A monthly finance checklist is to help you become debt-free and save money. Consider this to be an extension of your monthly budget.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be free of debt and living a life without money stress?
A little while back I wrote about the importance of creating a retirement checklist which is still very relevant.
However, now more than ever Canadians must work on how to live comfortably before retirement.
It’s kind of like having the best of both worlds. Live for today and tomorrow type of mindset.
By doing so you create the life you want to live now and what you want in the future.
Isn’t that really the name of the game when it comes to budgeting?
You would assume so but not every budget lifestyle is that cut and dry.
Where one person or family can walk right into a personal finance checklist or budget another might struggle.
Today, I want to talk about what we have on our personal finance checklist and how to fit your budget into the mix.
Money Freedom Starts With A Personal Finance Checklist
We didn’t become a millionaire couple by the age of 40 because we had 6-figure incomes.
Oh, no no no we did not. Just to think about what we had to go through to get to this point is mindboggling however it feels darn good.
I’m not bragging by any means but what I’m about to tell you is that you can get to a state where you are financially stable.
To be fair finance is not just about becoming rich it’s about freedom.
In other words, you have options when you are debt-free such as more time to volunteer, work fewer hours, or jump back into the workforce in the arms of a pandemic.
Those are only a few examples that you can incorporate if needed.
- You Need A Budget
- Personal Finance Checklist
If you don’t want to be a slave to money all of your life now is the time to clean house.
By this I mean you must have some form of a personal finance checklist that you follow.
Worried About Our Child’s Future
What we continue to think about are our son and his future. I’m not sure why but perhaps it’s normal for parents when life is a great big giant ball of poo.
As we are waiting on a diagnosis of possible Autism along with other sensory issues it bothers us.
He will have his registered education savings which will pay for 4 years of University or College plus a non-registered investment account to go with his paid life insurance policy.
Even then, we still worry that he will be ok.
Never Stop Trying To Save Money
Even after we became debt-free we continue to live a thrifty lifestyle. Why? It makes sense to continue to save money.
Taking chances with your money once you feel financially comfortable can be risky.
Covid-19 has proven to put so many Canadians in a financial pickle that they simply don’t know what to do.
It’s a time where personal finance plays a massive role in our lives and Covid-19 is freaking people out.
That’s the easiest and most polite way that I can put it because Canadians are legit scared right now.
The world is scared about what’s next around the corner and how this pandemic and financial crisis will improve and when.
Not everyone has the ability to work from home with many companies laying off or closing down.
What once was a relatively a simple work day has now been turned upside down.
By continuing to live with little or without emergency savings and high consumer debt can be detrimental.
Get Results With A Finance Checklist
Some might say a financial checklist is similar to a 5-year plan but it’s not, at least for us.
A five-year plan is a list of what you want to accomplish in five years. It’s a pretty easy concept I guess.
We consider a financial checklist to be a monthly look into our money trends.
Essentially what you are doing is taking the results of your budget and breaking it down.
- Are we spending too much?
- Have our investments increased or decreased and why?
- How can we reduce our expenses? Any changes we should consider?
- Can we get better deals for our variable expenses?
Recently, I received an email from a CBB reader who wanted to know how we monitor our finances.
A very important question indeed that no one has ever asked us before.
You see, a budget is one thing but going over monthly achievements and fails is another thing.
If you have followed CBB for a long time you know a budget is our top-priority.
This is why we created the 10 Step Mini-Budgeting Series for those of you who are beginners.
As you get familiar with your budget things will change and you will improve the way money is earned, saved and spent.
At the time our five-year plan really never existed however that’s how long it took to crush our mortgage debt. Coincidence? Perhaps.
How To Create A Finance Checklist
Creating a finance checklist that you can review at the end of every month is fairly simple.
The only thing I caution is that what we see as valuable for our finance checklist, you may not.
So, this is what we like to review as a couple so we both understand how we can improve and whether we’ve reached our monthly goals.
Believe me it’s not easy either and there are months we fail however we keep on going.
Don’t let a bad month set you back or push you into a corner, fight for it.
Our Finance Checklist
Below is our monthly finance checklist and a link to the free printable for your budget binder.
