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November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada; the time for Canadians to enhance their financial know-how. The Lethbridge Herald talked to MNP Ltd. Personal Bankruptcy Trustee, Randy Kobbert, about what people can do to sharpen their money and debt management skills. Read the article below.
Lethbridge Herald, November 15, 2014
With Canadian household debt levels remaining high, personal bankruptcy trustees are advising Canadians to sharpen their money management skills. November is Financial Literacy Month and Nov. 29 marks Buy Nothing Day.
Canadians have enjoyed low interest rates for years and many have settled into a pattern of spending beyond their means.
At Meyers Norris Penny, bankruptcy filings and proposal offers to creditors are up 35 per cent over last year in Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.
“We just saw some statistics that in Alberta, overall filings are dropping at the fastest rate than anywhere in the country. So that’s good, but we’re not necessarily seeing that same change in southern Alberta,” said Randy Kobbert, MNP bankruptcy trustee.
Kobbert says underemployment is a key factor in southern Alberta, with many college and university graduates working in low-paying jobs. They simply can’t find the skilled work readily available in larger centres. Average wage rates are the lowest than anywhere in the province, he says, with 30 per cent of those employed working for less than id="mce_marker"3 per hour. In addition, the 18-29 age group are generally poorly educated about credit and financial matters.
Too much credit isn’t the reason for debt, Kobbert explains, it’s not knowing where your money is going, and overspending when you haven’t done a budget. Sometimes there are curveballs thrown in the way such as loss of employment, illness, or divorce, but most often it’s a fail to plan.
“You have to build personal goals into your budget and determine what you can afford based on the resources you have,” he says. “Figure out what’s important to you, both short term and long term. Goals drive our spending day to day, whether it be one-minute impulses or year-long goals. Then, build those goals into your budget specific to your financial circumstances. The most important part is monitoring that budget, looking at where you are, and where you’re going, and celebrate the successes.”
Buy Nothing Day falls on Nov. 29, right after one of the biggest spending days of the year, Black Friday. Kobbert says this can be a time “to take stock of where you are, ensure you aren’t going into a deeper hole, and to reflect on what your current situation is.”
Canadians can do several things, not only this month, but every day to better prepare for an economic downturn or rise in interest rates.
First, understand your relationship with money. By paying attention to how and where you spend money, you can learn what motivates you to earn and spend, and then ask yourself if those choices align with your long-term goals.
Secondly, realize that financial health is a part of overall wellness. The state of our finances has an influence on our emotional state of mind, stress level and confidence. If mounting debt is causing problems for you and your relationships, it’s important to seek help.
Third, step out of the money fog and become aware of impulsive and compulsive spending habits. By understanding your behaviours, and making conscious adjustments to avoid debt, increase savings and prepare for emergencies, Canadians can be better armed against financial disaster.
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