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5 steps to organizing your finances

  1. Find out where you stand financially
  2. Draw up a budget
  3. Pay off your debt
  4. Use your credit wisely
  5. Start saving

If you often find yourself anxiously awaiting your next paycheque or are overwhelmed at the thought of putting money aside, then perhaps our 5-step plan to organizing your finances is what you need.

We also have tools to help you save and find financial peace of mind.

Drawing up a balance sheet can seem daunting.

However, this essential step will not only give you an overview of your income and expenses, it will help you clearly determine what you can do to rectify the situation.

Start by listing what you own (assets) and what you owe (liabilities) using the Your personal balance sheet (PDF, 135 KB)  - This link will open in a new window. tool.

Then, to calculate your net worth, simply add up your assets and subtract your liabilities.

If your net worth is positive, you can start saving or planning projects, or both!

If your net worth is negative, you are “in the red”. It's time to tackle your debts and get your finances back on track.

In either case, you should go on to step 2 and draw up your budget.

Tools and tips

Your personal balance sheet

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

Assess financial situation - This link will open in a new window.

A budget helps you get better control of your finances by showing you exactly where your money goes.

Establishing a budget consists in making a list of your income and expenses, on a monthly basis.

Start by looking at your monthly bank statements, as well as your bills and statements of account.

Then, calculate your income and expenses by using the Your budget (PDF, 258 KB) - This link will open in a new window. tool.

You will be able to identify your fixed expenses (housing, food, car, current accounts, etc.) and variable expenses (leisure activities, trips, etc.).

If you're in the black, you can save or invest according to your needs.

If you're in the red, determine which expenses you could cut in order to balance your budget.

You might notice that some debts limit your financial flexibility. If that is the case, you need to go to step 3 and pay off your debt.

Tools and tips

Your budget

This tool shows you how to calculate your earnings and expenses, and draw up a monthly budget balance sheet.

Make budget - This link will open in a new window.

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. This link will open in a new window.

Why some budgets don't work

Read tip - Why some budgets don't work

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

How overextended is your credit? Answer the following 7 tell-tale questions to find out once and for all.

No one likes to be drowning in debt. Sometimes, using your credit to pay certain bills and expenses may be tempting. However, keep in mind that this seemingly ideal solution is in fact a slippery slope.

How to deal with debt

First, list your debts and develop a repayment plan. To help you get started, use the List your debts and make a plan to pay them off (PDF, 210 KB) - This link will open in a new window. calculator.
Then, determine which debt you want to repay first. Here's a tip: Pick the one with the highest balance or highest interest rate.

Once your debt is paid off, you can use the money that was going toward it to pay off the next debt on the list.

Depending on your situation, it may be to your benefit to consolidate your debts and, consequently, have only a single payment to make.

Every debt paid off is a victory. Make sure to reward yourself for all your efforts—without using your credit of course!

You can now move on to step 4 to get tips on how to use your credit wisely.

Tools and tips

List your debts and make a plan to pay them off

This tool will help you prioritize your debts in order to pay them off.

Do the math - List your debts and make a plan to pay them off. This link will open in a new window.

7 tell-tale questions

A short test to see whether you are using your credit wisely or getting knee-deep in debt.

Take test - 7 debt questions to ask yourself

How to calculate your debt-to-income ratio

A simple way to assess your true financial situation.

Do the math - How to calculate your debt-to-income ratio

How to reduce your interest cost

Tips on keeping your debt under control.

Read tip - Reducing your mortgage fees

When it comes to credit, moderation is the way to go.

You should determine your credit needs based on your repayment capacity, not your wants.

To avoid paying interest, which adds to your debt, pay your account balance in full before the due date.

Minimizing the number of credit cards you have is a good way to resist temptation and avoid taking on more debt.

Personal loans or lines of credit, which have lower interest rates than those of credit cards, may be the way to go for some purchases.

The interest you will avoid paying can even help you build a nest egg.

You can use step 5 as a guideline to start saving.

Tools and tips

Tips from a financial planner

A list of the best credit practices.

Read tip - Credit: 10 tips from a financial planner

Understanding your credit file

An action plan to help you maintain a good financial reputation.

Read tip - Understanding your credit file

Putting your credit card to better use

Use your credit card for the right reasons.

Read tip - 5 tips on how to put your credit card to better use

Your credit options

The benefits and disadvantages of borrowing from various establishments or individuals.

Read tip - Knowing your credit options

How to reduce your interest cost

Saving pays off!

Knowing you have money put aside is a way of ensuring peace of mind.

On the other hand, having no savings to fall back on could put you in a precarious financial situation should contingencies arise (e.g., loss of employment, illness, car repairs).

No matter the amount, the more savings you have, the less likely you are to resort to credit. What's more, that amount will grow with time.

All it takes is a little discipline. The systematic savings method is the ideal tool to save money. It lets you put aside as much as you want, and the funds are withdrawn from your account as often as you wish.

For example, you may decide to put aside $50 a month or $10 a week. It's simple and, above all, it will pay off in the long run!

Tools and tips

3 steps to putting money aside

A simple action plan that requires only a bit of will and perseverance.

Read tip - 3-step savings plan

How much will your regular instalment savings be worth?

Calculate how much you will save if you make regular, fixed deposits to a savings account for a specific period of time.

Do the math - How much will your regular instalment savings be worth? This link will open in a new window.

Choosing the best account for you and your spouse

The pluses and minuses of joint accounts.

Read tip - Choosing the best account for you and your spouse

Organize your savings projects with My budget

Use our budget management tool to create and monitor your savings projects.

Learn more about My budget.

The Desjardins Personal Financial Index

Measure your financial skills and knowledge.

My index - Budgeting, debts, savings, insurance...
My index 2 - Have you taken control of your finances?
My index 3 - Spending, saving, protecting your assets...

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