November 4th is National Common Sense Day! To kick off Financial Literacy Month, we've gathered our favourite, not-so-common, common sense financial tips. This advice is designed to get you on the right path no matter where you are on your financial journey. It's always a good idea to remember the basics of financial fitness.
1. Record your spending.
The first step to financial fitness is knowing your spending habits. Track your spending over a day, week, or month and see what your habits and trends are. You can track your dollars right in online banking, create a spreadsheet, or write them down in the notes app on your phone or in a journal for easy access.
You may be surprised how much you spend on certain categories and how little in others. Once you understand your habits and know where your money is going, it is much easier to alter them and guide your finances and spending habits in a different direction to meet your goals
2. Create a budget that works for you and suits your needs.
Does budgeting seem too overwhelming to start? Just remember: starting and getting organized is the hardest part. Once you've found a budgeting strategy that works for you, the rest is smooth sailing. It may take some time and seem like a chore initially, but the benefits lead to substantial and long-lasting results.
We've rounded up some of our favourite budgeting techniques and weighed the pros and cons so you don't have to. From helpful apps that calculate your spending for you, to a good old-fashioned spreadsheet; finding a budgeting option that works for you is the first step to financial fitness. https://www.crosstowncivic.mb.ca/blog-posts/stay-on-track-with-the-budget-system-that-works-for-you
3. Re-evaluate your spending and see where you could be saving.
Once you establish your initial budget, you need to consider what adjustments are needed or possible. This could include such things as:
Reducing your spending doesn't have to leave you with nothing. Cutting out your daily trip to the coffee shop may leave you some room to invest in a high quality espresso machine for your home!
4. Set up an emergency fund if you don't already have one.
Starting an emergency fund is one of the first steps to financial security. No matter how much you owe in student loans or credit card debt, it's always the right move to set aside an amount of money for just that: emergencies. A thousand dollars is generally a good start, but a little money set aside is better than no money at all. Ideally, your emergency fund should cover three months of your living expenses (rent, food, etc.).
You can put your emergency fund into a high-interest savings account to make inflation work for you and ensure your funds don't loose their value over time. Check out the FCAC's Financial Literacy blog for more tips on setting up an emergency fund: https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/savings-investments/setting-up-emergency-funds.html
5. Set up an efficient banking routine.
So, you've set up your budget, figured out where you can reduce your spending, and have started saving a little! Now it's time to start making your bank account work FOR you to make sure you're paying your bills on time and not paying any more fees than necessary.
This is where pre-authorized payments come in. You can set up automatic payments for your phone bill, credit card, mortgage payment, and even deposit a little into your savings account every month. Set up pre-authorized payments right in our online banking platform so you never miss a payment. Say good-bye to those nasty late fees for good!
6. Organizing your bank accounts.
Depending on your financial situation and objectives, it may make sense to have several bank accounts.
You can use different bank accounts for different goals. You can open multiple savings accounts for multiple savings goals. Nickname one of your accounts in online banking for that vacation you've been dying to go on, and open another to save for the home renovation of your dreams!
7. Ask your financial advisor about how you could benefit from an RRSP or TFSA.
Registered Retirement Savings Plans (or RRSPs) are the most popular way for Canadians to set aside money for retirement. The most important thing to keep in mind is any funds you put into an RRSP will give you a tax deduction in the year that you make your investment. While inside the plan, those funds will earn tax-sheltered interest, which means you won't pay tax on the money in your RRSP until you withdraw it in the future (presumably, when you retire).
In 2009, the federal government introduced a new tax-efficient way for Canadians to save money: the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) allowing you to contribute up to your accumulated maximum. Although there is no tax deduction allowed on the contributions (as in the case of an RRSP), the income earned in the account is tax-free and any withdrawals are tax-free. You can use the money in your TFSA to pay for big ticket items such as a car, home, or travel. Withdrawals can be made anytime, tax-free, and you can replace the money you take out of the TFSA the following year. As long as you are a Canadian resident 18 years of age or older with a SIN, you can open a TFSA.
8. Make at least the minimum payment on your credit card.
Credit cards can be confusing. To make sure you're not accumulating unnecessary and hefty interest charges from your credit card, make sure you're paying at least the minimum payment required each month. It's beneficial to pay more than the minimum payment whenever possible.
Making more than the minimum payment will help you pay off your entire credit card balance quicker. . As you use the credit card, you are borrowing money and accumulating a balance, which is then charged interest. Making more than the minimum payment each month will save you money and keep large interest payments at bay. This will also reduce your Credit Utilization Ratio and will likely improve your credit scores. Your Credit Utilization Ratio is the ratio of your credit card balances to credit limits.
9. Talk to your friends and family.
Talking about money with your friends and family is often thought of as taboo. Talking to the people you know and trust can often lead to gaining a different perspective and insightful advice on your finances. Talk to some people you trust about your financial goals about what you are working towards. They may even hold you accountable on your spending habits to help you save.
10. Think long-term.
Life is full of temptations and sometimes it's hard to say no to things you want in the moment. The problem is that short-term spending can really interfere with your long-term saving goals. It may be helpful to divide your savings between short term, long-term, and even longer-term goals.
The FCAC provides a great Financial Goal calculating tool, check it out here: https://itools-ioutils.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/FGC-COF/home-accueil-eng.aspx