No one wants to retire in debt. But if you are one of the growing…
Financial literacy means having the knowledge so as to develop skills to make responsible financial decisions. Not all of us were taught these skills when we were young but it’s never too late to reassess how we manage our money.
To help Canadians better understand their finances, the Federal Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) dedicated a month to financial literacy. The FCAC joined forces with some public, non-profit, and private organizations to designate November as financial literacy month in Canada.
According to the FCAC,” Financial literacy is having the knowledge, skills, and confidence to make responsible financial decisions.“ Unfortunately, only 29% of Canadians have taken personal finance courses to learn how to better manage their money. The 71% without financial education often learn about money management from their parents or from other sources like the internet.
Personal finances are changing very quickly in Canada and around the world. Some of the changes are because of technology. Other issues that impact your finances right now include inflation, war, and climate change. As a result, you might feel you need help handling your money. This is because some of what applied to money management in the past are not relevant anymore. A recent survey showed only 29% of Canadians think they are in a good place financially. Of those with children, 33% feel they aren’t setting a good financial example for their kids.
Unfortunately, a lack of financial knowledge can lead to poor money decisions. Poor money decisions include overspending or borrowing too much money. Canada has the highest personal debt levels among the G7 nations. Our household debt is now 185% of disposable income.
Financial illiteracy can result in financial stress by being unable to meet your monthly expenses. A government study revealed that simply having a budget can provide you with an enormous financial advantage. The findings show the significant financial impact of budgeting by comparing those with a budget to those without:
|Canadians with a budget||Canadians without a budget|
|Spend more than they earn||18%||29%|
|Borrow to cover a shortfall||31%||42%|
|Fall behind on expenses||8%||16%|
The goal of financial literacy month in Canada
November’s annual financial literacy month in Canada can help you learn good financial habits by:
- Helping you make sure you can financially provide for your own needs and your family’s needs.
- Teaching you to manage your money so you can invest in your future and your children’s futures.
- Knowing your rights and obligations as consumers and borrowers.
Having a month dedicated to financial literacy allows you to take advantage of the many resources available to help you better understand and manage your money. You’ll find information about personal finances, debt, and consumer protection.
Personal finances are at the heart of financial literacy. The main topics covered are:
- Getting out of debt.
- Planning for your future by saving and investing.
- Your rights as a consumer of financial products and services.
Financial literacy month in Canada provides resources to help you with budgeting. A budget is important to help you understand your finances. It clearly shows you your income, savings, expenses, and debts. You can create your budget with an online budget planner, use a budgeting app or an Excel spreadsheet, or use pen and paper.
Although a budget can tell you a lot about your financial habits, only 60% of Canadians have one. A budget is valuable because it shows you exactly how much money you have coming in and how much you’re spending.
Income can include your wages from a job, a side hustle, investment income, rental income, as well as other sources. Government benefits are part of income, too, such as the Child Tax Benefit, Canada Pension Plan, and Old Age Security.
Some of your expenses are the money you spend to maintain your lifestyle. Your living expenses include food, fuel, cell phones, insurance, and entertainment. Debt repayment is also part of your monthly expenses.
Using a budget will help you determine whether you have money to save and invest once you have calculated your income and expenses. Saving is a crucial part of money management. Having savings allows you to pay for emergencies without borrowing and to invest in your future.
In 2022, the main focus of financial literacy month was debt. You’re not alone if you’re carrying a large amount of debt. Unfortunately, Canada’s high cost of living has made debt a way of life.
Debt can be a tool to improve your personal situation. Still, it can also cause stress, especially if you have difficulty making payments. Additionally, debt repayment can drain your finances and leave you short of money for your monthly expenses, emergencies, or to save for your future.
Borrowing can quickly get out of control. This is particularly true if you use credit to buy things you don’t need or can’t afford.
On the other hand, with inflation skyrocketing, you might be using credit to cover your basic expenses. Unfortunately, borrowing often leads to a borrowing cycle. A borrowing cycle leaving you short of cash because your credit payments keep increasing, which, in turn, leads you to borrow more.
Some of the resources financial literacy month provides are intended to:
- Help you get out of debt.
- Lower your interest rates.
- Borrow wisely.
- Find a balance between your expenses and repaying your debt.
You’ll find strategies to help you become debt free such as:
- Reducing your expenses to put the money you save toward debt repayment.
- Switching your debt to products with lower interest rates, such as a line of credit.
- Consolidating your debt into one loan or line of credit to have fewer payments.
The FCAC requires banks to follow certain practices to protect you. Some examples are:
- They must provide clear, easy-to-understand information about their products and services.
- You have the right to open a bank account if your identification meets the requirements.
- You can cash a government cheque with the correct identification.
- The bank’s complaint-handling service is required to address and resolve your issues.
- The bank cannot sell you a product without your consent that you have accepted the product.
How Financial Literacy Month can Help you
Taking advantage of the resources available during financial literacy month in Canada is a fantastic way to understand your money better while learning good money habits. You’ll get a better idea of how much money you have coming in, how much you spend, what you owe, and if you’re on track to meet your future goals.
If you have more debt than you can manage, help is available. The Licensed Insolvency Trustees at Adamson and Associates offer a free consultation to review your finances and present solutions for your debt load, including Credit Counselling, Consumer Proposals, and Bankruptcy. If you’re ready for a fresh start, please reach out to Adamson and Associates at 519-310-JOHN (5646)