25 Tips to Gain Confidence and Take Control of Your Finances in Uncertain Times

1. Develop a household budget – this should be shared and visible with everyone in the home.

2. Talk to your spouse and family about money. Honest and transparent conversations about money are key to building confidence. There should be no secret spending.

3. Calculate your net wealth; this will reveal all available assets and liabilities, so that you can make informed decisions.

4. Review your bank statements to understand exactly where your money is going and eliminate all non-essential spending. Examples of ways to downsize include things like downgrading your cable package, or reducing eating out, entertainment, and clothing purchases.

5. Contact all lenders to discuss relief options. This could include access to new credit, or expanding existing credit, mortgage deferrals, interest only periods, and interest rate reductions.

6. Defer your utility bills and student loan repayments. Even if your situation isn’t urgent right now, if you feel that you might be stretched thin in the future, then you can proactively gain as much economic bandwidth as possible.

7. File your tax return to get your refund AND to ensure eligibility for support programs. You don’t want to wait until you need support only to discover you missed steps to make you eligible.

8. Have a “no spend” day. Much of our spending is habitual, and adding dedicated days free of spending allows us to break those habits.

9. Review your credit report for accuracy. A well-tuned credit report opens the doors to better rates and terms, and these reports can often be incorrect and in need of updating.

10. Know your credit score and monitor your credit rating. This will help you prevent identify theft and ensure you can access credit if you need it.

11. Understand government programs available to you and apply for them. We as Canadians are lucky to have these resources available, so monitor these websites regularly to see if there’s a program that could assist you:

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update.html#temporary-wage

https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/maintaingrowimprovebusiness/resources-for-canadian-businesses.html

https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-supports-for-albertans.aspx

https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-support-for-employers.aspx

12. Make sure you are able to log in to critical government portals, such as Canada Revenue and Service Canada to access services. It’s much easier to apply for, and receive money from these resources when accessed electronically.

13. Know your interest rates and the cost of your debt. Interest rates are at an all-time low, so it’s a great time to shop around and save money on payments.

14. Organize the contact information of all your professional advisors – accountant, lawyer, banker, financial planner, etc. These people should be readily accessible and aware of your situation.

15. Organize your critical documents – mortgage terms, tax returns, investment statements, insurance policies, passport, birth certificates etc. These documents are critical for accessing services such as government assistance and lending – keep them secure and close so that you are not scrambling when you need them most.

16. Review your insurance such as disability, life, auto, home, business interruption, etc. Make sure that your coverage is necessary and complete; your life changes, which is why these policies should be reviewed regularly. Determine how this crisis effects the policy payouts.

17. Establish lines of credit if you don’t already have some. This includes low interest options such as overdraft protection, home equity lines, and business working capital. Remember to be responsible.

18. Review investment performance and compare results to benchmarks. The markets are volatile but many investors moved assets to protect against this crisis. Make sure you are aware of how your investments are doing, and don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion if your performance is below expectations or does not match your comfort level.

19. Understand the costs and fees you are paying for investments. The cost of investment management should always be disclosed. Ensure that you are comfortable with the fees you are paying, given the results you are receiving. Remember that your advisors can’t control the markets, but they should be providing you value above the fees they charge.

20. Go electric with all your bills and statements, and have a filing system. Staying organized is critical to knowing where your money is going and monitoring how you are being charged.

21. Learn everything you can about money. Subscribe to a podcast and follow financial experts on social media. Few people were born financial experts – start learning today so that you are confident tomorrow.

22. Prepare for a financial rebound – set financial goals and work with a planner. Use the energy of this situation to grow your skills and ensure a lifetime of financial fitness.

23. Stay in contact with your advisors, lenders, and anyone with financial literacy. These people can assist you with making decisions and identifying opportunities. You can go a lot further in your financial life when you have a great team.

24. Set up financial alerts with banks and advisors. You don’t have to remember everything or know everything – use financial monitoring to help you manage the job.

25. Monitor your mental well being. Financial stress can cause serious anxiety, and it’s important to talk about it. Share your progress with people you care about and celebrate the wins. If you’ve read this far – you have some great ways to start growing your financial health.