By Adrianna Notton
According to a recent report by Statistics Canada, Canadian household debt is continuing to rise. The report revealed that ‘The ratio of household credit market debt to disposable income rose to 149 per cent from 147 per cent in the previous quarter.’ It is now time for every Canadian to assess their financial state of affairs. If you are worried that your household finances may be vulnerable to a financial crisis, the following is a financial checklist to help you assess your household finances. By doing so, you can make the important changes to reduce your vulnerability in the event of a financial crisis.
Income vs. Monthly Expenses
Create a list of all of your fixed monthly expenses. This includes your rent or mortgage, vehicle insurance, personal loans, utilities, internet, cell phone, cable bill, health insurance, etc. Next, create a list of your ongoing expenses that can vary from month to month such as fuel, heating bill, entertainment activities, groceries, snacks, clothing, pet food, and any other expense. Total all of your monthly expenses.
List all of your sources of income and total the amount. Subtract your total income from your monthly expenses. Now, write down your occasional expenses such as birthday gifts, holiday gifts, vacations, etc. Total your occasional expenses and divide by 12 to get an average expense per month. This will just be an estimate as some occasions are more expensive and others. Subtract that number from the number you got after subtracting your total income from your monthly expenses. Is this a negative number or do you barely come out ahead? If so, you are likely not prepared for a financial crisis in your life such as a loss of job, sudden expensive illness, needing a new vehicle, etc. Fortunately, even if you are not ready for a financial crisis, you can start preparing now.
Budgeting and Cutting Costs
Since you have created a list of all of your expenses, you can look at thelist and figure out where you can reduce your expenses. For instance, there are many ways you can cut down on on-going expenses and occasional expenses. You can learn to be a frugal shopper which will cut down on your shopping and grocery bills. You can also find ways to cut down on how much you pay for gifts. In addition, you can cut down on fuel costs by carpooling, making a lunch at home to take to work instead of eating lunch at a restaurant, reduce your entertainment expenses by finding less expensive and even free entertainment activities, etc. Once you can see exactly where you spend your money each month, it becomes much easier to find ways to reduce your expenses.
After looking at your monthly expenses, you may find you have accumulated a lot of debt such as credit card bills, personal loans, vehicle lease, etc. If you have a lot of debt and are spending a lot of money on needless interest payments, you may want to consider consulting with a trained credit counsellor to learn about various debt relief programs such as debt consolidation.
During these lean economic times, it is more important than ever for all of us to learn to live within our means. By assessing your current financial situation and implementing a plan to reduce your expenses so you can build a savings account, you will be in a better financial situation if a sudden financial crisis happens in your life.
About the Author: Thousands of Canadians struggle with
each and every year. For non-profit credit counselling and
resources and tips visit Consolidated Credit; teaching consumers how to budget, get out of debt, and use credit wisely.