Five easy financial planning tips for an uncertain 2021

(This story is sponsored by PC Financial)

No one saw 2020 coming. Whatever plans you had for the year changed on the fly, including your financial plan. Many people shifted their budgets between March and December, and budgets will continue to evolve in the months ahead.

But 2021 doesn’t have to be as uncertain as 2020. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s resiliency. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and how we live, and there’s plenty of lessons we can apply to our financial futures moving from the holidays into the next year. 

As spending among Canadians turned to essential needs, PC Financial introduced the PC Money Account. With no monthly fees and unlimited daily transactions, you can earn PC Optimum points for everyday banking, like paying bills and shopping, that you can use for free groceries and other essentials at Loblaws supermarkets and Shoppers Drug Mart stores. It’s an easy way to simplify and focus on your needs now while planning for the future. 

With help from accredited financial counsellor Jessica Moorhouse, who’s partnered with PC Financial, winner of best financial app in NOW’s 2020 Readers’ Choice, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you navigate the year ahead.

Think small 

The past year has shown us that even when things feel smaller, that doesn’t make them any less rewarding.

Admit it, that outdoor wedding you attended that had 10 people wasn’t any less meaningful than the one you went to last year with 200, even if the party wasn’t as big.

We learned to adapt, and we made it count. Small moments of joy have defined 2020, and they can next year too. The big moments can come later, and they will soon enough.

Budget for now and later

Now is a good time to take the pressure off yourself and simplify your finances. 

When looking forward to the next year, think about smaller moments and inject them with meaning. Instead of planning a big all-inclusive resort vacation that may or may not happen, budget for a staycation. Put a little bit of money aside for virtual tickets and socially distant museum visits or drive-in movies (once they return). 

Have you been making your own coffee this year and skipping the Starbucks latte? Have you saved on concert and theatre tickets? Skipped your yearly vacation? Put aside your ugly Christmas sweater budget? All of that can go back into your savings for 2021 and beyond. 

And once big vacations and other before-times indulgences start to return, you’ll be ready.

Talk to your kids about money

Education and how and where our kids were learning has also been top of mind this year. What your kids are learning about is important, too. And one of those things is personal finance. 

Money might not be the easiest thing to talk about, especially this year, but that makes it all the more important. Take your kids aside and help them understand the importance of a budget and smart spending. That can help them understand what financial success means to your family’s present and their future – and their own. 

It’s one more way to set yourself up for success in the new year and beyond.

Get crafty

What about this extra-unusual holiday season? There’s plenty you can do to make it count while shrinking your budget. 

While in previous years you may have felt obligated to add that third cousin once removed to your holiday gift list, this year you can make your holiday gift-giving list short and sweet. Chances are your loved ones are having the same thoughts.

A good gift doesn’t need to be recognized by its dollar amount. Something homemade and heartwarming like a handwritten card or cake or poem will show your loved ones that you’re there for them this holiday. It can also show off some of the new skills you’ve picked up during the pandemic. 

Write that song, make that playlist, knit that scarf. Share yourself.

Turn everyday purchases into big rewards

The word “essential” was on everyone’s lips this year, and for good reason. For many of us, our spending became essential too. But thinking about the here-and-now can also pay off later. 

The PC Money Account is one way to simplify now while getting rewarded later. You can do all your basic banking, from paying bills to shopping, and it can turn into PC Optimum points that can become free grocery, beauty and essential products at Loblaw and Shoppers Drug Mart.

It lets you do all the things you normally do and still earn towards everyday essentials, as well as seasonal extravagances like holiday gifts. You can get 10 PC Optimum points for every dollar you spend anywhere you shop, up to 5,000 for online bill payments over $50, 10,000 for linking an external bank account and 25,000 for direct deposits such as payroll. 

Those points will come in handy when money is tighter, or when you just crave a reward. You’ll earn them all the time, without even meaning to. 

This year might be scaled back, but spending and saving for the short term can turn into bigger moments next year.

Voted Best Financial App by NOW readers

You voted PC Financial the Winner of Best Financial App for 2020. Find out more about their Readers’ Choice win here!

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