A Canadian Payroll Association survey conducted in mid-2018 found that 44 per cent of working Canadians reported it would be at least somewhat difficult to meet their financial obligations if their paycheque was delayed by even a single week. This figure is down about three percent from a year ago, but still represents a significant portion of the population struggling with financial pressures across a wide range of income brackets.

In light of these challenges, how can people whose day to day financial needs have such tight margins create opportunities to save money and make meaningful progress toward a longer term sense of financial stability?

Give Yourself a Reason to Save

It’s one thing to look at a goal in terms of numbers: “I want to set aside $100 this pay period.” Sure, it’s simple and clear-cut, but will you stick to it? The likelihood of saving is improved when you think about goals as concrete, achievable reasons for saving. For example: “If I can save a certain amount, next month I’ll be able to pay off this debt. That will let me save a little more as I won’t be paying the interest on it.” – you can see how structuring your savings goals in this manner might be the key to opening up new avenues to building up a longer term financial plan.

Separate Your Accounts

How many times have you dipped a little bit into the savings account that’s likely connected to your chequing account and bank card? You can eliminate that possibility by starting with a clean slate on a new savings account. This can be an online account to which you don’t have immediate access through your bank card – and you can even set up automatic deposits in small amounts to make sure you’re growing your savings before you budget for anything else. In other words – pay yourself first!

Take a (Precise!) Look at Your Spending Habits

Everyone benefits from taking a look at their spending patterns from time to time. Don’t wait until the end of the month and wonder “where did that money go?” – be conscious of how you spend, how much you spend, and what it’s spent on in the moment. This comes down to building new habits and sticking by them – maybe you find out that there’s a few dollars going here or there that you didn’t really notice, and these can be redirected to your savings. You can track these habits in any way you like – a written log, an app, a folder of photos of receipts – but you need to start with the small stuff in order to make an impact on the big stuff.

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