How To Begin Fixing Money Problems

Estimated reading time: 16 minutes

Every year, I get many emails from readers needing help fixing their money problems.

Although I’m not a professional financial advisor, I can share tips about what has helped our family.

To begin, ask yourself these two questions.

  • Are money issues ruining your marriage or relationship?
  • Do you have a problem with spending money?

In part, I believe that people who don’t budget, spend freely, and hope for the best need far more help than those who use a budget.

Today, I want to explain how you can fix your money problems; it only works if you want.

At the bottom of the post, you will see our November budget numbers and how we spent our money.

Money stress

Money Problems And Solutions Are Limited To Motivation

Financial difficulties can arise at any time, so it’s essential to fix your money problems beginning with a money mindset.

Over the years, I’ve coached a few of my readers about financial management and where their money problems were coming from.

Often I hear that budgeting is too tricky, I don’t understand how to budget, or I don’t earn enough money to budget.

All three are excuses not to start a budget, leading to deeper money problems.

With financial health, quitting is never an option because it’s the only way to get back on track.

Even people with high-paying jobs have loads of debt they struggle with, so it’s just not low-income, middle-class that feel the pain.

Never Quit quote

Help With Money Problems

Do you have trouble saving money?

Well, you’re not alone because we’ve all been there unless you were born into wealth, so you probably wouldn’t even be reading this blog.

There are a few things I can talk about to help you fix your money problems.

You may have read them before if you’re a regular reader of the blog, but this may be an eye-opener for those of you who are new.

Do You Need  A Budget To Be Financially Successful

I was once asked if becoming successful financially without a monthly budget was possible.

My answer was it is possible. However, it’s like walking away from opportunities to grow your wealth.

How many businesses will survive or become wealthy if they don’t create a budget for their company?

Probably not many; if they don’t, they are likely just scraping by. 

A budget is necessary, not a want, in today’s society with so much economic turmoil.

Leaving Your Money Problems On The Table

Consider you bought ten chocolate bars and left them on the table and you eat one and leave nine.

You could have taken all 10 chocolate bars, but didn’t because you wanted to leave them for someone else.

In the financial world, if you want to eliminate money problems, you should never leave anything on the table.

What if those chocolate bars were 100-dollar bills of money you earned but left on the table?

I know it sounds harsh because I used chocolate bars, and it’s nice to share, but it’s true.

There’s a fine line with money where you take guidance from someone who’s lived through money problems or eaten one chocolate bar.

Every dollar counts when you have money problems and are desperate to get out of them.

Sharing is nice, but money is money, and you need not sweep money problems under the carpet.

Instead, take charge of the situation by educating yourself, talking to s a financial advisor, and budgeting.

Can you believe those are three ways Mrs. CBB and I learned about finance?

It’s true, and we only read blogs from bloggers who found success, not those who have nothing to back their claims.

Money Problems In Relationships

Since Covid-19, I’ve had more emails than you could imagine from fans struggling with money problems.

So many people lost their jobs, were laid off, or could not sustain the bills, mortgage, or rent with the CERB.

I asked whoever emailed me two questions:

  • Do you use a monthly budget?
  • How much debt are you in?

As the conversations continued back and forth via email, my goal was to plant the seed of how important a budget is.

The second most important task with using a budget is that both the wife and husband or partners must commit.

If you have to create a budget and go it alone, you won’t succeed the best you can.

It’s like hiking halfway up a mountain, and you’re starting to fall, but no one can help you.

Budgets aren’t built just for low-income families, as some non-budget believers think.

No one has to know you use a budget, and if they did, who cares?

If anything, you’re both being savvy savers and busting your debt into dust.

So, if you are not using a budget and are in a relationship, it’s time for a chat.

Bring out all your ammunition (your debt, net income (if any), and all the financial data and set it on the table.

Talk to your spouse about how much debt you have and how much money you both net each month.

Show them the importance of paying off debt because you are both deep in money problems.

Show The Easiest Budgeting System For the Best Results

Also, if you download my free basic budget, it might encourage them to work with you.

Often I find our excel budget overwhelming for people who don’t use excel.

I’m also a paper and pencil guy, but I use our excel budget, which is also free to download for CBB subscribers.

Soon I will have my Canadian Budget Binder ready with custom printables for a small fee.

There is also the glass jar budgeting method or cash budget using envelopes that people like.

If you can’t get your spouse on the same page, suggest a monthly allowance.

Set aside fun money if there is a bit of money left over. It’s like getting a chocolate bar, happiness.

If you feel trapped in a relationship and want out because they are the problem, go.

I know it’s easier said than done, and situations are different, but you don’t have to live with financial stress for the rest of your life.

Some people may ask what’s in it for me if I budget.

  1. You get a chocolate bar and allowance, ha!
  2. You’re fighting your money problems using a financial tool that has proven successful for many people.

How To Fix Your Money Problems

For some people who have fixed their money problems by reading Canadian Budget Binder, they did seven things.

