The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to review your finances. Hopefully, with the wild ride of 2020 behind us, 2021 is a time we can all move forward. Regardless of where you’re at financially or your financial goals, here are four areas to consider as you take control of your finances in 2021.
Take control of your spending.
If you really want to get ahead, you’ll want to take control of how you spend your money. You do this by getting clarity around how much money you have to spend (income), what you’re required to spend it on (expenses), and then everything else (discretionary spending).
Track your spending and come up with a budget using a spreadsheet. If that seems daunting, consider one of the many financial programs available online. If you’re looking for a little more direction, there are many independent Fee-Only Financial Planners in Canada who can provide you with personalized financial advice for a small fee. Any steps you take here will be better than not taking any steps at all.
Take control of your debt.
If you have debt, you’ll want a plan to get rid of that debt. Start by making a comprehensive list of all the money you owe, the amounts, interest rates, and payment schedules. The key to taking control of your debt is to know exactly how much debt you have.
Make the minimum payments on all your debts while focusing on zeroing the highest interest rate debt first. Once that has been paid off, don’t let up, roll all your payments into the next debt, and so on, until you’re debt-free. Once you’re debt-free, consider rolling all the payments you’ve been making to pay out your debt into your savings account!
Take control of your credit.
How you manage your existing credit determines the credit you’ll be extended in the future. If your goal is to purchase a property, you’ll want to make sure your credit score reflects a history of payments being made as agreed.
Now, even if you’ve made all your payments on time, your credit report might not reflect that, especially if you’ve deferred any payments due to COVID-19. Estimates show that at least 20% of credit reports contain errors. By regularly reviewing your Equifax and Transunion credit bureaus, you can ensure your credit reports don’t have any errors or contain information that might hinder you from getting credit in the future. It’s always a good idea to get out ahead of problems before they become problems.
Take control of your mortgage.
If you’re like most Canadians, paying off your mortgage will be your single biggest expense in life, while at the same time, those payments will help build your greatest asset; home equity. Ensuring your mortgage is working for you (and not the bank) is a crucial part of your financial health.
Take control of your mortgage by working with an independent mortgage professional to review your current mortgage and compare it to what is available on the market. If there is money to be saved, it should be saved. The goal of any mortgage should be to lower the overall cost of borrowing over the life of the mortgage. Annual reviews help you accomplish this.
In fact, with all the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19, mortgage interest rates are currently very low. Now might be a great time to renegotiate the terms of your mortgage, especially if you haven’t done that within the last year. There is no cost to review your mortgage. I would love to outline all your options!
If you’d like to discuss any of this, please don’t hesitate to contact me anytime.