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Top 5 mistakes to avoid when it comes to your money.

Real talk from our money saving experts to help you save money and live better on a teacher's salary.

Money struggles are something we can all identify with at one point or another—particularly when you’re just starting out in your career. In fact, that whole notion of working hard to “pay the bills you have to pay”, only to be left with little for yourself at the end of the day (especially after pension contributions, union dues, and all those other deductions) is something nearly 50% of all Canadians are dealing with.

Just take a look at the latest results of a recent survey conducted by the Canadian Payroll Association, where 48% of Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque. That same percentage would also be in dire financial straits if their paycheque were to be delayed by just a week—and 24% of those surveyed said they wouldn’t even be able to come up with $2,000 to cover an emergency.

Regardless of your own financial situation, there are 5 common money pitfalls you should avoid if you want to save a whole lot more of it:

#1: Using your credit card(s) to make purchases… and then carrying a balance.

So you like paying for your purchases on ‘plastic’ in order to rack up points (or miles) to put towards your dream getaway during March/summer break. We totally understand and that’s fine. Great even. However, if in addition to those rewards you’re also racking up interest charges, you should consider immediately putting those credit cards on ice. Because if you can’t afford to pay off the balance in full every month, you’re simply throwing away your hard earned money to interest—and that can add up to tens, hundreds, even thousands of dollars over time.

#2: Making only the minimum payment on your credit cards.

If you’ve racked up credit card balances that are too exorbitant to pay off in one fell swoop, then don’t get caught in the minimum monthly payment trap. Because when you’re only making the minimum payment, you’re also paying the maximum amount in interest—which keeps you in debt longer. If you want to save more money in the long run, be sure to make extra payments as often as you can afford it.

Did you know: Credit card companies are mandated to reflect on each statement how long it would take to pay off your balance if you were only to make the minimum monthly payments. This is to help cardholders understand the potential timeframe and interest costs associated with only making minimum payments.

#3: Not comparing rates/products with other financial institutions.

They say, “you can’t ‘have’ different if you don’t ‘do’ different”. So if you’re looking to save money, it’s definitely worth doing a bit of comparison rate shopping with other financial institutions. If you’re maxed out on high-interest debt, research to see who will give you the lowest rate on a debt consolidation loan or line of credit. When it comes to assets such as your mortgage and investments, it also pays to compare. You may find the grass (and your savings) really is greener elsewhere.

#4: Choosing ‘instant gratification’ over ‘deferred gratitude’ when it comes to purchases.

An inability to shift your mindset when it comes to spending choices can be part of the money trap you find yourself in. From going out for dinner or buying the latest smartphone, to purchasing a cup of java (or two) every day from your favourite coffee house—when you finally start to consider the value of something against your overall budget, you then start to measure its worth a whole lot differently (i.e. “I could go out to dinner, which may cost $50 or $60, OR I could cook at home and put that money towards an extra debt payment or even towards savings”). Measuring worth and placing emphasis on value not only helps you make wiser spending choices; it shifts your focus from instant gratification to deferred gratitude.

#5: Thinking a ‘quick fix’ is the answer to all your financial woes.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. So keep that in mind if you get discouraged that your finances don’t get sorted out overnight (unless of course you’re lucky enough to win the lotto). If you’re looking to make any kind of long-term difference where your money is concerned, you need to go about it in a very organized way (i.e. building a financial plan). Also understand that the reason anyone ever gets into financial difficulty in the first place isn’t because of making ONE bad purchase—but a series of consistently poor spending choices over a period of time. It’s a pattern you have to learn to identify (and most importantly, correct) when it comes to your own spending habits.

Because every financial situation is different, getting the right advice is key to avoid making major money mistakes. We can help you at every stage of the teacher salary payscale.


Have one of our financial specialists contact you to get started.

Plus sign up for The Financial Kickstart Challenge for a series of self-directed lessons aimed at improving the financial areas you need to focus on.

 For over 40 years, Educators Financial Group has been providing financial guidance exclusively to members of the education community. This means we understand the challenges of balancing your finances depending on where you are in your career, or where you happen to be on the pay grid. If you’re looking to avoid making mistakes with your money so can get your finances on track, be sure to call on us for an educator-specific perspective.


The information provided is general in nature and is provided with the understanding that it may not be relied upon as, nor considered to be, the rendering of tax, legal, accounting or professional advice. Please ensure to consult your accountant and/or legal advisor for specific advice related to your circumstances. Educators Financial Group will not be held responsible or liable for any losses, costs, damages or expenses incurred by reason of reliance as a result of the aforementioned information. The information presented was obtained from sources that are believed to be reliable. However, Educators Financial Group cannot guarantee their completeness or accuracy.

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