November is Financial Literacy Month, and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada invites all Canadian citizens to participate and gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to make the best financial decisions for themselves and their families.
You can use the following and other examples to start your financial literacy knowledge adventure. Using the basics, you can then apply that knowledge to spend responsibly when charging monthly expenses to credit cards.
Tips on how to improve your financial literacy knowledge:
- Read & Ask Questions: Start by asking yourself the hard questions. How can you become more financially literate? How can you apply this knowledge to help you and your family in day-to-day financial obstacles?
- Balance Needs vs. Wants: A need is a basic expense, something you cannot go without in a month like groceries, rent or travelling costs. A want is an extra expense, usually categorized as a luxury item like going out for dinner or gifts. Knowing the difference between your basic and extra expenses every month can allow you to manage your money better. Balance your needs and wants to live within a budget.
- Create a Spending Plan: Create a spreadsheet or list anticipated costs on a monthly basis and order the items by importance. Budget your expenses by removing wants and focusing on needs.
- Get the Whole Family Involved: Invite family members to join the discussion when creating family spending plans. Allowing other members of the household to chime in on the budget plan could help eliminate excessive spending on "wants".
- Stay One Step Ahead: Stay on top of your expenses by creating month-to-month spending plans in advance. If you have routine expenses that crop up each month, automatically apply these expenses to next month's plan and fill in the blanks as the current month ends and the new one begins.
Tips on how to apply your financial literacy knowledge to credit card usage:
- Interest Rates: Every credit card has a specific interest rate attached. Compare credit cards to find the best interest rate that fits your lifestyle, income and overall needs.
- Apply Spending Plan: Before you charge an expense to your credit card check your spending plan. Consider whether or not the expense will be paid off this month or this coming month then calculate the difference of the monetary expense when the interest rate is included.
- Set Limits: Take baby steps, don't jump into the deep end of the pool when your budget only allots for wading in the shallow end. Try marking expenses on your spending plan that can be charged to credit then be paid off in the same month.
- To Charge or Not to Charge: Use your discretion when charging items to your credit card. Some credit cards come with rewards such as points gathered for discounts on groceries or gas.
- Track Your Spending: Always stay on top of your spending and consistently stay involved with your family's spending by checking the plan and your credit card balance.
You can also visit the FLM Facebook page to find out more about how the federal government is assisting Canadians in financial literacy this November.