- Budget Review
- Debt Analysis and Payoff plan
- Update Net Worth Statement
- Check investment portfolio
- Review personal expenses
- Emergency Savings Review
- Evaluate variable expenses
- Estate Planning Review
- Financial Organization Audit
- Insurance Needs
- Check Credit Score
- Document Rewards Points
Without fail we do a full budget review to make sure we are on track with our money.
You can find our full list of budget reviews from the time we started posting our monthly budget online if you’d like examples.
The importance of having this on your checklist is so that you examine areas of success and improvements.
This will help you to find areas to save more money or perhaps eliminate a budget category to free up cash.
That will be a huge savings for us come year-end.
Debt Analysis and Payoff Plan
Although we currently do not have any debt this may be important to those who do.
We kept this on our checklist because in the event that we do carry debt we can create a payoff plan.
In the future we may want to build a home or move to a bigger home in the country.
This may mean we need to get organize getting a mortgage which is why we leave it.
Update Net Worth Statement
Another must for us is updating our net worth statement every month.
This part of the finance checklist sort of comes together with the investment portfolio.
Although, at this point we just pull the numbers and see if our investments increased or decreased.
Check Investment Portfolio
In this section, we have a look deeper into our investment portfolio online to see where our money has increased or decreased.
We keep a very good relationship with our financial advisor and his associates at Manulife Canada.
For this reason, if we have any questions we can make a call or send an email and anything we need answers for they will provide.
This is a reminder to ask if you don’t know what’s happening.
Review Personal Expenses
Once our budget is completed we review each budget category including our personal expenses.
Some of those budget categories would be clothing, health and beauty, plus miscellaneous.
The idea here would be to see what we spent the money on and could we have saved more or done better.
Like everyone else, we still make impulse purchases even at second-hand shops and they all add up.
By reviewing your personal expenses it holds you accountable to what was spent.
Emergency Savings Review
There are some months we are not saving enough in our emergency savings and that’s because we spend more than we earn.
It happens especially if you have something come up that you did not budget for.
Many Canadians are diving into their Emergency Savings just to pay the bills during this pandemic.
I can bet that those of you who are using your emergency savings are happy that you saved them.
A quick review each month will let you know if you need to save more or focus on what you need and not want.
Evaluate Variable Expenses
If you find that you’re not saving enough money whether it be in your emergency savings or your projected expenses evaluate your variable budget expenses.
Various budget expenses are those that you can make changes to such as groceries or even the cancellation of a product such as a magazine subscription or home phone.
Since getting rid of our expensive home phone I got a cell phone plan with Freedom Mobile with data for $21.99 a month. Talk about great pricing and the service has been perfect in our area.
If you don’t need it, get rid of it is our motto.
Estate Planning Review
After my father-in-law passed away we contacted a lawyer to have our Will drawn up.
The importance of talking about our Will and Power of Attorney each month is to decide whether there are any changes needed.
For example, do you need to change your POA or update your Will to include something you forgot?
The beauty of an online Will Kit is you can easily do that where we have to go through our lawyer and pay legal fees.
There are lots of hoops and red tape to jump through with a will and even harsher consequences without a Will.
Although we spent $1000 to hire a lawyer you can easily complete a legal Will and Power of Attorney online.
An online Will kit is just as legal as having one drawn up by a lawyer as long as the company is legitimate.
Two examples of the most popular Canadian Online Will Kits to check out are:
Epilogue is a simple, fast, and affordable way for Canadians to create their Will and Powers of Attorney online.
All you do is answer a series of straightforward questions. A legally-binding Will can be made in 20 minutes at home.
You won’t need to visit a lawyer’s office either as Epilogue was founded by two estate planning lawyers who know what they are doing.
Another great online Will Kit provider that is popular in Canada is Canadian Legal Wills.
About Canadian Legal Wills
Canadian Legal Wills allows people to create common legal documents in a very easy, convenient, private, secure and cost-effective manner, without the need to pay the high expenses of a lawyer.
We go far beyond any do-it-yourself kit or online repository of legal forms and documents.
If you wish, all of your legal documents can be stored and maintained by you online, in a completely private and secure manner.
This will ensure that you can keep it updated to reflect any changes in your financial or family situation.LegalWills.ca – Write your Will from the comfort of your home (Click here to get 15% off)
Custom-made for your Province and lawyer approved, at one-tenth the cost.
Finance Organization Audit
Being organized is SO important when it comes to your finances especially when it comes to income tax time.
