2 Things You Can Do To Take Control of DebtPosted on: December 21, 2018
If you are struggling with debt, you are certainly not alone. Most Canadians, if not all, have debt. Some of us have just a little bit of debt and that’s completely normal, and we must know how to take measures to keep it at a manageable level and avoid becoming trapped in a cycle of debt.
On the other hand, there are also some of us who have a large amount of debt and it’s creating stressful financial issues as we try and juggle payments on the debts and put more effort into meeting the monthly payments on time.
And then there are a number of Canadians, unfortunately, who have out-of-control debt that has really become a burdensome problem and causing them to feel a deep sense of shame, guilt, and embarrassment to the point that they suffer physical and psychological health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Managing debt is the very first step to prevent it from getting out of control. That’s really the rule of thumb when you take on credit. Once you take on any type of debt, it can affect your entire financial life. That’s why it’s so important that you take the steps towards being the one in control of your debt, instead of debt taking over your life. If you are in control of your debt, it will make you feel confident about being able to pay it off in a timely manner and you won’t be afraid about facing any financial demons over time.
Here are two important things to understand to help you always take control of your debt:
Know how much you owe.
Monitor your debt so that you are always aware of how much you owe. You monitor your debt simply by creating a detailed budget to plan your expenses. A budget will provide very important information for effective debt management. It will show you:
- The net income you have available to spend.
- What your regular expenses are (e.g. rent, childcare, food, transportation, savings).
- The total of the payments you have to make each month for your debts (e.g. credit card debts, mortgage, car loan and other loans).
Make sure you list each of your debts, one by one, indicating the total amount each creditor it is owed, the monthly payment you need to make, and when the due date is. Check your credit report to verify all your existing debts and to make sure you didn’t miss putting something on your list. Total up your expenses and payments and subtract this from your net monthly income. Depending on how much money you have left over at the end of the month, you’ll need to decide whether you have too much debt or if you feel comfortable with the level of debt you have now. Make it a point to update your debt list as you make payments on the due date. This will help you to stay aware of how much you owe all the time and prevent you from making any financial decisions that will lead to potential debt problems in future.
Recognize if you need help.
For some people, following a realistic budget to pay off debts and plan expenses is enough for them to take control of their debt. However, for others who have bigger debt problems and budgeting is not enough, there may be a need to create a manageable repayment plan to help you pay your debt and other bills each month in order to regain control of your finances.
As soon as you find that you’re struggling with payments and feel that you may have a potential issue on your hands, maybe you’ve made a late payment or think you’re not going to make a payment on time, reach out to your lender right away to find out if they can offer some ways for you to catch up or stay on time with payments. You’d be surprised that there are a number of creditors who are more than willing to work with borrowers who reach out to them for help before they are way behind on payments. Creditors may lower your interest rate, reduce your payment or even temporarily suspend your payments for a number of months until you get back on your feet. The key is not to wait until you’re delinquent because you have more options if you have no missed payments.
If you really cannot pay even the minimum payments on your debts or cannot even meet your basic monthly needs such as buy food or pay the electric bill, then your debt problems are more severe and you may need a more permanent solution to help reduce or eliminate your debts entirely.
At this point, the best thing you can do to take control of your debt is to talk to a debt professional. A licensed insolvency trustee is the only debt expert in Canada licensed by the federal government to give advice about other options for debt relief such as a debt management plan, a consumer proposal or a bankruptcy. Each of these debt solutions have advantages and disadvantages and a trustee will be able to explain each option thoroughly and answer any questions you may have. The trustee will do an in-depth assessment of your financial situation and be able to make recommendations on the best option to solve your debt problems. By getting the help you need, you can get back in the driver’s seat and take back control of debt with some good advice instead of ignoring your debt problem and making matters worse like leading you to declaring bankruptcy.
Taking control of debt is a commitment. You need to be able to manage it responsibly. Even if you have just a little bit of debt, you need to exercise restraint to keep it at a level you are able to manage. If you have more than just a little debt, you need a little more self-discipline to have more control over your debts. If you have more debt than you can handle, it would require you to seek the help you need and make certain sacrifices to get back on top of things.
Debt problems and financial challenges are inevitable in life. They will happen to each one of us at some level and at some point in our life. It’s important to realize that there are solutions to debt problems no matter how terrible your situation may seem to be. There is no need to spend your entire life in debt and allow it to ruin your other financial goals. All you need to do is make the decision to take control of debt and do all that is necessary to improve your financial situation.
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