Banking Script, Activity, and FAQ

Slides for the script can be accessed here.


Introduce yourself (your name, your school/job and what makes you coming to volunteer)

Introduce today’s agenda: 

  1. Canadian Banking System Overview
  2. Credit Unions
  3. Personal Account Types
  4. Setting Up an Account
  5. Credit Score
  6. Loans
  7. Mortgages

Activity 1* - “Big Five Banks”

These are the five largest banks in Canada:

  1. Bank of Montreal (BMO)
  2. Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)
  3. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
  4. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
  5. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)

According to a ranking produced by Standard & Poor's, in 2017, the Big Five are among the world's 100 largest banks, with Toronto-Dominion Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce at 26th, 28th, 45th, 52nd and 63rd place, respectively.

Canadian Banking System

  • Canada has one of the world’s most stable financial system which makes depositing and investing in Canadian banks safer

  • Here is an interesting fact: Canada’s financial system was able to handle the pressure after the Financial Crisis better than the U.S. The U.S. had 14 banking crises over the past 180 years while Canada has never experienced systemic banking crises.

  • Other banks in Canada includes National Bank of Canada, HSBC, PC Financial and Tangerine (Owned by Scotiabank). These banks usually offer more incentives to clients in order to compete with big five banks.

  • Credit unions in Ontario are collectively owned by the people who belong to them. Every member is a shareholder and every credit union is a cooperative that answers to its members exclusively. You have a say in how your credit union is governed. They usually offer lower interest rate for borrowing compared to banks because they are not-for-profit. Here are three credit unions in Toronto (there are more ) : Meridian, DUCA, Alterna Savings

Personal account types

The chequing account is the most common type of bank account. It is a deposit account that allows withdrawal through checks, ATMs and debit card.  Here is an example of a cheque from a Canadian bank.  

Savings Accounts

A saving account is an interest-bearing deposit account held at banks and other financial institutions that provides a modest interest rate. There is usually a fee if you withdraw cash directly from your saving account. Most banks allow clients to move their money from saving account to chequing account free of charge.

Other Types of Accounts

  • Tax Free Savings Account - Delay tax payable on investment held in this account which allows clients to invest pre-tax income)
  • GIC - provides guaranteed return of the principal but the return is usually modest compare to other investment alternatives)
  • Direct-Investing Account/Self-Directed Investment - DIY account for clients to invest in stocks and funds by themselves. You may not receive any investment advice but the cost is significant lower than a full-service broker)

It’s very simple: First, you need to decide which financial institution you want to work with, then locate one of their branches. You may need to book an appointment with a financial advisor or you can just ask the front desk at a branch. Remember to bring 2 pieces of ID with you: Government issued ID with photo such as driver’s licence and your SIN number.

Debit Card vs. Credit Card: They are both physical cards you can carry in your wallet. Debit card allows you to make withdrawal of your money deposited in a financial institution while credit card allows you to borrow money (with a limit) from a financial institution. Using a credit card regularly helps build your credit history but remember to pay back in 30 days to avoid interest charges.

  • It is important to keep a healthy credit score. It helps when you need to apply for a loan or mortgage.

Activity 2*

  • Loan: What is a loan? Loan is an act of giving a large amount of asset in exchange of future payments of amount borrowed plus interest

  • Mortgage: A legal agreement by which a bank lends you money at an interest in exchange for taking title of your property (ie. house). It’s a common practice in purchasing large capital items such as houses. Fix interested is set and will not change. Variable interest rate adjusts periodically.

Activity 3* - Any questions?


1: Can you name some of banks you have heard of in Canada?

  •    Can you name some features and benefits of banks?
  •    Have any of you opened an bank account in Canada already?

2: What are some advantages of using credit cards? Debit Card? What are the risks you can think of that are associated with credit cards?

3: $2,000 loan at 2% annual percentage rate is repaid at the end of 1 year, how much would you be paying in total? (Amortization Formula and TD Mortgage Payment Calculator)


1. Are big five banks the only financial institutions that offer personal banking services? Many smaller banks and credit unions offer personal banking services. Most of them offer more incentives to their clients/members compared to big five banks.

2. Do I have to book an appointment to set up a bank account? An appointment is not necessary. However, by booking in advance you can make sure there is financial advisor available at the time you visit the branch.

