Fall Financial Checkup: Get a Head Start on Your Budget

The fall season signifies the change of weather and the onset of the year’s biggest surge in spending. Before diving into the cold season and ramping up for holiday shopping, take the time to review your finances. While the leaves are changing from green to orange hues, check to see if you’re in the red or black.

Conducting an audit of your personal finances can give you a high-level view of your financial standing. Review your finances now to avoid going into debt over the last few months of the year. To get a head start on assessing your budget, follow these tips from Consolidated Credit Canada.

Start with a clean slate – pay off your debts

Do you have outstanding debt coming into the fall season? Is it manageable enough to get rid of with some extra effort and lean weeks? If so, take on some short-term discomfort to wipe the debt out entirely. Going into a high debt season with existing debt isn’t a good starting point.

Order a credit report for free and check your scores

If you didn’t know, free credit reports are available to Canadians! Here’s how to get a copy of yours from any of the below companies:

Borrowell

Borrowell allows users to access their Equifax credit scores and credit report monthly.

Mogo

Another source for a free Equifax credit report, Mogo enables you to monitor your scores, among other handy perks.

Credit Karma

To see your TransUnion scores weekly, Credit Karma is the place for you.

Take the few short minutes to register and get informed of your financial health. These tools are free, so take advantage!

Revise your budget

When is the last time you looked at your budget? More importantly, have you stuck to it? Conducting a fall financial checkup can help in your efforts to realign and stay focused on staying out of debt.

There are many ways to create a budget, along with various tools. The only way to find out which method of budgeting works best for you is to try it out. You can view a simple budget and learn about you budget options here.

Unsubscribe

Identify accounts that charge you monthly and determine whether you need them anymore. We’re talking about video streaming accounts, gym memberships, magazines, and music services. Sometimes you use these services, but there are often free versions available with ads. The benefits of unsubscribing include:

  1. You’ll get the obvious savings from not having to spend on them anymore.
  2. You can put the savings towards holiday expenses, so you don’t need to earn or save as much cash through other efforts.

Set goals

Much like a budget helps you see where you are with your money, goals help you see your progress in other areas. Set goals and stick to budgeting and saving to ensure execution. Some goals you can set include:

  • Save $1,000 for emergencies
  • Save $1,000 for holiday gifts and expenses
  • Pay off all of your credit debt
  • Pay $500 more toward student loan debt every month for 6 months

You can also set goals for vacation, birthday gifts, and enjoyable expenses. Once you set these savings goals, you can set smaller goals and measure how well you are doing along the way.

Get ahead of your income taxes

Gather all of your tax forms and start preparing your taxes now. Getting a clear view of what you may owe, your deductions and possible return can inform your spending and saving now. People tend to forget that once the holiday season is over, it’s almost tax time.

Think about the holidays now

Once you get a handle on your finances and understand the realm of possibilities, you can set a holiday budget and appropriate goals. If your finances look like they need help, you can adjust and pick up more shifts or start a side job. The idea is to check in with your finances and prepare yourself for the coming holiday expenses.

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