Illustration of a laptop with pie chart, piggy bank, and dollar signs.

Small steps, big change: Building healthy financial habits

For some people, money can be a mystery. Most of us at one time or another have opened our bank statement with dread or checked our credit card balance with bewilderment. Did we really spend that much? I thought that bill auto-paid next week. Why is my savings account so…sad? There’s no substitute for making a living wage but managing the money you do have is just as important. Thankfully, there are some simple ways to start building healthy financial habits for yourself and your future.

Read more for tools, tips, and features that can help you understand and manage your finances better.

File folders with a reminder to set up auto-pay

Make sense of your money

The best investment you can make is the time it takes to understand your spending patterns and how they align with your life goals. These Microsoft tools and features can help you understand and manage your finances so you can create goals and get ahead. Microsoft makes it easy to start rooting yourself in financial habits that can pay dividends.

  1. Make goals for your money. Create concrete, specific goals for yourself. Instead of saying just “save money,” try “save $500 by X date” or “put $50 more into my savings each month.” Make a list of your goals using Microsoft To Do so you can refer to them while shopping, to help you stay on track. Creating shorter term actions against your goals can help you take immediate steps and be less intimidated by the larger goals.
  2. Understand where your money is going. One of the healthiest financial habits is to know how exactly you’re spending your money. Track your budgeted amount vs. how much you end up spending in each category with this free template, or track your monthly spend by category, with your full year all in one view. Having a robust view of your spending habits in relation to your budget is a crucial step in managing your financial health. There are a variety of free Microsoft Excel budget templates to help you get started, in a way that works for your needs. This method is great for people who want to organize and input the information themselves.
  3. Automatically track your spending trends. A habit is something that becomes second nature, so why not apply that to your financial habits? Let Money in Excel* do the work for you to track your spending by creating a secured connection to your bank accounts and credit cards. Simplify your day-to-day money decisions and help you stay on track of your longer-term financial goals. What says “financially fabulous” more than live, dynamic pie charts?
  4. Don’t let bills sneak up or escape you. Especially when life gets busy, or the days blur into each other, bills can get overlooked. Avoid late fees by setting auto pays or reminders in Outlook to remind you when to pay. If you keep your task list in Outlook, just add a reminder to your task. Or, book time on your calendar to pay your bills with a reminder when that time approaches. Financial reminders help to automate building your habits, taking the burden off you.
  5. Save money when you’re shopping online. These days, we’re shopping online more than ever and finding the best deal isn’t always easy – until now. Save more when you let Microsoft Edge's shopping features find coupons and comparison shop for you. It’s the only browser with built-in tools to help you save time and money when shopping online.
  6. Create your own financial support group. Have friends or colleagues that are also interested in forming healthy financial habits, encouraging savings, or maximizing credit card rewards points? Create a Financial Team in Microsoft Teams, and invite the friends or family that will be part of this village with you so you can call, chat, and plan together – all in one app.

Illustration of a laptop, piggy bank with dollar signs, and a green hand with thumbs up

These financial habits add up

Using these tips, tools, and features will help give you visibility and control over your money and help you better manage your finances. It’s time to feel confident about the path your money is on.

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  • * Money in Excel is available to Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers in the U.S.