To keep your bank account in order, follow my checklist so you can enjoy the sunny days ahead without the stresses of having money on the mind.
Rethink your spending methods
Cash is a tangible way of staying within your budget. Debit is convenient and provides a record of transactions to reference later. Credit cards offer great rewards — if you’re a disciplined spender — and also provide a history of your purchases. Being consistent with the method you choose will help you stay on track of spending.
Search for deals
Review your household bill statements and look for discounts and savings where possible. Opt for bundled plans such as family cell phone packages, for example. Work for a major company? Ask about corporate rates. Learn to be a bargain hunter.
Pay bills on time
Set a reminder one week prior for automatic withdrawals to ensure you aren’t charged insufficient fees. Pay manual bills on time to avoid late fees. Open statements as they arrive and once paid, write the amount and date down and file away. Don’t let household bills go past due.
Create a filing system
Set up a filing cabinet and label file folders with items such as Mortgage, Insurance, Investments, Utilities, Phone, etc, and get in the habit of filing statements regularly. Stay organized.
Pay off debt
Meet with a trusted financial advisor to determine a monthly budget and decide what portion of your cash flow can be redirected towards debt repayment. This year, skip the impulse purchases and focus on getting rid of your debt load.
Start goal planning
Take time to write down items you would like to save for. Prioritize from most important to least. Meet with your financial advisor to incorporate a savings plan that aligns your budget with the best savings vehicle for each goal. Become an active saver.
Check in regularly
Now that you’ve implemented a debt repayment and savings strategy within your monthly budget, it’s important to keep things on track. Checking in once weekly, or more often if need be, ensures you are actively working towards financial freedom. If you share finances with another, such as a spouse, keep checking in together so that you’re both on track to achieving financial success this year.
Heather Tarnopolsky is a Sun Life Financial advisor in Greater Sudbury.