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Financial planning tips

April 20, 2017

5 ways to take control of your finances

Looking for ways to protect yourself against unexpected financial crises and roadblocks? Here’s how you can control the uncontrollables.

It’s often said that life happens when you’re busy making other plans, and life’s unexpected twists and turns sometimes come with costly price tags. That's why the foundation of everyone's financial strategy should be a plan to manage the aspects of your life that you can control. Here are 5 tactics you can use to take control of your money:

1. Stick to a monthly budget

Creating a budget lets you find opportunities to save money by highlighting frivolous expenses that you can trim. The trick to creating and sticking to a budget is to be easy on yourself. Bright idea: Budget for small indulgences like a daily coffee or a monthly manicure.

2. Keep a diversified portfolio

There’s a lot of information online about investing, but here’s one rule: When it comes to your portfolio, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Invest in several companies you trust and maybe that you work with on a daily basis. Nobody can predict what changes will happen in the market, so spreading your wealth around is a very smart idea.

3. Set aside money for large purchases

Sure, you might have credit, but using it for big purchases could cost you more because of interest charges. Instead, consider saving for big purchases and paying for them with cash. That way, you won’t have to pay interest on the unpaid balance on credit cards or lines of credit and you can often negotiate a better deal if you’re willing to pay with cash. Bright idea: If you want to use your credit card to earn points, save up the money, pay with your card and use the money you’ve saved to pay off your card before your next billing cycle.

4. Create an emergency fund

The job market can be erratic and an emergency health crisis is always a possibility. An emergency fund that covers 4 to 6 months of living expenses can give you the cushion you need. Put your money where it will earn some interest or investment income – like a tax-free savings account (TFSA) – and don’t touch it unless it’s a legitimate emergency.

5. Rebalance every year

So you’ve created your budget, diversified your investments and tucked away your emergency fund. But there’s 1 more thing you need to do before you reap the benefits of smart money management: You need to rebalance regularly. Take some time to sit down with your advisor and go over your financial plans. A lot can change in a year – you may get a raise or an investment may not have performed as well as you thought it would – so your money management strategy should change as well.

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