For years we were not organized when it came to keeping our receipts that we could claim together.
It took us ages to go through our monthly budget receipts that we keep in ziploc bags to find everything.
I guess in a way we thought they were being organized but we took it a step further and created a receipt file folder.
We bought the accordion-like file folder at Value Village for a few dollars has come in handy.
It’s labelled with blog receipts for the year as well as receipts that we collect for monthly budget expenses.
We go through the receipts each month to double-check that they are accounted for.
Our budget binder has also been a huge relief to keeping us organized.
We keep all of our budget binder printables from our CBB Free Resources Library in one spot.
Every page in our budget binder is reviewed and checked off our finance checklist.
You can make your own budget binder but keep an eye out for an exclusive blog post.
We have had a financial planner since we were married and he takes care of our investments and life insurance.
Each year we review our life insurance policy which we just changed from term insurance to a whole life policy with Manulife Canada.
I guess we are an old-school insurance family but what’s even cooler is that you can apply for life insurance online now.
You no longer need to go to an insurance company to get life insurance as they come to you online.
You can apply for life insurance online in the comfort of your home which makes it easier for those of you without transportation.
Two of the best online Canadian life insurance companies are Policy Me and Sun Life Go.
PolicyMe is a simple and honest way to get advice, compare quotes and buy life insurance online.
PolicyMe’s simplified online process is aligned to how people are accustomed to purchasing products (no face-to-face meetings with brokers required), with a proprietary advice engine that provides objective recommendations on the best, most affordable products (no upselling or overprotecting).
To date, thousands of Canadians have trusted PolicyMe with their life insurance search.
Sun Life Go
In as little as ten minutes, anyone legally living in Canada between the ages of 18-74 can receive a quote and apply for coverage.
Sun Life Go gives people the flexibility to help meet health and financial needs with convenient access to insurance coverage.
The online life insurance that has you temporarily covered the moment you apply.
Providing solutions to help meet your needs, choose coverage ranging from $5,000 to $1 million. With a 30-day free look at all policies, life insurance has never been brighter
Sun Life helps Clients achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives.
Check it out for yourself right here.
Check Credit Score
We use Borrowell to check our monthly credit score to make sure there is nothing suspicious going on.
Monthly they send both Mrs. CBB and me an email and link to our monthly report for review.
Since we plan to possibly sell our house and move to something a bit bigger our credit score needs to be in good shape.
It’s amazing how many people find out that their credit report and score have been compromised by someone using their identity.
Borrowell is a proudly Canadian company with a single goal in mind: to help people make great decisions about credit. This is why we were the first in Canada to offer free credit scores and reports from our partner, Equifax, Canada’s largest credit bureau. We wanted to do more, so we created Canada’s first AI-powered Credit Coach, Molly, who shares personalized tips that may help you understand and improve your credit. We also developed our recommendation engine that analyzes your unique credit profile to make personalized financial product recommendations.Borrowell Canada
Another trusted company to check your credit score is Credit Verify although I have not used them personally.
Credit Verify is trusted by lenders and other financial Institutions to provide accurately and approved credit profile information.
Document Rewards Points
This was something we had never done before and then we realized it was important.
Actually, there is one CBB fan who knows exactly what is on her rewards cards for redemption purposes.
I wouldn’t be shocked if she has a rewards points document checklist. That’s next to be created for our free printable budget binder resources.
Since we don’t do this right now I wanted to add it because I feel it is necessary to know.
In the case of the current pandemic having to source money fast may lead you in the direction of your rewards balance.
For example, our PC Optimum points have toppled 6 million which is over $6000 of free food or pharmacy store products.
For example, we have $77.00 in rewards for our Flash Food App to use.
Sign up and have your friends sign up and earn free money plus get up to and over 50% off of reduced grocery products.
One of our favourites for online shopping is Rakuten Canada. We’ve received many cashback cheques in the mail from Rakuten just for shopping online.
Since the lockdown we’ve been shopping online for our needs because waiting in lineups takes too much of our time.
Money Freedom Is A Finance Checklist Away
I’m not saying you’re going to become a millionaire but I will attest to the feeling of stress-free living.
If all you want is money freedom then you’re a finance checklist and budget away from making that happen.
Discussion: Have you ever used a finance checklist paired with your monthly budget?
Leave me your comments below.