Roughly a year ago, a series of initiatives launched in Canada as part of the “Count me in, Canada” program. The purpose of these 50-plus programs involved was clear: to increase the financial literacy of Canadians throughout the nation. As Jane Rooney, federal Financial Literacy Leader, said in an official 2015 announcement, “It’s a call to action for every Canadian to make financial literacy a matter of lifelong learning.” The goal being to increase the financial security of all Canadians over time.
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This eads to an important follow up: the initiatives have been in place for a year, so where do you stand financially?
Have you taken any measures to improve your situation or leveraged any of the new initiatives to learn and grow your fiscal knowledge?
Manage Money and Debt Wisely
The first order of business within last year’s initiative revolved around money management. Beginning with a solid set of financial skills, a foundation can be built for long-term success and financial security. It starts with smart spending decisions and a dedication to meeting financial obligations.
Taking Action: Start by creating a budget for you and your household. This simple step is essential to starting a positive financial journey. You do not even need expensive bookkeeping software! If you already own Excel, there are perfectly good personal budget spreadsheets built right in.
Plan and Save for the Future
Sound financial thinking includes the future as well as the present. In fact, a secure financial future is one of the major benefits of planning and budgeting. It is important to set goals, explore the means of achieving them, and then execute your plan. Saving impacts everything from buying a new car to retirement, so it should never be taken lightly.
Taking Action: Like most types of strategy, identifying your goals is the first step. (If you do not know what you want, it’s pretty difficult to find a path to reach it!) Goals should be measurable and attainable, but do not be afraid to set the bar high or include stretch goals. Once you have set your objectives, focus on finding paths to reach them.
Prevent and Protect Against Fraud and Financial Abuse
Even the most well-planned and executed financial strategy can fall apart when it falls prey to criminal activity. Financial fraud can impact anyone – nearly one in three Canadians have been victimized — and new methods of attack are cropping up constantly. All Canadians should stay up to date on these threats, as well as the means of mitigating risks. This is one area of finance where education plays a huge role.
Although Fraud Prevention Month serves as a great reminder, every Canadian should think about fraud risks year around. (March is Fraud Prevention Month in case you missed out!)
Taking Action: Check out the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and familiarize yourself with the process for identifying and reporting financial fraud.