Are You Financially On Track?

On the eve of every New Year, Canadians often set a New Year’s resolution. This annual ritual sets many people on the path of a fresh start as they end the old year with a positive outlook for the new. On average, six out of 10 Canadians will have a resolution to pay off their debt. However, 84% of Canadians will fail at completing their original plan. As we are now four months into 2016, are you one of the 84%?

Accountability is Key

When you know someone is checking in on your progress, certain choices that can negatively affect your financial health will be easier to avoid. Individuals who have money management, debt reduction or other financial related themes as their New Year resolution will need to work extra hard to stick to their objectives with the current economic situation in Canada, and Money Mentors is here to help hold you accountable. Now is the best time to start planning and making prudent decisions about your finances.

It takes a lot of self-discipline, time management, dedication, support, and reliable tools or resources for an individual to reach a comfortable financial position.

If your 2016 resolution is off to a rocky start, don’t despair! There are still nine months left of the year, and we have some tips that will help you stay focused on the task at hand and be successful at your financial goals in 2016.

1. Get Organized

Do you have a clear picture of where you currently stand financially? For example, take a look at your income, investments, insurance, assets and debt. If you do not know your current financial position, it will be hard to achieve your resolution.

2. Set Financial Goals

Goals will help you stay focused on what you want to accomplish in 2016; whether it is paying down debt, starting an emergency fund, or starting to save for retirement. Ensure you prioritize your goals, because realistically you cannot achieve them all at the same time. Finally, remember goals need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time specific.

3. Create a Budget

A good budget helps you to be in control of your money. If you are unsure on where to start, start by keeping track of all your incoming and outgoing funds. Create spending categories such as food, entertainment, credit card payments and rent. You may want to eliminate or cut back on certain purchases if your debt exceeds more than 40% of your income.

4. Start Saving

Start saving for your irregular expenses, emergency fund or towards retirement wherever you can. For example, if you receive a raise in pay at work or a tax refund after filing your 2015 taxes, you can save that money! Are there opportunities to cut back on some of your expenses or bills? Examples include cell phone bills, cable, unnecessary credit card interest, eating outside and grocery. Try setting aside one day each week where you do not spend money and save what you may have spent that day.

5. Pay Down Your Debt

Stop using your credit card unless you know you can pay for the purchases you put on the card before you get your monthly bill. You can also try talking to your bank to reduce your credit card interest rate. Always try to find some areas to cut back on in your budget so you can pay extra towards your debt, or into your savings. You could also generate additional funds by selling some things that you do not need. The New Year is a great time for a garage sale.

Always remember that nothing worth doing is ever easy. We are only in March, meaning you still have time to live up to your financial objectives. Rather than feel guilty or ashamed of your old habits, ensure you work hard to achieve your New Year’s Resolution and you will be set for financial stability in 2016 and beyond. If you would like to learn more about budgeting, tackling debt, or growing your retirement savings, our Free Financial Fitness Courses will provide you valuable advice.

Source: Money Mentors is the only Alberta-based, not-for-profit credit counselling agency. Through a number of services, we help families and individuals recover from financial crisis and move forward. From credit counselling and money coaching to retirement planning and community financial literacy, we are creating a healthier financial future for the entire province.