Course Content
Module 1: Income, Expenses and Budgets
Learn how to track your income and expenses and making a budget to start setting financial goals
Module 3: Saving
Learn the most effective tips and tools to help you save money
Module 4: Credit and Debt Management
Learn the types of credit, how to manage debt, review credit reports and credit scores
Module 5: Mortgages
Learn the costs of buying a home, types of mortgages and tips for negotiating your terms.
Module 6: Insurance
Discover different types of insurance, how they work and how to get the coverage you need
Module 7: Investing
Learn the basics of investing, types of investments, investment advisors and setting investment goals.
Module 8: Income Taxes and Contributions
Learn tax basics, taxable income, deductions, credits and filing your taxes.
Module 9: Retirement and Pensions
Learn about public and private pensions, personal savings and estimating your retirement income.
Module 10: Financial Planning
Learn the importance of creating a financial plan, estate planning and how financial professionals can help you.
Module 11: Fraud protection
Learn how to recognize and protect yourself from fraud, including what to do if you are a victim.
Personal Finance 101 Crash Course for Canadians
About Lesson

Everyone needs some type of income, whether it comes from a paycheque, an inheritance or investments. You need to know how to keep track of your income and manage it to cover your expenses and save for future goals.

In this section you will learn:

  • how to understand your paycheque
  • how to calculate your total income from all sources
  • what to do if your income drops unexpectedly.

For most of us, our main source of income is our job. Most people get paid through a biweekly or semi-monthly paycheque. But you may get paid irregularly if you do contract, consulting or seasonal work, or odd jobs.

Below is a sample paycheque and pay stub. This is for a person who gets paid an hourly wage of $17. (Note that in Quebec, paycheques also include deductions for provincial taxes.)

Paycheque for $1,146.99


Sample pay stub

Earnings Rate Hours Earnings this period Year to date Footnote1
Regular Footnote2 17.00 84 1,428.00 8,845.95
Income tax – 184.90 1,105.99
EI Footnote3 – 25.42 159.02
CPP/QPP Footnote4 – 70.69 404.49
Other Footnote5
Full deposit 1,146.99
Net pay Footnote6 $1,146.99
Your paycheque may show a deduction for vacation pay. This is a portion of your salary (ranging from four to six per cent) that you are entitled to receive as part of your pay. For most full-time employees, this equals two to three weeks of vacation annually with pay. Casual and part-time employees often receive their vacation pay on each paycheque. Employers usually keep vacation pay in a separate fund and pay it to you when you take your vacation. For some types of employment, it may show on the pay stub.
Go to the Canada Revenue Agency’s information on paycheque deductions and income tax for more details. In Quebec, visit Revenu Québec.

There may also be deductions taken from your paycheque for provincial or territorial programs. For example:

  • In Quebec, employees and employers pay a percentage of the gross income to fund the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP), an income replacement plan that supports parents of a newborn child.
  • In the Northwest Territories, a two percent payroll tax is deducted.

Check with your provincial or territorial ministry of finance or labour to see whether any deductions apply where you live.

In addition to your job, you may have other sources of income. Use this chart to identify all your sources of income. Then calculate your total monthly and yearly income. You may want to collect recent pay stubs and income tax statements to get accurate figures.

If your work income stops—for example, if you lose your job or can’t work for some other reason—you need other sources of income. Here are some suggestions.

Workplace and government plans

  • You may be eligible for Employment Insurance benefits.
  • You may be able to draw on salary or vacation pay you have not been paid yet.
  • You may be eligible for income assistance programs. (Contact your provincial or territorial government ministry responsible for social assistance programs.)


  • You can buy insurance in case you lose your job. This insurance will pay your mortgage, credit card payments and other loans until you get back to work. Disability insurance provides income each month if you get sick or hurt.
  • You must apply for insurance before the loss of income occurs. Also, there may be limits or conditions on the insurance, so find out exactly what the coverage is.
  • You may have insurance as part of an individual or company group plan.


  • Use emergency funds first, if you have them, to pay your bills.
  • You may be able to draw on your retirement savings. However, try to avoid this if possible because you will need the funds in the future. Also, if you withdraw funds from a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), up to 30 percent will be withheld for income tax.


  • You may sell your home or other property for cash, then buy or rent another home for less.
  • You may be able to rent out part of your home to bring in extra money.


  • You may be able to borrow money from friends or family, or from the bank.
  • You may be able to get a loan based on the money you have put into your home.
  • Use loans as a last resort.


Plan ahead—before a crisis hits—so you can handle the unexpected. Experts recommend putting aside at least three months’ worth of household expenses for an emergency fund. Know where you can turn for assistance if your income drops.

For more information about replacing lost income, see the Ontario Securities Commission video “How to handle being laid off.”

  • A job is the main source of income for most people, but there may be many other sources.
  • Deductions are taken off paycheques for taxes and to pay for social programs like pensions and employment insurance. The income that is left after deductions is called net income.
  • Prepare for a sudden loss of income by setting aside some cash every month for an emergency fund and by knowing where to turn for help.

At the end of the module, you will find an Action plan. This is a tool that you can use to track your progress and take the next steps to manage your income and expenses successfully in the future. Use the action plan as a roadmap for financial action!