Fabulous Frugal Finds

Look Debt In The Eye {#MyMoneyVision}

Here’s the thing. When I say I don’t have time for a run, I know darn well if I really wanted to find the time to run – I would. When I say I’d love to read more but there just isn’t the opportunity to do so, I know that if I dedicated time to it, I could find ways to pick up a book while at my kid’s activities (a half hour here or there). I know this because I’ve made that change and am currently reading Stephen King’s newest novel. The running still hasn’t happened. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge (yes, that’s a Dr.Phil-ism) and when it comes to debt, it’s a big black hole for some people who may feel overwhelmed. Out of sight, out of mind – throw the minimum payment in the black hole of debt and we don’t have to deal with it, right?

Capital One Canada and Credit Canada Debt Solutions have partnered for the 13th year in a row to bring Credit Education Week (Nov 12 -15, 2019) to life across Canada. This year’s theme is #MyMoneyVision and is designed to help Canadians open up about their financial struggles and to envision and take steps towards a healthier financial future.

November is financial literacy month, and serves as a reminder to build a positive relationship with your money and face your financial fears. For some of us, it’s an opportunity to set realistic financial goals that we can stick to.

A recent survey by Capital One Canada and Credit Canada reveals some positive results about Canadians and how we manage debt – six in 10 Canadians (57 per cent) are meeting their debt reduction goals this year. The most popular financial goals in Canada are: #1 Paying off monthly credit card debt (26 per cent) and #2 Saving a percentage of their monthly income (19 per cent).

I’m sure many of us share these same goals and work to tackle them every month, but the survey also revealed that we need to be more open about our worries. In fact, 57 per cent of people said they felt overwhelmed and stuck with their financial situation, and 49 per cent said they felt isolated and alone with their financial woes. We know that in any situation, suffering in silence just makes the cycle continue.

Debt sometimes carries a stigma and the first step to eliminating that stigma is to talk about it. Fifty-one per cent of Canadians surveyed said they dread opening bills (curiously, I had to wonder… does anyone actually enjoy opening a bill!?)

My advice is to begin by opening up to someone about your finances, whether that be with your spouse, a parent, a best friend or someone else you’re close to in your life. Discussing it with a loved one can be helpful so you have someone to be a sounding board and who can offer their own tips and advice and keep you accountable to your goals.

My money vision began with a wakeup call I had this summer. With kids going into grades 10, six and three, it slowly dawned on me how short the time was between my son starting tenth grade and the start of his post-secondary education. Suddenly, the RESPs we’ve dutifully contributed to yearly have become real. They’re not just a “someday” fund for when our kids grow up and go off to university. That “someday” is now on my doorstep and I have to admit…I freaked out a bit about it!

While I’ve already established good financial habits like paying off our credit card debt monthly and being frugal with my grocery shopping, I knew there were plenty of other opportunities to start saving a little bit more and spending less. Capital One suggests you track your spending and identify areas to cut costs on an ongoing basis, and it’s advice I apply often in my own financial life. It’s easy to start off strong sticking to a budget, and then fall off during tempting moments, like the holiday shopping season.

For example, restaurant meals and take-out are a big expense monthly that I use as my “treat yourself” excuse, but I was being more generous with that than I needed to be. I’m reigning that in now! My husband and I have discussed it and we’re going to remind each other of that money-saving promise when either of us suggests taco Tuesday or a quick drink and appetizers at the local pub.I contribute to RESPs at the end of the year once I’ve established how much savings I accumulated through the year (being self-employed means that varies annually). This year, instead of letting my own saving habits dictate how much I contribute, I’m instead making a solid dollar amount commitment to use for RESPs in December. It’s up to me to figure out how to replace those savings if they dip.

All of our situations are different, and all of our money visions will vary. If paying off debt is something you struggle to tackle, and it feels like a never-ending cycle, there are tools and resources available to support you. Talk to trusted people in your network or consider meeting with a Certified Credit Counselor who can help you make a plan to tackle debt and bring your MyMoneyVision to life! Check out the Credit Canada website (https://www.creditcanada.com/) to learn more about the available resources and tools to help take control of your finances!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in partnership with Capital One Canada. All opinions are, as always, my own.

