If you’ve recently been feeling the financial heat, changes in lifestyle can be a way to combat the effects of the current economy, and those changes could be as simple as integrating a budget into your routine.
According to the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada, 4,375 people and businesses in Alberta either made an assignment in bankruptcy or had a bankruptcy order filed against them in 2015.
To avoid this type of financial disaster and adapt to the tumultuous financial environment in Alberta, Mark Kalinowksi of the Credit Counseling Society said having a basic budget is very important.
“A budget is like a puzzle of a map; it is an outline of how cash flows. Each expense or source of income is a piece of the puzzle and by altering these different pieces, people can map a course to achieving financial goals.”
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Kalinowski said the most common response he hears from clients is that they cannot believe how much they spend on everyday items and are shocked to discover that this is why they have incurred substantial debt.
“It is one thing to know that you are $20,000 in debt because of the car you drive…it is another thing to see that you are running a monthly deficit because of the coffee, lunches and cigarettes consumed every day.”
3 key factors in constructing a budget
1. Know your net (after tax) income – this is the starting point
2. List where your money has to go – food, shelter, transportation, medication, etc.
3. Understand where the rest of the money goes – and be accurate to the nearest dollar*
*To do this most people need to track a few expenses over a period of time, such as groceries, Tim Hortons, cigarettes, alcohol (anything that goes in your mouth), fuel, shopping etc.
WATCH: Lifestyle changes as simple as integrating a budget into your routine can be a way to combat the effects of the current economy. Mark Kalinowksi of the Credit Counseling Society offers his perspective on key factors in constructing a budget.
Kalinowski said a basic misconception about having a budget is that it’s not required.
“It really is to ensure that people are working toward their goals and not just dreaming them away because they won’t invest 20 minutes of their week to make their income work for them.”
And investigating your spending shouldn’t be intimidating, Kalinowski explained.
“By listing how one spends over time, a person should be empowered to take control of that spending.”
Kalinowski said you can simplify a budget by knowing what fixed expenses are and only revisiting them periodically. He suggests consistently tracking or limiting the areas where spending is an issue.
And, there’s no better time than the present to become more aware of your personal financial situation–and show yourself a little tough love.
“If coffee out is a problem – make that one of the five areas you track – and write down the expense as the coffee is purchased while still in line,” Kalinowski said.
“Give yourself a weekly/monthly allowance. Put a set amount for a given activity in an envelope and understand that when the money is gone, there is no more coffee out.”
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