Make 2014 the year of financial fitness

Another New Year is upon us. If you’re like most people, eating right, going to the gym and taking more time to de-stress are at the top of your list of fitness resolutions. But there is one more fitness goal that should be on your list—your financial fitness.

All too often, with life being a whirlwind of meetings, commuting, preparing meals, housecleaning, bedtime stories and carpooling to soccer practice, a family’s finances get pushed to the side. With a few simple, proactive commitments, you can enhance your family’s financial health and begin to move from financial fatigue to financial fitness!

Simple resolutions for financial health and fitness

  1. Pay off most or all of your credit card balance each month to avoid interest payments. The average credit card charges upwards of 18% in interest per month, which, depending on your balance, can add up to a huge amount of money in the long run.
  2. Commit to paying off any other debts like mortgages, car loans and leftover student loans early.
  3. Re-visit your long-term retirement savings and make sure that you still want to hold the same investments, and that your portfolio is on track for your long-term savings goals.
  4. If you own a business or work for yourself, make sure you maximize on all tax-friendly options available to you.
  5. Try to live within a budget so that you have money leftover each month to put aside for savings.
  6. Keep track of your monthly expenses. What are you spending on and how much? Recognize if you are spending too much in one area (for example clothes or entertainment), and look for more affordable options that allow you to save more and money into savings every month.
  7. Although no one likes to think about it, make sure that you have a will in place and that it’s updated as your financial situation or family changes. A will is the best way to protect your assets and your loved ones.
  8. Promise yourself that you will try to read one financial news article a day to help you stay current on investment trends and how to optimize your financial health.
  9. Learn to cultivate the art of patience by buying things, especially big-ticket items like electronics, jewelry and cars, when they are on sale.
  10. Commit to contributing regularly to your child’s RESP. With a little bit of commitment and discipline, you can start early, invest regularly, and maximize savings so that when your child is ready for post-secondary education, you’ll be ready to help pay for it.

Here’s to a healthy, happy and financially fit new year!