The assessment grid will help in getting a clear picture of your current financial situation and identifying realistic short, medium, and long-term goals that need to be met. You must, therefore, be able to answer the following questions:


  • What do I own (my assets, holdings)?
  • What do I owe (my liabilities, debts, or obligations)?
  • What is my stress level regarding my financial situation?


What are my goals?

  • Pay off my debts as quickly as possible? Restore my credit?
  • Reduce my stress level regarding my finances, stop having difficulty making ends meet each month, improve my lifestyle?
  • Reach goals such as purchasing furniture, a car, or appliances, trips or paying tuition?


Start by estimating all your income, expenses, and liabilities (debts) for one year.
The more realistic you are, the less likely you are to be faced with unpleasant surprises! To help you out, refer to the columns in the budget grid. For example, for rent, write down the monthly amount under the column “month” (e.g. 600$); then, multiply that amount by 12 to obtain a yearly estimate ($600 x 12 = $7,200) and write down the result next to your yearly estimate.
Do the same for all your income, expenses as well as any other liability (debts). Then, subtract your expenses and liabilities from your income to see whether you will end the year with a deficit, a balance or a surplus.
Now, it is time to readjust. If you have a deficit, you need to think of the best way to balance your annual budget. Can you increase your income? Adjust your lifestyle? Decrease some of your liabilities or delay some of your projects? However, if your budget indicates a surplus, you can speed up payment of your debt, save more for your projects or improve your lifestyle!


After you’ve planned and balanced your annual budget, it’s time to manage it! This means that you will need to keep an eye (in general, on a monthly basis) on your income, expenses, and liabilities (debts). However, be aware that even if your annual budget is balanced, you may have a deficit for some months and surpluses for others; this is normal since your expenses, and maybe even your income, vary from one month to the next. Remember that the important thing is to balance your annual budget at the end of the year. In addition, you need to:

  • Be aware of your habits. A person who tends to spend a lot can use pre-authorized payments to pay bills at the start of the month or keep fixed amounts in envelopes for certain expenses.
  • Think about tomorrow. Start by planning your expenses in advance, for each pay period or at the beginning of each month, so you can make ends meet more easily. Keep end-of-month surpluses in a separate account for the months when you have a deficit!
  • Adapt to change. A budget is not set in stone. If your financial situation changes, adapt your budget! A decrease in income should lead you to scale back on certain expenses or negotiate with your creditors.

And don’t forget, even a well-planned and balanced budget will not be effective if it is not also well managed. Your motivation and positive attitude toward budgeting will be the keys to your success!


For Entraide budgétaire Ottawa, a budget is more than a matter of money. It is the tool that will enable you to reach your goals by adjusting your lifestyle to match your financial resources. On the annual budget grid that we suggest for your use, try to create a balanced budget. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Start by estimating all your income, expenses, and liabilities (debts) for one year.
  • The more realistic you are, the less likely you are to be faced with unpleasant surprises!

Quick Tests
Does money control you?

On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your level of stress regarding your current financial situation?
(0 being no stress and 10 an unbearable level)

On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your level of financial literacy?

(0 being knowing nothing at all about personal finances and 10 having nothing more to learn)

Regardless of your answers, our advice remains the same: the more you increase and use your knowledge to better manage your budget, the more you will see your financial stress decrease! We believe that a greater level of skills in financial literacy, and particularly your ability to plan and manage your money, is vital to a better quality of life… Why? “Because life is much more than just about money…”

… what comes to mind? Do the following test to find out about your tendencies. A negative attitude means that your budgeting experience won’t last long. However, a positive attitude means that you will be able to enjoy life a lot more… within your means!

If you believe that… (-)

If you tell yourself that… (+)

  • “It’s boring…“
  • “You have to be good with numbers… “
  • “It’s going to limit the things I can do…“
  • “I don’t earn enough money…”
  • “I’m afraid of knowing where my money is going or of feeling guilty…“
  • “I’m afraid it will discourage me even more…“
  • “I’ll have to stop going out, treating myself…“
  • “It takes too much time…“
  • I’ll have to jot down all my expenses almost to the penny…“
  • “My spouse won’t get involved…“
  • “My spouse and I are already fighting about money…“
  • “I don’t have time…“
  • “I have already tried it and it doesn’t work…“
  • “I’ve never done it and things are going well, we live well…“
  • “I don’t want to see my reality; I’m afraid of seeing the actual numbers…“
  • A budget can improve my quality of life
  • A budget is much more than numbers
  • I will spend where it is worth it for me
  • A budget helps me to optimize my money
  • With a budget, I will accept the consequences of my choices
  • I will see the light at the end of the tunnel
  • I will treat myself… within my means
  • My budget will be simple and easy to manage
  • No need to jot down everything in a budget
  • A budget can be managed by taking into account each person’s strengths and interests
  • A budget can be an opportunity to talk about what is important to each person
  • Following a budget is a done once a month
  • I will create a budget that works for me
  • A budget can improve my quality of life, regardless of my situation
  • A budget allows me to face reality before it hits me
More minuses (-) than plusses (+)?

You are now aware of what prevents you from creating a budget! It is time to start seeing the positive side of things (plus column) and to recognize how a budget can improve your quality of life!

More plusses (+) than minuses (-)?

You believe in the benefits that a budget can bring to your life! It is time to get familiar with basic tools to help you establish sound budget planning and management!

Identify situations that best apply to your financial situation.

Credit and debts

  • I need my credit cards to reach my next cheque
  • My debts are increasing rather than dropping
  • I have other debts (line of credit, loans, taxes, etc.)
  • At the end of each month, I pay the balance of my cards
  • I have no debt (loan, line of credit, etc.)
  • I am in the process of progressively reducing my debt level

Current bills

  • I am late in paying some of my recurring bills (rent, electricity, heat, telephone, cable, etc.)
  • I am cutting down on groceries to pay my bills
  • I am facing service interruptions because of delays in paying my bills
  • I am up to date in rent, electricity, heat and telephone
  • Once my bills are paid, I have enough left for my other basic expenses
  • I have no problem in paying my bills


  • I live from paycheque to paycheque and the end of the month is difficult
  • I am not clear about where my money goes and I can’t see my situation improving
  • I have to borrow to make ends meet
  • I plan a balanced budget that I keep up to date if my situation changes
  • I manage my budget by jotting down my monthly expenses
  • I have savings in case of unexpected events

If your financial health is sound, congratulations! If not, the best time to change that is right now!

We live in a society dominated by consumerism that generates new “needs” ever more quickly… and the methods used to sell them to us are increasingly refined! For people to consume all of these goods, access to credit has never been easier! These days, indebtedness can take multiple forms: can you name them all? Try to do so before reading the following list…

How to protect oneself from these forms of indebtedness?

  • Use only one credit card
  • Always cover basic needs (rent, food, clothes, transportation) before any other expense
  • Try to save rather than paying by credit card

Still, the best advice is to make a budget, because you will know what you can afford and as a result, you will be able to better plan and prioritize your expenses. You will become a well-informed consumer!

Forms of indebtedness

  1. Credit cards
  2. Lines of credit
  3. Bank loans
  4. Car loans
  5. RRSP loans
  6. Mortgages
  7. Student loans
  8. Income taxes
  9. Finance companies
  10. Payday loaners
  11. Overdraft protections
  12. Arrears (rent, electricity, heat, telephone, cable, etc.)
  13. Services (mechanic, towing, dentist, lawyer)
  14. Friends, family, employer
  15. Financing “Buy now, pay later”


Address: 290 Dupuis St, Suite 116
Ottawa, Ontario K1L 1A2

Telephone: 613-746-0400



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