It’s September and there is some optimism that we may be moving towards the end of life in a global pandemic. The Fall has always been a great time to go back to school on financial fitness, and this year it may be more important than ever. Here are some tips to help make sure your finances are fit and stay that way –
- Splurge, just a little
Many of us dealt with stressors that we didn’t even know existed, like not being able to see loved ones. That’s why we all want to live a little, but perhaps do it strategically so you don’t break the bank. Maybe have some celebratory days with a set amount that you can spend where you go out and do the things you’ve really missed.
- Revisit (or start) your budget
Having a budget is one of the most important ways to achieve a solid financial future. It might not be the most thrilling task, but it’s one that will give you a clearer picture of where you stand and how much you can truly spend. You’ll also be able to determine how much money you can allocate to your “live a little” fund.
While preparing your budget, first take a new look at your monthly bills and go through them line by line. You may have signed up for services you never really use or perhaps don’t remember requesting. Look for small, unexplained charges, fees, and add-ons, and the services that you can now live without.
- Maintain your credit
Your credit score is essentially your passport to financial opportunities. It can mean the difference between getting approved or denied for any kind of credit and can prevent you from getting the lowest mortgage rate. The good news is that you have a lot of control over your score. That’s why it’s important to always have good credit behaviours. The single biggest factor to having a good score is a timely bill payment history so never let a bill get past due. Be sure to know your credit limits and try not to use more than 30% of the available amount, don’t be tempted to apply for store cards just to save on your purchase that day, and before you cancel a credit card get advice.
- Focus on your high-interest debt
Always keep an eye on your high interest debt and pay down your credit cards as much as possible. If you find that your debt is making things difficult, you may be able to move that debt to your lower-rate mortgage if you have enough home equity. You could save thousands in interest, have one lower monthly payment that greatly improves your cash flow, and enjoy much reduced financial stress.
- Spend time, not money
We’ve all gained a new appreciation of the value of being able to spend time with loved ones in person, that it’s something to treasure. Focusing on this may keep you from spending money you might not have or might not want to spend!
- Help others
There are many that weren’t very fortunate during the pandemic. Consider committing some money to giving back – charities, shop local, tip restaurant workers and others generously.