What to Expect: Appointments with a Financial Counsellor
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By Kathy Reimer, Bromwich+Smith Staff | 1163 words | Reading Time: 5 minutes and 48 seconds| Date: 2023/11/09
Clients who have filed into Bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal are required to attend two meetings with a Registered Insolvency Financial Counsellor. Many clients are a bit skeptical at first, perceiving it as punishment for taking on too much debt; they often feel ashamed they need someone to teach them about money management. This is not the case! It is important to know that we want clients to succeed, to make the necessary changes to move forward and achieve their financial goals. We want you to move beyond your insolvency, to rebuild your worth!
Financial counselling provides a safe, non-judgmental forum to learn new ways to manage finances and identify changes that will help you achieve your financial goals. As part of your experience with Bromwich+Smith, there are two sessions , and they are each 30- 40 minutes in length each. For your convenience, both sessions can be complete on line.
Before your counselling session, the counsellor looks through your file and identifies the reason for the insolvency. There are two general causes of debt: circumstances over which you have little or no control, such as serious illness, separation/divorce, death of a family member, addiction or business failure. The second cause is patterns of negative financial behavior: overuse/misuse of revolving debt (credit cards, overdraft, lines of credit), making poor spending choices including impulsive spending and overspending. Also, failure to create and stick to a budget or financial plan can contribute to negative financial behaviors. The great news? These patterns can be changed with education, motivation and dedication.
This is where counselling comes in.
The first counselling session is about money management. We will provide you with a budget template and an expense tracking tool in advance, and it is strongly recommended to fill it out before your counselling session. Your paystubs and recent on line banking history will help you. We want you to develop a reasonable budget that you can live with, so you will receive valuable advice and tools from your counsellors. You’ll find that we often start sentences with, “Have you thought about…” or, “many of our clients choose to …..”. We hear great tips from clients and are eager to share them!
We will also want to know your plans for saving, specifically how you intend to cover emergencies when they happen. We will address spending habits, shopping habits and talk about the effects of carrying debt. A big component is to help clients identify reasons for spending, how they react to feelings of depression, anger, boredom etc. We will discuss the importance of prioritizing needs over wants and how to have a good balance between the two.
In both sessions, we discuss reestablishing credit and restoring your financial reputation . We will ask what your plans are to rebuild your worth, offer suggestions and talk about credit building strategies.
The Power of Financial Goals:
Financial goals serve as the guiding light on your path to financial freedom. By setting financial goals, you can:
a. Define Your Needs: Financial goals help you clearly define your immediate and long-term needs. Whether it's covering daily expenses or planning for retirement, goals provide clarity, and a path on how to achieve your desired outcome.
b. Prepare for Unexpected Events: Life is full of unexpected things- some happy and some less so. Some of which come with unexpected costs, which can result in hardship. Having goals in place can help guide you through, such as sudden car repairs or medical expenses.
c. Fulfill Your Wants: Financial goals aren't just about necessities; they also include items from your want list. Whether it's saving for a dream vacation or building a nest egg for retirement, your goals can help make your dreams a reality.
To ensure the effectiveness of your financial goals, one way is to think SMART
Specific: Clearly define your goal. For example, if you plan to save for a vacation, specify the destination and the total cost, making sure to account for incidentals like resort fees. You can use this as a target .
Measurable: Establish indicators to track your progress and know when you've achieved your goal. In the vacation savings example, you can set markers like a target amount to save each month, this could be a total dollar amount or an item. For example, you could identify paying off your flight, or saving for dinner at a trendy restaurant.
Achievable: Assess whether you have the necessary skills and resources to reach your goal. Consider what you need to make your goals attainable. If saving for a vacation, you might need to cut down on non-essential expenses, or add to your income short term.
Relevant: Ensure that your financial goals align with your personal values and priorities. If a vacation aligns with your desire for travel and adventure, it's a relevant goal. Keep in mind other people’s goals may not be realistic for you, and there is nothing wrong with that! Not everyone is born with a travel bug: you may want to save for home repairs, education costs, retirement, updating your wardrobe etc.
Timed: Set a realistic timeline for achieving your goal. In the case of your vacation savings, determine when you want to go on your vacation, and set measurable timelines of when items need to be marked off the list to make this goal achievable.
Realistic Goals and Celebrating Achievements:
While we love the idea of travel and want you to dream big it's crucial to set realistic goals. Your financial counsellor will work with you to identify appropriate goals, that you can achieve soon. Categorize your goals into short-term, medium-term, and long-term, making them easier to manage. During this process, revisit your budget to ensure that your goals are achievable and won't strain your finances. And make sure to celebrate those achievements with an activity or cost-free gift that you will enjoy!
Emergency Savings Strategy:
The second session dedicates time to discussing emergency savings. Building an emergency savings fund is a top priority because it provides a financial safety net in times of crisis. During this session, you'll explore strategies for saving and determine your personal approach.
Responsible Credit Usage:
It's essential to remain in control of your finances while working towards your goals. Your financial counsellor will reiterate the importance of maintaining good credit habits, which include paying bills on time, keeping credit card balances low, and avoiding excessive debt.
Your time with a financial counsellor is all about setting budgets, looking ahead, setting achievable financial goals, and taking control of your financial future. With some support and resources you will be on your way to achieving long-term success and rebuilding your worth . Remember that financial counselling is a partnership, and your counsellor is committed to your success.
Bromwich+Smith has a number of debt relief strategies to help you regain control of your finances and get your life back on track. Reach out today for a free, confidential, no obligation consultation. Bromwich+Smith’s Debt Relief Specialists are available by phone at 1.855.884.9243, Live Chat or you can request a call back at contact us page. We want to see you flourish!
Author: Kathy Reimer, Registered Insolvency Financial Counsellor
Kathy Reimer is a Registered Insolvency Financial Counsellor with Bromwich+Smith. Kathy has over 40 years experience in financial services and loves helping people overcome obstacles. Helping clients is her true passion.