stay financially healthy article page.

Forming healthy financial habits takes time and effort.

In fact, research by behavioural 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 behaviour becomes automatic.

Here's a reminder of the main points:

  1. Live within your means
    Keep track of your monthly income and expenses and find ways to free up funds to cover your outgoings 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.
  4. Build emergency savings
    Aim to build up enough savings to cover at least 3 months of essential outgoings, 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.

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