Monday, 27 January 2014

Statistics Canada: Report on Current Canadian Consumer Debt Levels


Statistics Canada released its latest report on figures regarding personal wealth and debt levels recently, and the numbers are not as promising as some financial experts would like – in many cases they are actually worse. What are these numbers, and what do they tell us about Canadian consumer debt levels?
By the end of the second quarter of 2013, Canadian mortgage debt had reached $1.1 trillion – but this number is not included in consumer debt – or rather, debts such as credit cards or personal loans. In contrast, consumer debt reached a high of $500 billion.
A key measure of consumer debt is the debt-to-income ratio for each household. This means the amount of household debt compared against disposable income. As StatsCan reported, the second quarter of 2013 hit a record high of 163.4% – that is up from 162.1% for the first quarter of last year, and is a reversal of the trend that saw the ratio decline in the previous 2 quarters.
So what do these numbers actually mean? Well, according to financial experts, this is a good indication that Canadian households are still spending, on credit, but at a slower rate, which is a good thing. That being said, the key factor here is that the spending continues, meaning Canadian consumer debt levels continue to grow.
Also, while some experts say that this debt is not unmanageable, a recent Royal Bank survey conducted by Ipsos Reid found that consumer debt is still keeping many Canadians on edge – 38% polled stated they were anxious about their current debt load. If you find yourself in this category you are clearly not alone. And although experts seem to think that Canadians are going to continue to curb their spending, this may not be as feasible for all as they would perhaps like.
So, how do you measure up and what are your options? Are your debt levels on par with the average Canadian, or are you a bit more on the ‘stressed’ side. If your debt is keeping you up at night it might be time to think about a different solution. And again, you are not alone here either. The same RBC poll found that many Canadians are going a bit farther than just making a budget or using different tactics to decrease debt, stating debt consolidation has become a big favourite for many looking to reduce their overall debt load and save on interest.
Want some help coming up with a solution – DebtCare can discuss the many options regarding Canadian consumer debt and how to eliminate yours. Call us today at 1 (888) 890-0888 or visit us online at www.debtcare.ca   

Monday, 20 January 2014

Personal Debt Management – How You Can Regain Control of Your Finances


Even as the Canadian economy stabilizes, many Canadians continue to find themselves dealing with the difficulties brought on over the past few years. Debt has become, or rather continues to be, a major stressor for countless individuals. Although some Canadians have been able, over the past year, to climb out of that financial black hole, others still struggle to find a foothold.
If you are in the latter category, does this mean that you are forced to continually struggle with debt? No. There are many personal debt management options that exist which can help you get out of debt. Here are the main ones – as well as a brief description of how they work.
Debt Consolidation: Consolidating your debt means just that – consolidating all debt totals into one. This is usually done through a loan. With a debt consolidation loan, all other debts are paid off, and you are required to make only one payment each month. There are a number of benefits to this type of debt solution, including the convenience of a single monthly payment and the amount of total interest saved through consolidation (the interest rate for consolidation loans are often far lower than other types of debt, ie. credit cards). 
Depending on your circumstances, that can be a few difficulties with a debt consolidation. Since you are essentially getting another credit product, your credit will likely need to be in pretty good shape – but if you are struggling with a mountain of debt or having a hard time making monthly payments, your credit may not be stellar. Also, if you do have a large amount of debt, securing funding to consolidate all of it may also prove quite difficult.
Consumer Proposal: A consumer proposal is essentially a proposal made to your creditors to reduce the amount of your debt – the total of which is determined based on your income and ability to make the monthly payments. It is conducted by a trustee in bankruptcy and is an official process (meaning you cannot do it on your own). Once accepted by the majority of your creditors, your debt will be reduced and you are required to make manageable monthly payments to pay off the debt in a much shorter period of time.
There are many positives to a consumer proposal. Firstly, it reduces the total amount that you owe. Secondly, it consolidates all of your monthly payments into one, single monthly payment. It will also stop any collection enforcement action against you and can be paid in full at any time. That being said, it will impact your credit rating, but if you are considering a consumer proposal this has likely already taken place.
Bankruptcy: Although often considered the least popular, for many individuals bankruptcy is the only realistic option. In a bankruptcy, your creditors receive notice that you have declared and your debts are cleared. Bankruptcy involves a court determination that your assets are to be taken over by a trustee for the benefit of your creditors. During your bankruptcy you do have some responsibilities, including proving income monthly, attending credit counselling sessions, and making minimum monthly payments, but collection enforcement actions are halted against you.
Depending on your own unique situation, one of these may be a very attractive debt solution. Our best advice? Seek out some professional debt management guidance in order to choose the option that best suits your needs and circumstances.
For more on these and other debt management options, please contact DebtCare Canada today by calling 1 (888) 890-0888.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

New Year, New Plan – Start by Getting Out of Debt!


Happy New Year Everyone! Time to get those resolutions started – and for many of us this means getting out of debt! With holiday shopping out of the way (and the subsequent credit card bills screaming at us from the mailbox), you can actually get down to business and rein in that spending. This year, start with a plan that you will actually be able to stick to, rather than just casting it aside a few weeks in. The only way to get your debt under control is to tackle it head-on.
Tip #1: Examine. Start by looking over all of your finances – usually not a fun experience – but something that cannot be avoided. In order to start fixing the problem, you have to know what the problem is. Go over all of your bills and make a list of totals owed for each, as well as a grand total (ouch!). This will also help you keep track of monthly bills and can be a great motivator when those totals start to decrease!
Tip#2: Assess and set priorities. Now that you know how much you owe, and to whom, step 2 is to figure out which items are the most important. We are not saying here that you should pick and choose which bills to pay – far from it – but rather which can receive a larger chunk of your monthly income. For example, if you choose to tackle the highest debt first, this may mean making only the minimum monthly payments on smaller cards but a much larger payment on the one with the highest amount owing. Or perhaps interest is the biggest factor, so make that card the priority.
Tip #3: Set a budget. Now that you’ve got the worst part (for most of us) out of the way, it is time to establish a realistic budget. This means taking into account all of your monthly spending and income. Doing this should help you eliminate some of those things that are a tad frivolous, or to limit yourself in those areas that see a lot of unnecessary or out-of-your-budget spending.
Tip #4: Stick to it. Perhaps this may sound easier said than done, but you have to be diligent. Debt isn’t going to go away on its own (chances are pretty high that, if left alone, it will only have the opposite effect). Try to think about ways to keep track every day, and make sure that you are tracking your spending and taking note of decreasing totals.
Tip #5: Can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel – get some help! If you have done these things but still can’t see a way to continually meet minimum payment requirements, stop stressing and get some help. A debt management firm can offer a number of different options to help you get out of debt, including debt consolidation, consumer proposal, or bankruptcy. These opportunities can often mean significant savings as far as interest, and can help you get the debt relief you need to keep your finances afloat.
Getting out of debt can be difficult, but it doesn’t need to be a nightmare. This year, try to stay strong and keep to that resolution. DebtCare can help – call us today at 1 (888) 890-0888.