132 Comments

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  • I’ve often thought that teaching personal finance and budgeting in high school would help innumerable people avoid financial pitfalls later in life.

  • I’ve learned many lessons about debt the hard way, but I’m happy to say I’ve taken control over it. It’s never easy, but totally possible.

  • I find that it is a lot harder saving money these days as everything is so expensive now and standard of living is higher. I always tell my younger sister to put a little bit of her pay cheque in savings so she could always use that money in the future and grow it!

  • we are never too old or young to learn some financial lessons in life…..my parents were great examples for us so share the wealth of financial knowledge if you can!

  • I also agree that the topic of finance should be taught in high schools, perhaps even as early as grade school. It needs to be ingrained in our children that money needs to be managed well!

  • Kid need to be taught about money and finance to help them avoid getting into too much trouble in their adult life. The stress of money worries can be responsible for you not enjoying much of your life.

  • Being a single mom I have had to be careful of where I spend my money and I have taught my kids the value of money. It’s never to early to learn that.

  • Call me old school but I don’t have a credit card. If I don’t have the money, I simply don’t purchase it. If I really need something, then I find a way to get the item that I need and if I can’t, then I go without. I am on a fixed income and credit card companies consider me a high risk and rightly so. The more you charge up on the cards, the more of that high interest is accumulated. I’d rather go without than pay some company all that interest on something that I purchased months ago.

    Being on a limited fixed income also makes it very difficult to save money having barely enough money to carry me throughout the month for that rainy day that always looms around the corner.

  • My father only had grade six and he taught me about how to budget my money. He also taught me to do my own taxes too. I am thankful for him that I can manage my budget. This is an amazing post with a lot of great tips.

  • If I can teach my kids one thing in life will be about keeping good credit and how important it really is 🔥🔥🔥🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌 awesome post thanks I’ll be sharing with my friends as well 👏👏👏

  • It took us 5 years to eliminate our credit card debts We have had another 5 years of paying off the balance each month, meaning no interest accrued. We doubled our mortgage payments after the credit cards were paid off. It can be done, once you realize how debt restricts your freedom of choice.

  • It is important to have a strong support system If you buy something on a credit card and only pay the minimum monthly payment by the time that article is paid off you have paid 3x the price This is why I always pay off my card monthly.

  • Great advice, thx very much for sharing!
    It’s very important for children to learn at an early age the importance of saving money and not overspending or getting into credit card debt.

  • Yes, it’s definitely very important to track where your money is going. Most earn a decent wage but those Starbucks coffees every day for example add up to a huge amount in a month. My son-in-law didn’t think I’d survive without financial help after my divorce. I have proved him wrong by being frugal and now have a savings that will one day pass on to my children.

  • We really need to not keep our kids in the dark about finances. Having open discussions to teach them how to be responsible, how to save and how to spend! They do not need to hear about family financial situations and stresses, but allow them to see how earnings are used.

  • I wish I had a financial education when I went to school and I wish I had handled money better than I have during my life. I’ve been in quite a bit of debt and have thankfully pulled myself out.

  • yup i am apart of that 57%. doesnt help that I dont work, and really I cannot wait for the day that i can. my oldest is in therapy as she is on the spectrum and with her schedule its hard to hold a job during the week during the day. i would have to work evenings and weekends but then i dont get to see hubby and i would feel guilty leaving hubby with all three girls. but thankfully we have his mom to turn to for help or advice and we manage to get by

  • Managing your money is such an important skill to have! My wife and I had a similar conversation a few months ago about “treating ourselves” with eating out etc and how we need to manage that better!

  • Thank you for your honesty! It is nice to read about how people, not just me, tend to justify actions with excuses. Yes, if I really want to do something, I WILL make it happen. Little amounts of money always will add up to bigger amounts, so all those extra little treats I tend to think I should have….well,they will snowball into an ugly amount real quick! Time goes by even quicker, so start watching how you are spending your hard -earned money NOW! Thanks so much for the information!