3. Do all of personal banking accounts come with physical cards? Many smaller institutions offer online banking. For example, Tangerine’s saving account does not come with a physical card but clients can transfer their money online from the saving account to any chequing account free of charge.  



Loans Script, Activity, and FAQ

Slides for the script can be accessed here.


  1. Introduce yourself and the topic today (loans)
  2. Introduce the topics for today
  3. A loan is an act of providing leverage to another party in exchange for future repayments of the amount borrowed plus interest either. Forms of such leverage may be:
    • Large amounts of money,
    • A property, or
    • Other owned goods

Note that a loan consists of the repayments (called principal) and interest

A personal loan provides you with the credit you need:

  • This helps with large expenditures that require up-front payment (ie. tuition for school or to start a business)
  • These typ es of loans vary in size, rates, options, and payment schedules depending on the provider and your financial situation


Mortgages is another type of loan

  1. It’s a legal agreement by which a bank lends you money at an interest in exchange for taking title of your property (ie. house), where the house acts as a collateral
  2. A mortgage requires a down payment, which is a portion of the amount of the house upfront
  3. The remainder of the amount for the house will be paid off by monthly mortgage payments, which consists of repaying the amount of the house plus interest
  4. The interest depends on your credit history and economic conditions (such as the overnight rate determined by the Bank of Canada)
  5. There are 2 options for a mortgage:
    • Fixed rate mortgage where the interest rate is set and payment amount remains constant from month to month
    • Variable rate mortgage where interest rate adjusts periodically, leading to fluctuations in monthly payments
    • If cannot make mortgage payments, may result in foreclosure


Interest Rates

Interest rate is the proportion of the outstanding loan charged as extra to the borrower as a “fee” for borrowing. This represent a fee for you to use someone else’s money for a period of time

The interest rate is usually expressed as an annual percentage of the loan called the Annual Percentage Rate (APR):

  1. This is the annual interest rate
  2. Prime rate is the lowest rate that commercial banks charge their customers
    • Usual loan interests are quoted based on this rate in a “p + x”% charged for your loan
  3. The interest and repayment terms will vary based on loan amount and your financial situation


Interest Rate Activity

Goal: to distinguish between simple interest rate and compounding interest rate

Question: $2,000 loan at 20% APR is repaid at the end of 1 year, how much would you be paying in total? APR is the annual percentage rate, which is the rate that’s usually quoted on statements

Simple Interest Rate:

  • The principal payment is $2000
  • The interest is 20% of $2000, which is $400
  • So the total payment at the end of the year is $2400

Compounding Interest Rate:

For this example, go to the link:


This is actually how banks will calculate your payments (a compounding basis)


  • Current principal: 2000
  • Annual addition: 0
  • Years to grow: 1
  • Interest rate: 20
  • Compound interest: 12 (this means it compounds monthly)
  • Make additions at: start
  • Click calculate
  • Future value of $2438.78 is the amount you pay at the end of the year
  • This consists of $2000 as principal and $438.78 as interest

From this exercise, note that the payment amount with compounding interest is higher than the simple interest. This is because compounding interest  means that interest is calculated more often and involves both the principal and interest amount in recalculating the new interest. This leads to a higher interest payment



1. Why do I need a loan? A loan is beneficial in times when you have a shortage of cash. For example you may need a safety net for when your business experiences cash shortfalls for a few weeks. This allows you to collect your funds within a short period of time and continue your business. A similar situation can be applied to your personal account.

2. What do I need to get a loan? A credit score (typically provided by Equifax), personal income statement or payslips (ie. your T-4), and any existing accounts. A loan is typically offered at your financial institution and can vary based on your needs.

3. How much loan can I get? The loan amount will vary greatly depending on your needs and the financial institution issuing the loan. This also depends on your credit history and how much interest you are willing to pay. Speaking with a financial advisor will provide you with the details of the loan.

4. What do I do if I cannot afford my loan payments? Speak to your lender as soon as possible. Try to ask for special arrangements if possible to pay off your loan. It is encouraged to understand the payment schedule before committing to a loan, and ask about options if you cannot make payments as per the loan schedule.

5. What is a collateral? A collateral is a something pledged as a security for repayment of loan. This reduces the risk the lender faces in case that loan payments are not received. Note that not all loans have a collateral. An example of a collateral for a mortgage is your property.



