I have a confession to make; I am terrible with money! Ever since moving out at 17 years old, I’ve had to budget and pay bills on my own and I’ve  dealt with a lot of financial stress. No matter how great the rest of life is going, that strain will always be at the back of your mind.

Now that I am done school, done my unpaid maternity leave, and back at work, I’m determined to improve my financial health and I’m consuming every article I can with tips and tricks and doing what I can to fix things.

Set a Budget

Do you roll your eyes every time you read this advice? I know I did. I thought I mentally knew exactly what we needed so there was no need to write it all out. When I finally did the results were shocking- our expenses are more than our income. No wonder we can’t keep up!

Once this was made clear, I was able to find ways to cut down our bills, save on groceries, and cut out on the ‘fun’ stuff as much as possible.

Check Your Account Often

I’ve also gotten into the habit of checking my account almost daily so I know exactly what’s cleared and what’s available in my budget. That’s where I see “Whoops! I spent a lot on take out.” Or “Hey! Ryan bought a lot of beer this week.”

Don’t be late!

Late fees suck. This is why I’ve started writing down my monthly bills and due dates on my calendar as soon as the statement comes in. Once the bill is paid, I cross off the note so I know it’s been done. I write down every single expense, including the $15 monthly bank fee and my $14 Netflix withdrawal.

DO NOT be late on your credit card payments people! You can sneak by with a late utility bill, but a late credit card payment shows up on your credit statement.

If you find yourself in a bind such as the credit card payment is due but your next paycheck isn’t until the following week, you do have the option of a short-term loan. www.24cash.ca is an online money lender for Canadians who need small loans of up to $500. You need to repay the loan within 90 days so it really is a great tool if you’re staring down the barrel of a potentially late credit card payment.

Side Hustle

You have to have a way you can make a little money on the side. Yes, it would be better to just have to do your one job and call it a day. But if you need to improve your finances, find an outlet to make a little extra. I make a bit through my blog and sponsored posts, Ryan works maintaining the ice at our local curling rink during the winter.

I’m also always thinking of other ideas for small side businesses to produce multiple income streams.

You don’t have to work on weekends waiting tables, you can find other little jobs. Upwork is a great website for finding freelance gigs. I’m hoping to build a few clients for the summer when I won’t be able to work to bring in an income.

Don’t Obsess or Lose Sleep

I spent my twenties in a chronic state of anxiety over money. Ask my college friends, it was all I could think about.

It wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s and attending school again, scraping by (again) that I learned how to tell myself that it would work itself out. The water bill is late? That sucks, but constantly stressing won’t change things. Cut back on your extras grocery shopping and pay the bill a little late.

Does money trouble keep you up at night? I’ve been there too. Where you lay there and obsess over your problems. Sleep is the most important thing for your physical health- don’t lose it! I find if I force myself to think about an impossibly ideal lifestyle (i.e. Married to Prince Harry, being a professional explorer in the Australian Outback, living in an oceanfront home in Hawaii) it gets my mind off my money and I drift off.

It has to be an impossible life though. If you think about a moderately priced home, or a new car that is technically within your grasp, it keeps you up. I don’t know the science behind it, but that’s what works for me!

I am by no means an expert. We’re still getting on more solid footing, but I’m mentally in such a better place than I was through my entire 20’s.

What tips do you have for improving your financial health?


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