START TRACKING YOUR SPEND
Get to know where you spend, how it makes you feel and what really matters when it comes to your money!
Let's stop pretending that being good at money means you need to be good at math. Instead, let's listen to our body and our mind.
Talking about money can be intimidating if you’re dipping your toes into personal finance for the first time. It can be even more intimidating if you have to speak to a financial professional or someone at the bank to ask about your accounts or figure out what you can do to improve your situation.
But, one thing I like to remind people is that nine out of ten times, the person you’re speaking to at the bank isn’t going to be able to talk to you about your financial situation. Instead, they can speak to you about the products that their institution offers — and while that might be helpful in some cases, it’s not necessarily what you might need as a consumer.
For that reason, take a deep breath. You do not know less than the average person. On the contrary, you probably know more than you think.
All of this aside, here are some tips to help make speaking with a financial professional seem less overwhelming and more productive.
When you are looking to speak to a financial professional about your money situation, the first step is to make sure you find the right person. What I mean by this is that not every financial professional is fit to speak about every aspect of your money. For example, the salesperson at the bank won’t be able to help you budget for your monthly expenses in the same manner that a fee-based financial planner might.
A fee-based financial planner can help you with the following:
Help you sort through your current financial situation to determine your needs and goals.
Provide the education and information you need to manage your money better.
Help you find the best investment tool for your personal experience — or manage your investments for you.
Monitor your budget investments and help make adjustments when you experience a significant life change (like getting married or buying a home).
What is a “fee-based” financial planner? The fee-based part means that rather than earn their money by selling you tools and products, they instead charge an upfront fee or a payment plan that reflects the services you need. This ensures they act responsibly in only providing you with the financial products you need and will benefit from.
Whether you’re just starting or about to receive a significant windfall, the best thing you can do to prepare for these conversations is to be clear about what type of support you need.
Although a financial professional can typically help guide you in the right direction, most of us will feel better prepared when we have done a small amount of research beforehand. It’s okay to look at your current financial situation by yourself. If nothing else, it will tell you how much you need to learn or how your money looks at this exact moment.
When you have to go to your bank to open a new account or ask questions about your current investment allocations, you must use confident language. Although we may not feel like we know it all on the inside, we are the only ones who know this to be true. Not the teller at your bank.
Here are some examples of ways to ask about your financial products or tools at your institution of choice.
For example, say your bank once convinced you to invest some money each month to make the most of your financial future. A good example is a bank opening a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) for you and setting up automatic contributions. But, unfortunately, they sometimes forget to mention that you have to invest that money to see returns. Otherwise, you’re treating that investment tool as a savings account.
If you’re curious about your investments, say this: I noticed that I’m currently invested in _____. Would you please tell me:
What types of assets I’m investing in
What type of investment account they are in
What the current management fee is
Am I invested in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), mutual funds (yikes), a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC), stocks, bonds, real estate investment trusts (REITs), etc.? This will help you clarify whether you’re investing in the best available options for your retirement plan.
Is my money currently held in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), TFSA, or an unregistered account? This tells you what investment tools you are now using.
This tells you how much you are paying to have this financial institution manage your investments on your behalf.
Read: How Investment Fees Affect Your Money
Now, this is a very specific situation. But, if you’re unsure of what you should be asking and how to ask these questions, I again encourage you to find a financial planner who can help guide you through these types of conversations.
It might seem like you’re the only person in the world who is struggling to manage their money or get ahead financially. The reality is that that’s not the truth. According to a 2022 study, nearly one-third of Canadians find it harder than ever to pay down their debt.
It’s okay to ask for help. It’s also okay to admit you’re unsure where to start, how to budget or what any of this means. It’s a lot to take in — and the only thing you can do to begin to gain control is to start to self-educate — which you’re doing right now!
If you’re looking for a fee-based financial planner, here are some of my favourite Canadian options:
Now that you know what to say, where to start and who to talk to, it’s time to jump in feet first and finally get going on taking control of your finances. Good luck!
Oh no, you missed the live webinar! But, good news: Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a free resource for anyone planning for a future child or family.
Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a free resource for anyone looking to cut back on non-essential spending. My most-requested product is these monthly calendars to share on your Instagram story, use as a phone background, or print off to track your spending habits.
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