Investing Script, Activity, and FAQ

Slides for the script can be accessed here.

  1. Introduce yourself and today’s topic – Investing
  2. Ask the class: What do you think investing means and what is an investment?
  3. Begin with what you will cover: What is investing, why invest, types of investments, common terms, risks of investing, investment strategies, and how to buy and sell investments
  4. Investing: a commitment of funds to obtain future benefits. Simply put, you would put in money you have right now, to gain more money in the future. This is what most people aim for in investing
  5. Future benefits are usually in the form of interest, dividends, premiums/gains, and pension benefits (which can come from the three prior items)
  6. Explain the investment terms shown on the slides. Slides 5-10
  7. Types of investments: This is not all the possible kinds of investments, but just an example of some of the more common ones.


Annuity - An annuity is a type of investment contract that pays you income at regular intervals, usually after retirement.

Bond - A bond is a certificate you receive for a loan you make to a company or government (an issuer). In return, the issuer of the bond promises to pay you interest at a set rate and to repay the loan on a set date.

Canada Savings Bond (CSB) - is a government bond, but no longer available. The government does not plan on issuing any more after 2017.

Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) - An exchange traded fund is an investment fund that holds diverse stocks, or bonds. Exchange traded funds trade on stock exchanges and have a value that is like the total value of the stocks they contain. This means that
the value of an exchange traded fund can change throughout the day. It is similar to a mutual fund since it is a pool of many stocks traded altogether under one fund in the stock market.

Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) - an investment that protects your invested money. You can buy GICs at a bank, and then you are guaranteed to receive what you paid, plus interest at maturity. GICs can have either a fixed or a variable interest rate.

Mutual Fund - A mutual fund is a type of investment in which the money of many
investors is pooled together to buy a portfolio of different securities. A professional manages the fund. They invest the money in stocks, bonds, options, money market instruments or other securities.

Stock - a unit of ownership in a company which is bought and sold on a stock exchange. Stocks are also called “shares” or “equities”. As you are an owner of the company you make money when the company is successful and lose money if it is not.

Treasury Bill (T-bill) - a short-term, low-risk investment issued by a federal or provincial government. It is sold in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $1 million and must be held for a fixed term which can range from one month to a year. It is like a bond.


There are many other possible kinds of investments, they do not have to be stocks or bonds. Stocks and bonds are the main types of investments for most people, but other examples of investments could include: investing money into a new business/start-up, buying foreign currency, buying items of value that are not traded on a market (eg. Art).

Low-Risk Investments – these are investments you would look into investing in when trying to save your money. They offer a very low chance of losing your money, and often the initial investment and returns are guaranteed at a set interest rate. These safe investments include GICs, T-bills, and bonds. Your repayment is almost always guaranteed unless the entire company or government crashes, which is highly unlikely.

High-Risk Investments – there are many risks associated with investing in these. The risks generally involve losing the money you invest. Stocks are an example of high risk investment. Another example is forex, which is the trading of foreign currency, since the prices go up and down very quick.

High-Risk Investment activity –See the chart of Monster Digital Inc. If you were to buy 1000 shares, (1000 units of ownership in the company) at $1.50 per share (point to March on the chart), how much would you have paid? Now imagine you decide to sell your 1000 shares today, what is the price you will get now? (show the current share price at the top of $0.63) That means you have lost over $800! This is why you should always do research when investing in risky stocks, and be prepared to lose some money at times.

On the chart, you can also explain volume – the amount of shares that are being traded each day. 1-day range – the lowest and highest stock price for the day. EPS – earnings per share, how much the company is making per share that they have (net income /number of shares). Mkt. Cap – market capitalization, which is the market value (today’s stock price) of all the shares the company has issued (all of the shareholders together).

Risks of Investing – all investments have some risk. You have to do research and see how much risk you are comfortable with facing. Risks include the loss of your investment money, which is the one most are concerned with. Other risks include: delay in repayment, no payments of interest, or having uncertain amounts of returns.

Risks vs Return – stocks are very popular even though they have a high risk because they have a possibility of high returns to balance their risks. The idea of portfolio diversification minimizes the risk of loss, because if you own many stocks it is less likely that they will all lose money at the same time.

