The (Last) Half Hour

For the past two weeks, we talked about a number of financial steps that can be done inside of half an hour that will have a significant impact on your financial life.

Do a budget just once
Set up a separate savings account
See your payroll department: Fill out the payroll form to have some money deducted right off your cheque
Apply for a charge card that has no monthly payments and makes you pay the balance in full each month
Set up a TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account)
Get your kids or grandkids on track with one-third of their money into savings, one-third to giving, and one-third for spending.

Here are the final three steps. We’ve saved the best, or most important, for last:

-Get your free credit report: Once a year you’re entitled to see your credit report. It’s the snapshot of what all lenders report about you. Go to Equifax.ca for the form. It’s free by mail with some ID, or spend the few bucks and get it online. You have to know what’s in your credit file. About one-third of credit files have errors big enough to prevent you from getting preferred interest rates or getting approved at all. You can’t change what you don’t know.

-Make a financial date night with your partner: In relationships, most people do not want to talk about money, debts, or budgeting. Small wonder money and money arguments are the top reasons for divorce. Take half an hour, longer if you can, and just talk about the state of your finances, bills, budget, and what your goals and dreams are. It’s your partner in more than title. It isn’t HER money or HIS money – it’s our money.

If only one of you handles all that, you’re in trouble. The partner in control isn’t your Mommy or Daddy, and the other partner often starts to rebel by dialing out, making an argument, getting entrenched about THEIR money, or lashing out through stupid spending or hiding debts. You need to do this together.

-Cash out your points: Take half an hour and look at the various points or rewards you’re chasing. Unless you’re honestly on track for something big, cash them out. Many expire and even more never get used. Don’t do it – get them redeemed. Rough rule of thumb is the best bang for your buck – or points – is to redeem them for gasoline gift cards. That way they turn to real cash, and you’re guaranteed to use them up. Plan B is to buy that toaster with points, instead of going to a retailer and buying it for half the money…

Today you haven’t reached your financial dreams or goals yet. But you’re one day close than you were yesterday. That’s assuming you have dreams or goals. After all, you can’t reach what you don’t work towards.

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