We shouldn’t underestimate the positive impact that financial wellness has on our physical and mental health. Getting your finances set indirectly affects our overall wellbeing, work, happiness and relationships. In a recent FP Canada report, 41% of Canadians stated that money brought the greatest stress, resulting in side effects such as lack of sleep, headaches and the onset of serious health conditions.
When we experience physical illness, most of us have no problem with going to the doctor for help. After all, they’re professionals trained to cure our ailments. Yet when we encounter poor financial health, too many of us struggle alone, experiencing stress without considering seeking help. No matter what your financial situation, there is always help available.
Here are a few simple steps to get on the path to financial wellness:
makE a plan. Regularly Review It.
The single most important step to take is to make a financial plan. This ensures you know what you're spending your money on, how much you should be saving, how to pay down debt faster or if there are ways to cut their costs and save more.Take control of your finances.
First of all, sit down with all of your financial papers – your pay stubs, credit and bank statements and anything else that outlines your income and expenses.
Work out your total monthly income after tax. Then, make a list of all monthly expenses and divide them up between fixed and variables. Fixed expenses include mortgage/rent, utilities, phone/internet, cell phone, car payments and any debt payments.
Variable expenses are the non-essentials, such as dining out and entertainment. Look through the fixed expenses columns and see if there is any way of reducing the amounts. You may be able to lower payments on your mortgage, auto, home and life insurance on renewal, as well as your cable and cell phone contracts.
Next, look at any variable expenses you could lower or take out altogether. Make a budget that allows for spending on some variables but that commits you to a certain amount of saving and/or debt reduction each month and make those payments automatic. While saving for retirement should be one of your goals, growing an emergency fund is also essential.
It's ideal to schedule time to regularly to check in on your plan, and any adjustments that you may need to make to keep you on track to your goals. Be sure to revisit it anytime you're faced with a major life change too.
And remember, you don’t need to do all of this on your own. Help is available anytime!
Consult With A financial advisor
A financial advisor will review or build your financial plan with you to align it to the goals you hold to lead to financial wellness. By giving your advisor a full picture of your finances, they can devise a plan tailored to your situation. Here are some of the most important questions you should be asking them:
1. Is there any way to reduce my debt faster?
Your advisor will be able to look at your whole financial picture and see if there are ways to reduce the amount of interest you are paying on your debt. Options, such as debt consolidation, where all of your high-interest debts are replaced by just one, low-interest debt (such as a loan, line of credit or mortgage refinance) could save you thousands in interest. You would have more money available to pay off debt faster.
2. How much should I save in my emergency fund?
While you may have thought that you can’t spare any money for an emergency fund, this strategy is essential for keeping you in charge of your finances. In the future, you will know that you’ll have any large emergencies covered without falling back into debt. Your financial advisor can discuss typical emergencies that might happen and help you come up with a monthly savings amount that will work for you.
3. How much should I be saving?
This is a really difficult question to answer on your own. A financial advisor will be able to look at your income and expenses and work out how much you can save without it being too much of a stretch. They will also help you apportion savings to your goals (like your retirement or an emergency fund).
4. What should I do with any windfalls?
For many people, getting a raise, bonus or tax refund often means a trip to the Bahamas. An advisor will help you to better save large windfalls, so you reach financial goals sooner.
5. How can tax-sheltered accounts help me to grow my money?
Making the most of Tax-Free Savings Accounts, RESPs and RRSPs can be tricky. Advisors will look at your whole financial picture, including your current tax bracket, to work out which options will benefit you the most.
6. Can you help me with a spending plan?
Putting together a budget that dictates how much you can spend and on what, every month, puts you in control of your finances. A good advisor will help you put together a realistic plan that helps you spend less than you earn and ensures your long-term financial wellness.
Getting started on the path to financial and general wellness
With your input, our team will be able to put together a full picture of your financial situation. They will be able to answer all of these questions and more so that you can develop a financial plan that you can stick to. Book an appointment now and let’s help you take the first step to good financial and general wellness.
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