As we head into the final month of the year, spend a few minutes thinking about what you’d like to do in 2019 to improve your financial position.

Two ways to look at the possible steps you could take: Which will have the biggest impact on my finances, and which will most make me feel better about them? Given the high levels of financial stress that keep turning up in money-related polls, I suggest you go for changes that will make you feel more in control of your finances. For that, consider following a budget and saving more.

Fresh research suggests these two steps are effective in building your sense of financial well-being. “Regardless of the amount of money someone makes, regular efforts to save for unexpected expenses and other future priorities appears to be key to feeling and being in control of personal finances,” the federal Financial Consumer Agency of Canada says in a summary its 2018 Financial Well-Being Survey.

In an additional study on budgeting, the FCAC found that slightly more than half of participants believed a budget helped them pay down existing debts, increase savings for the future or to save for emergencies. The budgeting study started in 2016 with people in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador who were introduced to budgeting. A follow-up in 2018 found that 54 per cent of the group was still using a budget.

What I like about saving and budgeting is that they’re foundational financial moves. They give you control and flexibility that will help you find money to pay down debt, save more for retirement and do other important things to help you get where you need to go in life.

The Globe and Mail, November 29, 2018