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From Financial Integrity

Dawne - Teaching Financial Management

I teach financial management (budgeting) in Alberta, Canada. It is very important to me that I practice what I preach. I believe that regardless of the economy we need to be in control of our money as opposed to it controlling us; that means making good choices and always asking two basic questions: When money comes in we need to ask “where is it going?” and when money leaves our wallets, hands or bank accounts we must ask “where is it coming from?” If we do not designate our money it simply has a way of “going”!

That doesn’t mean there’s no fun in budgeting; on the contrary spending is more fun when it’s budgeted and every budget ideally includes fun money! Initially people are afraid to meet with me as I may tell them things they don’t want to hear. I live my life by not “shoulding” on people. That means that I don’t tell people how and where they should spend their money; it’s theirs so they get to decide. Somehow when you start to see the numbers on paper, new and better decisions occur.

Other tips I give my clients have to do with being aware of how businesses try to encourage spending. The implication is that when you save money because they’re offering such a good deal you have more to spend on other things. Hello! First of all, if you never intended on buying an item in the first place you haven’t saved any money, regardless of how good the sale was. If you walked in to buy milk and walk out with a new DVD player you haven’t saved any money! Secondly, even if you walked into the store to buy something specific you haven’t saved anything unless you walk out with the difference. If you buy something else with the difference, you haven’t saved, you just have more stuff.

So many people struggle with savings. I truly feel that 90% of money management has to do with how you feel about money. This makes it very easy to justify greater spending: “I’m already in so much debt, what’s a bit more”. It can also be just as easy to justify savings: “I saved this much last month, what if I aimed for a bit more this month?” Saving money doesn’t have to be a big struggle. If you usually buy a large coffee try a medium or small instead and save the difference. (That means actually taking the change and putting it aside). If you buy groceries on a big savings day the cashier often tells you how much you saved. So save it! Take that amount out of your grocery budget and put it into a savings account.

I could go on and on but the bottom line is we need to change our attitudes about money. I know many people are struggling financially and sometimes there isn’t enough to cover the basics but there are things that can be done to ease the stress. Remember, change is good!


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