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Good habits are formed when we make things that are important to us – like making money – a priority. Yes, we said money. You’re with us, right? Thought so.

Now to be realistic in your financial goal-setting and (critically) goal-achieving, consistency is key. It’s the small daily habits that add up (literally) to make significant changes over time in your life.

Financial advisor and investment specialist Adele Barnard shares the top five money habits we should adopt for a successful and financially sound 2021.

1/ Track your spending every single day

It’s important to know where your money is going. Er… you’ll also realise how quickly you waste money unnecessarily. “All those swipes add up,” says Adele. “Either keep your slips and file them according to your various budget categories, or if you’re tech-savvy, download a budget app to identify where your money goes.” Do this daily. You’ll be amazed at what you learn about your spending – and how you can save more each month.

READ MORE: 5 Ways To Get Out Of Debt, According To A Financial Advisor

2/ Say goodbye to “buy now, pay later” syndrome and buyer’s remorse

Ever felt the pressure to keep up appearances – even if this means swiping that credit card when you really can’t afford to? Ever bought something and immediately regretted it, aka buyer’s remorse?

Get into the habit of asking yourself why you make impulsive buys. “The best advice I can give you is to figure out your relationship with money,” says Adele. “The key here is to be mindful of your spending. Reflect on the item. And if you are easily tempted, like me, unsubscribe from those retailer emails so you’re not tempted to ‘add to cart’.”

To change the way you spend, you need to understand your financial habits. A credit card can also be a good thing if used correctly – if you use it to cash in on loyalty rewards and accumulate points. But if you are an impulsive shopper and know for a fact that you have zero discipline, rather get rid of any existing balance and cut the card.

3/ Save a little, no, a lot rather!

Unfortunately, debt is a reality for most of us. And so often, getting rid of debt is overlooked as a savings tool. “Getting rid of your debt means you’re no longer a slave to high interest rates,” says Adele.

She advises transferring any extra bucks into your savings account/investments before you even get the chance to spend it on anything or anyone else. “Automate those transfers as soon as you get your income – don’t delay the savings,” she says.

Don’t wait until you have enough money to start saving. The principles of money are universal. Just start with whatever amount you have and get into the habit – the sooner, the better.

READ MORE: Investments: 6 Common Reasons Why Your Money Isn’t Growing

4/ Grab a money buddy and set money dates

There’s no shame in asking for help. Just like your personal trainer keeps you accountable for your fitness, a money buddy has the same responsibility. “A money buddy can help you to improve your budget, but make sure your goals and vision are aligned,” says Adele. “You need to be honest and share your money weaknesses with someone you trust. So, whether this is your partner, bestie or parent, get the conversation going and set those dates.”

5/ Educate yourself

The most important habit of all is to change your relationship with money. How do you do that? By educating yourself. It’s 2021, people, and that means we all need to take an interest in our finances.

The more we know, the better decisions we can make for our future selves. So, whether you spend five minutes a day listening to a financial podcast and build up from there, or you dive straight into investing – just start. “Follow the Warren Buffet formula: Go to bed smarter than you woke up!”

Remember personal finance guru Dave Ramsey’s words: Personal finance is 20% finance and 80% behavioural. “Although I believe behaviour is everything!” says Adele. “And remember, talk is cheap, but it takes money to buy the whisky.”

Disclaimer: views expressed are Adele’s own and do not constitute the views of her employer.

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