by Tim St Vincent
Finally, summer is here! Time to look back and time to look forward! Well, given what this year has been like so far, maybe we don’t want to look back so much, but we need to, as our past impacts our future.
I know, another article about COVID-19, but only partially. We have all been impacted by it – one way or another. Some of us have had our incomes reduced by it, some of us have actually had – if not our incomes increased by it – have had our savings increased (Really? Yes, really!) This is where we need to look back, in order to look forward.
Let’s look back and see how it has impacted us financially and ask ourselves some questions.
Has your income gone down? If it has, what have you done about that? Have you looked to your budget to see where you could trim back? Groceries are a key area where savings are possible. Studies have shown that if you focus on your grocery shopping, you can save 20 to 25 per cent on your grocery bill. Think of that: 25 per cent. That is like three months of free food! My wife is very good at this. She averages around 33 per cent. That is like 4 months of free food. Focus on shopping for items that are on sale, price matching and using coupons. Loyalty point programs can also be very good if there isn’t a high fee associated with it. If you want more details on how to save on groceries, or on daily household expenses, you can go to our education website at mymoneycoach.ca and sign up for free webinars on Food & Finance or maybe 75 Ways to Save.
Has your income gone down but somehow your savings have gone up? Many people are finding themselves in this unusual situation. This is because while income is down, expenses are down even more. For several months it hasn’t been so easy to hop out to grab a quick bite to eat or to go to the movies, play golf or even just go to the park. All these expenses are down. You aren’t spending as much on gas and maybe you have even saved a few dollars on your car insurance. The ability to spend our income, discretionary and otherwise, has been very limited. Because of this, many of us are seeing our savings go up while our income goes down! Very unusual.
This is also a great opportunity to look forward and to see what we can do with our increased savings!
If you are one of those fortunate ones whose savings have gone up during these challenging times, what to do? What are you going to do with your unexpected windfall? This is your chance to look forward. Generally when you run into unexpected money, we recommend you spend it! Yes, that’s right, spend it, spend it all, but spend it with a plan! Spend 40 per cent by putting it into your savings account, because your savings is just money that you are going to spend in the future! Spend 40 per cent by paying down your debt, and maybe take that last 20 per cent and go out and enjoy yourself. You deserve it!
These have been some challenging times for all of us. It isn’t over yet, but we can all work through this. Our physical health is very important. It is also important to make sure we take care of our financial health. If you are having problems, and many of us are, feel free to reach out the Credit Counselling Society and let us see if we can help.
Tim St Vincent is a retired CFP and is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance with the Credit Counselling Society, a Non-Profit organization. If you wish to contact Tim for a free workshop or webinar, have a question or would like to submit an article idea please contact Tim at 1-888-527-8999 ext 1330. You can also contact the Credit Counselling Society for further information or assistance at 1-888-527-8999 or visit www.nomoredebts.org or www.mymoneycoach.ca.