Gambling is one activity you might choose to do in your leisure time but, unlike dinner for two or popcorn and a movie, gambling is entertainment with risk. Fun for many, but trouble for others. And almost all of those who get into trouble expect that they will be the big winner. But the truth is, most players lose. That’s why it’s important to decide in advance how much you can afford to spend. Gambling dollars should be money you’ve put aside after essentials like groceries or rent have been paid. If you choose to gamble, having a money management plan that includes such an expense – and sticking to it – will help you to play safer.
Creating a Spending Plan
It may not be easy, but creating a money management plan is as simple as 1,2,3.
Laurie Campbell, Executive Director of Credit Canada, says there are just three steps to financial security. Credit Canada is a non-profit organization providing counselling and education services to help individuals take control of their financial lives.
Step One: Figure out where you’re spending your money now. Keep track of expenses by writing down everything you spend for a month. Credit Canada will even give you a monthly budget tracker.
“Often people are quite surprised at how they nickel and dime-away their money in areas they never thought of like the true cost of vehicles and restaurant meals.”
Step Two: Identify and write down your financial goals. What are your goals for one year, five years and your lifetime?
“It can be anything from a major vacation a year from now to paying off your mortgage,” Laurie Campbell says. “But there’s no point in having a money management plan if you don’t have goals. Without goals, it doesn’t matter how you manage your money.
Step Three: Look at your expenses and see where you can cut back to create a spending plan that will allow you to meet your goals. Start by listing your monthly income and expenses.
“Whatever is left after expenses can be used towards your goals. But you’ll probably see that you have to cut back in certain discretionary areas. If you didn’t spend $3 a day on a coffee, you could probably save half the cost of that vacation in one year.”
Laurie Campbell points out that entertainment dollars – which would include gambling – are discretionary spending.
“Before you spend money on entertainment, you need to pay your bills and set aside the money you’ve allocated to reach your goals. The dollars left over can be used for entertainment.” She says the average Credit Canada client spends about $100 a month for entertainment.
“You should plan to spend a fixed dollar amount on each entertainment option. Set your limits. And, of course, you should limit your entertainment spending if you have debts that need to be paid first.”