Tips to help you take charge of your finances


(NC) If you struggle with your finances, you’re not alone. While many of us manage to keep up with bills and payments, a substantial portion of us face significant financial pressures.

According to the first national survey of financial well-being conducted by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, more than half of Canadians do not regularly save money to cover unexpected expenses. Moreover, one in seven often use credit to purchase basic necessities like food because their money has run out.

These statistics are a cause for concern for many reasons. Money worries can negatively impact a person’s mental and physical health, as well as their workplace productivity.

So, if you’re looking to improve your financial well-being, here are some tips to get you started.

Make a budget.

A budget is the foundation of financial well-being. It’s a simple and time-tested way of making sure you live within your means. If you don’t know where to begin, try the new budget planner from the FCAC.

This free interactive tool has tips and suggestions to improve your financial situation and allows you to create a personalized budget. It generates charts showing where your money goes and compares your spending habits with others in similar situations. You can save and update your budget online at anytime, or simply download an interactive spreadsheet.

Set up a debt repayment plan.

Once you have a budget, make a plan to pay down your debts and avoid taking on more. Include a list of all your debts, from the lowest to the highest. For each debt, track the amount due, the interest rate, as well as the minimum monthly payment required.

Have a savings plan.

Research shows that people who actively save have better financial well-being than those who don’t – regardless of income level. To create a savings plan, start by identifying your financial goals. They should include short-term goals like saving for a vacation, and medium-term goals like buying a house.

And don’t forget about those goals that may seem far off in the distance, like retirement. When it comes to retirement planning, the earlier you start, the better.

Be an informed consumer.

Another important step is to select financial products and services that best meet your needs. Shopping around is important, as is doing your research. This will help you make informed decisions. Look for bank account and credit card comparison tools that can help you choose carefully.