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Why financial literacy should be a 'lifelong journey'

November is Financial Literacy Month. It's a time when Canadians are encouraged to reflect on their financial well-being, and build financial confidence.
Keeping up with the bills in 2022 is a top priority for Canadians

November is Financial Literacy Month.

It's a time when Canadians are encouraged to reflect on their financial well-being, and build financial confidence. 

"Canadians need to remember, especially when they think about, 'Who am I banking with? And how are they serving my needs?' Because that's where their money is," says certified financial advisor Jackie Porter.

A recent PC Financial survey on financial literacy found that "44 per cent of Canadians felt that they weren't equipped with the advice and tools that they needed," says Porter.

Sitting down to figure out one's finances can be a daunting, overwhelming task. So, the Ontario-based financial advisor says that ease is important. 

"They need to know that they have options outside of the big banks, like (Canadians) want to work with banks that ultimately are going to make it easier for them to just stay on top of their money. Figure out where it's going, track it better," she says.

"People are busy. They're busier than ever, and having their finances in lockdown for the last two and a half years, I don't know if people have a really clear picture of where they are when it comes to their budget."

The survey also found that 67 per cent of younger Canadians (18 to 54) do not feel confident in sticking to a budget.

"If you can have a [bank] account that helps you to stay on top of your budget, you can see where your money is going. You can see categories, you can actually see if you're needing to take a hard right turn and reduce your spending in a certain area," says Porter.

One recommendation she has is to use gift cards for variable costs, like coffee. 

"So when you run out of the money [on the gift card]... you stop. You're a little bit more aware."

Porter tells Glacier Media a lot of people look at their account every so often and not realize they're in trouble "until it's too late."

'Be more intentional'
Financial confidence is a lifelong journey, she adds. It's not a one-and-done situation, says Porter.

"The financial industry, finances are constantly changing. You just have to keep checking in on your finances... [it's] a lifelong conversation with yourself and other people."

Other tips include prioritizing savings, especially enabling automatic deposits into a high-interest savings account. 

"Setting up monthly contributions for things, watching how it grows. Doing things like setting up a budget, seeing how your budget is doing, checking in on your budget, all those things give you confidence."

In the end, Porter says financial literacy and independence is "about empowering yourself around your finances."

"I think a lot of times when people are stressed out around their finances, they tend to do nothing except worry. When you start seeing things happening, and you see things moving in a positive direction, it tends to allow you to kind of form that habit."