  • Solid advice for developing good lifelong spending habits. Don’t know if it’s possible to be reminded of these too often!

  • They should teach this stuff in school. Learning about financials at a younger age would definitely benefit many people as they grow up.

  • When I left home and went to university I was inundated with credit card offers. They even would set up booths on campus. A lot of people I knew got several and I often wonder how that worked out for them!

  • This is great advice and like you we pay the cards off every month but we get our free points towards other purchases which is a great way to save money

  • Thankfully I’ve avoided getting into a serious debt situation,but have known people this information could have really helped.Thanks for the info.

  • Yup, so important to make sure your kids know how to deal with money and spending and saving. Mine took a little of it in grade 10 but I think it was just the very basics.

  • Yes, it’s very hard when the bank is constantly throwing money at you. They see your house worth and say how would you like to spend it. You need to see someone who doesn’t encourage you to spend.

  • I struggle weekly and it’s hard, I am on disability and have absolutely no benefits, and I rely on my husbands pay to do everything, pay the monthly expenses and all the bills, the money I do get covers our mortgage, so yes there is times where I have fallen behind on the bills just because we didn’t have it, and my teeth are a mess and I can not afford to even go to the dentist, being a grown up sucks big time!

  • I’ve always been fascinated with finances. My ex brought a ton of debt to our relationship when I was 16. I turned his bad situation around. I’ve never accumulated credit card debt and luckily my husband is of the same mind frame. Now we are really pushing to save for our future and for our children’s education. Its important to clear high interest debts first, consolidate if necessary. Living debt free doesnt have to be a dream it can be reality.

  • It’s so easy to get into a hole with the cost of living. It’s a matter of needs and wants, and I try teaching my daughters what is important.

  • Basic budgeting should be taught in school. It is way to easy to get credit and get the balance to high to pay off at once. Payments seem small but it costs you a lot more in interest.

  • I’ve always tried to be careful with spending and avoiding interest charges by paying off my credit card bill in full every month.

  • debit scares the hell out of me. I work more to pay off my debt after my husband died suddenly and I get nailed big time on taxes. The middle income can’t win.

  • Great article. We are focusing quite a bit on household finances these days with DD so she starts to understand how much it is to have a home/food/clothes. We are also starting to talk about money in ‘how many hours of work’, eg, if we go to dinner tonight, that’s 2 hours of me being at work, and suddenly having dinner at home is often more appealing.

  • Being European, I have struggled with applying for a loan (not to “get approved”, but to accept that I needed financial help). I paid off my 1st car loan after 9 months, as I couldn’t get used to the idea that I “owed” someone (the bank) money & I had to make monthly payments. It didn’t make sense to pay off the loan – the financing was 0% – but I did it & felt free again.

    When I got my mortgage, I realized I am “tied down” for life, but I got used to it. I pay as much as possible, so I pay it off faster. Getting a loan for my new car was a necessity. I have never missed a payment. I pay off my credit cards in full.

    I grew up without credit cards – you never spent what you didn’t have. That is instilled in me to this day. This isn’t to say I don’t ever feel like I’m struggling financially – but when that feeling kicks in, I watch what I spend, so I don’t fall through the cracks. Fewer shopping trips, fewer getaways, etc.

    I am really glad that I have a full-time job & hope that my health will continue to be good, so I don’t ever have to struggle financially.

  • Such a wake up call as teens prepare for college! Thanks for the reminder to stay the course. Would hate for my daughter to bear a burdensome college debt!

  • Such an important conversation to have with my kids I’m discovering. They feel the need to spend every penny they get. Teaching them to save and buy with a purpose and not compulsively is so important. Thanks for the tips.

  • Lots of great tips ! My best tip is never carry debt from one month to the next on a credit card . I pay mine off every single month .

  • I love the tip about tracking your spending and identify areas to cut costs on an ongoing basis! My dad thought us that you don’t spend what you don’t have, credit card were for convenience and emergencies. Now a days credit cards are for rewards and savings for emergencies. I’m pretty frugal but I don’t track my spending, I’m sure I could find way to reduce my spending. Money management should be though in school!

