Getting Your Financial Life in Order

Just as spring is often the time that we clean-out and reorganize our homes, it is a good time to bring some order to our financial lives as well. We’ve put together a few tips to help you do just that.

1. Balance your checkbook. For some people, this may be a ‘duh’ statement, but for others it is actually a big step. If you have not been balancing your checkbook with your monthly bank statement each month, now is the time to start. Knowing that the balance in your checkbook is accurate can relieve a lot of stress and save you plenty of money in overdraft fees. If you’re having trouble getting it balanced, take it into your bank and ask them for help. They can help you get to a good clean starting place for the spring.

2. Write out a monthly budget. It doesn’t have to be overly detailed, just start by listing out all your monthly bills and the average amounts due each month. Then add in budget amounts for groceries, fuel for your vehicles and other expenditures you make that do not come to you in bill form, like entertainment, giving and clothing. Schedule when each bill will be paid on a calendar, based on its due date and when your income comes in.

3. Make an appointment for credit counseling. There are experts available to help you sort through your finances and give you the advice you need. Pick up the phone and make an appointment with one of our credit counselors.

4. Open a savings account. Even if you don’t have much to put into it, open a savings account and begin the process. Determine an amount to deposit into it each week or each month. Perhaps you’ll want to set aside a few dollars from each pay check, or maybe you’ll do the ‘save my change’ game and deposit your extra change each week. No matter how small it is, begin the process of building a savings account for yourself.

These are just four simple steps to help get your financial life in order and heading in the right direction. Spring is as good a time as any to start fresh.

Time to Rein in Spending

April showers bring May flowers is the old saying. The spring rains wash away the dingy gray of winter and usher in the beautiful bright colors of tulips and daffodils. In much the same way, ‘reining’ in spending can release some wonderful feelings of exuberance and new life as well.

When we over spend and are behind on paying our bills, the stress mounts ,and each new month becomes one to dread, instead of to enjoy. By saying no to our old spending habits in several small ways, we can become free to relax and enjoy life again. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Make a shopping list and stick to it. If you didn’t write it on the list, you can’t buy it, that’s the rule with this one. That means you need to be very thorough when making out your list. It may take you a while the first few times, but you’ll get used to. You’ll be surprised how much it will help you just to have that sheet of paper that tells you what you can buy and can’t buy when you enter a store.

Don’t carry your credit card with you. If you have credit cards, leave them at home. If you don’t have them with you, you are less likely to spend money that you don’t have. Only put the credit card in your purse or wallet when you know that you will need it for a specific purpose.

Gifts. If you are a generous gift giver but your finances are out of control, this may be an area you need to rein in. Set yourself a budget for birthday and holiday gifts. Let your family know that they shouldn’t expect the same extravagance in gifts that they have received before. They’ll understand and you’ll find your bills much easier to pay.

Decrease your dining expenses. You don’t necessarily need to quit going out to dinner entirely, but you can begin to cut back. Start bringing your own lunch to work, instead of going out for lunch every day. Choose your dining establishments for their dollar value and not just their ambiance. Look for the specials and coupons in your local paper for area restaurants.

These are just four easy tips to begin reining in your spending before it gets totally out of hand. Every little bit that you can trim off, is money in your pocket.

Spring is Here … Time for a Financial Tune-up

The warm weather is finally here. Your thoughts turn to spring cleaning and outdoor living. So have you given any thought to tidying up your finances along with your patio?

Here are a few ideas for putting a spring in your finances:

Double Up on Payments- If you’re like a lot of people, the holiday season has you off to an already sluggish start financially. Why not consider using that tax return to make an extra car or house payment? It’s an ideal opportunity to give yourself some breathing room early on in your fiscal year.

Shop for Deals – Take a look at what you’re paying each month for phone/internet/TV services, insurance, etc. Contact providers about getting a better deal. Are you watching all of those channels in your cable package? Have you used all of those features/minutes in your wireless plan? Check for better rates on home and car insurance.

Cash in on Spring Cleaning – You’ve probably got money laying around the house that you didn’t even know about. Books, clothing, tools, and assorted goods are just taking up space. Instead of paying to store it all, make some extra room in your garage and your budget with a yard sale.

Check Your Credit Score – Make sure all of your accounts are up to date with all three major reporting agencies, and look for any erroneous entries.

An honest assessment of your finances along with a little creativity can go a long way toward a fresh financial start this spring.

December Poll reveals Canadians are concerned!

Knowledge Bureau shared the results of their online poll – “Are families in your community more worried about their financial affairs this Christmas shopping season compared to a year ago?” 78% said yes. Some comments were:

– “They have to curtail their shopping, as they are worried about the financial situation their families are in.”

– “I think everyone is worried about their financial affairs”.

Read more of the results here

Money Tools

Which is the best credit card for me? How do I find the best mortgage rates? What is the best way to protect myself from credit fraud? Canadians can now find answers to these questions on a website created by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. It features great tools such as mortgage calculators, tip sheets and resource links. It’s a great resource for Canadians to learn about financial products and services offered in the marketplace.

Our very own, Brian Denysuik, President & CEO of Creditaid, visited The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada last week in Ottawa and met with Jane Rooney, Director, and Roger Dowdall, Team Leader, Consumer Education, Financial Literacy and Consumer Education. They have developed some excellent material to help inform us of so many different things when it comes to finances. If you want to see some of these tools click here.

What would you do with a Million Dollars?

A new study reveals that 8 out of 10 Canadians said that if they won $1 million in the lottery they would pay off their debts.

The survey from the Canadian Payroll Association was released on Monday.  It showed some troubling signs for Canadians.  The most significant reveals is that the majority of working Canadians today are cash-strapped.  Living in a fragile state of paycheque to paycheque that greatly impacts their personal finances and the ability to put money away for retirement.

Read more here: Globe and Mail

Now may be an ideal opportunity to evaluate and take control of your finances by paying attention to the details:

  • Track and record all of your expenses
  • Review your expenses and make decisions to change your habits.
  • Set and commit to a goal – plan of action.
  • Seek expert advice when needed.