Ahhh those lazy summer days – where anything is possible. Long walks along the boardwalk, roller coaster rides at the latest amusement park, summer fashions, vacations! The list is endless but your wallet…. well…it’s not so endless. It’s September now and while it might still feel like summer, most of us are back at work or school and our credit card statements are rolling in.

Have those impulse buys you made over the summer left you in the cold? Want to get on a plan to have your accounts back in the black by the time trick or treaters are at your door? Getting back on budget won’t be easy after all the over spending so it’s best to start as soon as possible. Carving out a plan to get you back on track is the quickest way to achieving your goals. WEALTHplan Canada has come up with 5 essential steps to take that will help you pay off those credit card bills and start saving again:

1. PUT THE BRAKES ON SPENDING by challenging yourself and your family to cut back on some of the summer splurges you became accustomed to. Start by making meals at home and brown bagging it for work. Make that challenge easy by downloading a meal plan app such as Paprika Recipe Manage to help you organize your recipes, make meal plans and grocery lists, saving you both time and money.

2. CREATE A BUDGET & STICK TO IT. NOW. If you had a budget you were following through the year and found you went off the rails in the summer, it’s time to get back to basics. Sticking to a budget isn’t always fun but financial apps like Mint make it convenient and easy to stay on track because it goes where you go. Mint promises to “effortlessly manage your finances in one place” so you can stay on budget, pay your bills on time and keep your credit score in check.

If you’ve never put a household budget together for yourself or you’re not sure how to prioritize your savings goals WEALTHplan Canada has made it convenient and easy with online wealth planning tools. Depending on your goals the tools will help determine how much you need to save each month and how much time you’ll need to achieve your goals.

3. LEAVE THE CREDIT and ATM CARD AT HOME. Once you’ve finalized your weekly budget, challenge yourself further by only carrying cash in your wallet. It will eliminate those impulse buys at Costco and save you big bucks in the long run. Remember to use your credit card – not cards – only for emergencies. That Prada bag you purchased last month does not constitute an emergency.

4. ADD UP YOUR CREDIT CARD CHARGES. Okay – so you’ve put your cards away and are living on a budget but don’t forget to pay down those credit card balances each month. Buying that kayak and new BBQ seemed like a great idea in July but now your credit card balance is here to remind you what a great time you had. If you can’t pay off the entire balance, make sure you make the minimum monthly payment required at the very least to maintain your credit score! Taking out a low interest personal line of credit is another option for paying down high interest credit card balances.

5. PLAN TO SAVE by coming up with a savings plan. Your financial planner is a wealth of information and advice when it comes to hashing out a savings plan. After all – besides paying down your debt you should also be thinking of paying yourself. If you’re really not sure where to start fill out the WEALTHplan Savings Planner Survey and let us help you get back on track. And remember – you don’t need to feel guilty about living your life. You enjoyed that last minute trip to Hawaii and made memories that will last a lifetime but it shouldn’t take you a lifetime to pay them off. Stick to your plan. Start now and you’ll be that much further ahead by next summer.

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