To buy investments on the market there is usually a cost. Mutual funds will have fees when you either buy them, or charge a percentage for the management fees of the professionals, or both. Stock brokers will also charge fees when you perform a trade (buying or selling stocks), this is called a commission and will be either a flat fee or a percent of the amount of money you are using.

Short term investment strategies include buying on margin – borrowing money in order to be able to buy more stocks. There is a margin requirement which the bank will have, meaning a percentage of the stocks you buy have to be with your own money. 50% margin requirement means that you have to pay at least 50% of the purchase with your own money in order to be allowed to borrow.

Short selling is another short term strategy. You are selling stocks you believe will go lower in price that you do not currently own. You borrow these stocks to sell with the intention of buying them back later at a lower price. Refer to the slide example.

Long term – reiterate diversification

Dollar cost averaging is to buy the same stock at different times, to lower the average cost of the stocks. The price each time is different but will average to a certain price, which hopefully is lower than if you were to buy all the shares at the same time.

Buy and hold – buying a stock and holding it for a long period of time, usually with big companies, the stock price generally trends upwards over the long term. When you buy and hold, do not worry about the short term fluctuations in price. You may be losing money on some days and be tempted to sell, but if you are holding for the long term, the strategy is just to wait out the small dips in price.

Getting started with trading – Questrade. This is an example of a brokerage that you can use to invest. You can also start a trading account at the bank that you use.

Questrade offers two types of accounts:

  • Self-Directed
  • Managed.


Because we’re going to be directing our trades ourselves, we want to select “Self-Directed.” For the Self-Directed Account Type, we are going to pick a normal non-registered account “Standard Individual.” (We talked about RRSP/TFSA accounts in the past few weeks). We won’t be messing with options at all, so pick “No” for the Options trading.

After that, you’ll be asked for your name, address, SIN, etc. Go ahead and fill that out and complete your application.

Once you’re done your application, though, there’s still paperwork you have to mail into them. Questrade requires a “Statement of Acceptance,” which you have print out, sign, scan, and upload back to them. They also require a bank statement (I just download mine from Tangerine and uploaded it), as well as an “Attested ID” Basically, you have to photocopy your passport and get a CPA, lawyer, doctor, etc. to sign the paper attesting that you are who you say you are, and then you mail it to their headquarters in Toronto. Alternatively, if you live in Toronto, you can just pop by their head office near Finch Station and show them your ID there.

Conversely you can also open up an account at your local bank branch, and they will help you set up your account there.

Buying & Selling: You can use many different broker options which will charge different amounts of commission fees, with full-service being the expensive option and online being the cheapest ($9-$15 per trade). Most people use online brokers through their bank or third party brokers such as Questrade. There is also the option of investment advisors who can give you investing advice or help you invest, if you give them permission. The advisor will either be paid a fee or may take a portion of your returns.

Investment tips: Try to buy things with low fees to maximize gain, minimize the number of trades you do to minimize fees, passive investment is generally the way to go unless you are very knowledgeable, and do your research before investing, there are many resources online about stocks which are useful, but also make sure to do you due diligence before blindly investing. It is also good to invest in an industry or company you are interested in or know a lot about, because then it can be easier to predict how the stock prices will move. Lastly, buy low and sell high, not the other way around! It is easy to be panicked when your stock drops a little bit, but it is not always good to sell as the stock drops. Over time you will start to develop your own ideas and strategies.



What is Bitcoin? Should I invest in it?

A: Bitcoin is a new form of investments, which are cryptocurrencies. These are digital currency, similar to the Canadian Dollar or US Dollar but do not have a physical form. Your digital coins are stored as secure code. You can exchange your Canadian Dollars for Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, much like exchanging CAD to USD. Then when the value of the currency you invested in goes up then you can sell back to CAD to make a gain. There is no clear answer to if you should invest, and you should do your own research, however Bitcoin is very hyped right now and as a result is volatile (unstable) so it would be a risky investment.

What should I invest in?

A: Investing is different for everyone, and everyone has different goals. You should first understand what your goals are. If you are trying to save money and do not want to lose it, you can look into GICs or bonds. On the other hand, if you are okay with the idea of losing money and want to make quicker or bigger returns, you can invest in stocks or other more risky investments. Before doing so, you should make sure to read some articles about what you want to invest in, and keep up with the news of those topics, and do your own research before investing. There is no definite “best” investment.

