We’ve all been there: that moment where you’d rather crawl into a hole than check your chequing account balance.
But money shouldn’t be scary. Getting control over your funds gives you the power to make the most out of your hard work, from being able to afford an epic vacation to building a secure future. So, financial literacy—the knowledge and confidence to make responsible financial decisions—is one of the most important skills to learn as a young professional.
Diving into financial literacy can be daunting, but it’s doable. Start with these six tips to get smart about your money.
Build a budget
Taking a hard look at how much money you need to live your life is a solid first step to feeling in control of your funds. Sit down and figure out how much you make after taxes each month and how much you need to set aside for the bare necessities (rent, phone bill, groceries etc.). There are tons of resources online to help you build a budget that lets you squeeze the most out of your paycheque, all while leaving room for the fun stuff.
Make a vision
A huge thing that gets in the way of financial literacy is thinking about money in the abstract. An easy way to bring your budget back down to reality is to set specific financial goals—like how much money you want to save in six months or a date by which you want to put a down payment on a condo—and write them down.
Be friends with your credit score
Think of your credit score like a window into your credit situation. It’s what lenders use to determine how trustworthy you are to be approved for a loan, so having a great credit score comes in handy when buying a house or a car. Building a good score isn’t rocket science, either: paying your bills on time and at least the minimum balance each month will help improve your score.
Staying on top of your credit score is key if you have plans to apply for a loan, mortgage or new credit card in the near future. Tools like Capital One’s Credit Keeper™ give you fast and easy access to your TransUnion® credit score for free – and it’s available to all Capital One cardholders.
Cut guilty pleasures
“Treat yo’self” is basically our generation’s catchphrase, but it comes at a sneaky cost. Cutting things that you buy out of convenience or lack of planning (like opting for $25 takeout when you have a pizza in the freezer) can help you save money towards the things you really want to do or buy, like that trip you’ve been dreaming about taking since university.
If you want to learn more about how to be intentional with your spending, check out Credit Education Week from November 6 to 10. Events taking place in Toronto and across the country include workshops and talks from money experts surrounding the theme of “Guilty Pleasures.”
(Bonus tip: attending events like this are a great way to expand your money smarts).
Look into long-term saving and investing
While squirrelling your extra cash in a savings account is a good place to start, investing actually helps grow your wealth over time—and it’s easier and less risky than you think. Exploring things like RRSPs or mutual funds are simple ways to make your money go further and help you reach your financial goals even sooner. If you’re piqued but don’t know where to start, reach out to a financial advisor to help you get your feet wet.
Make time for your money
The more comfortable you are looking at your money head-on, the less daunting finances will become. Set aside an hour each week (ideally a time when you’d be knee-deep in Netflix anyway) to look over your accounts, review your budget and assess your financial goals. Better yet, book an appointment with a financial advisor to get advice on how to use the resources available to you.
The credit score provided by Credit Keeper is intended for educational use only. Lenders and other commercial users may use a different type of credit score and other information when making credit decisions.