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.