For whatever reason, you’re here to level up your finances. We have no judgment—we’re simply here to help. This is an exercise we all need to go through on a fairly regular basis. Luckily, we have access to a large rolodex of financial experts who know just what to do.

Take a close look at the following to ensure you are maximizing your financial life.

1. Tax withholdings

For every life change, consider how these changes affect your taxes. Case in point: a child, a raise in pay, a promotion, home ownership, marriage, divorce, or retirement. This is not an exhaustive list; many factors influence your tax liability.

If you find yourself owing money to the government every year, you have the option to withhold more from your paycheck. Adversely, if you are good at saving money on your own and making it grow through investments, you are better off keeping the money invested until you need to pay your taxes.

On the other side of the coin, if you get big refunds every year, maybe that money will be better spent on investments with high returns. Only you and your financial advisor will know if you’re missing an opportunity by giving the government an interest-free loan using your hard-earned money 

2. Check your beneficiaries

We all aim to have a comfortable life NOW, but we also have to think about our legacies. The responsible thing to do while working on our finances is to determine who will benefit from our leftover assets when we pass.

Even if you have a will—over half the population doesn’t—you may not know you have to specify beneficiaries per life insurance policy, 401(k), IRA, RRSP, TFSA and even some non-retirement accounts.  It’s worth a couple hours of legwork to ensure your loved ones are taken care of in the way you intended. 

3. Get your credit report

In the U.S., you’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report from each bureau every year. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website explains your right to a credit report and provides contact information for their authorized vendors.

In Canada, you can get your free credit report from Equifax.

 Make a plan to check it out annually to see if there is an opportunity for improvement. You may have a ding on your credit that you’re unaware of and more often than not, it can be easily remedied.

4. Insurance Review

Ensuring you are properly protected is an important step in financial wellness. Review any existing policies such as life, critical illness, and/or disability. Include homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, car insurance, and health insurance, and ask yourself a few questions:

  • Does the original reason you needed coverage still exist or should you look at other insurance products?
  • Do you need more or less insurance in the coming year?
  • Do your deductibles need to be adjusted?
  • How do your insurance policies fit into your budget for the year? 

Going through each of your policies one by one will ensure you’re making the best decisions for your current stage of life. 

5. Budgeting

Are you overspending or underspending? Now is a good time to review your income and expenses. Modify it where needed. If you don’t keep receipts, you can get a fairly accurate assessment of where your money went by going through your credit card and bank statements.

Going over the past year’s purchases will reveal where your money was spent, and you may discover some obvious adjustments to make. For example, are you eating out too much? Are you ordering in too much? Is online shopping becoming a bad habit? Maybe you need to entertain more at home rather than meet up with friends at bars that charge $15 per drink.

6. Monthly subscriptions and automatic payments

Now more than ever at any point in history, we have the option to set it and forget it. That goes for automatic subscription payments. Sure, it makes life easy to not have to write a check and mail it each month, but it can be all too easy to waste money on things you no longer use.

Going through a review of subscriptions almost always yields opportunities to trim and save money. You may be paying more for a service than you think—some will lure you in through introductory offers then automatically increase your monthly payment. Or, maybe you’re paying for something you don’t use anymore.

When was the last time you visited your gym? Are you better off purchasing day passes for the rare occasions you make it there? Even if it’s a minimal amount of money, if you’re not using it, it’s a waste of money. 

Same goes for Netflix, Spotify, or a multitude of apps that seemed like a good idea at the time. Face your bank statements or credit card statements to assess what’s being charged on an ongoing basis. 

When deciding what to keep or kill, add up that amount over a year, or over many years. Do you have a better way to spend that money?


These six steps will go a long way to improve your finances. For the rest of the way towards financial security, consider engaging a professional financial advisor. Investing in your future is almost always money well spent. Whatever your advisor charges will undoubtedly pay for itself many times over.