Tools to help you manage money and debt wisely

By Jane Rooney, Canada’s Financial Literacy Leader

February 27, 2017

Managing our money is so important, yet it’s not often at the top of people’s to-do list.

In fact, only 21% of Canadians said focusing on their financial goals was their main resolution for 2017, compared to 33% who listed fitness and nutrition, according to a recent survey by Ipsos.

At the same time, research tells us that Canadians rank money as the source of their greatest stress – more so than work, health, or family obligations. And we know that financial stress affects our mental and physical health.

For lots of reasons, it’s worth investing the time in improving our financial wellbeing.

In Canada, many people have low savings and high debt. Managing your money and debt wisely can be challenging. Where do you start?

The best way to begin is with a budget.

A budget tells you what money you have coming in and going out, and whether you have enough to cover your expenses. It helps you plan, save, and manage your debt. It’s what gives you a solid financial foundation and keeps you on track.

Our research tells us that less than half of Canadians (46%) have a basic household budget. Yet when people do have a budget, 93% stick to it almost all of the time!

So why don’t more Canadians budget? People tell us they don’t know where to begin.

We can help. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) has tools to help get you started so you can budget and manage your money wisely. Our tools are free, easy-to-use and provide unbiased information.

Budget Calculator

Start with our Budget Calculator. It gives you a snapshot of where your money is going based on how much you spend over a selected period of time. It helps you see if you have enough money to put towards your financial goals, or whether you’ll have to adjust some of your spending to cover expenses.

Once you’ve used the calculator, you can save your budget information as a spreadsheet or PDF file and review and update your budget. Your budget should change as life changes.

And once you have your budget, saving towards your financial goals becomes much easier.

Financial Goal Calculator

FCAC has a newly revamped Financial Goal Calculator. It helps you develop a personalized plan to get out of debt or save for other priorities, such as an emergency fund, education, a down payment on a house, or a holiday.

Whatever your financial goals, creating a plan and working towards it helps you get to where you want to be in a way that works for you.

Financial Literacy Self-assessment Quiz

Not sure how your financial literacy skills measure up? Take FCAC’s online quiz. Once you identify where you could improve your financial knowledge and skills, you can go on our website and use the different tools to help you learn more.  Or you can follow the links on your quiz results page to the Canadian Financial Literacy Database – a one-stop source for financial literacy resources and events provided by public, private and non-for-profit organizations across Canada. 

Mortgage Qualifier and Calculator Tools

If a new home is in your future, FCAC has a Mortgage Qualifier to help you determine whether or not you qualify for a mortgage based on the property you want, your income and expenses. Use the Mortgage Calculator to figure out mortgage payments and to get a payment schedule.

Credit Card and Bank Account Comparison Tools

Are you looking for a new credit card or getting one for the first time? Are you opening a new bank account or thinking about switching accounts? FCAC has tools to help you shop around. You’ll find a full list of all the options, with detailed, unbiased information to help you find the credit card or bank account that best suits your needs.

Canadian Financial Literacy Database

FCAC also has an online database, with more than 1,300 resources from FCAC and organizations from across the country. It’s a one-stop source of information on budgeting, saving, managing money, and fraud prevention.

Having a financial plan always makes sense. FCAC has the tools to help. Start managing your money and debt wisely by going to Canada.ca/It-Pays-To-Know.

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