Sunday, May 26, 2019

Health with Tess: From financial hell to financial health

May 15, 2019 by Tess Syrowik, contributing writer

You know what people never talk about? Financial health.

Once upon a time, only a couple of years ago, I had just under $5 and some laundry-card credit to my name. I hadn’t even spent money on fun—it was purely the cost of responsibilities. Not my best moment, but it did inspire (scare?) me into researching strategies for better financial health. Here are some things I’ve found useful.

Health with Tess is a column about health issues; it appears in every issue of Nexus.

Putting 10 percent of my income and 50 percent of any financial gifts into a savings account is the best financial tip I’ve ever heard. Do I always manage it? No. Sometimes it’s five percent of my income; if it’s been a rough month then maybe it’s zero percent. What I do know is that when my car develops a problem or when tuition hits hard, I feel less panic. If I have money sitting in my chequing account, I know I’ll find a way to spend it. When it isn’t there, no can do.

This one may sound obvious, but paying off credit cards every month is so key. I get it: Victoria is expensive. So is the interest rate you can get slammed with. The best thing I’ve found for solving this one is actually removing credit cards from my wallet if I know an impulse buy might tempt me. If I don’t have the piece of plastic that enables me to buy 10 new books, suddenly I’m less impulsive. Fewer impulse buys means smaller bills, and smaller bills are easier to pay.

Redefine what “treating yourself” means to you. This one is hard but so worth it. For example, if you are a food lover, try inviting people over for a little potluck instead of eating out somewhere, even if the place is cheap. If you go to the movies just for the popcorn, buy kernels and make it yourself at home. Do you love the cake from the bakery around the corner? Learn to make microwave brownies. Treats add up quickly. Savour the little things. It makes treats feel that much more special.

There are many more ways to work on financial health; the trick is in finding what works best for you. It feels weirdly good in an adulting way to have a money cushion for when times get tough. Nobody wants to be the person who has only $5 and some laundry-card credit to their name. It’s worth it to develop the tools that can help you avoid that situation.

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