Many of us find ourselves in the same financial rut over and over again. The cost of living is increasing, and often our main challenge with money can’t be fixed simply by switching to a higher paying job, asking for a raise or dedicating time to earning a side income. \nWhen we’ve finally had enough and want to change our financial situation, we’re either too ashamed to seek help, don’t know where to start, or find it hard to sustain good financial wellness habits.\nIf you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone. Manulife’s 2016 Financial Wellness Study reported that 45 per cent of Canadian employees have a low level of financial wellness. It’s clear that many of us are not feeling financially well. But don’t get discouraged, there’s a lot of help out there for all of us.\nFive steps to better financial wellness\n1. Financial wellness assessment\nStart by taking a financial wellness assessment to gauge where you stand with your money, to identify your good habits and those you need to change or improve. A good resource is the Financial Fitness Self-Assessment published by Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). The results of the assessment will guide you to the financial management topics that you need to understand and apply. \n2. Schedule time to increase your knowledge of financial management topics\nOnce you’ve identified the gaps in your financial literacy, schedule time on your calendar and commit to improving your financial literacy in the areas you find challenging. When you formally set aside time in which you want to achieve something, you’re more likely to accomplish it.\nTopics range from budgeting, debt management and saving to investing or retirement planning. There are a multitude of resources on these topics, and authorities to be found in such professional bodies as CPA Canada and government agencies like the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). The federal government recognizes the need for Canadians to improve their financial situation, so there are many organizations working toward that goal.\n3. Seek the help of an expert\nHire a personal financial advisor to at least help you start on the right track. If you can’t afford to hire one right now, speak to your current banking institution. Banks have obligations to their consumers as set out by the FCAC, and we’re starting to see an increase in the financial literacy resources they provide.\n4. Set goals to address gaps in your financial management\nOnce you start learning what your gaps are and discover how to mitigate them—as a result of your own research or with the help of an expert—apply those lessons straight away. Set goals and monitor your progress. Refer to CPA Canada’s goal setting worksheet to get started. \n5. Address mental barriers impeding your ability to change habits\nIf you find that you’re not achieving the financial goals that you set, you might need to address some underlying mental or emotional challenges that are associated with behaviours like impulse spending or spending beyond your means. Addressing these challenges will help you build healthier habits around managing your money.\nResearch free counselling in your community, or talk to your employer’s EAP (Employee Assistance Program) specialist, if you have access to one. In either case, remember that real change in habits starts with you.\nNow that you’ve learned these five ways to improve your financial wellness, go ahead and get started. Remember, you don’t have to set out on this journey alone; don’t be afraid to ask for help, and use the resources provided to you.\nKeep the conversation going\nWhat habit can you change now that will help you get a step closer to better financial wellness? Post a comment below.\nDisclaimer\nThe views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada.