Money goals for financial literacy month

Any time is a good time to look at your personal finances. But since November is financial literacy month in Canada, why not take the opportunity to cross one money goal off your to-do list?

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I am a huge procrastinator. I usually need a deadline to get things done (which explains why I was drawn to journalism), and anything on my to-do list that doesn’t have a specific deadline gets put off — sometimes indefinitely. So I appreciate it when deadlines are imposed or suggested: such as Fire Prevention Canada’s guideline that we all change the batteries in our smoke detectors twice a year, when we change the clocks.

That’s how I think of Financial Literacy Month — a suggested deadline for tackling any specific money-related activities that we’ve been meaning to get to, but haven’t found time for yet. Not sure what you should even have on your personal finance to-do list? Here are a few ideas:

Create or review a monthly budget. Go through your bills and expenses to see exactly how much is going out every month, as well as what you’ve got coming in. If you’re on the plus side every month, look at where you can put those extra funds (e.g., pay off debt, save for retirement, etc.) If you’re in the red, see what you can cut back on. There are lots of online tools that can help, including this one from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

Call your credit card company to renegotiate the rate of interest they charge you. They might say no, but they might say yes. For example, a few months ago I completely forgot to pay my bill — for the first time ever — and I called to see if, as a long-time loyal customer, I could have the interest fee waived. They surprisingly agreed.

Call your Internet, mobile or home phone service provider to see if you can get a better deal. Again, it never hurts to ask. We recently moved our home phone service to the same provider we use for Internet, and not only got a better deal, but also a better data plan.

File any outstanding tax returns. Some people who know they’ll be getting a tax refund will ignore the April tax deadline, figuring they’ll get to it eventually. Eventually is now — the sooner you file the sooner you can get your refund. Plus, there may be government paid benefits (such as the Canada Child Benefit or GST Credit) that you’re missing out on because you didn’t file.

Submit or follow up on any outstanding insurance claims. Don’t leave money on the table— make sure you get all the funds you’re owed for health, dental or other insurance claims.

Open a TFSA, RRSP or RESP. Then set up pre-authorized monthly transfers from your bank account so your contributions are automatic.

Check your time horizon and risk tolerance on your investments. Is your child in the last couple of years of high school? Then you’ll want to make sure your RESP investments are in bonds, GICs or other low-risk guaranteed-income products to make sure you don’t experience market losses right when your child is ready to use those funds. Similarly, if you’re decades away from retirement, you may want to have a more aggressive growth portfolio for your RRSP.

As for me, I know exactly what I need to accomplish: rebalance my portfolio of RRSP index funds, since I’m following the Couch Potato approach of investing.

Keep the conversation going

What’s on your personal finance to-do list?  Post a comment below.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada.

About the Author

Tamar Satov

Managing Editor, CPA magazine
Tamar is a journalist specializing in business, parenting and personal finance. She blogs regularly in this space with advice and anecdotes on her efforts to raise a money-smart kid.