Do you have what it takes to DIY your personal finances?
We all have certain goals we want to meet, which usually means we have a financial plan in place to get us there. We also want to be able to maintain a healthy financial life. Yet many in Innisfil doubt whether this is achievable on our own. We are so used to paying for financial advice and leaving all of the decision-making to the professionals.
But is this really in our best interests? Thanks to the abundance of online personal finance resources available, we can help ourselves. These days it’s entirely possible to gain control of your finances on your own; there’s no longer any need to pay fees for external help.
Imagine an approach that is 100 per cent personalized to your unique situation. You create your own goals, make your own decisions, select your own investments and go at a pace you feel comfortable with. What a sense of accomplishment you will feel designing your own financial roadmap.
Understanding financial literacy as the basis of personal finance
Financial literacy is something everyone needs. You are much better equipped to make good financial decisions once you understand the basics of how money works. It will help you 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.”
There is an excellent online financial literacy course available from McGill University. It’s free, open to everyone, takes a few hours to complete and is taught by professors from the school’s Desautels Faculty of Management. After you finish all of the course modules, you receive a McGill Personal Finance Essentials attestation of completion.
The Government of Canada website is another go-to resource, one Wood recommends. It covers all aspects of money management, including budget making, banking, credit reports and credit scores, insurance, retirement and estate planning.
Another site that can help you make good financial decisions is LoansCanada.ca, Canada’s largest personal loan comparison website. It provides quotes from an array of lenders and even suggests the best for you, saving you time.
Achieve better financial health step-by-step
First, learn how to create a budget. Budgeting is a useful tool for tracking where your money is going day today, as well as finding dollars you can stash away. A budget can help you create an emergency fund, something we’ve all discovered the importance of during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Try Mint, a free online budget tracker and planner, or YNAB (You Need A Budget), personal budgeting software based on The Four Rules principle. Both resources will help you make smart financial decisions and gain control of your money.
It’s also important to start investing; it’s the best way to see your money grow and have it work for you. To reach those milestone life goals, such as paying for your child’s post-secondary education or finally taking your retirement, you will need to invest.
Make sure you have a tax-free savings account (TFSA); it’s a great savings vehicle for Canadians. You might also want to try using a robo advisor. Online investment management services like Wealthsimple or WealthBar are easy to use.
Finally, focus on debt management. Begin paying down your debts and only take on new debt you know you can handle. Remember good debt can actually increase your credit score.
If at any point you need help, reach out to a credit counsellor. They can assist with basic budgeting, credit health, credit improvement and creating debt repayment plans. If a more drastic solution is required, such as debt consolidation, debt relief, consumer proposal or bankruptcy is required, they can advise you.
Take hold of your financial future and be proactive with your money. If you have any questions, remember help is always available.