Personal Financial Health in 2015

According to surveys, improving financial health is a top ten resolution, year after year. There are only two things that you can do to increase the amount of money that you have: increase your income; decrease your expenses. The first step is to calculate your household budget, a process which those of you with form aversion would prefer not to do. However, there are resources to help you with this.  The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada provides both an online household budget calculator and a downloadable excel file  (Scroll down to the end of the second paragraph to download the budget)

Because increasing your income (winning the lottery at some future date does not count) can be more difficult than decreasing expenses, the following outlines a few fairly painless ways to cut costs:
1. Reduce energy use. Hydro costs more at different times of the day and in different seasons. For the exact costs, see Toronto Hydro.  Get into the habit of turning off lights and appliances when they’re not in use. Invest in LED light bulbs. They do cost more but the savings are considerable. Hydro One and Toronto Hydro distribute coupons to households. Clothes dryers use about six percent of a household’s energy, probably the highest use of all household appliances. Buy a retractable clothes line to hang in your laundry area or outside.

2. Eat out less. Restaurant food is expensive. Junk food is expensive. Make a menu for a few days and buy the ingredients that you need in one shopping trip. Look for recipes online that replicate your favourite restaurant meals.

3. Gas prices appear to be in free fall but the decline is relative. At the time of writing, a litre of gas is just under .90 cents compared to $ 1.26 this time last year. But take a look at this  chart to see historical gas price fluctuations. Now is not the time to take out a bank loan in order to buy a gas guzzling vehicle. See Toronto Gas Prices for hints that can reduce your  gasoline use and reduce expenses.
Although January is almost over, you can add one or two of the above to your resolution list and save some money this year. My 2015 resolution, after looking over the lack of blogs in 2014, is to write more and exercise regularly.