By Kirsten Stark
It’s Financial Literacy Month all across Canada and it’s the perfect time of year to review your finances and set your goals for 2016.
A good way to get started is to pick your financial literacy mantra for the coming year. It can be really simple, such as “I will reduce my debt,” “I will start saving,” or “I will get through Christmas without using credit,” but they can be much more powerful when a measurable goal is attached to them.
For example: “I will reduce my debt, the cable TV has been cut,” “My savings will grow without tobacco,” or “Christmas is my friend with no debt at the end.”
Have some fun coming up with your own ideas and encourage family and friends to find their financial literacy mantra.
Once you have your mantra, you will need to come up with a few specifics and often you need to deal with several things not just one.
Here is an example of how to plan your attack. You have already been successful in changing your regular spending habits, the cable TV has gone and the daily latte has become the weekly treat, so you have about $100 extra a month.
You want to start saving but you also have to pay off your credit card debt. You might want to try to do both at the same time.
Perhaps you need $300 in savings by June 2016. In this case, you increase your credit card payments by $50 and put $50 in savings every month. However, if you want $600 in savings by December 2016, you can focus on paying $100 extra off your credit card until June and then save $100 each month for the rest of the year.
It does not matter whether you are trying to increase savings, pay down a debt or manage a transition in your life, always plan, budget, track and review.
Then repeat the process, building on what worked for you and learning from what didn’t.
Budget for the life you want to live!
Kirsten Stark is a literacy outreach worker with the Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy.