MONEY MATTERS: Many Canadians rank money as greatest stress

Congratulations if you are among the six out of 10 Canadians who don’t rank money as their greatest stress, or among the half who have not lost sleep because of financial worries.

A recent Financial Planning Standards Council survey of 1,100 Canadians showed these results – but also revealed an increase in those who say they are embarrassed about not having more control over their finances: 51 per cent, up from 44 per cent in 2014.

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And it is a concern that four out of 10 Canadians do rank money as their greatest source of stress – above health, work and relationships. And that half say financial concerns have caused them to lose sleep.

Naturally, the FPSC wants to encourage Canadians to work with a planner to maximize their personal financial situation.

And I agree that having support from a qualified – and objective – advisor can make a difference.

However, various approaches can help maintain your “well done” status or improve your “a little help needed here” situation:

Take a financial snapshot. Write down a list of your assets (what you own) and liabilities (what you owe) – just like a business. Also note your after-all-deductions income and hopefully your outgo. You might need to keep receipts for a month or two of all expenses to get an accurate outgo figure.

Pat-on-back people should review performance of investments and reduction rate of any debt; make sure “spend now” versus “save now to have more to spend later” approach is appropriate.

Points for improvement people should focus on the most urgent need e.g. pay off debt faster, save more for a specific goal, invest successfully, communicate with family, etc. Start small with goals you can achieve relatively easily.

Get help to make the preceding approaches move ahead as smoothly as possible – whether from the appropriate person at your financial institution or from an independent planner, or sources available on the internet. As always, the aim is to control your finances, don’t let them control you.

Mike Grenby is a columnist and independent personal financial advisor; he’ll answer questions in this column as space allows but cannot reply personally - email

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