10 Steps to Freshen Up Spring Finances

  1. Where are you now? Take inventory and file your income tax: What is your current situation? Note balances of savings accounts, debt, vehicle loans, interest rates, etc. Will you receive a refund or will you owe money this year? Income can go up or down with various tax credits, but not knowing and not filing is just plain stressful, so do not delay! Visit https://www.canada.ca to learn more.


  1. Set realistic financial plans: Avoid making financial decisions based on money not yet guaranteed, such as income tax returns, overtime pay, tips, commissions or bonuses.


  1. Create a paycheque planner: Plan your bill payments, spending and saving based on what your basic reliable total monthly income is, and the dates you are paid. If you have relied on overtime or credit to fill in the gap between income and expenses, you are not living within your means. You may need to take some creative steps to increase income or reduce expenses.


  1. Explore different options to pay down debt: sometimes we must make difficult choices. Generally, it is best to pay down the bills that impact our well-being first: rent, hydro, cell phones, car insurance, followed by debt, vehicle loans first, followed by highest interest, etc. Contact Credit Counselling Services at CCRC to review options and create a plan that’s right for you.


  1. Engage all household members in the solutions: Meaningful engagement is more likely to provoke action. I.e.: we can have a pizza night if our hydro bill comes in $30 less this month


  1. Online & Social Media: Trustworthy financial information is available at Financial Consumer Information Canada (fcac-acfc.gc.ca). Many helpful ‘do it or make it yourself’ ideas, tips, videos, and apps can be found on the Internet to help us save money but please use caution! Visit getcybersafe.gc.ca, before you surf.


  1. Talk to Your Bank: Ask your bank about fees, packages, and various savings products and even online tools that will help you stay on track and reach your goals. If you have debt, they may have solutions to ease carrying costs.


  1. Use Community Resources: there are many community resources that can be helpful to cut costs, your public library and other free or low cost events and activities listed on various local websites. Check out Peterborough Green Up for cost saving ideas on your utilities.


  1. Ask for help if you are struggling: Many programs exist to help those who are struggling. Your household may be eligible for subsidies, tax credits, rebates, etc. Don’t hesitate to ask. Calling 211 may be a good place to start to determine where to seek help in your community for your unique needs.


  1. Review Finances Monthly: A regular financial review night can go along ways towards financial wellness by helping you; monitor rising costs, pay bills on time, avoid over spending, track savings and avoid budget surprises.