By Deirdre Levinson » Your early days (or weeks and months) in Canada can be extremely trying from a financial perspective. It is even more so if your rainy day cash reserves are low and you either haven't found a job or are working for really low wages.
How do you manage? It is really, really important that you don't give in to despair. A financial crunch is not easy to deal with, of course, but it is an issue that is best attacked with a proper plan.
Make a Budget: The first step you should take is to record your expenses. Every single one of them. Everything you spend from a Tim Horton's coffee to toilet paper to dinners out. Everything needs to be accounted for. The goal is to find out how much you currently spend and on what items, so that if you find you do need to scale back, you can recognize where to do so.
There are a couple of ways you can go about recording all of your purchases. One is you can carry around a little notebook and make a note every time you buy something. The other way is to charge everything you purchase with your debit or credit card and use your monthly statement as your notebook of purchases. However, if you choose to charge everything to your credit card, you must promise yourself to pay off the full amount when your statement comes. Going into credit card debt is not going to help you one bit; it will in fact make matters worse.
Once you have every cup of coffee, every grocery trip and every pair of new shoes accounted for, it's time to write it into a budget worksheet. Use a budget spreadsheet that will add up all of your expenses and subtract them from your income. When you have the form filled out, look at your bottom number. Hopefully this will be positive.
Now go up and delete your income at the top. Don't forget to delete any expenses that occur from you working (travel expenses, lunches out, etc.). Remember also that your taxes will be minimal or zero if your taxable income is below a certain figure.
If your bottom number is still positive, then you are not doing too badly. However if it's now dipped to a negative number, do not despair, it's time to look over your expenses and find ways to minimize them.
Saving on Your Expenses: Saving money doesn’t always have to be painful. Many people say its amazing how good they get at comparing prices and seeking out bargains when money is tight. Put the family on a budget and make sure everyone sticks to it.
Below are four big-ticket expenses that most households face. Let’s take a look at these and see if we can't save a couple hundred dollars right off the bat.
Keep moving down each category on your budget worksheet and ask yourself how you could reduce costs. Yes it involves sacrifices, but remember that it's temporary. Good times are likely round the corner, until then, tighten the buckle, and stick to your budget.
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