November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada. This week’s theme is Take Control of your Finances. With that in mind, I discuss what I do on a regular basis to make sure I’ve got my financial house in order.

Monthly Actions

Update my monthly spending

Since you can’t save, invest, or protect your assets if you’re spending every penny on a regular basis, I focus on my spending first. I think tracking your spending has some really important uses, so I do mine on a monthly basis.

Update my net worth spreadsheet.

There’s no particular reason why I update my net worth monthly, you could do it every quarter, or even once a year. I personally prefer doing this once a month and find that it motivates me throughout the year to keep adding savings to the pot. At the end of each month, I’ll go into my bank and investment accounts and record their values. I don’t have any debts (loans or mortgages) at the moment, but they’d also be included in this spreadsheet, and have their own repayment strategies if I had any.

Regular savings.

I’ve got 3 automatic savings plans set up for myself. The first is long-term savings towards my retirement. The second is medium term savings earmarked for a house down payment. Finally, I set aside some money every month towards a travel fund.

The net worth spreadsheet only takes a couple minutes to update, and tracking my spending takes less than an hour each month. The regular savings take no time once they’ve been set up.

Periodic Actions

Download Statements

Approximately every 6 months I download copies of my online account statements and save them in my personal folder. It’s important to keep copies for yourself for future reference, especially when banks charge ridiculous fees for copies of old statements. You never know when you need to prove assets or transactions, or review investments for tax purposes.

Review Credit Report

Making sure there aren’t any errors on your credit report, or any bills/subscriptions you inadvertently forgot to pay is important for your credit score. It’s also a useful task to make sure no one has stolen your identity. You can get a copy of your credit report for free once per year from Transunion and Equifax. There are also companies like Borrowell that offer a digital copy each month for free.

Annual Actions

Review and update my budget.

I’ll make sure my goals and situation are still the same, or update my savings and budget to reflect any changes. Part of this task involves reviewing my regular subscriptions, like Netflix and gym memberships, to make sure I am actually using them and still getting value.

Review my insurance coverage.

My life and disability insurance coverage change each year, depending on my income in the previous two years. At the beginning of each year, I make sure that the insurance company has updated their numbers and assess if my coverage is still sufficient.

Top-up investment accounts.

At the end of the year, I sometimes have extra cash available to add a lump sum to my investments. I normally do this in the new year when additional TFSA contribution room is available and use this opportunity to rebalance my portfolio.

Update my estate spreadsheet.

I have a document that outlines the various accounts I have, my insurance coverage, and beneficiaries. This will help my executor understand many of the relevant financial details if I were to pass away.

Review products.

I don’t systematically do this each year, but every so often I’ll take a look at my current credit cards, bank accounts, savings accounts, and investment products and see if they are still appropriate for my needs.

If things need changing in the meantime, I won’t wait a year to adjust how I do things.

These are just some of the ways I take control of my finances on a regular basis. I’d love to hear what you do to make sure your finances are under control. Let me know in the comments below.