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Can tech help you learn good finance habits?

  • July 19 2021
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Can tech help you learn good finance habits?

By Fergus Halliday
July 19 2021

The CBA’s resident expert on behavioural economics has said that tech can be a double-edged sword when it comes to keeping good financial habits.

Can tech help you learn good finance habits?

Can tech help you learn good finance habits?

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  • July 19 2021
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The CBA’s resident expert on behavioural economics has said that tech can be a double-edged sword when it comes to keeping good financial habits.

Can tech help you learn good finance habits?

Learning good financial habits is almost as important as breaking bad ones, and technology has become a bigger part of the toolkit that many consumers use to tackle both.

If you take a look at the most popular finance apps on both Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store, you don’t have to scroll too far past Australia’s major banking apps and the usual crypto spot-exchanges to find budgeting apps like Wallet or microinvesting platforms like Raiz and Spaceship.

More and more consumers are looking towards tech when it comes to putting their finances in order, so it’s worth asking what role tech can play when it comes to developing smart habits around money.

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Speaking to nestegg, the Commonwealth Bank’s chief behavioural economist, Will Mailer, explained that while individuals do make financial decisions in different ways, “We also take predictable shortcuts, ignore the maths and go with the flow on some big and important financial decisions.”

As an example, he argued that Australians are more likely to sign up to a $5 a day savings plan than one for $150 per month.

“We worry about retirement, but have $20 billion in unclaimed savings,” he said.

“The weather, website ordering, and our social circle can all influence the way we spend and save.”

According to Mr Mailer, “These behavioural patterns can be very expensive and see us regularly acting against our financial goals. But if we understand these tendencies and build our financial lives with them in mind and use the right financial tools and service providers, we can actually use these tendencies to our advantage.”

Asked how people should approach making good financial habits, Mr Mailer said that a common mistake was to set vague and ambitious goals “and then rely on raw willpower and good intentions to get us there”.

“Unfortunately, the success rate on this approach is not great, as anyone who has ever set a new year’s resolution knows.”

“So much of our behaviour and our habits are a product of the environments we set up for ourselves, and the way we make it easy for ourselves to perform the very specific behaviours required to take us in the direction of our goals. This means getting specific on what we need to do, rather than a vague sense of where we want to end up.”

In addition to being specific, Mr Mailer recommended surrounding yourself with the right cues, social influences, feedback and rewards.

Developing good financial habits isn’t just about setting long-term goals, but about defining better day-to-day behaviours “while making destructive or counterproductive behaviours harder and less obvious”.

As for how tech fit affects the development of good financial habits, Mr Mailer called it a double-edged sword.

On one hand, he said that “they have made the world more slippery for us in terms of spending more or streaming more TV shows”. But, on the other, “we are now also seeing more technologies that help us to balance this increased choice and convenience with more control”.

“There are a lot of technologies emerging now which can help Australians to balance our ‘every day’ and ‘one day’ opportunities, or at least better understand the trade-offs involved at major decision points,” he said.

“These technologies help us to have better feedback and goal tracking on our spending, sleeping and stepping. They provide timely insights on our options, and even let us block different temptations from arising when we’re trying to save or focus on a deadline or goal.”

Can tech help you learn good finance habits?
Can tech help you learn good finance habits?
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About the author

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Fergus is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He likes to write about money, markets, how innovation is changing the financial landscape and how younger consumers can achieve their goals in unpredictable times. 

About the author

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Fergus Halliday

Fergus is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He likes to write about money, markets, how innovation is changing the financial landscape and how younger consumers can achieve their goals in unpredictable times. 

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