Calculating the True Cost of Debt
Many people don’t have a clear idea of what their debt really costs them, whether it’s a credit card balance or a student loan. Financial writer Gail Vaz-Oxlade points out in “How Much is Your Debt Costing You?” that if someone buys a $2,000 TV on credit, with an 18% interest rate, the minimum monthly payment would be about $40. Of that payment, only about $10 would go to the principle and rest would cover interest. So if you just made minimum payments, the $2,000 TV would cost you $7,000 and would take 30 years to pay off.
To tally up the true costs of your debts, the sites for many financial institutions and credit-counselling agencies have calculators available for free use. Punch in your numbers and weep.
Credit Counselling Canada, the national association of non-profit credit counselling and government agencies, offers links to a variety of calculators. They include ones designed to help you to get a clear picture of your debt situation, change your spending patterns for your home budget, determine repayment strategies for your loans and lines of credit, track your weekly expenses and show you how to reach your savings goal. Its SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound) Worksheet can aid you in setting financial goals and putting them in action.
Most banks offer calculators to help you figure the cost of loans before you sign on the dotted line. Typical is TD Canada Trust’s Debt Repayment Calculator. Select your type of debt, the amount of the loan and interest rate, and then you’ll get back the numbers for how much you’ll pay in total, over what period of time. If the numbers for your debts become oppressive, TD also offers a Debt Consolidation Loan Calculator, showing how you can ease your situation by consolidating all your debts into a single loan, with one monthly payment that is probably lower than what you are paying overall now.
Students about to enter university or college, and their parents, should point their browsers to the Government of Canada’s CanLearn Loan Repayment Estimator. Plug in your settings and it will help you estimate the monthly payments you’ll need to make to repay your Canada Student Loan or other government student loans. Simply enter the total amount of your loan(s), select the interest rate and grace period options, and decide on the number of monthly payments that you would like to make. You can also compare repayment options.
The trick is to pay off the student loan before you hit retirement age.
If you are in debt and have questions, call us at Richard Killen & Associates. We would be happy to help you find a proper solution to your problem. 1-888-545-5365.