  1. I spent time daily and monthly with a budget, and both worked on it. That meant they were on the same page.
  2. Using all the free tools and resources, cashback offers, and coupons to lower their grocery and pharmacy expenses prices. One of our favourite cashback websites is Rakuten.
  3. Develop a goals plan and discuss what they need before buying it.
  4. What debts to get rid of first? Many like the debt snowball method, which pays off debts from lowest to highest.
  5. They created an emergency savings fund
  6. Finally, they allowed themselves an allowance each month to not feel deprived.
  7. Education is essential in finance, so I suggested they read my blog with over 2000 articles. I’d suggest starting with my 10-Step Mini-Budgeting Series.

Seek Advice From Professionals With Money Problems

Finally, I told them if they were serious about the long haul that they could email me with updates and any questions.

Once the debt is gone, they told me they plan to participate in the RESP, TFSA, and RRSP.

It’s hard to put money into these investments if you struggle to keep the house going.

Three other ways are to talk to a financial advisor or consolidation firm or call your credit card companies and ask for a reduced rate.

Do whatever it takes but don’t be shy to talk to the people you owe money to see if they can help you.

Ultimately, if you want out of the money problems, you need to immerse yourself in all aspects of your debt-to-income ratio.

Discussion: What has helped you to crush your money problems? Could you leave me your feedback below?


Family Budget Income Report November 2020

Monthly Net Income November
Our monthly net income for November 2020

Hi CBB readers,

It’s easy to see from our budget expenses that Christmas is here. We’ve been buying gifts for the family, and we’re hosting.

We never anticipated hosting, but it was a last-minute change with my family, so we have them here.

There will only be four adults and two children, but we like to bake and eat lots. ha!

A big chunk of the expenses went to my new Cooper tires and an alignment on my truck. That was around $1700.

Oh, and yes, I looked for the best deals for my wanted tires. I did get $100 off, so it was better than nothing.

Also, healthcare went up because my wife needed two crowns where our benefits covered half the costs.

Right now she’s getting set up for Invisalign as she is missing a tooth from birth, impacting her having a larger smile.

She also bought some face scrub from the spa she goes to, which was $125 but worth every dollar.

Her face is beautiful with no acne apart from once a month, and she glows, but she is 100% invested in facial skincare each night.

Well, that’s all for now. Let’s see how December goes and what breaks down because something always does. Haha.

Be Well,


Family Budget Percentages

home budget percentages
A chart that shows monthly budget percentages for a Canadian Household of 3.

Our savings of 100% include investments as well as any savings for this month based on the net income of $10,354.54

We save money in our projected expenses for things that need to be paid for in the coming months, such as Christmas.

All categories took 100% of our income, which shows that we accounted for all of the income in November 2020.

This type of budget is a zero-based budget where all the money has a home.

Monthly Home Budget Expenses

Monthly Net Income November
Our monthly net income for November 2020

Below is a breakdown of our expenses, which helps us understand where all our money goes.

  1. Chequing– This is the bank account from which all of our debt is paid. We use Simplii Financial, TD Canada Trust, and Tangerine Bank.
  2. Emergency Savings Account– This is a high-interest savings account.
  3. Regular Savings Account– This savings account holds our projected expenses.
  4. Monthly Budgeted Total: $6392.68
  5. Monthly Net Income Total: $10,354.54
  6. (Check out our Ultimate Grocery Guide to see where our grocery money goes)
  7. Projected Expenses: These are expenses we know we will pay for throughout the year = $852.91
  8. Total Expenses Paid Out: $9,177.41
  9. Total Expenses Paid Out: Calculated is $10,3354.54(total net monthly income) – $852.91 (projected expenses) – $324.22 (savings to emergency fund) = $9177.41
  10. Actual Cash Savings going into Emergency Savings: Calculated is $10,354.54 (total monthly net income) – $9177.41 (actual expenses paid out for the month) – $852.91 (projected expenses) = $ 324.22

Monthly Budget and Actual Budget

Below you will see two tables, one is our monthly budget, and the other is our actual budget.

This budget represents two adults and a 6-year-old son, plus retirement investments.

Budget colour chart: If highlighted in blue, it is a projected expense.   

Since May 2014, we’ve been mortgage-free so much of our money will be directed at savings, investments, and renovations.

I appreciate that you enjoy this budget update each month, but I hope you view this as an educational tool rather than comparing your financial numbers as our situations are all unique.

Spending less than we earn and budgeting has been the easiest way for us to pay down debt and save money.

Monthly Budgeted Amounts

November family budget

Actual Monthly Budget Expenses

Actual Budget Sample

2020 Home Budget Challenge

2020 Budget Challenge

November Update: We are still 2 players in for the Budget Challenge 2020.

These two budget challengers will ride it out until the end of 2020.

I’m thrilled to have had both of these ladies budgeting with us this year.

This shows you that you can if you are determined to become debt-free and stick to a budget.

Let’s look at what happened with their monthly budgets in October.

Budget Challenger #1


We celebrated our wedding anniversary at home plus hubby had another week of vacation this month.

Hubby’s week off was a great opportunity for us to discuss our financial plans for 2021 and to review exactly where we stand at the moment.

I handle our finances, but I like to bring hubby up to speed at least quarterly.

I will say that 2020 was both good and bad for us.

