Saving more, spending less, and trimming debt will continue to remain the main focus for Canadian consumers in 2013, according to the RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook.
The study finds one in three Canadians (31%) are planning to focus on reducing their debt, 26% on spending less, 25% on saving or investing more, and another 20% intend to take all of these actions in 2013.
More than one-third (37%) of Canadian consumers are more optimistic about their personal financial situation than they were at this same time last year (32%).
"Canadians may believe brighter days are ahead because they are making resolutions to better manage their finances by reducing debt and curbing spending not because of their outlook on the Canadian economy," says Richard Goyder, vice-president of personal lending, RBC. "While New Year's resolutions may start with great intentions and fizzle out later in the year, setting out a plan to reduce your debt, keep it under control and save more for that rainy day will help keep you on track."
The study says 44% respondents will spend less on big ticket items such as cars, household appliances or vacations, a strong signal that less money will be going toward major purchases in 2013.
Here are 10 financial tips for 2013:
1. Reduce your debt: If you are among those who plan to reduce debt next year, pay down debts which have the highest interest charges first.
2. Consolidate your debt: Combining multiple payments into one loan can help make it easier to manage your debt and may even reduce interest costs.
3. Budget for the year ahead: Having a budget helps manage your expenses, pay down debts and save for future goals. If you don't have a budget, set one up for 2013.
4. Make your credit card work for you: Credit cards can help you keep track of your expenses, but use credit cards wisely and pay off your full balance before the due date each month.
5. Have an emergency fund: Unexpected expenses can catch you off-guard. An emergency fund can help you take care of unplanned costs without straining your budget.
6. Compare loans to lines of credit: If you are planning a major expense, explore whether a loan or a line of credit will work best to help you manage that expense.
7. Get pre-approved for a mortgage: To get a better idea of your price range before you buy your first home, apply for a pre-approved for a mortgage to understand the long-term costs and choose the right mortgage option.
8. Review your investments: The start of any new year is a good time to review the mix of assets in your investment portfolio and to recheck your risk profile, to see if you need to make any adjustments.
9. Use all your income tax deductions: Remember to pay all tuition fees, investment management fees, accounting and legal fees if deductible, safe deposit box fees, childcare expenses, alimony, medical expenses and any business expenses by December 31, if you want to deduct them on that year's tax return.
10. Individual Pension Plan option for business owners: If you are a business owner with an incorporated company, you may find both year-end corporate income tax deductions and a structured retirement savings plan for yourself through an Individual Pension Plan (IPP).