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Tips to get your finances on track in 2017

finances on track in 2017With a new year comes new beginnings and new resolutions. Some resolutions are professional, like getting a raise or job promotion. Other plans, such as a long-anticipated vacation, are on the fun side. Either way, planning, completing and checking off most of your goals involves sorting out your personal finances.

Listed below are tips to help you turn your financial plans into solid actions.

Slim and trim your bills

One of your goals this year might mean travelling or contributing more to your RRSP or TFSA. To shave several dollars from your utilities back into your pocket, take stock of all your monthly and annual expenses.  This means examining how you use software and subscription services like Netflix, to your mobile phone plan. Here are a few examples:

  • If you can’t remember the last time you binge-watched a film or original series on Netflix, cut the cable on your subscription, share with friends or downgrade to a basic plan.
  • If you hit the gym occasionally, consider buying a day pass or pay-as-you-go plan rather than a membership.
  • Got a (few) retail credit card(s) you only used once to charge your morning coffee? Pay off the balances and cancel the activation – seriously, you won’t miss the dead weight in your wallet.
  • Have you been a customer with your phone plan carrier for several years? Consider asking for a loyalty plan. These plans can decrease your monthly expenses by 25- 33% a month.
  • Do you identify as a foodie? Enjoying a home-cooked meal 4 or 5 nights a week versus eating out can save you hundreds in food expenses a month. Invest in a few good cookbooks, quality cookwares and experiment!

 

Wrangling in your credit score and credit history

Keeping track of both your credit score and credit history is important to tackle short-term and long-term goals. Sites like Credit Karma can help you keep a close watch on your credit score and credit history for free all-year-round.  To maintain good credit, keep your balances low.  Make your credit card and line of credit payments in full and on time every month.

If you have more than one credit card, talk to a financial adviser at your bank or credit union about completing a balance transfer.  If you decide to go ahead with it, transfer the balance from the newest card to the oldest one.  An older card holds more weight in a credit history report than a freshly-activated one.

 Additional Tips

Consulting a financial adviser to get started on retirements savings, opening a TFSA, or before making any large purchases will do you more good than harm.  According to a December 2016 CIBC Holiday Spending poll, 28 per cent of Canadians plan to make paying off debts their top concern in 2017. However, only 26 per cent actually wind up budgeting for paying off debt.

Maintaining weekly, monthly, and annual spreadsheets old school style with Excel, through You Need A Budget‘s user-friendly software, and similar phone apps are all ways to keep track of expenses in 2017.