By Kelley Keehn Consumer Advocate, Financial Planning Standards Council
When it comes to matters of health and wealth, the two are so intrinsically similar. As a personal finance educator, author, speaker and consumer advocate for FPSC, I’ve been telling my audiences for years that the keys to optimal well-being with your finances or your body are pretty simple. Eat less and move more. Save 10 per cent of your income and spend less than you make. We all know this, right?
But if the path were so simple, why are we doing so poorly? As of 2017, 64 per cent of Canadian adults are overweight or obese, and 30 per cent of children aged 5 to 17 are overweight or obese.
And if sage, basic advice also applies to our finances, why do Canadians owe around $1.70 for every dollar we bring in of disposable income (that number was 66 cents in the ’80s)? One in five couldn’t make it for a week if they lost their primary source of income and 20 per cent of those with a household income of $80,000 or more have used a pay-day loan.
So, I guess it’s not that simple and definitely not easy either.
I’ve been lucky with my fitness and have generally been physically healthy my entire life. But when I turned 40, things drastically changed. The foods I once ate and my exercise regimen no longer kept me fit, within my desired weight range and my energy plummeted. I needed help!
I turned to books like The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss by Canada’s own Dr. Jason Fung, which shocked me with new and abundant evidence that a calorie isn’t a calorie and it does matter which type you eat, how you eat them, with what, and when.
That ‘simple but not easy’ stuff I used to preach was no longer working. Things started to get confusing and complicated fast.
It can be like that with your finances too. There may be times when conventional wisdom does the trick, you’re able to DIY your life and your money. But then there are the times when it gets really thorny. You may experience a job loss, divorce or death of your spouse. Or, you may face a multifaceted question like, “Should I pay down my mortgage, invest in my RRSP or take advantage of an RESP for my child’s education? And how do I decide?”
We’re often making use of heuristics in life: those quick mental short-cuts or rules of thumb we can follow. But it’s rarely that neat and packaged.
Most Canadians struggle when it comes to understanding financial matters. Figuring out how to achieve goals and overcome challenges can be difficult and complicated.
Almost all Canadians will need some form of professional financial advice at some stage in their lives, to help them with those challenges and put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
But reaching out for help isn’t all that simple either. Right now, in our country, anybody outside of Quebec can call themselves a financial planner. As a result, Canadians could be getting advice from someone who does not have any relevant experience or qualifications. This could cause irreversible damage to Canadians’ financial health.
And recent research tells us that Canadians are feeling it too. Twenty two per cent of Canadians say they haven't engaged a financial planner because they don't know who to trust, and one in five say they haven't because it's all too confusing and overwhelming.
In order to alleviate some of that murkiness, Canadians need to understand who they can trust. Only Certified Financial Planner professionals see your whole picture, no matter how complex, and work with you to help you understand where you are and where you want to be. CFP professionals have the knowledge, skills, experience and ethics to help you build the financial plan that will let you live your life confidently.
When it comes to your health or wealth, we know it isn’t simple or easy. But the peace of mind you’ll find from having a financial plan is well worth the journey. Get the expertise to help set you on the right path or get back on track when life changes course on you.
To find a CFP® professional in your area who will help guide your financial future, visit FindYourPlanner.ca.
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