  • with 4 kids I admit we do struggle with finances, we do what we can and try to stick to our budget, but unfortunately not much goes into savings

  • We learnt the hard way when our first child was born, thankfully we soon learnt how to budget sensibly and managed to get ourselves out of the hole we dug pretty quickly!

  • Very important topic, Its hard to get on track especially if you have credit card debt. Once I got debt free, I said never I would never have a balance, and kept this, I make sure the cc bill is paid off each month.

  • Great financial advice. With the Holidays just around the corner it is a time when many people tend to overspend. I find that creating a budget is helpful.

  • I am trying to teach my kids about budgeting and finances now so that they will be more literate as they go into adulthood.

  • I definitely wish I would have started saving at an earlier age, before I had mortgage payments and kids…but it’s never too late to start.

  • This is a great post. We had our troubles with finances for a long time after we married but we are doing pretty good looking after things now. Kids today need to learn so when they are older they don’t end up in financial troubles.

  • I can imagine saving regularly as a self-employed person is hard – I love that I can contribute automatically off my paycheques!

  • I think that ignoring the problem because it is overwhelming is the also the largest part of the problem! At least this has been my personal experience in the past!

  • I am SOOO thankful for parents that taught me to be responsible with money. As a result, we’re one year from paying off our mortgage despite living on my part time income after starting our own business a few years back. I think this is great to be teaching and encouraging.

  • Teaching about finances should begin as soon as the kids are old enough to earn an allowance. Financial troubles will make life very difficult. There is a ton of help out there to teach one how to budget and live within your means.

  • My kids are ages 6-11, and since so much money transactions are ‘invisible’: tapped, clicked or emailed, I find it hard to teach them about money management. I’ve intentionally given them some cash, as well as transfer funds into their own accounts and let them purchase some items using their own debit cards (that I keep) but also have off limits savings accounts for each of them.

    For myself, I have some high interest savings accounts and have an automatic saving programmed to transfer funds into special accounts for education, kid activities, vacations and vehicle expenses from our Child Tax Benefit deposit. Since those funds never hit our chequing account, it’s easier to save when it’s out of sight.

  • I hate feeling as if I am constantly living pay check to pay check. It’s easy to see why people fall into debt – I often have to rely on my credit card just to make it through the end of the month!

  • I find writing down what we spend and then reviewing it every few months helps to see where we could add to our savings. Five dollars here and there for coffee or lattes seems like nothing at the time but really adds up over a few months. That money would look way better in your savings account. It shows you the big picture of where your money is going and then you can make changes by cutting back on the extras.
    I agree that it really makes things real when your children are in high school and you look at how much money you have saved compared to what you will need for them. The time sure flies by.

  • I’m trying to raise my kids to my financially smart. Learning to save, value of a dollar and needs vs wants. I think it’s important to start them young. I didn’t get taught to handle my money when I was younger and learned the hard way. Of course it doesn’t hurt to ask someone who’s a professional for advice!

  • I agree with Alison Braidwood,s comment whole heartedly. I’ve often thought that should be a course that was taught from very early right to the end of high school. And I also think it should be a compulsory subject rather than an elective.

  • I started talking to my kids when in high school about budgeting, debt and other financial matter. Glad to say my young adult son has listened to what I said and doing so well managing his money! My teen daughter, graduating in 2020 has been getting same talks/advice and i am sure will be like her big brother!

  • We are both seniors, we are in this situation with debt. I am more a saver and conscious of what needs paid etc. than my husband who is a spender and never looks to the future…. drives me nuts!! Credit cards are terrible with interest rates the way they are…hard to get ahead living on a small income. Living paycheck to paycheck and retired. Just getting my husband to agree on help would be a challenge and a fight.

  • It can be way too easy sometimes to just avoid thinking about your debt but it is really important to make the time to set some realistic goals this is a great reminder thank you

  • You never know when an unexpected expense will hit it is so important to save. I was taught young to be smart with money and it has served me well. (I so wish schools would teach finances). But taking a $10,000 hit out of my pocket on completely unexpected dental surgeries sure hurt when I’m frugal with vacations and money in general and the most expensive vacation I’ve ever been on cost $3000!

