Jessica Bown
AUTHOR Jessica Bown| CREATED 18 Jan 2016
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5 habits of financially healthy people

What can we learn from those who are successful with money? The well-off tend to have one thing in common – they realise the importance of looking after their financial health.

To hold on to their good fortune, they live by a set of money management principles that protect their wealth and ensure their money is working as hard as possible for them.

Key habits of the wealthy include an ability to save for the future and a committed interest in managing their money. Here's what else they practice:

1. Avoid unsecured borrowing. Do you still buy now and pay later?

Despite the lessons of the credit crunch, many people prefer to take out a loan or pay with a credit card than to save up for the things they want. A lack of savings also means many of us are left with no other choice when faced with emergencies such as a broken down boiler or expensive times such as Christmas. Nicola Downs, director at Trentham Invest, said:

'Most people do not save enough, either in the long term or the short term.' Budgeting can help us to avoid paying interest on our purchases, though. 'Set up a monthly direct debit of £100 to a savings account and come December you have a Christmas fund of £1,200,' Downs says. 'That's a much better option than borrowing on a credit card.'

2. Check your savings rates

Struggling to earn a decent rate of return on your savings in this low interest-rate environment? That is no excuse to leave your hard-earned cash languishing in a lacklustre account. Searching the market for the best rates can make a big difference – especially as top savings accounts often pay 10 times the average.

If you invest in an ISA, you may wish to consider investing in a stocks & shares ISA rather than a cash ISA. Stocks and shares have the potential for better returns than cash over the long term, although they also involve more risk.

3. Get insured (for less)

Taking out car insurance is a legal requirement, while failing to have adequate home insurance means risking being left with nothing should your home be burgled or burnt down. So make sure that you know when your general insurance policies come up for renewal. And shop around for the best deal rather than simply sticking with the same company.

Search too for the best deal on life, critical illness and income protection insurance, whilst remembering that the cheapest quote does not always equal value for money. 'With income protection, for example, paying a bit more could mean the difference between getting a pay-out and not.'

4. Review your investments

There is no guarantee that a top-performing fund you invested in five years ago is still producing good returns today. Keeping on top of your investment portfolio is vital as a result.

'Time changes everything,' Downs says. 'So you should review your investments at least once a year, if not more often.'

The outperformance of an emerging market fund, for example, could leave your portfolio unbalanced with too much invested in that area and vulnerable to losing everything you have gained should that market suffer a sudden fall.

5. Find the best mortgage

Have you benefited from lower mortgage repayments since the Bank of England base rate fell to 0.50%? Your mortgage is one of the biggest financial commitments you will ever take on. So contact a mortgage broker before rates start rising again to find out if you could switch and save. You could save thousands of pounds a year.

Whatever course of action you are considering, it always pays to double and triple check before committing. Where possible, seek an independent view, especially if the risks of getting it wrong are high. If you want to find out how a professional adviser could help you take your financial planning to the next level, check out Advice Matters for everything you need to know.

 

Jessica Bown

Financial journalist Freelance

Jessica Bown is a freelance financial journalist with more than 10 years experience. She writes regularly for The Sunday Times and the Daily Express, as well as a variety of other newspapers, websites and magazines.