Don’t Wait Until You’re Divorced to Understand Your Financial Situation

Talking About Finances Was Incredibly Stressful For Me

by: Alex Thom
learning how to manage your finances

How financially literate are you? If you’d asked me that question five years ago, my eyes would have glazed over and I’d have been kind of embarrassed to admit I had no clue. How much is hydro? I dunno. What’s my mortgage rate? Who knows? And frankly, I’d have added a little “Who cares?” I truly didn’t understand the impact of these numbers on my day-to-day life. Financial responsibilities were something I passed over to my then-husband. I found talking about money so freaking stressful, I was happy to hand it off. When someone tried to talk about finances with me, all I heard was the teacher from Peanuts: “Wah-wah-wahhhh-wahhhh-wah-wah-wah…”

Five years later, I’m delightfully divorced. And not only am I acutely aware of my monthly bills, but I also researched, negotiated, secured, and am managing the first mortgage I’ve ever held on my own. I know my current net worth, how much equity I have in my home, and can trace back all the transactions in my bank account. And I’m always looking for ways to be totally debt-free sooner. 

I’m a self-employed single mom of two kids, plus I run a bustling business in what I laughably call my “spare time.” Sitting around calculating how best to save on mortgage payments is one of my least favourite things to do. But here’s the thing: every single dollar of my money matters. Like my grandmother used to say, “Mind your pennies and the dollars will manage themselves.” So, if I can save thousands by changing one decision, like choosing a different mortgage, it’s worth it.

What used to completely paralyze me with fear, now makes me feel empowered. Finances aren’t so nerve-wracking when you hold the power to reduce your debt. I know it’s not the sexiest of subjects, but there’s a certain charm to financial freedom, wouldn’t you say? With or without a partner, knowledge is power. Make it a priority to be aware of the options out there that can save you time, worry, and, most importantly, money. And if you do happen to end up on your own, you’ll be so very thankful you’ve got this knowledge in hand.

These days, I want to scream from the rooftops to all the women I know that having a handle on your finances is imperative. How can you put your financial security in someone else’s control? Have you ever negotiated a cell phone contract? Asked the cable company for a better deal? Do you know what the interest rates are right now for mortgages? Because they’re REALLY LOW, and you may want to ask your bank if you’re able to renegotiate. This is money lining someone else’s pocket when it should be in yours.

During my mortgage research, I found Manulife One. With a Manulife One account, all your money—income, savings and debt—is in one place, so you know exactly what you have, what you owe and what your wiggle room looks like. Plus, with all your money in one place, it’s easier to see your full financial picture and see how close you are to reaching your goals.

Manulife One also has flexible monthly payments, meaning you decide how much extra you want to pay and when. This is important when you’re self-employed because cash flow isn’t always predictable. 

You also have easy access to your home equity with Manulife One. So that kitchen reno can happen sooner, and emergencies—such as your furnace breaking down or a temporary job loss—aren’t as terrifying. 

Think of Manulife One like an all-in-one shampoo and conditioner for your money. Plus, once your debt is paid off, you’ll earn high interest on any money in your account. That’s a major win. If you’re shopping for a mortgage, check out Manulife One now. Like, right now.

In 2020, 34% of Canadian women lost their job due to the pandemic. That’s 1,751,000 women left without an income. That’s staggering. Now, how many of those women lack the financial literacy needed to bounce back from this without taking on debilitating debt? Too few, I would imagine. Financial literacy is something many Canadians don’t have, and often, women depend on their partners to make the financial decisions. We all need to know this stuff. Knowledge means we’re able to weather these financial storms a little better, plan more effectively, and achieve financial freedom a little sooner—with or without a partner. Either way, start now. To get help taking control of your money, visit Manulife One today. 


Alex is the voice behind IDontBlog and former YMC Allergy writer. She’s an entrepreneur and an outspoken online presence.