- Our Town
Better financial management leads to less stress
Family finances are the theme of two free workshops that will shed light on means and methods that can lead to better financial security.
The first workshop entitled Create a family budget and stick to it will be held on Wednesday, January 23, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Bowen Island Community School’s multi-purpose room. Cocoa West chocolates and childcare are provided.
Presenter Ellen White has a background in bookkeeping, office management (including budgeting) and accounting. She is also the treasurer for the Bowen Children’s Centre and BowFest as well as the bookkeeper for the Bowen Youth Centre. She says that the workshop will be useful not only for families but “across the board.”
White has recently gone through the exercise of auditing her own household expenses. The findings, she says, were surprising. “I have two young children and my husband works off-island full time. It was his idea to do a financial audit of the household,” White said. “I did that and I was amazed how much we spend on food, which includes going out for coffee, for example.”
White suggests breaking up finances to find out what the fixed expenses like rent and hydro are. For the variable expenses, she believes it is important to set priorities.
“If you know what your priorities are, you can find ways to save a little bit,” she says, adding that even making coffee at home can represent a substantial saving of $400 per month.
Going through family finances can lead to better budgeting, according to White, and that can lead to a more stress free life. “It can be very stressful if finances get out of hand,” she explained, adding that the presentation will include worksheets and helpful tips on different ways to manage the household income. It will also mention different subsidies that are available through the government and how to claim them. “I find it surprising how many people don’t claim the subsidies that are available to them,” White said.
She also promised to “keep the presentation quite simple.”
In preparation for the workshop, White looked at different situations Bowen residents are facing and she decided to include a section about households who draw their income from a home business or freelance work.
“Whether people are on a fixed income or not, the idea is the same,” White said. “The big thing is to show people what is left [after paying fixed expenses] and budget it and give them ideas how to change things in the household in order to save money.”
The same scenario applies to families with children or couples or people living on their own, says White, who also does private consultations to look at family spending.
One of the consultations will be given away as a door prize on January 23. The consultations are, of course, completely confidential.
“Even for people living on their own, it can be easy to overspend,” says White who admits that she loves buying shoes.
She believes that changing spending habits can be hard but there are valuable rewards. “As a family, we are sticking to our changes and we’re saving quite a bit,” she said, adding that the family also decided to get the children involved who are learning to earn and budget their “pocket money.”
Children and money is the topic of the second workshop led by Andrea Verwey. It is scheduled for February 20, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the BICS multi-purpose room. Again, Cocoa West chocolate and childcare will be provided to round out the evening.
The two financial workshops are presented in partnership by Allan Financial, the Bowen Children’s Centre, Family Place, BICS, the Bowen Island Library and Phoenix Photo.
The workshops are free of charge but registration through the Bowen Children’s Centre is required.
Ross Allan of Allan Financial will also be on hand on January 23 to answer questions about insurance budget line items.