Stress. We all have it and there are different causes. Relationships, work and health are probably the first ones that come to mind but 30% of Canadians claim financial stress as one of their biggest worries. THIRTY PERCENT! Credit Education Week runs until November 16th and last week I attended a money mindfulness retreat here in Toronto put on by Capital One Canada to learn a bit more about the topic and how I can take techniques I use for my own mental health and pain related issues and apply it to finances.
So what is it about finances that command so much negative energy over people? I have not been able to stop thinking about it since the event. Could it be because the topic of personal finances can be embarrassing, if you seem to not have your sh*t together? I would imagine most people would feel more comfortable not only speaking openly but actually doing something about their relationship and work-related stress. Whereas with financial related stress, I’m certain it just gets internalized. Combine that with procrastination in finding tools to proactively manage money, or worse, denial, and one can find themselves in a mountain of debt. According to a Capital One and Credit Canada Debt Solutions study, we worry about our finances every day for about an hour. Just to put that into perspective for you, that’s about the same amount of time we spend a day eating. So the question is, what are we going to do about it?
The goal of Credit Education Week is to help empower Canadians and give them the tools and knowledge to help mitigate financial stress. At the event last week, we got a chance to go through several activities to gain more insight on just how much financial stress impacts the daily lives of Canadians, which apparently ranks as the second largest day-to-day worry behind overall health. Followed by a series of mini workshops that included mindfulness, meditation and yoga practice with Joga House Founder, Jana Webb, that got me thinking about how I can approach my own money management in 2019. Never having student debt, multiple credit cards or poor spending habits, which I know makes me an anomaly, I am already ahead of the game I guess. However, there’s always room for improvement and I am down for anything that can help me reach my financial goals faster.
I’ll admit it, mindfulness and money conventionally aren’t two things that you would think should go together but once we got into the activities and a did a few mindful practices, it all started to come together for me. For those who aren’t really familiar with what “mindfulness” is, it really is just the practice of awareness. A heightened awareness, or simply being cognizant of why and how you’re doing something. Taking a mindful approach with your money combined with meditation or yoga can significantly lower the stress and anxiety around money. While I can give credit to myself for being fiscally responsible in terms of avoiding debt, I do love to shop. I mean, who doesn’t? The bad part is that lately I’ve been treating it like a legit pastime. Leaving the house to browse and shop without a plan or agenda, leading me to make a slew of unnecessary purchases, when I should be creating a list and only buying what’s on there. Sounds like the basics but you’d be surprised how many make the same mistake. There were tons of other valuable information shared but here are a few highlights that definitely stood out to me during the retreat that you may find useful:
Mindful Money Monitoring
Be aware of the numbers when it comes to your financial statements. Understand that the money going out must be lower than the money coming in. Be wise when it comes to paying off your bills, specifically when it comes to car loans and credit cards with revolving credit balance. Making minimum payments still incurs interest! Last but not least, understand the importance of having a good credit score because it really does matter. It can be the difference between getting a home (or not). Want to improve your credit score? Credit Canada Debt Solutions has some useful tips on their site. It’s also beneficial to keep track of it and Credit Keeper can help you do that. It’s a useful online tool created by Capital One that gives you access to your TransUnion credit score – for FREE. It’s refreshed weekly, so you can check your score regularly.
Get Comfortable with Budgets
Nobody likes to hear the word budget. I used to think that word had a negative connotation but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. My coach used to always say, “If you fail to plan…you plan to fail!” and having a budget is essentially having a plan for success. I am embarrassed to say this but Réjean and I don’t budget plan together so that is one of our priorities for the new year. I discovered some helpful tips on how to create one and a link to a free budget worksheet on Credit Canada’s website that you can find here.
It’s impossible not be successful when you set goals for yourself. Creating a budget for yourself, especially if it’s more on the strict side, can be easier to handle once you have an idea of the big picture. Set immediate, short and long term goals and you will probably find it easier to make scaling back on spending more manageable.
Getting your finances together can seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t need to be. Thanks to Capital One Canada and Credit Canada, there are some amazing resources out there to steer you in the right direction. With it being Credit Education Week (and 2019 right around the corner), there’s no better time than now to set some financial goals. To learn more about CEWC and to discover what events are taking place in your city head to www.cewc.ca.
This post is in partnership with Capital One however all views and opinions are my own