How can I become an owner of the company just by buying stocks?

A: Stocks are issued by companies to exchange a portion of ownership for your money. So you are actually an owner of that company if you buy their stocks. It does not seem like you are an owner because the company usually has millions of issued stocks, so you are only owning a small fraction of the company, along with many others. Since you are not a big owner, that is why it does not seem like you own the company. However, all shareholders (owners) get a chance to vote on company decisions at shareholder meetings. As a small shareholder you will generally get a letter in the mail and can vote on management decisions through a mailed ballot.

Why should I buy a mutual fund or ETF if it will charge me fees?

A: Although it charges you fees, if will save you a lot of work in researching stocks and help you diversify your portfolio. They allow you to own many different stocks at once, which you may not be able to afford on your own. They are also professionally managed, so you do not have to do as much research on your own about all the different stocks. If you invest on your own, it can cost you a lot of commissions to buy and sell many different stocks at once and requires a lot of researching time. It is ultimately up to the individual to determine if these benefits are worth the fees.


Budgeting Script, Activity and FAQ

Slides for the script can be accessed here

Slide 1: Introduce yourself and the topic (budgeting)

Slide 2: There are a number of topics that will be discussed today. It includes:

  • Financial Management
  • Quality of Life
  • How to Create a Budget
  • Government Grants
    • OSAP
    • RESP
    • RRSP
    • Grant website

Slide 3: Financial management

  • Whether it is personal finance or business finance, proper understanding, planning and controlling of financial activities such as how to allocate and utilize funds, can help individuals make better decisions on financing resources.
  • Comprehensive evaluation of an investor's current and future financial state by using currently known variables to predict future cash flows → this means that the main purpose of financial management is to make sure you are in a stable financial state.
  • There are many benefits to good financial management:
    • Save and plan for retirement
    • Fund your children’s education
    • Buy a home and pay off mortgage quickly
    • Minimize taxes

Slide 4: Quality of life

  • By definition, it is the standard of health, comfort, and happiness experienced by an individual or group.
  • Knowing what qualifies as good “quality of life” for yourself means you have a good understand of your own needs and wants --> a very important concept in budgeting
  • Different people experience varying levels on the quality of life spectrum; some receive low income and can only afford basic life necessities, while others earn high income and can afford luxury goods. They fall into different categories on the federal income tax brackets, with the high tiers (with lower income) paying less tax and the lower tiers paying more.  

Slide 5: How to create a budget:

Now, we will talk about some key points on how you can create a good budget.

Slide 6: Wants vs. needs:

  • Needs: something you cannot live without: Things like food, clothing and shelter are needs because you need those things to survive in life.
  • Wants: something you would like to have, but can live without. Things like fancy cars or jewelry or phones are wants because these are things you simply would like to own, but not things that you need to survive.  

Slide 7: Step 1 in creating a budget: understanding your costs

  • What is your goal? --> what is it that you want to achieve?
  • Figure out the costs of your goal --> is it recurring or a one-time thing?
    • There would likely be many different costs incurred, and you must carefully think through all the details to make sure you have checked off everything that could potentially cost you something.
  • List out all your expenses/costs --> keeping everything organized is crucial.

Slide 8: Step 2 in creating a budget: sources of income

  • This is the other side of the equation: where are you getting money from? Costs/expenses take money away from you, but sources of income puts money back into your account.
  • Where is your income coming from? Will it drastically differ in the future?
  • The best way to go about this in an organized manner is to create a timeline that showcases these income amounts and variances in them depending on different future events and situations.

Slide 9: Step 3: tying your lists together

  • All together now!
  • This is an important step because it connects the two things you just calculated together. Without this step, you would just have lots of scattered numbers and values, with no concrete way to organize them.
  • All you have to do is add up the total amounts from both your list and then compare the two.
  • Remember, expenses is the amount that you have lost; savings/income is the amount that you have gained.
  • Thus, if your expenses is greater than your income, that means you are losing more money --> should consider other sources of income such as grants and loans.
  • If your income is more than your expenses --> consider savings options in order to build a healthy financial habit and plan and in case of any emergencies in the future.

