Assessing your financial situation

  1. Gather your documents
  2. List your assets and liabilities
  3. The moment of truth

Your great-grandmother's jewellery, the land left by your grandfather, the balance on your student loan—do you have a clear idea of what you own and what you owe?

Taking stock of your existing finances is the first building block to sound financial management. Here's how to do it, in 3 easy steps.

If you're organized, it will be a simple matter to get hold of the documents (paper or electronic) showing the balance on your credit card, your mortgage and the value of your investments.

If you're more the type to squirrel your financial papers away in different desk or dresser drawers, finding the amounts on those bonds inherited from your father might involve some excavation.

While you're looking for your life insurance policy, you might come across other documents such as your vaccination records, passport, certificates of investment and household bills. Take the opportunity to organize them in clearly marked folders (health, identity, savings, taxes, etc.).

All the goods and investments you own are assets:

  • home
  • automobile
  • jewellery
  • art
  • RRSPs
  • TFSA
  • pension fund
  • bank accounts
  • other

Your liabilities consist of short-, medium- and long-term debts:

  • credit cards
  • car loan
  • student loan
  • mortgage
  • other

Enter your figures in Your personal balance sheet (PDF, 200 KB).

The difference between your assets and liabilities reveals your net worth.

If your net worth is positive, you may wish to save or plan some future projects, or maybe even both!

On the other hand, if your net worth is negative, you are "in the red". It's time to get back on track—you'll need to tackle your debts first.

Your budget

Whether your net worth is positive or negative, the next step is to establish your monthly budget.

By listing all your income and expenses, you'll know exactly where your money goes and how to control it. The Action Plan entitled 3 steps to drawing up a monthly budget can help you in this process.

If your budget shows a surplus, you'll be able to save or invest, as you choose. Maybe you would like to invest in your RRSP, buy a house, try your luck on the stock market or go on sabbatical? Anything is possible for a person as disciplined as you are! Maybe the advice of a financial planner would be useful for you.

If your budget is in deficit, identify the expenses you could cut back on to balance it. The important thing is to go slowly and set realistic goals to pay off your debts. The Action Plan entitled 5 steps to organizing your finances will help you achieve a more sound financial situation.

Tools and tips

Your personal balance sheet

Calculate your net worth by listing what you own and what you owe.

Do the math - Your personal balance sheet

The importance of a monthly budget

How to establish a good budget in 3 steps.

Read tip - 3 steps to drawing up a monthly budget

Determine how much to allocate to each expense category

This calculator can help you determine how much you need to cover all your expenses.

Do the math - Determine how much to allocate to each expense category

List your debts and make a plan to pay them off

This calculator helps you determine what you need to do be debt free.

Do the math - List your debts and make a plan to pay them off

My budget tool

Available exclusively to Desjardins caisse members, the My budget management tool gives you an accurate picture of your everyday income and expenses.

Learn more - Budget management tool - My budget