As you may know, I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. To my mind, if something is good for me, I should start doing it today if it’s in my power to do so. Waiting for some arbitrary date on which to implement something beneficial seems a little… stupid. Delaying means that I’m continuing with something not-good instead of making my life better as soon as possible.
But that’s just me. You do you as you see fit.
There are exactly 6 weeks left in 2022. You might to cast a thought or two towards the status of your money and how it’s done in the past 10.5 months. Are you happy with how you handle money? Do you think that there are areas where your habits & choices could be tweaked? If you could go back in time, would you make the same choices?
Most importantly, what have you learned about yourself from the way you use your money?
How’s your emergency fund? You really should be plumping it up. Inflation is still a bear and interest rates are going up. When the emergency lands, you’ll be grateful that your emergency fund is on the larger side. Make sure you’re adding a few dollars to your emergency fund every time you’re paid. It takes quite a while to get it to a five-figure size. Even if it’s only $5, start there and work your way up. More is usually better when it comes to having money in your emergency fund.
I have yet to hear anyone complain about having “too much money” when they’ve lost their job, or had to repair the vehicle they need for work, or had to wait for their sick leave benefits to kick in. An emergency fund is supposed to replace your income for a short-term period until you’re working again. No one really ever knows how long they’ll be out of work, so more is better when it comes to having money set aside.
And since no one ever knows when something will happen that will threaten their income, it’s best that you take action today. Do not wait for the next calamity to arrive before you start funding your emergency fund. Think of the people who lost their jobs when COVID-19 arrived in 2020. Want to bet that many of them wished they’d had an emergency fund in place to cover their bills while they were unable to earn their income?
Funding your retirement – TFSA and RRSP accounts
Maybe you’ve got a pension. Maybe you don’t. Either way, you should be saving for your own retirement. After all, a pension is simply a promise. Sadly, promises get broken. Just ask the pensioners who worked for Sears and Nortel. Those retirees did not get the money that they were promised. In short, these workers held up their end of the bargain by working for their employers for decades with the understanding that they would be paid a pension amount every month. To put it mildly, the employer did not come through on that promise.
Don’t let this happen to you! Start saving money for your own retirement, over and above whatever your employer has promised you. Every time you’re paid, shuffle a little bit of money into your personal retirement account. If you’re fortunate enough to have money for both, start with your Tax Free Savings Account and fill it up before you move on to contributing to your Registered Retirement Savings Plan. Despite their names, do not leave money in your TFSA and your RRSP in savings accounts. Invest your money in the stock market by using exchange-traded funds or index funds that are equity-based.
The sooner you invest, the sooner your money can start to grow. Take action today.
Once you’ve invested your money, leave it alone. If you’re more than 5 years away from retirement, then you’re investing for the long-term and you can safely ignore the Talking Heads of the Financial Media. The THFM are there to generate ratings for their media platform, not to give you a personalized assessment of your current financial situation. If you want that kind of attention, then hire a fee-only financial planner. You’ll pay the bill and you’ll have the assurance that her or his opinion is about your money circumstances. Again, hire a fee-only financial planner. Anyone else is probably just a salesperson who get a commission when you buy a recommended product.
Track Your Expenses
Where does your money go? How many automatic expenses go through your bank account or your credit card? How much do you spend with cash?
It’s my belief that knowledge is power. In order for you to be powerful with your money, you need to know how you spend it. Start tracking your money. Use an app. Fill out a spreadsheet. Pick up a pen and put it to paper. I don’t care what method you choose. The bottom line is that you need to know where all of your money is going.
Armed with that information, you’ll be able to figure out if your spending choices align with your life’s priorities. In other words, are you spending your money in the best way possible to get what’s most important to you?
Right now, we’re in an inflationary period. Everything is more expensive!!! The same dollar buys less today than it did last year. Given that reality, it’s vitally important that you’re satisfied that you’re spending choices reflect your goals. Unless you get a raise, it’s not like you have more money available for daily life. Winning the lottery, inheriting lots of money, and getting an insurance payout are not reliable or predictable ways to obtain more money. For most of us, we work – we get paid – we spend-and-invest our paycheques. Unless our paycheques increase, there’s precious little flexibility to get more money.
You give up time doing whatever-you’d-rather-be-doing to work and earn money. Respect your efforts enough to know where that money is going. Take action today and become intimately familiar with how, when and why you’re parting with your hard-earned money.
Slay the Debt Monster
We all know that it’s incredibly easy to get in to debt. Credit is everywhere! A few clicks on your phone, tablet, or computer and some creditor will be sending you a credit card in moments. Credit and debt are two sides of the same coin. You cannot go into debt unless someone has extended you credit. Alternatively, you can’t be in debt if you don’t use credit. See how that works?
If you have debt, then do what you can to get out. Maybe you take a second job and the paycheque from that job goes straight to your debts. Perhaps you start selling things that you don’t need or use anymore. Money from those sales goes straight to your debt. Do some batch cooking so you can cut back on eating out. There’s always the option of giving up subscriptions for a few months. Do you need all of your streaming services right now? Could you live with one of them for 2-3 months, then switch to a different one later? While they’re still only less than $20 each, if you have more than 5 streaming services then you’re spending close to $100 per month.
Take that $100 per month and throw it at your debts. Pick the smallest debt – pay it off first by adding the $100 to your minimum payment on that debt. Take that former payment and add it to the $100. Apply that payment amount to the minimum payment on the next smallest debt and pay it off. Now two debts are gone. Take those two former minimum payments and add them to the $100. Apply that amount to the minimum payment on the third smallest debt and pay it off.
This method works. You’re making minimum payments on all of your debts, except for the one that’s getting the extra money.
That’s it – that’s the post.
Hopefully, you’re doing okay. No one can predict the future, but I can promise you that tomorrow’s challenges will be easier to handle with money in the bank. Take action today and make the money moves that will help you to make your dreams come true.