DIY Personal Finance: How to take control of your money

Are you ready to DIY your personal finances?

We all need a solid financial plan, to be able to maintain a healthy financial life and reach our financial goals. But many in Virden doubt this is something we can do on our own; we think we need to pay for financial advice and leave the decision-making to the professionals.

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But today there are a lot of great online personal finance resources, so that’s no longer true. You can gain control of your finances yourself and there’s no need to pay any fees for external help.

Even better? You can completely customize your approach. Create your own goals, select your own investments and go at a pace you feel comfortable with. The plan is 100 per cent personalized and led by you. Imagine the sense of accomplishment that comes from designing your own financial roadmap.

Financial literacy the basis of personal finance

Financial literacy is the foundation of money management. Once you understand how money works, 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.”

Would you consider taking an online financial literacy course? McGill University offers one for free. Open to everyone, it takes a few hours to complete and is taught by professors from the school’s Desautels Faculty of Management. You’ll receive a McGill Personal Finance Essentials attestation of completion after you finish all of the course modules.

Wood recommends another great tool for learning how to manage your money: the Government of Canada website. Here you can learn about budget making, banking, credit reports and credit scores, insurance, retirement and estate planning.

LoansCanada.ca is Canada’s largest personal loan comparison website; it too can help you make good financial decisions. The website provides multiple quotes from a variety of lenders; it can choose the best one and save you time.

A step-by-step approach to achieving better financial health

Learn how to create a budget. Budgeting allows you to track and control spending so you can see where every dollar is going and make adjustments. As the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, having an emergency fund is essential; budgeting is what makes an emergency fund possible.

If you don’t know where to start, check out Mint, a free online budget tracker and planner. YNAB (You Need A Budget), personal budgeting software based on The Four Rules principle, is another excellent resource. Both can help you get organized and put an effective system in place.

Next up it’s time to start investing. Investing can seem intimidating if you’re just starting out but it’s a key component of financial planning. It allows you to grow your wealth and help you reach your long-term financial goals, especially retirement or saving for your child’s education.

Open up a tax-free savings account (TFSA) either online or in-person at your local bank. Try using a robo advisor, if you’re comfortable with online banking. Online investment management services like Wealthsimple or WealthBar are both easy to use.

Debt management must also be addressed. It’s important to start paying down your debts and only take on new debt you can actually handle. Good debt can increase your credit score.

You can always seek the services of a credit counsellor. They can assist you with basic budgeting, credit health, credit improvement and creating debt repayment plans. Should you need to pursue a more drastic option, such as debt consolidation, debt relief, consumer proposal or bankruptcy, they can advise you.

Remember, there is no shortage of help available. Start with the resources listed above and reach out for help if you need it. Managing your financial future can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

© Virden Empire-Advance