Set Your Finances up for a Stellar 2017

Date posted: Jan. 6, 2017
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Photo Credit: Brigitte Tohm

 

Now that 2017 is upon us, you’re probably being inundated with blog posts, news articles and Facebook posts about how to be better, fitter, richer and more productive. The sheer volume of the advice available can be overwhelming and makes it easy to shut your computer and quit without even attempting to see any goals or improve yourself in any way.

When it comes to your finances, most of these articles focus on ways to transform your finances by setting aggressive goals, living uber-frugally and working many extra hours. But you don’t need to reinvent yourself to have a financially prosperous 2017. Here are four easy to-do’s to set your money up for success in 2017:
 

Set Goals

Take a look at your finances and consider what goals you’d like to achieve in 2017. Is it finally paying off your credit card debt once and for all? What about building up an emergency fund, so you don’t have to rely on credit or loans when unexpected expenses come up? These are great goals to have.

Once you set a goal, you’ll need to consider how to achieve it. How much money will you need to put towards your goal per week or per pay period?
 

Create a Budget

Once you’ve set a goal, you’ll need to adjust your existing budget to reflect that goal. If you don’t have a budget, create one. To create a budget, start with your income at the top and then list out all of your expenses including rent, utilities, car payments, and variable spending like groceries and entertainment. If you aren’t sure how much you spend on your variable expenses, track your spending for a month for an accurate estimate.

Once you have your expenses listed, you’ll know how much money you’ll have left over each month to achieve your goals. If you don’t have enough money left to achieve your goals, consider cutting expenses to balance your budget.

Creating a budget at the beginning of every year is an important financial to-do that many Canadians neglect – don’t be one of them!
 

Check Your Credit Report

It’s important to check your credit report at least once a year, and I always check mine in January as a matter of routine. Checking your credit report is important for two reasons:

First, you get to see if your credit rating has gone up or down. Your credit rating is a measure of your creditworthiness in the eyes of lenders. The higher your credit rating, the better interest rates you’ll be able to secure with lenders and the more credit you’ll be able to obtain.

Second, you’ll be able to verify that there are no errors on your credit report. Your credit report contains a list of loans, bank accounts, and credit accounts that are attributed to your name, and you should check it once a year to make sure the only information on there belongs to you. A misattributed overdue credit card could drag down your credit score – no one wants that!

You can check your credit score for free through two companies in Canada: Equifax and TransUnion.


Negotiate Interest Rates

Once a year you should call all of your service providers and lenders and negotiate lower rates. Whether it’s your internet service, cell phone provider, credit card company or line of credit, at least once a year you should attempt to get a better interest rate or services rate.

By ensuring you do this at least once a year, you’ll be able to keep all of your expenses and interest rates as low as possible.

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