By Shawna McCrea
After being in the financial industry for 20-plus years I have found that the following steps can help you get your financial life on track.
The No. 1 priority is setting and sticking to a budget. I know. It’s not much fun, but how much fun is it living with financial stress? I strongly recommend that you—and your partner—select one day a month for your budget meeting. Maybe the 17th of each month? If you have a partner, it is really important to do this together. There is a real reason why lack of communication is the No. 1 contributor to marriage failure, and money can be the biggest part.
You can view your budget meetings just like operating a business. Businesses meet monthly to review their financial position, and so should you. During the budget meetings is also a great time to discuss financial strategy. As you come up with ideas or thoughts between meetings, just take notes and save financial discussion until the meeting. This will help with the financial stress between you as a couple or as an individual. Shelve discussions to budget meetings. Maybe you decide to reward yourselves after each meeting?
Here are a couple of Government of Canada websites to help you with budgeting:
• Managing Debt
• Financial Tool Kit
When completing your budget, are you unsure of how much to record in each area? This is a common occurrence, so not to worry. Start determining your spending and earnings now. Track everything you spend and earn for the next month or two. It is really important to clearly understand your cash flow.
You also need a good strategy for dealing with bills and payments. I strongly recommend only looking and dealing with them once a week. As you receive them, file them in a box or e-mail box and only open them up and deal with them at your scheduled weekly bill time. Maybe Thursdays at 7 p.m.? This will help you to not always live in that grey cloud space. Shelve dealing with bills to your weekly time slot.
Try really hard to avoid blame, and could’ves, should’ves and would’ves. Your financial situation today is just that—your financial situation today. Own it. You can turn this around. If you are a couple it is really easy to trigger reactions through body language. There have been success stories around sitting back to back to have these discussions to avoid those kinds of triggers.
Each person of a couple could have strong views of what and how things should be done. It is really important not to dismiss your partner’s ideas or suggestions right away. Walk through the idea like a business. “If we do what you are suggesting, let’s walk through the numbers and implications.” You might be surprised at what you discover together.
I know this is not an easy process at all and can be very uncomfortable until you have your financial budget in place for a while. Hang in there. Blue skies can be in your future if you choose to take control.
Shawna McCrea is the founder, owner and CEO of Balance Financial.
This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.
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