Financial Fitness Bootcamp: Melanie Laing

Ready to get your finances in order? Join our Financial Fitness Bootcamp on January 27th to tackle those holiday bills and start your year right. Get your ticket now.


It’s officially 2018! 'Tis the season of New Year resolutions and goal setting. In 2018, the ladies of YWiB Toronto want you to be able to take control of your financials. Finance isn’t always a trendy topic, but it’s an important one for us to understand so that we’re able to achieve whatever we want in our lives.

While we understand the importance of financial literacy, we can’t pretend that it is something we’re extremely knowledgeable on. That’s why we sat down with Melanie Laing, Financial Security Advisor at Freedom 55 Financial, so we can get fresh with financials. Here’s what Melanie had to say:

1. To begin, how and why did you get involved in financial literacy?

I’ve always been driven to put myself in the best financial position possible, but despite wanting to do that, I felt totally ill equipped to handle the situation on my own after graduating university and looking to buy my first home. This is a feeling I know a lot of young people have upon leaving school. During this time, I was also planning on moving to Toronto, but the timing needed to be right and I needed to figure out what I wanted to do once getting here. I started doing my research and talking to friends and family in the financial services industry in order to understand how I can help people in my role. I guess the ‘how’ of why I got involved in financial literacy is through months of deliberation and conversations with my spouse, but the ‘why’ is driven by wanting to be a part of something that not only helps people, but equips them with the tools to make informed financial decisions in today’s economy and environment.

As young people, recent graduates, entrepreneurs, etc. we cannot rely on ‘flying by the seat of our pants’ if we want to get ahead professionally or financially, so if I can help people with their goals by explaining basic financial principles to them, that is a win for me!

2. Do you think most young people today understand financial literacy? Why do you think it’s important for young people to take this seriously?

Unfortunately, I don’t think most young people today have a good understanding of financial literacy, which, to be honest, is of no fault of their own. Apart from the way in which you ‘grew’ up with money, and how conversations were handled in your household as a kid, we are left to our own devices in trying to navigate the world of personal finance. I don’t think we can stress the importance of financial literacy enough and I hope that some of the changes made to curriculums across the country will improve the attention and knowledge of young Canadians for years to come.

That being said, for those of us who were not taught the basic principles or processes required for one to take care of their personal finances, we need to take it seriously and invest the time to learn. Young people today have to take their situation and finances seriously in order to ensure they can live the life they want to live now and in the future. An environment where the majority of people’s retirements are funded by company pensions does not exist anymore, so we need to be cognizant from a young age about what steps are going to help us.

3. What is the greatest challenge your clients (and young people in general) tend to face when it comes their finances?

I think for young people in general, the greatest challenge is the fact that change is inevitable so it’s hard to know what to do when your life is changing so rapidly and big life events are occurring (think: marriage, buying a home, starting a family, growing your career). That combined with the fact that many young people are focused on eliminating student debt and getting their careers started, it can be a challenge to consider all the other aspects of your financial plan.

4. Finally, What advice would you give to young professionals in Toronto who want to live a comfortable life that allows them to have a house, car, go on vacation, etc.?

I’d have to say two things. First, it’s okay to say ‘no.’ I think young people have a tendency to do things they don’t really want to do and spend money they shouldn’t in order to keep up with their peer group or appearances, which puts them in a stressful financial position and can compromise their ability to reach more ambitious goals. Be confident in your decisions and your plan to get there.

Second, and a common saying among the financial services industry, ‘pay yourself first.’ What I mean by this is set up a savings plan where contributions are taken from your account automatically each week, month, etc. We have an amazing ability to live off the money we ‘don’t’ have, so start thinking of your savings as an financial obligation and you will be able to accomplish some of those personal finance goals like owning a home and travelling.

If you’re looking to get your finances in order this year so you can achieve your dreams, then this workshop is for you! See you on January 27th!

Written by: Kate Taylor