Personal finance best practices don’t need to be seen as a burden. In fact they should be easy, logical and stress-free, and they don’t have to involve sticking to an unforgiving budget. Simply throwing all your money into one bank account and hoping there’s enough in there to cover your bills isn't always be the best solution.
Best practice would be to work out a realistic budget for yourself, then divide your money into a few low-fee or fee-free accounts based on your savings goals. There are a number of accounts specifically geared towards the needs of medical, dental and veterinary professionals, which we’ll cover later. However, broadly speaking, best practice would be to start with a sensible budget and a sensible idea of your income, then set up accounts for day-to-day spending, savings and one for either treating yourself, or for emergencies.
Managing a personal budget
A budget shouldn’t be about denying yourself. It should be about living within your means. Once you work out how to do that, you shouldn’t need to track it every day. Everyone’s income, expenses and savings goals are different, but a good rule of thumb is the 60/20/20 rule.
That is, you want 60 per cent of your income going to your regular expenses (including shopping, rent, mortgage, food and bills), 20 per cent set aside to pay off either a large debt or a large unexpected expense and the last 20 per cent should be earning the highest rate of interest possible as you save towards your goal.
If your income won’t let you manage that split, don’t panic. You may need 70 or 80 per cent to cover your everyday expenses. That’s fine. The whole idea of creating a budget is knowing exactly what you’re spending and when.
How to set up your everyday account
There are particular things you should look for in a day-to-day savings account. First and most importantly, there should be no establishment or account keeping fees. You shouldn’t be paying money to save money.
Another given should be a complimentary debit card with free ATM withdrawals, at least with the major banks.
It’s also worth looking for an account that gives you a return on your positive account balance, such as a competitive rate or the ability to earn airline reward points on the balance of your account. The lion’s share of your regular income should go into this account, and your day-to-day expenses should come out of it.
Options for setting up savings
If you have a large savings goal you want to reach, you need an account that pays high interest. A good choice for achieving this goal is a term deposit, offering competitive interest rates and no account-keeping fees.
The reason a term deposit is attractive for savings is it locks your money away for a particular period of time, which removes the temptation to use your them for some short-term goal.
Options for treat or emergency money
Sometimes you need to treat yourself. It may be a big night out or a holiday—let’s face it, you work long hours and you deserve a reward. It’s also a good idea to have a pool of money available for when you get hit with expenses you don’t expect, such as a repair bill for a car or a household appliance.
A high interest savings account with instant access to your savings is ideal for these purposes. You earn a competitive rate of interest with your funds still available via a debit card.
Best practices for personal finance aren’t about denying yourself, they’re about setting up some easy and sensible structures to help you meet your savings goals. There are a number of accounts specifically designed to help with this. Talk to your financial adviser or accountant about which ones are right for you, and which ones will help you meet your goals.