5 finance tips to take into the new year – News and Events

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As the New Year winds up and the excitement of giving and receiving gifts begins to fade, some of us might be left with dread when checking our credit card statements. 

The temptation to overspend during the holidays often leads to a mountain of debt that can take months, or even years, to pay off. But fear not! There are ways to tackle your post-holiday debt head-on and create a solid financial foundation for 2024.

To provide you with expert advice on how to reduce your post-holiday debt and regain control of your finances, TorontoMet Today sat down with Coleen Clark, professor emerita at Ted Rogers School of Management and former coordinator of the Chang School’s Certificate in Financial Planning to get some tips on how to set out on the right financial foot this year. 

Revisiting – or starting – a budget

It’s not the most fun thing to do, but I recommend that people account for every single dime they’ve spent in a month in a spreadsheet. I think most people don’t know what they spend in a month or how much their Tim Hortons coffees add up to. If you tackle this, you’ll have a sense of what is absolutely essential. 

Now, there are a lot of ways we’re tempted to spend money, especially on credit cards, with online shopping. You don’t even have to get dressed to shop. 

So, bottom line: learn what your mandatory spending is versus what your discretionary (or optional) spending is. 

Take advantage of available resources – on campus and off

TMU Libraries have many resources available to students to help learn financial literacy 101. Some resources available include a Loan Repayment Estimator Tool

Especially post-holidays, looking at our credit cards can be stressful if we overspent. This might induce feelings of anxiety, stress or depression. If you find yourself feeling any of these things, reach out to the Student Wellness Centre to help manage any mental health and well-being challenges and mitigate the added pressure of financial stress from overshopping.

Begin to set gift-giving expectations

This won’t help for this past holiday season, but for the year ahead, considering how much you spend on gifts – especially around big holidays – can be a big relief to your bank account. 

Clark suggests putting your mind to what gifts you could give from the heart that don’t cost a fortune, whether that’s homemade cookies or a handknit hat. 

“Maybe you want to buy a gift for close family and friends, and for everyone else, making something can be very impactful,” she says. “You could come up with something small and homemade to give to people rather than more stuff.”

Start actively – and mindfully – saving

“People talk about setting up an automatic deposit to savings but I personally don’t think that’s the answer because then you don’t actually think about it,” says Clark “I think it’s important to choose an amount of money, even if it’s only $5 a week, that you actively transfer yourself into a savings account because this is learning how to save.”

Clark says don’t try to get overly ambitious about it – make sure it’s an amount that will be feasible every week, no matter what. “The goal is not the amount of money that you’re saving but to get in the habit of saving. And that’s important because a lot of people don’t learn that.”

Need more support? Take The Chang School’s personal finance course

Students who would like to learn to better manage their personal financial planning can take CFIN 502 Personal Finance Planning through The Chang School. The course is geared toward students who are uninitiated in the realm of personal finance and are, perhaps, intimidated by numbers.

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