We are coming up to financial planning week, Nov. 17 to 23, part of an ongoing effort by Financial Planning Standards Council to make financial planning a fundamental aspect of Canadians lives.
Reflect on your life goals and think in terms of short and long term goals. Consider your needs and wants. As you shop for the necessities or sometime luxury purchases, is your purchase a need or is it a want?
Communicate with your life partner and your family about money. Our life revolves around money; we should make the conversation about money a priority and an essential part of family life.
We teach our children about money from a young age and they learn the value of money and the importance of saving and spending from us. If we have a hard time with our spending habits, we may be passing on bad spending habits.
Talk to a financial planning professional who can help you make sense of it all. Certified financial planners are uniquely trained to help you translate your life goals into meaningful financial strategies and in seeing how these strategies are connected.
Get help creating a financial plan that looks at the whole picture. It is never too early or late to start a plan. You do not have to be wealthy to have a plan.
Where does your money go? Track your spending so you know where your money is going. Develop a strategy that works for you.
Some people use the envelope system to keep track of the bills that need to be paid monthly, example mortgage or rent envelope, utilities envelope, telephone and cable bill envelope.
Keep a separate envelope for larger annual bills like taxes, (income taxes or property taxes), vacation, or funds for a replacement vehicle.
Keep an envelope for fun spending—you need to reward yourself.
A monthly budget is another tracking system that helps you determine your net income, expenses and net cash flow.
Use an excel spread sheet for your in and out cash flow summary, or use a simple tracking system to make it work for you.
After using a tracking system, you will determine how much money is left over weekly or monthly for savings.
Surprise yourself with how you can squeeze out a little savings when you are accountable for every dollar spent. The daily coffee or lunch out several times a week can erode an otherwise well planned savings strategy.
Pay yourself first and start a savings and/or investment program. Even small amounts add up if you save regularly.
Pay yourself first means taking money otherwise not spent on the necessities of life and saving money instead of spending money on “I think I want that new purse, new shirt or on take-out food.”
Pay off debt, especially credit
card debt that comes with high interest rates. Keep your credit rating healthy and don’t forget to pay your bills on time.
With high interest rate debt, you are keeping yourself from achieving
financial freedom. You are also making credit card companies wealthy.
November is a good time to review our own financial needs and wants. Celebrate Financial Planning week by taking the time to review your finances and reflect on your own financial goals.
Doreen Smith is a certified financial planner with Capri Wealth Management Inc. and Manulife Securities Investment Services Inc.