Why Now is the Time to Find Debt Advice and Set GoalsDec 20, 2016
Did your family reduce debt or seek debt advice this year? Are you ending 2016 in better financial shape or have your finances suffered due to economic strain?
Increased living expenses may be holding back some Durham region families from achieving their financial goals,, and some may be adding to debt to bridge the gap. Soaring hydro rates have become a burden for many Ontarians who report having to choose between paying their bills or feeding their families. In addition, the city of Ajax will be adding a tax hike of 2.5 per cent in the new year.
Increased monthly costs and growing debt are causing serious concerns for many families. According to a survey from the Canadian Payroll Association, four in 10 Canadians admit to spending all of — or more than — their weekly paycheque to keep up with their debt. This is why it is important to look ahead to the upcoming months and make a plan to deal with existing financial concerns before they become too difficult to manage.
Set goals now for a financially healthy new year
Finances tend to get overlooked during the holidays, which can lead to unexpected bills in January and debt that is tough to pay back. Consider setting goals now to give yourself a sense of direction before the new year arrives. You might think twice before adding to your debt over the holidays. Here’s how to set SMART goals for a financially healthier 2017:
- Be specific. Do you want to reduce debt this year or build a savings fund? Start an emergency fund or contribute to retirement savings? Deciding what you what to achieve is a start, but you’ll also need to identify specific goal(s) and make a plan to accomplish them. Will you look for more work to earn more money? How much money will you need each month to achieve these goals? Use this worksheet to assist you in setting short- and long-term goals.
- Make it measurable. You’ll need to adjust your budget to include your new goals. How much money can you allot to these goals each month? The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) Financial Goal Calculator can help you figure it out. You can also use a financial app like com to track your progress.
- Keep it achievable. Set the stage for success by ensuring your goals are attainable. If your goal seems like a distant target, you may be likely to lose steam before you reach the finish line.
- Be realistic. Keep realistic expectations when setting goals. For example, losing 10 pounds in a week isn’t very realistic. However, setting the goal to work out 3-5 times a week and eating healthier meals will help you see results and achieve your goals realistically. You can apply this to your budget by making better choices each day that help you meet your end goal. This might include finding ways to save at the grocery store or reducing the amount of take-out meals you buy in order to add to your debt payments or savings.
- Set a timeline. Adding $6,000 to a savings fund over the course of a year will require you to put away $500 each month. Ensure you are setting a realistic timetable for achieving your goals and don’t forget to celebrate the milestones along the way. If reducing debt is your goal, set a clear timeline of how long it will take to pay down debt and how far you’ve already come. This will help you maintain momentum.
Is your debt holding you back?
It’s difficult to reduce your debt or add to your savings if you’re allocating a significant amount of your paycheque each month towards debt repayment. In this case, your first goal should be to find debt help. Visit one or two financial literacy websites like the FCAC or Practical Money Skills Canada to learn about debt relief strategies. Then, if necessary, you can get personal debt advice from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) in Ajax. A LIT will explain to you all available debt options, helping you choose the one best suited to your individual situation.
Taking the necessary steps to make a plan now is important. Whether you want to deal with debt, get debt advice, or update your savings plan, you can improve your financial health in 2017 if you set your financial goals now.
Could your family finances be improved by seeking debt advice? Have you given thought to your financial priorities for 2017? Talk to others about setting SMART goals and achieving financial stability on Twitter. #LetsTalkDebt #BDOdebtrelief