✔ The darker, winter months can be tough but there are steps you can take towards a brighter future for the year ahead.
✔ Don’t let money be the source of your stress. Making a list, setting goals, and simply getting started are the best ways to set yourself up for success.
✔ You don’t need to go it alone. Asking for help and getting advice from the experts can be major stress-busters.
January can be a challenging time in Canada. It’s cold. The days are short. New Year’s resolutions are beginning to feel like a chore and the holiday bills have started showing up. There’s not much you can do about the weather but if you’re feeling stressed out about money there are steps you can take to gain control and put your mind at ease as you head into the start of a new year.
You’re not alone
Many Canadians are feeling some kind of financial stress. According to a recent Pollara study[i], people are feeling pessimistic about their finances, with “46% expecting their household income to fall behind next year and only 8% expecting to get ahead”. But this doesn’t mean you need to feel discouraged. There are ways to deal with stress and anxiety about money that can put you on the path to greater confidence for the year ahead.
Talk to your family and friends
Talking about money stress often provides some relief because you learn that other people may have the same challenges and feelings that you have. By sharing your struggles, you may get motivation from others to take simple steps like starting to save or pay down debt. Be sure to start with family members because they can offer you the most support and likely will be the most affected by your finances. By getting them on board with your plans they can help make it easier to stay committed to your goals.
Know where you stand
Knowing where your money goes can give you a great sense of control and confidence. Start by making a simple list of all your monthly expenses, including:
✔ Rent or mortgage payments
✔ Transportation, gas
✔ Utilities and subscriptions
What you owe:
✔ Credit cards
✔ Line of credit
Seeing your expenses on one page can help you visualize the money problem you’re trying to solve and give you a better sense of control over how to fix it. Learn more about how to build a household budget in four easy steps.
Slash unnecessary expenses
Scour your list of expenses and ask yourself if there is anything you can live without for a few months or even the entire year. For example, shop for a cheaper phone plan and give some thought to household services you’re paying for that you can do yourself.
Focus on realistic and achievable habits
It’s not realistic to think that you can slash your expenses, pay off all your bills, and start an emergency fund in one month. Thinking that way is likely to add to your stress. Instead, pick one short-term goal that you can achieve quickly. Early success will help you feel better about your willpower and motivate you to achieve more goals. Try one of these:
- Cut a small amount out of your expenses by giving up one thing you can live without like a specialty channel on TV or an app on your devices.
- Open a free high-interest savings account and set up an automatic transfer from your chequing account on days you get paid. Start with as little as $20 a month just to develop the habit of saving.
Then, pick one longer-term goal and take the first steps. Here’s an example:
- Put one card away and don’t use it until the balance is paid in full. You may want to focus on the card with the highest interest rate.
For more healthy money habits that can help you achieve short and long-term goals, check out this short read.
Lastly, ask for help and get advice
Most money challenges can be tackled over time with the right combination of a good attitude, some basic planning skills, and advice from people with experience dealing with debt. Taking a short-term personal loan or consolidating your debts to create one manageable payment may be the answer. To explore your options please reach out to your local easyfinancial branch or give us a call at 1-888-502-3279. We are here to help.
Disclaimer: This content is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial advice on any subject matter.
[i] Pollara Strategic Insights. Economic Outlook 2024. Conducted December 2023. Released January 2024. Source.