3 secret budget tips you’ll wish you knew years ago

Are you aspiring to be more financially stable? Do you feel like you might be on the right track, but aren’t quite sure exactly where that path is heading?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a crystal ball telling you exactly what to do and when?

Below are some ‘secret budgeting tips’ you can do right now to breathe a financial sigh of relief down the road in five years or more. Maybe some of these aren’t so secret, but the average person forgets about them on a day-to-day basis. After all, life gets busy.

By following great, practical advice now, you could put yourself in a better financial position for years down the road. Budgeting pays off, and the future you will be thankful!

Secret budget tip 1: Get in the habit of regularly saving

It seems like common financial advice, but it’s important to regularly save your money. Unfortunately, this advice seems to be falling on deaf ears.

According to a past online poll for Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, more than half of Canadians don’t save on a regular basis. Given that more than less than 40% of Canadians are covered by registered pension plans, it’s more important than ever to get into the good habit of saving now so you’re ready for the long-term.

Saving our money enables us to accomplish many important goals and milestones in our lives, including buying your first home, going on dream vacations and retiring from the workforce. By getting in the habit of saving today, you’ll be able to achieve even more than you can imagine.

How do you get into the habit of regularly saving if you’re not used to it? The easiest way is to ‘pay yourself first.’ When you pay yourself first, you make savings your first priority instead of your last priority.

Figure out the financial goals you’d like to accomplish — and by when. Then put a price tag on them. How much will you need to save today to meet those goals in the next five years or sooner?

For example, let’s say you want to save $30,000 for a down payment on a house in three years from now. If you get paid twice a month, by putting $417 aside from each paycheque, you’ll be able to reach your savings goal of $30,000 in three years.

Save regularly - Secret budget tips

Once you figure that out, automate your savings. Have the money you need to save automatically put into a savings account so that it’s out of sight, out of mind and you’re not tempted to spend it. It’s that easy!

Employee Spotlight

Pay yourself first. Use automatic deductions to squirrel away money in a special savings account.

Dennis Cunningham, Manager of Environmental Sustainability    

Related Reading: Save more money with pre-authorized contributions

Secret budget tip 2: Focus on paying down debt

Are you feeling stressed out by the debt that you’re carrying? Here’s a great secret…You don’t have to be stressed! It’s all about getting organized and coming up with a plan of attack.

Start by creating a list of all the debts that you have. Include the type of debt (student debt, credit card, line of credit, etc.), the financial institution it’s with, the interest rate and the outstanding balance.

Pay down debt - Secret budget tips

Once you have that list in hand, come up with a game plan to pay it down.

You’ll want to make the minimum payment on all your debt, but if you have debt that’s costing you more than others, such as credit card debt, focus on paying that down. This will save you the most money long-term and put you in a better position in five years’ time.

Employee Spotlight

Credit bureaus and your scores can be fixed! It can be overwhelming for members who are struggling with past or current challenges that are reflected in their credit rating. People can feel disheartened, but everything can be fixed.

  Kirstin Witwicki, Financial Service Advisor

Also read: Loans, lines of credit and credit scores — Get comfortable with the details of debt.

Secret budget tip 3: Create a budget

Do you feel like you don’t have enough in your bank account? We all feel that way at one point or another. A simple way to feel better about your finances, and to put yourself in a better financial position in five years, is to create a budget.

Make a monthly budget - secret budget tips

When creating a budget, it’s important to create one that’s realistic. The last thing you want to do is to create a budget that’s so strict and unrealistic that you’re setting yourself up to fail.

There are so many options out there in terms of budgeting – spreadsheets, phone apps and pen and paper, to name a few. Choose the one that works best for you that’s more likely to encourage you to follow your budget.

If you’re looking for a good starting point, read these Asterisk articles on how much you should actually be saving and 10 budgeting mistakes you’ve probably made, and how to fix them!

Employee Spotlight

Start early. Having come from a long line of bankers, my mother taught me the importance of starting early and planning for the future.

Andrea Dysievick, Chief Advice & Service Delivery Officer

Digital Appointment Booking

Budgeting can be a challenge, but with ACU, you’re never alone. Our financial advisors are here for you when you need to review your financial health, reduce your expenses and save more. Whenever you’re ready, feel free to book an appointment online and we’ll be happy to assist you.

About Sean Cooper

Sean Cooper is the bestselling author of the book, Burn Your Mortgage. He bought his first house when he was only 27 in Toronto and paid off his mortgage in just 3 years by age 30. An in-demand Personal Finance Journalist, Money Coach and Speaker, his articles and blogs have been featured in publications such as the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Financial Post and MoneySense. Connect with Sean on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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