Take the DIY Personal Finance approach with your money

Did you know you can DIY your personal finances?

We all have plans for the future. We want to have healthy finances and reach the financial goals we’ve set for ourselves. This requires having a good financial plan in place. Yet many Weyburn residents fear this isn’t actually achievable on our own; we need to pay for financial advice and leave the decision-making to the professionals.

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There’s an abundance of online personal finance resources available now, so that’s no longer true. It is absolutely possible to gain control of your finances yourself; there is no need to pay fees for outside help.

A bonus to this approach is that it is completely customizable. You can set your own goals, make your own decisions, select your investments and go at a pace you feel comfortable with. Imagine the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel designing your own financial roadmap.

The basics of personal finance and financial literacy

Financial literacy is the foundation of money management. If you understand how basic financial principles work, you can make better financial decisions in all three areas of personal finance: saving, spending and borrowing.

“There are countless free online resources available to Canadians looking to improve their personal finances,” explains Caitlin Wood, Chief Content Officer for Loans Canada and Rate Genie. “Consumers should check out the Government of Canada’s website as it covers many money and finance topics. With both Loans Canada and Rate Genie, we are always publishing content to empower Canadians to improve their financial knowledge.”

If you’re ready to learn, McGill University is offering an online financial literacy course. It is open to everyone, free of charge, takes a few hours to complete and is taught by professors from the school’s Desautels Faculty of Management. Once you finish all of the course modules you receive a McGill Personal Finance Essentials attestation of completion.

As Wood recommends, the Government of Canada website is chock full of information. You’ll learn everything you need to know about money management, including budget making, banking, credit reports and credit scores, insurance, retirement and estate planning.

LoansCanada.ca, Canada’s largest personal loan comparison website, is another great resource. It provides quotes from different lenders, chooses the best option for you and saves you time, helping you make good financial decisions.

Take these steps to better your financial health

Start by learning how to create a budget.This way you can track and control your spending, which is essential if you want to make smart financial decisions and finally gain control of your money. The COVID-19 pandemic taught us the importance of having an emergency fund and budgeting is the tool that makes saving possible.

To get started, try Mint, a free online budget tracker and planner, or YNAB (You Need A Budget), personal budgeting software based on The Four Rules principle.

Next up, it’s time to start investing. Investing is a key component of financial planning and it’s not out of reach, even when you’re just starting out; what’s most important is building the habit. Investing allows you to grow your wealth and help you reach your financial goals, especially those important long-term ones such as retirement or saving for your children’s education.

Open a tax-free savings account (TFSA) online or in-person. If you’re comfortable with online banking, you may also consider using a robo advisor. Online investment management services like Wealthsimple or WealthBar are beginner-friendly and easy to use.

Finally, put in place a plan for debt management. Start to pay down what you owe and only take on new debt that you can handle. Remember good debt can actually increase your credit score.

If you have any questions or need advice, reach out to a credit counsellor. They can help with basic budgeting, credit health, credit improvement and creating debt repayment plans. They will advise if you happen to need a more drastic solution such as debt consolidation, debt relief, consumer proposal or bankruptcy.

Start with the resources listed here and track your progress. Just remember there’s no shortage of help available if you want a second opinion along the way.

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