Pay debts down
Start with the highest interest debt.
Paying off high-interest debt canincrease your net worth faster thansaving money.
“People will fight tooth and nail fora quarter per cent on a mortgage, butthey’ll pay 20 per cent on a credit card.
If you don’t pay the balance off monthly,you lose any discount on your saleitems,” says Tony McGoran, presidentof www.mydebtsolutions.com, a licensedonline credit counselling and debtmanagement agency in Alberta andBritish Columbia.
6. Learn the lingo
Know the meaning and value ofRegistered Retirement Savings Plans,Tax Free Savings Accounts, GuaranteedInvestment Certificates, High InterestSavings Accounts and RegisteredEducation Savings Plans. ThroughoutAlberta, public agencies, libraries,not-for-profit organizations, banksand continuing education programsoffer financial planning education.
Alberta Learning Information Serviceresources can be downloaded at no cost.
Edmonton’s Financial Literacy Societypartners with many organizations toteach financial literacy. In SouthernAlberta, Lethbridge’s WomanspaceResource Centre offers a financial literacycourse for woman with low incomes.
7. Get help for
“Our clients have become aware thatthey are going backward, or that theyare at a point where they’re going tolose grip,” McGoran says. He advisesAlbertans to contact a debt counselloras soon as they experience symptoms ofproblem debt. Those symptoms includelosing sleep, struggling to pay expenses,feeling anxious about finances andmaking only minimum credit cardpayments.
8. Find a qualified
Work with a banker, debt counsellor orfinancial advisor to reach your priorityof financial fitness. Whomever you workwith needs to understand you and listento and answer your questions. Ask anyprospective advisor what qualificationsthey have and if they need to sell you aproduct or service to be paid. If you usea debt consolidation service, make sureit is licensed and bonded in Alberta.
9. Contribute to the
best tax-saving tool
Your bank or financial advisor can helpyou choose the right tax savings toolsfor you. Registered Retirement SavingsPlans often work best for higher incomeearners who expect an income drop inretirement, but your situation dependson whether your employer matches yourcontributions, your family circumstance,and your retirement plans. Tax FreeSavings Accounts allow you to set asidemoney for many purposes,including retirement,home purchases andeducation.
Even if you are among the 58 per cent ofCanadians who plan to work into theirsenior years, it’s a good idea to plan forleaving the workforce. Today’s seniorscan expect to live to 82 to 85 years old,although illness and accidents can takeyou away from work for varying lengthsof time. In addition to lost income,illness and disability often bringexpenses for prescriptions, care andsupport services, and special equipment.
Investments, Registered RetirementSavings Plans, and disability, criticalillness and long-term care insurancehelp pay bills when you don’t earna wage.
As you work toward your goals,remember that staying financiallyhealthy is a lifelong goal. Be patientand persistent. Master one challenge ata time. Practise healthy financial habits,such as saving money and paying debt.
And don’t forget regular checkups!