It's Your Money  

Don't be blue this Monday

Today is Blue Monday and the following 30 days are often called the saddest time of the year.

Blue Monday is a name given to a day in January claimed to be the most depressing day of the year. Jan. 21 is it.

A national survey commissioned by the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) last year revealed that more than half of Canadians (53 per cent to be exact) are already feeling financially “blue,” with the younger generation especially struggling.

The key question in the survey asked Canadians when it comes to their finances, what makes them particularly depressed this time of year?

The most common responses showed that:

  • One in five has a credit card balance larger than their savings account.
  • Younger adults aged 18-44 are especially “blue” about finances this time of year (68 per cent versus 41 per cent for those over age 45).
  • One in four Canadians don’t have funds to escape the winter storms through a vacation.
  • In only the first two weeks of the year, six per cent of Canadians have already broken their financial new year resolutions.
  • 21 per cent of Canadians acknowledged over-spending during the holidays.

Blue Monday and the month that follows doesn’t need to be the saddest time of the year. Those Canadians with a solid financial plan that is updated regularly feel significantly less stressed and depressed about their finances at this time of year.

There are professionals out there who can help you build a plan to can tackle debt loads and get your finances in order. Getting back on track can be achieved by following five simple steps:

Don’t Panic and Don’t Delay – Your finances may feel overwhelming, but the best thing you can do is to face them head on. The sooner you start the better.

Take Stock of Your Situation – Where are you now? What do you owe? What interest are you Paying? Gather a comprehensive summary of your entire financial situation.

Set Your Goals – Once you have a firm grasp on your current situation, it’s time to set reasonable, measurable and attainable goals to work toward.

Build a Plan – A comprehensive plan will assess the information you’ve gathered to reduce interest that you’re paying, clear off debt more quickly, build retirement savings and insure that you’re protected if the unexpected happens.

Monitor Your Progress – Keep track of your spending and compare it to the budget that you’ve created, check to see if your debt is reducing on target and conduct an annual review of your investment portfolio to adjust contribution levels if needed.    

Instead of sticking your head in the sand this Blue Monday, take charge of your financial well being and seek out the help of a financial planning professional if needed to ensure that next January finds you in a better place.

You deserve financial wellness in 2019 and there is no better time to start than today.     


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About the Author

Brett, designated as a chartered investment manager and certified financial planner, is the regional director (Okanagan) for IG Wealth Management.

In addition to his “day job," Brett was appointed to the board of directors of FP Canada (formerly FPSC) in 2014, named as the board’s vice-chair in 2017 and will take over as board chairman in June. 

Brett has been writing a weekly financial planning column since 2012 and provides his readers with easy to understand explanations for the complex financial challenges that they face in every stage of life.

Enhancing the financial literacy of Canadian consumers is a top priority of Brett’s and his ongoing efforts as a finance writer and on the regulatory side through the FP Canada board focus on this initiative.   

Please let Brett know if you have any topics that you’d like him to cover in future columns by emailing him at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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