Does the idea of saving money and having financial freedom seem impossible? The average Canadian owes $23,000 in consumer debt and has at least 2 credit cards*. If you live paycheque to paycheque, this may be you.
But experts in financial education point out that no matter your income, a few changes to the way you’re living can make all the difference. It’s never too late to start to learn and reverse course, so that financial freedom can be in your future. If you’re still not convinced, here are a few simple ideas to get you started:
Pretend You Earn Less Than You Do
Give yourself a pay-cut. The goal is to put 10% from each paycheque into your savings account. The easiest way to do this is an automatic transfer from your chequing account to your savings accountevery payday.
Create a Budget
In order to stop living paycheque to paycheque, you need to know where your money is going. Creating a budget is simple with Google docs, or look into other online tools and sites to get started.
Build an Emergency Fund
Once you have your budget in place, review it and break it down into non-discretionary expenses (rent, groceries, utilities, etc.) and discretionary expenses (eating out, entertainment, clothes, etc.). See where you could cut down on discretionary spending and put that money towards your emergency fund. Even starting with just a little amount is great and helps you create a habit of saving.
It may be time to consider a lifestyle change. Consider moving to a smaller place. Cut gym expenses with a trip to the local park. Think about if you really need that brand new car or if a used one would work just as well.
Pay Down Debt
If you have a lot of credit card or unsecured debt, try paying the minimum on all but one of them and aggressively pay down that one card. Once it’s paid off, attack the next one. If you’re so deep in debt that you can’t fight your way out, consider consulting with a company who specializes in debt consolidation. They will help you negotiate your debt into smaller amounts that you can begin to pay off.
Don’t Forget Your Future
Putting at least 3% of your paycheck into a retirement fund is a great idea. If you get a raise, try putting it into a savings account and forget about it. You’ll be glad it’s there when you need it in the future.