While budgeting and saving are important methods people can use to get out of debt, people who collected CERB during the pandemic will have something else to consider. 

Antin Stowell is the Director of Operations at Creditaid. The company helps individuals who are struggling financially review their budget, and come up with solutions to help them build financial success for their future.

While the CERB cheque Manitoban's received helped out at the time, there is one aspect many collectors have not considered.

"Something new this year would be how many individuals were collecting CERB as a result of Covid. That monthly payment for CERB was not taxed by the government," says Stowell. "This will result in many people who often get a refund, and may use that refund to catch up on bills and pay off their Christmas bills, to actually owe tax for the year."

Planning ahead of tax season that comes up in the Spring will help people stay out of potential debt due to the CERB tax, according to Stowell.

"It is incredibly important for people to sit down and forecast for things that may come up financially in the next 6-12 months. Plan ahead, set money aside for emergencies, and be prepared. It is always better to have that money set aside and not need it than need it and not have it," he says. 

Stowell shares two tips that can help people start better spending habits.

"I think tracking expenses is the most important thing individuals can do to get their spending in order. For two or three months, track every expense and total them up to the penny at the end of each month. This will help you understand where your money is going each month."

This will give people an eye-opening awareness of their spending habits and what can change to help.

"I also think being able to distinguish between needs and wants is something that can be difficult for people. It really gets them into trouble financial. And this can happen with big items or small," says Stowell. 

Little purchases that people spend daily can also be an expense that can add up to more than expected. 

"I've met with one couple in particular. They would buy a coffee on the way to work and on the way home every day. When you do the math, $4 on the way to work, $4 on the way home. That ends up being $160 a month," says Stowell.

When the client heard the total, it was a complete shock to them. By making coffee at home in the morning and at work before they left, this amount was now put toward saving for the clients.

"It's really about making short-term sacrifices when it comes to your spending in order to realize long-term financial benefits."