November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada.

Financial literacy is a skill that we continue to develop over the life course.

“For many financial aspects, we learn as we go,” says Ellan Dickieson of Senior Transitions Made Simple. “Take for example, knowing that age 71 is a pivot year for those with RRSPs. This is an example of financial information that most people don’t know until the time comes,” explains Dickieson.

During Financial Literacy Month, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) engages with Canadians and works together with organizations from the private, public, and non-profit sectors to help strengthen the financial literacy of individuals and families. Together, they aim to help Canadians understand their finances and empower them to:

  • Manage their money and debt
  • Save for the future
  • Understand their financial rights and responsibilities.

With many events happening across the country, this provides Canadians with the perfect opportunity to take a deeper dive into their own personal financial matters. Here are ten suggestions of financial housekeeping and learning opportunities that you can do this month.

  1. Apply for your credit report. Request your credit report from both Equifax or Trans Union and review them carefully to ensure that everything looks normal and there is no suspected identity theft.
  2. Give your budget a tune-up. Take a few minutes today to review your budget to make sure it includes all your current income and expenses.
  3. Review your insurance policies. Talk to your provider. You may be able to finesse your policy with some minor adjustments and drop unnecessary coverages.
  4. Update/Review your Power of Attorney. Pull out your papers and make sure they reflect your wishes. If you don’t have a POA in place, be sure to reach out to your lawyer or local government for more information.
  5. Clean up your paperwork. The rule for retaining tax returns and documents supporting the return in Canada is six years from the end of the tax year to which they apply. If they are no longer needed, send them to the shredder.
  6. Rebalance your investment portfolio. Financial planning experts recommend that you rebalance your portfolio once or twice a year and review it frequently to make sure you’re in line with your target.
  7. Get that estimate. You know, the one that you have been putting off for months?  Building the ramp, modifying the bathroom, improving the lighting.
  8. Review your passwords. We are all guilty of using the same password for multiple accounts. Review your financial account passwords. Use unique, strong passwords that are not easy to guess.
  9. Consider how you are storing important documents. A cardboard box, a filing cabinet, a safety deposit box, on your computer, in a cloud. Whatever your approach is, double check for safety! Consider making back-ups of important documents and storing digital copies in at least 2 secure locations.
  10. Take the opportunity to learn! Grab a good book, attend a workshop, watch a youtube video. This is your reminder to continue learning and improving your financial literacy in whatever way brings you joy!

Ellan Dickieson is the Founder of Senior Transitions Made Simple. As a registered Social Worker and Accredited Financial Counsellor, she empowers seniors to overcome later life challenges and live out their vision for aging.