On the plus side, we remain debt-free, BUT on the negative side, our level of saving was not what we had hoped for.

Four medical purchases cut deeply into our projected savings.

Our smaller-than-hoped-for gain in net worth is no excuse for us to throw in the towel and start a “pity party” type of spending spree.

Finding New Ways To Save

Rather, it’s time to double down on saving & find new and creative ways to save!

Our Cash Back Visa card paid us a tidy little sum this month ($170.00), covering the cost of November and December’s groceries!

I transferred the funds budgeted for groceries, $360.00, into our savings!

Secondly, we continue to use gift cards for gasoline purchases and those budgeted funds ($50/month) also make their way to our savings account.

On Dec 14th I will send in our extended medical claim for the year.

We’ll completely repay the CPAP purchase funds we borrowed from our savings with the reimbursement cheque.

The remainder of the reimbursed funds will top up our Car Replacement Savings. 

I will keep trying to find more new ways to save!

Mr.CBB -Finding more ways to save is the name of the game. What is car replacement savings? It sounds like something I’d like to add to the budget binder printables.

Budget Challenger #2

Hey Mr. CBB and all, happy December. November was a crappy month for me.

Not to get into it a lot, but I lost my grandfather.

I know the website has a lot of information about preparing wills and when someone is aging or sick.

I generally skip these kinds of articles. It’s hard to think about, but something we should consider.

My grandfather had the requisite Will and had identified who should get certain things, but a lot wasn’t figured out, little stupid things are hard, making things move slowly going forward.

  • What I would suggest is if you have the type of family that can have tough conversations, do it.
  • What things would you want to have that are here?
  • What are the sentimental things that you would like to own?
  • Are there any questions on photographs, artwork, etc., that you would like some background on?

Talk To Family

If there are multiple family members to divide things between, talk to them first and see if there is anything that multiple people want so it can be figured out, and if there are specific charities you want your clothes to go to, etc.

  • What would you like to be buried in?
  • Is there anything you would like in your obituary?

These are awful conversations that no one wants to have, but I think sometimes they are conversations most people are thinking about but too scared to bring up – maybe he wanted to discuss these things but didn’t want to upset anyone.

Either way, this is neither here nor there regarding budget, so I will leave you with these things to ponder.

My budget isn’t perfect this month. I spend with my credit card to track things without keeping all my receipts.

My November Budget

  • November: Groceries 304.21
  • Entertainment: Spotify 22.98
  • Car maintenance 250
  • Pets 64.83
  • Fast food 110
  • Internet 95
  • Clothing 15.53
  • Gas 110
  • Health 19 Savings (preset with the bank) 200
  • Insurance 161.92
  • Xmas gifts 36.73
  • Phone 57.99

I’m  Now Debt-Free

I finally paid off my car, so I am mortgage and car-payment-free.

 My car has high KM’s so we are predicting 2 years max on it, but this way we get to start saving.

Last month was car inspection time so that and an oil change and undercoat made monthly maintenance expensive, but it’s over and done with for a while longer.

Health costs were related to out-of-pocket payments for my eye and dental exams – I’m lucky my health plan covers most of everything.

I also paid $20 in cash for the osteoporosis appt but I’m not sure.

Again, I wasn’t perfect this month with my spending; too much on my mind.

I bought a few Xmas gifts but Xmas isn’t something we will be doing this year and with that said I don’t foresee December being too expensive.

January, I have dental work being done. Hopefully, the health plan will cover most of it.

No other potential large expenses coming up that I’m aware of, and no vacation to plan for any time soon so what didn’t get spent will get added to my savings.

I’m too lazy to do the math right now but I’m guessing I saved half my paycheque last month so that will help towards any unexpected costs in the future.

 Mr.CBB- Congratulations on being debt-free. It feels good. Well done.

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  1. Hi,
    When will the 2021 version be available?

    Excel Budget Spreadsheet #2- Click To Download> Monthly-Budget-with-Yearly-Report-and-Graphs 2020

    Thank you!

  2. Mr CBB,

    In answer to your question, hubby and I have a Car Replacement Savings Account that I put money into each and every month plus we also top it up with the annual medical expense reimbursement cheque from our extended medical plan once a year. I figure we’ve already spent the medical money and we will also get an income tax deduction on whatever was not reimbursed…so we might as well top up the car replacement account since our monthly car replacement savings are minimal and inadequate.

    Hubby has planned that a portion of his inheritance from his mother will be used to purchase a new car. We have those funds sitting in a cashable GIC for when they are actually going to be used….Car Replacement Inheritance GIC. We’ll wait until the covid situation improves and we are willing to go into the auto dealership and think about a test drive. We are simply maintaining our 12 year old vehicle in the meantime.

    Our Car Replacement Savings are invested annually into a GIC in order to earn a higher rate of return. Annually I re-invest the Car Replacement GIC maturity + interest earned + all of the car replacement funds we have set aside over the last year. Currently, we have about 2/3 of the cost of a car saved up. The plan is to NEVER finance a car purchase!

    Since an automobile is a depreciating asset, we REALLY don’t want to invest any more money in it than absolutely necessary and financially prudent and that includes any financing costs. We either pay cash or we wait! 🙂

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