Slide 10: Now let’s talk a little bit about government grants...

Slide 11: Government Grants

Government grants are essentially financial awards given by the government to individuals. They are meant to help fund projects and activities that will directly or indirectly improve the economy.
Here are some websites to give you more information about the different types of government grants there are and how you can apply for them.

Slide 12: OSAP - Ontario Student Assistance Program

  • OSAP is a financial aid program that gives individuals (who normally cannot afford school) the opportunity to go to university and get an education.  
  • It offers two kinds of funding:  
    • Grants - money you don’t have to pay back
    • Loan - money you need to repay once you are finished with school (you can repay gradually throughout the years); There are other programs that can aid you in repaying your loans once you are out of school.
  • This program is open to Ontario residents of any age who are:
    • Canadian citizens
    • Permanent residents
    • Protected persons
  • Amount received depends on your education expenses (such as tuition, books, living expenses, etc.) and personal financial situation (such as family income).
    • There are other factors that are considered which may allow you to receive more money, such as being Indigenous or having a disability.
    • New OSAP rule make average tuition free for students whose family income is less than $50 000 per year

Slide 13: RESP - Registered Education Savings Plan

  • Savings accounts that parents or grandparents open in order to start saving for their  children’s education
  • It is essentially an agreement between an individual needing the money (called the subscriber) and a person giving the money (called the promoter).
    • The beneficiary, the student pursuing post-secondary education, takes the payment from their RESP
    • There are a number of different options available for RESPs, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and GICs (guaranteed investment certificate).
    • Can be opened at banks or organizations (these people, called promoters, pay educational assistance payments to the beneficiaries).
    • Includes saving incentives:
      • Canada education savings grant (CESG): basic 20% of annual contributions for a qualifying beneficiary.
      • Additional CESG may be available depending on family income.
      • Canada learning bond (CLB): additional incentives for children born on or after January 1, 2004
  • Plan options vary depending on the organization and your needs

General break-down of RESP:

  1. Subscriber opens an RESP account --> enters contract with promoter
  2. Subscriber will make contributions to the RESP. Government grants such as CESG, or CLB, will be paid to the RESP.
  3. Promoter will make payments to the beneficiary so they can attend post-secondary

Slide 14: RRSP: Registered Retirement Savings Plan

  • Any income earned in the RRSP is usually exempt from tax as long as funds remain in the plan
    • Contributions to the plan are deductible from income, thus resulting in a reduction in income tax for the individual for that year.
    • Wh en it is withdrawn from the account, however, it becomes taxed as income.
  • Set up through a financial institution (ex. bank, credit union, trust, insurance company)
  • For holding savings and investment assets
    • Asset options: savings account, GICs, bonds, mortgage loans, and mutual funds, etc.  


FAQ - Budgeting only

Why is budgeting important?

A: Budgeting allows you to keep track of how you are using your money, thus it allows you to see in what way should you be allocating your money appropriately. This helps you make sure you have enough money to spend on the things you need. It will also prevent you from going into debt or help you slowly move out of it if you are already in debt (by paying off a bit every month and putting aside some money for savings).

How do I use my budget plan to benefit myself financially for the future?

A: It helps to plan out your budget for a few months in the future. This way, you can roughly  predict how each month will look in terms of your finances. If there is extremely contrasting fluctuations between the months, you can try to look for ways to balance it out a little bit. You can also see how much money you can save for big spending products like houses or cars. Lastly, forecasting for the future can allow you to plan for any long-term life goals you might have, such as travelling, or starting your own business.

What items should I include in my budget?

A: Proper budgeting means you should include everything that you spend money on, no matter how small or big. It helps to list your costs in order of priority to you. Here are some example categories to get you started thinking about it:

  • Housing
  • Debt
  • Furniture
  • Vehicle
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Food
  • Personal car e

Does it cost anything to create a budget?

A: There are tons of software programs online that can help you with creating a budget, and some of them may come with a cost while others are completely free. The most important thing to remember about budgeting is that, simply put, it is a list of all your revenues (money earned) and expenses (money lost - costs) over a period of time. For beginners, simply determine how much you have, how much you owe (if you have any debt), how much you make, and how much you usually spend every month (expenses), Then, use an easy online program such as Microsoft Excel and online tools like Mint, and input your numbers.