Do you feel like you need to be a banker, accountant, economist and stock market analyst just to keep the family finances in check? Should it really be so hard to cover the household bills, make the payments on the car and mortgage, put away a little for the kid’s education, and make some solid investments that will hopefully leave you with enough left over for a reasonably comfortable retirement? Managing your finances might have seemed a lot simpler in the past but considering the early 1980’s had interest rates of 15% with inflation over 10%, we are not so sure! Economic conditions are always in flux, but what has really changed is the amount of information, resources and alternatives we have to “help us” manage our money— we are simply overloaded, and it can get overwhelming very quickly. For example, if you are looking for options to invest those hard-earned TFSA contributions, there are around 5000 mutual funds and 1000 ETFs in Canada to choose from! But that’s only if you are already up to speed on the differences between mutual funds and ETFs, MERs and other investment fees, asset allocation, portfolio diversification, how RRSPs & TFSAs work and their many rules and regs, DIY online investment platforms, robo advisors… and the list goes on!
The reality is that personal finance is likely to get more difficult and more complicated in the future. If you are lucky, a few employers are now offering financial literacy programs as part of their employee wellness and employee retention efforts. Enriched Academy is also working with the school system in several provinces to ensure that students have the opportunity to learn the basics of personal finance before they graduate from high school. This is great news for your kids and their financial future, but it isn’t going to do much for you unless you want to put them in charge of the household finances? The reality is that most of us are on our own when it comes managing our money./There are some great tools and information resources that can help immensely, but the easiest, most cost effective, and most reliable option for the majority of us is building our own financial knowledge. The good news is that mastering the basics is a lot simpler than most of us realize. You can still use a pencil and paper to track your expenses and one, hour-long webinar could easily cover the basics of/getting started with the stock market. The problem for most of us is that we focus way too much on making money and spend far too little time looking at where our money goes, or how to manage it better and make that money work for us. Earning more money won’t solve your problems for long if you continue to spend too much, make poor spending decisions, fail to invest, and have no goals to help guide you and measure your financial progress. The choice of how you improve your financial knowledge is up to you and the options are limitless. Websites, livestreams, online courses, employee wellness initiatives (if available), YouTube videos, blogsites, financial advisors, money coaches — there are ways to build financial literacy that suit every situation and every budget. 2022 is a new year and a new start! We hope your New Year’s resolutions include some concrete actions to improve your financial literacy and a plan to put that knowledge to practical use and better your financial situation.