The last two years have been really weird, to say the least. Our entire world turned upside down, or should we say, went into quarantine. Everything changed from our work pattern to our socialization. Businesses floundered and were shut down while others survived by changing according to the times. Suffice it to say that the last two years have taught us a lot about the uncertainty of life and the need for saving in the good times.
Here are some things you should know about your finances to stay afloat in the future and away from trouble.
Revisit Your Budget
Although there is a vaccine, we are not over the virus yet. This is the perfect time to re-examine your monthly budget to cut back on unnecessary expenses. If you own two cars but rarely use one, consider storing one or using it for pleasure, saving you money on insurance. Would you mind sharing your gym membership or any other membership you don’t use?
Pay off debt with any money you save or set up automatic monthly savings into a TFSA or savings account that you can withdraw without incurring a tax penalty with any money you free up. In an uncertain economy such as we saw, it is necessary to have an emergency fund that can be used to bridge the gap when income drops. This emergency fund is a line of credit that needs to be repaid during good times to avoid the debt spiralling out of control.
Avoid Credit Card Debt
Credit card debt is one of the worst types of debt. Even though prime rates are at a historic low, unpaid balances usually carry interest rates between 15% and 20%. Getting the best interest rates on your debt can be achieved by consolidating your credit card payments under your mortgage or through a line of credit secured by your assets. Easy and payday loans have just as bad an interest rate as credit cards, so avoid them. Shop for the best deal by contacting your bank or credit union directly.
Beware the “Add to Cart” Button
As people isolated themselves from Covid 19, online sales grew astronomically. It is easy and convenient to buy online. Without stepping out of bed, we can instantly fulfill our wants and have them delivered within hours or days. Unfortunately, the easy access to everything from takeout food to pet toys has encouraged a spending spree. Consider taking a walk or calling a friend instead of checking Facebook or Amazon when bored at home. You can trade “retail therapy” for a more cost-effective alternative.
Track Your Spending
While you may not always spend the same amount on food, housing, telephone/internet, and transportation, there should be a typical average. You have to pay attention to extra costs. It is possible to connect your credit card or bank transactions to apps like Mint, developed by Intuit (the makers of Quickbooks), to view how much money you spend in each category each month. The use of apps like this makes monthly budgeting and tracking much less time-consuming and manual. If you constantly wonder where your money is going, try using one of these apps. You could also get in touch with an accounting firm if you run a business. They will keep an eye on all your income and expenses and inform you of those. An accounting firm can also help you with your taxes. Since they’ve been doing your books all year, they can easily and quickly prepare and file your taxes for the year.
Invest in Yourself and Your Skills
Consider developing new skills, learning something new, and achieving your exercise goals if you find yourself with extra time, as many others do. It will not only help you overcome the depression that often comes with too much free time and social isolation but open up a whole new world of possibilities for you. Courses are offered virtually free or for low prices everywhere. You can interact socially and develop skills and contacts by joining a networking group or Toastmasters. You have the opportunity to take advantage of these opportunities, so take the time to think about what you want your life to look like.
To make sure that you stay away from financial trouble in the future, you have to make well-informed decisions. You can only do that if you know everything about your finances. The income and the expenses. Try the above tips, and if in doubt, contact us. We’ll help you out.
Sohail Afzal, CPA, CMA, MBA
Sohail Afzal, (CPA, CMA, MBA) is the founder & CEO of GTA Accounting Professional Corporation. He is a highly experienced Chartered Professional Accountant and businessman himself and understands the challenges that many businesses face when it comes to cash flow management. As an experienced business consultant & tax advisor, he is helping companies grow by providing the technical, financial, and contractual information necessary for strategic decision-making.