Q & A: Your questions on managing your money in 2018

So what do you do if you overspent during the holidays and you’re facing a financial hole? The new year presents an opportunity for fresh start, financially speaking.

Shannon Lee Simmons, a certified financial planner, founder of the New School of Finance and author of the new book Worry-Free Money: The Guilt-Free Approach to Managing Your Money and Your Life, answered viewer questions during a recent Facebook Live hosted by CBC News’ Jacqueline Hansen.

The first four months of the year are “kind of wild” for the finance industry, Simmons said, as the new year brings new goals, coupled with the arrival of RRSP season and tax season.

“There’s this surge of energy and excitement around people’s finances, so it’s a great time to sit down and look at it because people are motivated,” she said.

Here are some highlights from the chat:

What if you blew your budget over the holidays?

“Happens to everyone,” Simmons said. “It can be discouraging and daunting, and then we start feeling like we’re bad with money when we blow our budget. That’s why I’m actually anti-budget.”

She doesn’t think we should be budgeting so specifically that we break our spending into small categories. We just end up borrowing from other categories and overspending.

So, do you need a budget?

“I’m not saying that everyone can just go to town and spend whatever,” she said, suggesting that people have a “hard limit” —  a line separating the money you have discretion whether to spend, such as on groceries, gas, dinners out and coffee shops, from the money that you don’t, such as for bill payments and savings.

“As long as you’re spending within that hard limit, I don’t care what it’s on, and nobody should,” she said.

A budget needs to be realistic and flexible, or you’re going to fail at it, she added. “The more that people feel like giving up, the more likely that mindset will carry forward into the other financial parts of their life.”

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