Pattie Lovett-Reid: Time to detox your finances

Stock image of person holding credit cards. (Unsplash, Avery Evans)

January is notorious for "Dry January." Some may have found themselves overindulging during the holiday season and a logical reset is a detox in January to bring a little more balance into your life.

In fact, a new study by Angus Reid Institute has found some families are struggling more than ever to endure the financial stresses of the pandemic. Coping with the highest level of inflation seen in 30 years, 57 per cent of those surveyed say that it is currently difficult to feed their household. When asked the same question in 2019, just 36 per cent reported the same.

All this has me thinking that, for those who have overindulged when it comes to their pocketbook, a little detox in February could do the trick to bring them back into financial balance. 

I couldn't help but think that for those who have overindulged when it comes to their pocketbook, a little detox in February could do the trick to bring them back into financial balance.

Now, to be fair, I get it. We can't completely shut down all spending. We have groceries to buy, rent/mortgages to pay and utilities that can't be left idle.

However, what about the discretionary -- in other words non-essential -- spending?

There are big opportunities within your household to shut it down and reap the financial benefit as you give your balance sheet a detox makeover.

In the interest of disclosure, I'm doing "Dry January" and feel amazing and in control and thought: why not extended the feeling of control to other areas of your life, especially in an environment where you sometimes feel you have little control.

Here are a few considerations. And remember, it isn't about doing one big thing right. It is about doing a lot of little things right.

And a quick reminder - if you have entered into a contractual arrangement I would consider that to be a fixed cost. You have promised to pay and embarked on that commitment.

So here we go:

  • Cook at home and stop ordering in for one month
  • Eat from your fridge and freezer and consider weekly meatless meals
  • Brown bag your lunch
  • Impulse purchases are put on ice as is your credit card
  • Walk instead of ride-sharing when you can
  • Shut down online shopping
  • Stop downloading unnecessary apps that cost money
  • Make your own coffee
  • Turn down the thermostat
  • Shop your closet and rotate your jewelry for a new look

Look for other ways to reduce spending in your household and break it down day by day. I would love to see families coming together to ramp up their savings. Every day as a family figure out what you might have spent and take the savings and put them directly into a savings account. Don't wait until the end of the week because just like "Dry January," the temptation to capitulate and throw in the towel is too great.

At the end of the month, have the family decide how best to use the money -- a family trip, paying off debt, or simply apply it towards savings or a rainy day fund.

The point is, our finances are bloated and we need to rein them in. Only you can decide if you committed to making a change and quite possibly wind up creating a new habit. 

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