As president of Capital One Canada, Patrick Ens knows a thing or two about smart spending. Since joining in 2006, he’s cheered Canadians along as they’ve built better credit, often by sharing his own expertise.
Patrick believes that when you’re engaged in improving your finances, you’ve already set yourself up for success. It’s part of what he calls “financial self-care,” which can be just as vital to your overall well-being as mental or physical self-care.
“Financial self-care is spending some time and energy on understanding how your personal finances are affecting your well-being,” he says. These three simple steps are a great way to get started.
1. Take stock.
Knowing where your money goes is a key way to break free from financial worry. That means being aware of both your savings and debt, your monthly bills and spending habits, and any additional expenses on the horizon. “This will allow you to take more intentional steps to improve your financial well-being,” Patrick says.
Browsing bank statements is probably not at the top of your to-do list. And we get it. Money can bring up mixed emotions, especially if you’re not able to save as much as you’d hoped you could. But even if that’s the case, that’s actually a great place to start. “It means you know where you’re at,” he says. “Just starting can make you feel better.”
It also might help to check your credit score with our free online tool Credit Keeper®*. Knowing where you’re at will help you gauge how close you are to getting things like a loan, a lease or a credit card. Since you can use Credit Keeper for free anytime without impacting your score, it’s a great way to track your progress as you build credit.
2. Make changes.
Once you know where you’re at, you’ll be able to plan how to get where you’re going by building a budget. “Decide where to make changes, such as cutting back on spending or contributing more to debt repayment,” he says. “Creating positive habits, taking one step at a time adds up and compounds.”
If you find yourself getting stressed, try writing those concerns down. Sometimes you’ll find you’ve outgrown those worries, or that you’re being held back by limiting beliefs that aren’t worth the mental real estate.
3. Now keep going.
Once you know what changes you want to make, you just have to stick with it. “Financial planning is a longer-term thing, it takes time,” Patrick says. “Even if on day one you don’t necessarily like what you see, you can turn that into one productive step. One productive step becomes two and before you know it that becomes five or ten, and you’ve made a pretty dramatic difference in your own life.”
One way to stay on top of your game is to spend a little time studying up. “A lack of financial literacy can lead to a negative cycle, creating stress, leading you to ignore things and making them worse,” he says.
Patrick suggests swapping tips with trusted friends or family members, reading about personal finances online (though something tells us you’ve already got that one down) or making an appointment with a financial planner to keep the momentum going.
So breathe in ... breathe out ... and let some of that money stress roll off your back! For even more mindful spending ideas, check out our tips for saving money on groceries, cutting your housing costs and fighting back against inflation.
* The credit score and report information by Credit Keeper is intended for educational purposes only. Lenders and other commercial users may use a different type of credit score and other information when making credit decisions.
Credit Keeper is a service offered by Capital One and is powered by credit information provided by TransUnion. Availability may vary depending on our ability to verify your identity and obtain your information from TransUnion. Credit Keeper is also currently unavailable to Quebec residents.