  • Home economics needs to be revamped & brought back for girls and boys . It was not just about meal planning but whole household ,creating a workable budget. It just needed to be updated to today. My Dad was very good at handling money and was never in debt. Sadly he didnt teach us . Dad would wait till he could pay cash , he was a patient man.

  • We want to start teaching our daughter financial literacy asap. I’ve seen it tear families apart, it is so damaging when finances get out of control.

  • While we do a lot in my home to reduce/avoid debt, part of the issue is generating more income. We’re currently a one-income household. Extra dollars would be a great asset.

  • i do really need to budget and stop spending money of buying food from restaurants and actually buying food from a grocery store and making it myself. I do put money away in a few of my accounts and setup auto deposits to my RSP and TFSA, it’s a slow progress but it’s better than nothing

  • It’s VERY helpful to track your spending and REALLY see where your money is going. 100% there is SOMETHING you can cut back on or set a budget for!

  • Debt is one of the things I find my family tackling, especially being on maternity leave right now things are a little tighter than normal.

  • We all need to learn how to save and budget at a younger age. I have taught my children and they both have healthy bank accounts and only buy what they need.

  • surprisingly it can be just giving up the littlest things that can make a difference ..even though those little things might be hard to give up it can be so rewarding financially

  • It is a hard conversation sometimes, but friends and family need help too, not just yourself. Debt kinda creeps up on you and before you know it, it is out of control.

  • I think its difficult for people to realize they have an issue with spending, sometimes its not even compulsive spending and just spending to get by. I think a budgeting class in high school should be mandatory

  • Having good financial habits is very important! Managing finances can be overwhelming, but good thing there are so many good resources out there.

  • In my early 20’s I accumulated a lot of debt but now that I’m older I have learned from it & balance my budget in a much better manner. Trying to teach my teen so she doesn’t make the same mistakes.

  • I had an amazing high school math teacher that went off curriculum and did a unit on personal finance. I learned a lot, and one of our optional assignments was to start an RESP with a monthly deposit of $5-10. He told us to double it each year, until we eventually reached 10% of our income. It was great advice that really helped set a financial foundation.

  • As a single parent, I have tried to instill the value of being financially independent, but, I think it’s harder for the younger generations.

  • Being able to budget is such an important life skill. It still amazes me that this isn’t taught in high school. I wish I had a more solid foundation of knowledge when it come to money matters. Learning “the hard way” isn’t fun. Asking for help if you’re in trouble financially is really hard to do, but things tend to get better once you ask!

  • Thanks for the great tips and some wonderful advice. It is a struggle to stay ahead of everything especially with the rising costs of living.I stay ahead of it but I watch where my weak spots are when shopping or going out to eat and remind myself of how hard it is to pay it back. I have an awesome credit rating right now and I want it to stay like that.

  • Definitely learned some lessons over the years about debt and there are mistakes I never want to make again. It is important to talk about it if debt is something you are dealing with, there are ways to get it paid off.

  • Great advice… having solid financial knowledge is so important. I definitely need to take advantage of all the tools and resources out there too.

  • After my husband passed away, I was a little (no, a lot) shocked to know what kind of financial trouble he put himself, and me, in. I thought I knew everything, but didn’t. Now I am trying my best to get it under control.

  • Thanks for reporting on this very important topic. I think the most important advice is to seek out help or assistance. Financial matters can be scary and asking for help is often required.

  • People need to admit they are having financial trouble and seek help as it is out there. So many feel ashamed and just keep going on the hamster wheel getting nowhere but deeper in debt.

  • So important to acknowledge when there is an issue so you can start working on solving the problems. We are on our way to teaching my daughter how to be more financially aware as well so she hopefully doesn’t have the same issues later on in life.

  • We must be taught how to budget. Many people don’t think of the small things that take a big chunk out of their finances. Educating oneself and discussing finances with industry people is a great idea.