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Hitting Reset on Your Finances for 2019

Hitting Reset on Your Finances for 2019

By Stacy Yanchuk Oleksy

January is such an interesting month – many of us feel a little heavier from eating too much food and sweets.

And it’s not a far stretch to assume that perhaps a few of us are also in a little more in debt due to the holiday season, spending more than we budgeted for.

Yet the beginning of the year is also a wonderful time to reset everything and start anew, hence the countless New Year’s resolutions that get made as the clock turns from 2018 to 2019.

Here are eight steps to help you hit reset your finances for 2019;

Reflect on 2018

We’re all another year older and so what were some financial highlights for you in 2018? Did you travel to some exotic destination that you’ve wanted to see for decades? Did you spend quality time with your kids or grandchildren and also manage to put some money into their education savings plan? Something else?

Also reflect on any financial challenges you may have encountered this past year. Did you spend more than your income and used credit to supplement your income? Did you incur any debt? Did you help a family member or friend out financially?

What financial lessons did 2018 teach you?

If we can take the challenges we go through and turn them into lessons then the experience wasn’t in vain. Did you learn to feel more comfortable saving for or spending your retirement income? Did you learn that you need to align your expenses with your income? Did you learn to say no to some things so you can say yes to the right things? Everything is a lesson if we allow it to be.

Assess your current situation

Did you stay within budget and things are good (code green)? Are things good and Christmas was just a little over budget and it’ll take a few months, but you’ll be on track soon (code yellow)? Or are things less than good and Christmas was just one more expense that you didn’t need and the stress is mounting (code orange)? Or are things worse than you hoped and you’re feeling too close to the edge financially (code red)?

Know your numbers

It’s easy to guess and either assume that things are better than they are or worse. When it comes to money, the facts are just as important as the feelings. So consider as part of your January financial reset, spending some time and getting your numbers down on paper. It can be stressful but once you know the facts then you can create a solution. The numbers you want include household income (after tax), assets (what do you own), liabilities (what do you owe on secured debt like a mortgage, car loan or HELOC – home equity line of credit), unsecured debts (credit card, line of credit, loan or payday loan) and your monthly expenses. With this information, you can now see where things are at with your finances.

Reassess your situation

Now that you know your actual numbers, are things better, the same or worse than you thought. Is your code orange really a code yellow because things are better than you thought? Or is your code yellow really an orange or red and things are worse than you thought?

Make a plan

Decide what you want and ask yourself these questions: by December 31, 2019, what do I want to accomplish financially? Why is it important to me to accomplish this goal? If I accomplish this goal, what will I gain? What will I lose if I accomplish this goal? Hopefully stress! What will happen if I don’t accomplish this goal? And finally, what is my first step? You don’t need to know the whole solution but if you can identify the first few steps, that’s all it takes.

Take action

Implement your plan. This may include tracking your expenses, aligning your income with your expenses, increasing your income or learning to say no to family and friends when they ask you for financial help. If you’re completely stuck or you think that the only solution for you is declaring bankruptcy, contact your local non-profit credit counselling agency and they can help you. They’ll look over your whole financial situation and give you options and referrals as required.

Celebrate your successes along the way and get support

January doesn’t have to be the most depressing month of the year. It can be a time for renewing and resetting our goals and our plans so we can enter 2020 with confidence and comfort that our finances are in good shape.

Stacy Yanchuk Oleksy is the Director of Education and Community Awareness at the Credit Counselling Society. She has a Master’s degree in Family Ecology, is a professional Coach and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance. She has presented at various conferences and has served on expert panels at University of British Columbia and Carleton University. She has published articles in Canadian Living, Vanier Institute for the Family, My Money Coach and Amik, and has been interviewed by CBC Radio, Global National, and the Toronto Star. Stacy has co-written two workbooks – Making Cent$ of Money and Money Management Basics – and has developed personal finance curriculum for various workshops and webinars. Stacy serves on a national financial education committee.

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