Changing your lifestyle
Sometimes, all it takes is to have an honest discussion about our finances and to really work together to determine if you are spending your income in the right places. This exercise is actually one all families should do regularly to adjust their budget for unpredictable changes in life and to always stay on top of your spending.
You may have to cut down on some luxuries for a while, until you get back on your feet. Some changes may even have to be permanent, at least until your financial situation changes, which you should always aim for. You might not feel motivated reading this and it’s normal for you to feel reluctant to change your lifestyle.
Instead of feeling discouraged, try to see this experience as one more great reason for you to start saving your money so you can treat yourself in the right time and place. You’ll feel proud you were able to plan well and you’ll be able to enjoy all the fun, without that guilt you know all too well.
Tools to help you examine your budget:
- Read Managing Money published by The Canadian Bankers Association. This document explains things like expenses, income, credit and credit rating clearly using calculation tables.
- Industry Canada offers a « calculator » that shows you that if you develop the habit of putting the money you spend on little things aside, your situation can only be improved!
- Read our article Shop and Save for tips on how to get the most out of your money when you are shopping!
What bills should you pay first?
If reducing your expenses is not enough, you should start considering which overdue bill should be addressed first. Some bills absolutely cannot accumulate because delays actually contribute to the worsening of your financial situation, affecting your credit and making you risk losing things you can’t afford to live without.
Rent/Mortgage and taxes
You have to live somewhere, that’ why you must pay the fees related to housing in time to avoid losing your apartment or having your house ceased. If you have a home and don’t pay your property taxes, your municipality may issue a right to your property (tax lien) to ensure they receive the late payments.
If you’re late too often, your car could be repossessed, which would cause you a bundle of problems. If you think you can’t make the expected payments, contact your lender to see if they could extend the term of your loan or refinance the purchase to reduce your monthly payments.
Many parents face student debts and it’s important to stay on time to avoid unpleasant surprises. If your current financial situation does not allow you to pay for your student loan, you might qualify for financial assistance that would let you postpone repayment on your student debt.
Change your billing due dates
Did you know that according to Yahoo! Finance Blog, we receive an average of eight to ten statements every month? If they all arrive at the same time, one can easily get overwhelmed and not know how to cover everything.
If you take the lead and contact your creditors and utility companies to explain the situation and change your billing due dates, they will probably be more understanding and accommodating.
In some cases, you lost your job or your hours have been reduced for example, some companies will even agree to lower your monthly payments temporarily or give you a break for a few months. It’s worth explaining what you’re going through so you put all the eggs in your basket.
Avoid unnecessary fees
If money is tight, the last thing you need is to accumulate unnecessary fees like non-sufficient funds fees when you’ve issue a check but there isn’t enough money to cover it in your bank account. Most banks charge fees ranging between $ 40 and $ 45 for each returned check. So keep a sharp eye on your accounts and make sure to never issue a check you can’t cover.
It’s never too early to seek the advice of a financial advisor who can help you choose the option most suited to your personal situation. He may for example tell you to try to get a personal loan of talk to you about debt consolidation, which would allow you to take all your bills and transform them into a single payment, sometimes at an even better rate. If your problems are more serious, he might discuss more severe remedial solutions like a bankruptcy.
- Becoming a Parent: Services Québec – Financial Assistance: The list of government programs and services for expectant and new parents.
- ACEF: These associations offer information, training, assistance and referrals for everything that relates to your budget, debt and spending.
- The Women’s Centre of Montreal: The centre offers several support services suited to the future and new mom: food and clothing aid for families in need, community kitchen programs, distribution of diapers and used maternity items according to your needs.
- CLSC: If you are a low income family, you can contact your CLSC to see if you qualify to receive material or food assistance depending on the programs offered in your area.
- OLO Foundation: Since 1991, the foundation has been providing food and vitamins and mineral supplements for pregnant women who are in a precarious situation.
- Last-resort financial assistance – Government of Quebec: The families that are eligible will receive support during pregnancy, with breastfeeding and school fees.
- RRQ: The Child Assistance payment which is offered to all families in the form of variable payments given to eligible families.