Financial self-assessment is a check of your financial health. With dieting or exercise, you monitor your progress and make changes as necessary. The same goes for your financial health. Regularly assessing where you are at with your money will help you achieve your financial goals sooner and break bad habits.
While taking the pulse of your financial health is important to do regularly, we especially recommend doing a financial assessment before a major life event. Buying a house, getting married, changing jobs, moving to a new apartment or applying for school are all great times to sit down and go over your finances.
How Do I Self-Assess My Finances?
There are dozens of ways and methods you can use to assess your financial situation. However, every good assessment tool analyzes five key areas.
Determine how much money you bring home every month, after taxes. You want to make sure you are spending less than you earn. 50% of your money should go to your needs, 30% to wants and 20% should go into savings.
Saving for retirement should be a top financial priority. The earlier you start the better. While there are different recommendations for how much you should set aside for retirement, most experts agree that 15% of your income is reasonable. Retirement calculators can help you determine how close you are to that goal.
For the Retirement Calculator, click here.
Your credit score tells a lender how reliable you are as a borrower. Credit unions check your credit report and look at things like your debt-to-income ratio, outstanding debts and your history of on-time payments to determine what your credit score will be.
Credit scores can range anywhere from 300 – 900. A good credit score is anything about 720. An average score falls around 690 – 720. A fair score is usually around 630 – 689. Finally, lenders consider a score of 300 – 629 to be a bad credit score.
If you find your credit score is lower than you want, you can start doing some things right away to start building it up. The most important of these is paying your bills on time each month.
Your total debt is a sum of all the money you have borrowed and need to pay back. This could be a student loan, credit card statement, or mortgage. Anything you owe that has a high-interest rate should be at the top of the list to pay off.
This is money you have set aside for a rainy day. Sometimes things happen that are out of your control. Car accident, health issues or a sudden life event can leave you in need of cash. Having an emergency fund will help when times get tough. While most experts recommend having three months’ worth of emergency savings, start where you can. Anything is better than nothing.
Financial Assessment Resources
Want to assess your finances but not sure where to start? There are lots of resources available online that can walk you through the process and help you calculate what you need to do. The Government of Canada offers a great tool on their website that is easy to use and can help you get the process started.
Maybe you feel more comfortable talking with someone in person. That’s OK, too. Cashco Financial has over 63 branches across Canada. Our team of diverse financial representatives are here to help everyday Albertans get control of their finances through alternative baking options and healthy spending habits.
Financial health is a journey. You might not be where you want to be right now. But assessing your finances early, no matter how painful, is a great first step. Don’t feel hopeless. With a budget, a plan and some banking options designed to work for you, you can achieve the financial freedom you have always wanted.
To start your Personal Financial Assessment, click here.