We all have financial goals and issues, and while some are unique to each of us, there are a few that many of us most likely share at some point in our lives. With the kids back in school during the days, September is a great time to review your finances and get your goals back on track.
Last week I overheard a mother and son talking about goals for the new school year. Naturally, that got me thinking about my own kids, goals we’ve talked about, and how so many people see September as a new start to their year.
Maybe it’s the cooler temperatures that often accompany late summer and early fall, or, maybe it’s the back-to-school attitude that has put the pep back in our daily steps. Either way, in the spirit of new beginnings, I propose taking a moment to review your own financial goals and doing a little financial checkup. If you’re dragging your feet on moving your goals along, it’s time to turn over a new financial leaf!
We all have financial goals and issues, and while some are unique to each of us, there are a few that many of us most likely share at some point in our lives. With the kids back in school during the days, September is a great time to review your finances and get your goals back on track. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
Pay Down Your Debts ASAP
If that means you need to leave your credit card at home, do it. If paying down your debt also means you can’t buy your morning latte or a new pair of jeans right now (that you don’t really need), do your absolute best to resist those purchases and put that money where it needs to go (like your emergency fund or retirement fund). Leaving debt unattended to can mean bad things for your credit score, which comes with its own set of long-term repercussions.
Also remember, when you’re trying to pay down debt interest rates can be a real pain as they often lead to more debt! See if you can work out lower interest rates that may help repaying your debts more manageable.
Repair Your Credit Score
Do you know what your credit score is? If your answer is no, the first step is to find out! Once you know your credit score, take the proper steps to fix it (if it needs fixing).
If you’re always on time with credit or loan payments and pay balances off in full wherever possible, you’re already doing a good job. On the other hand, if you find it a struggle to meet your minimum payments, or you get letters in the mail saying your bills are overdue, now is the time to draft up a debt repayment plan and get your finances under control.
While some expenses can’t be cutback (like a mortgage), take a look at your other expenses and see where you can make some budget-friendly modifications. Things like your phone, cable and Internet bills can be adjusted (look over your bills for fees you’re unknowingly being charged for, or features you’re not using). Or, perhaps be a little more careful when you’re grocery shopping (quick tip: never go grocery shopping hungry!). Be sure to check your bank statements for fees, and know how much you pay for your investments (you’d be surprised to learn how many people don’t know they pay fees!).
Create a savings plan if you don’t already have one. Whether you decide to put your savings into a TFSA, RRSP, RESP, or another account (maybe all of the above!) it’s important to have a flexible plan that matches your needs now and changes down the line as your life and goals change. If you find it tedious or overwhelming to dig into your financial situation, it may be time to speak with a professional.
I know it can seem scary and daunting, but investing your money as soon as possible (and as regularly as possible) is one of the best ways to achieve your financial goals. For those that are already investing – ask yourself if you can increase your contributions. If you can, do it (think of all the compound interest…)! For those that don’t currently invest, have a plan to get started, take advantage of compound interest by getting started as early as possible, and thank yourself later (like when you’re retired and booking that cruise around Asia you always dreamed of going on).