How does one DIY their personal finances?
We all need a solid financial plan, especially if we want to maintain a healthy financial life and reach the goals we’ve set for ourselves. Yet many in Midland doubt we can achieve this on our own. We leave the decision-making to the professionals and pay for financial advice.
But there are so many excellent online personal finance resources available now that this is no longer necessary. You can gain control of your finances yourself, without having to pay any fees for external help.
Imagine the sense of accomplishment that comes from designing your own financial roadmap. You can have 100 per cent personalization. Set your own goals, select your own investments and go at a pace you feel comfortable with—complete customization.
How financial literacy affects personal finance
To make well-informed decisions with your money, you need to achieve financial literacy. It teaches you how money works, so you can make better financial decisions in all three areas of personal finance: saving, spending and borrowing.
“There are countless free online resources available to Canadians looking to improve their personal finances,” explains Caitlin Wood, Chief Content Officer for Loans Canada and Rate Genie. “Consumers should check out the Government of Canada’s website as it covers many money and finance topics. With both Loans Canada and Rate Genie, we are always publishing content to empower Canadians to improve their financial knowledge.”
If you’re interested, McGill University is offering a great online financial literacy course. It’s available for free and open to all. It takes a few hours to complete and is taught by professors from the school’s Desautels Faculty of Management. After finishing all of the course modules, you’ll receive a McGill Personal Finance Essentials attestation of completion.
Another great tool for learning how to manage your money is one Wood recommends above, the Government of Canada website. It’s packed full of information on budget-making, banking, credit reports and credit scores, insurance, retirement and estate planning.
LoansCanada.ca, Canada’s largest personal loan comparison website, is another resource that can help you make sound financial decisions. It pulls together quotes from an array of lenders and suggests the best option, saving you time.
How to improve your financial health
It all starts with creating a budget. A detailed budget tracks your spending and help to control it; it will show you where every dollar you make is going. Budgeting also allows you to build an emergency fund, which the COVID-19 crisis has taught us is essential.
There are a couple of great resources that can help you make smart financial decisions and gain control of your money. Try Mint, a free online budget tracker and planner, or YNAB (You Need A Budget), personal budgeting software based on The Four Rules principle.
Next, it’s time to start investing. This is an integral component of financial planning and a key habit to build. Investing makes reaching your financial goals possible (saving for your child’s education, retirement, etc.) and allows you to grow your wealth, making your money work for you.
If you haven’t already, open a tax-free savings account (TFSA). It’s an excellent savings vehicle for Canadians. You can set one up either online or in-person at your local bank. You may also want to try using a robo advisor. Online investment management services like Wealthsimple or WealthBar are easy to use.
Last, it’s time to get serious about debt management. Start paying down your debts and be sure to only take on new debt you can handle. Keep in mind good debt can actually increase your credit score.
Seek the services of a credit counsellor if you’re looking for advice. They can assist with basic budgeting, credit health, credit improvement and creating debt repayment plans. They can also help with more drastic solutions such as debt consolidation, debt relief, consumer proposal or bankruptcy.
Take hold of your financial future now. Start with the resources listed above and if you have any questions along the way, reach out.