Ten Tips to Regain Financial Control

Ten tips to regain financial control

It’s fall and we all know what that means – the holiday season is around the corner. This can be the toughest time to budget, especially for those of us who were never very good at budgeting in the first place. You still have time to get ahead of the game and prevent losing control of your dollar bills before the Christmas chaos.

Here are 10 ways to make sense out of your cents:

Stop the budget bleed: Set one day aside to sit down and figure out where your money is going. Start an excel spreadsheet or just grab a plain sheet of paper, and list your income on one side and your expenditures on the other (use the past 6-12 months of bank statements to help you). Account for your daily, weekly, monthly and annual spending. If you have money left over, then the most sensible thing would be to put that into a savings account for Christmas or even for an emergency. If you are at a minus, then you will need to evaluate all your expenditures and create a budget.

Stop digging the big money hole: Are you spending on what you need or what you want? Food, shelter, clothing and transportation are needs. Everything else is a want. You need a phone for work. You want the latest version of the best smartphone. You need good quality basics for your work wardrobe. You want the newest fashions. You need three meals a day and a snack or two. You want to bar-hop every weekend. Separate the needs from the wants and scratch the “wants” off your list, or at least set them aside for your “your treat-of-the-month” (see next step).

Treat-of-the-Month: Regaining control of your money is not about total denial. It is about saving where you can, to spend on what you really want. Indulge yourself in planned increments. Try a treat-of-the-month club: save money for that splurge and enjoy it, instead of throwing money away on constant unplanned purchases.


Direct deposit into multiple accounts: Open savings accounts and use your bank’s direct deposit option to put money aside for Christmas, retirement, a vacation, a home, a car or your monthly treat. When the money goes right into these accounts, you don’t see it and are less likely to spend it.

Use the banking method that is less convenient to you: If using a credit or debit card is way too handy (and doesn’t feel like ‘real’ money), then put the cards away and make a set withdrawal of cash each week. For example, withdraw $100 for the week and do your best to make it last the whole week. If cold hard cash burns right through your pocket, then you might want to limit yourself by using a prepaid credit card with a $ limit.

Avoid paying the bank: Make sure to pay your bills on time, especially credit card bills. Interest rates can range from 18% – 25% and that can add up fast. Try to find a bank with low or no chequing fees. And always make sure you have enough money in your account before you make a purchase. Those NSF charges can really hurt!

Eating well is a priority but become a savvy grocery shopper: Fresh berries in winter are desirable, and asparagus in November sounds delectable, but out-of-season produce, individually portioned meats and poultry and snack-sized dairy products are expensive. Learn to read prices (unit price per ounce versus product price), buy in bulk, and shop around for good grocery deals. Sign up for grocery apps such as Flipp where you can browse the flyers of your local stores. If you are lucky enough to have a farmer in your area, then cut out the middle-man (i.e. the grocery store) and go right to the source, as that should save you a few dollars.

Shop your basic expenses: Review your car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, internet, phone and cable. Can you bundle your services? Check competitor’s costs, call your providers and ask if they can do better. Look at the small print; if the fees they charge don’t make sense, ask for explanations. Every penny counts!

Start extreme couponing: There are coupons everywhere and everyone is using them. It’s no longer just your mama! Check out sites like Groupon, Save.ca, Websaver, etc. for good deals and coupons. Many large grocery chains offer digital coupons to use at the checkout if you sign up for their loyalty program.

Line up the loyalty programs: Almost every large store has a loyalty program. Unfortunately, most require that you provide some personal information during sign-up. While this loss of some privacy annoys some would-be users, you can beat the system by setting up a general email box so their ads and reminders don’t clutter your regular inbox. Loyalty programs provide advanced access to savings and special sales or in some cases even cash back!

If you can regain your finances before Christmas then you’ll be in a good position to just relax and enjoy the festivities as you won’t have to face those credit card bills in January!


The secret to saving money and being happier this Christmas

Save money be happier this Christmas


As Christmas sneaks up on us, good intentions of saving money melt like snowflakes, and this “merry” time of year quickly escalates into a financial blow out. Then January rolls around and a nasty reality check arrives to hundreds of thousands of homes around the country in the form of a credit card bill.

In case you glossed over last week news, Canadians’ average consumer debt load is now up to $22,081 – that’s up 3.6% since last year! Eep! Canadians owe more than $1.7 trillion in total consumer debt – that’s not including mortgages. (If that doesn’t make you panic, read this post on why debt is a flaming emergency.)

Instead of starting off the New Year with a scary credit card statement, we want to share a secret that will save you money and make you feel happier this Christmas season: Mindfulness.



What’s the Scariest Thing About Halloween?

Halloween - scared couple hiding


Your empty wallet! 

The cash people sink on Halloween is absurd. The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates Americans will spend $8.4 billion on Halloween in 2016. Seriously.

According to Global News, Canadians spend $137 on average per person ($52 on a costume, $43 on decorations and $42 on candy). So if you’re a family of four, you’re looking at over $500. I don’t know about you, but I like my money to go a lot further than plastic spiders and sugar crashes.

Here are 5 smarter ways to spend $100.



What Is ‘Net Worth’ and Why Should I Calculate Mine?


What Is Net Worth - Money Tree

Net worth is any asset owned minus any debt owed. Everything you own falls under “assets” and everything you owe falls under “liabilities”. So if you added up the value of your assets (everything you own: home, cars, savings accounts, investments, etc.) and subtracted the value of all of your liabilities (debts such as: loans, mortgage, credit card balances etc.), you would have your total net worth. The calculation is simple:



Will I Get a Tax Refund?

Will I get a tax refund?


“Will I get a tax refund?”

It’s the most common question people ask us at Signature Financial. Simply put, if you didn’t pay enough tax throughout the year, you will not get a tax refund. Instead, you’ll likely owe the government money. (more…)