Bringing financial savviness to new Canadians: Tips to plan for the future and the unexpected
Published November 1, 2021.
As an immigrant himself, Dr. Enoch Omololu understands the financial challenges newcomers experience.
The Winnipeg-based veterinarian arrived in Canada in 2011 from Nigeria. In addition to being a trained and working professional in his field, Omololu also holds a master’s degree in finance and investment management and has a strong passion for helping fellow immigrants achieve their financial wellness goals.
When Omololu launched Savvy New Canadians, a personal finance website for newcomers, in 2016, he was responding to what he perceived as an absence of financial planning resources for immigrants, by immigrants.
Omololu believes that while many immigrants and refugees come to Canada with a strong understanding of financial planning and management, there are some common gaps in their knowledge.
“New Canadians often struggle with the peculiarities of Canadian personal finance in relation to a newcomer’s country of origin. For example, I was not aware of the concept of credit scores until I arrived in Canada,” he says. “The same idea may apply to their understanding of tax-advantaged accounts such as Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) and Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) and nuanced differences in banking and investment services.”
Omololu has observed new Canadians sometimes misstep financially in a couple of different areas. These include not taking advantage of tax-friendly products, not adequately planning for retirement and also getting into debt.
“Newcomers can get sucked into Canada’s easy-to-access credit system where they take on more credit than they can afford and become burdened with repayments and interest fees,” says Omololu.
He argues that effective financial planning enables immigrants and refugees to be prepared for any eventuality and positions them for success as they establish themselves in a new country.
Some of Omololu’s tips include:
- Building your credit profile: A good to excellent credit score and history will help you qualify for competitive interest rates and save money in the long term.
- Establish an emergency fund: Save and keep an emergency fund you can access at a moment’s notice for unexpected expenses. This can help you avoid credit card debt or expensive loans that lure you into a cycle of debt.
- Learn about the Canadian financial landscape: Gain knowledge about investment accounts, government benefits, taxation, education savings plans for children, retirement strategies, ways to save money and more.
He is also a proponent of watching out for scammers and fraudulent offers, being mindful of housing affordability and the importance of budgeting and sticking to your budget.
Omololu shares that it took him a couple of years of living in Canada to better understand its financial landscape but adds the more newcomers learn about the Canadian financial system, including products and tools available to help you budget, plan and save, the stronger financially you’ll become.
Looking for advice on how to develop an effective budget and financial plan? Explore the Financial Planning section within Windmill’s Skilled Immigrant Career Success Guide.