Getting out of debt on your ownPosted on: August 27, 2019
Tax season is here. Like many Canadians you may discover that you now have a tax debt to add to your regular commercial debts: credit cards, loans, etc. This can make it a very stressful time of year. Of course, if you are one of the lucky few who has minimal or no regular debts and have the means to pay what you owe in taxes, you have no problem. If you’re not, you do.
As nervous as all this might make you, keep your eye on the end target – being debt free. It might help you deal with things more easily. Taking control of your situation comes with its own rewards: first, you’ll have less stress, and second, you’ll have more cashflow to put to savings.
To start, if you’ve decided to tackle your debts alone, you need a clear plan to help you determine:
Whether you can do this using only your own resources
How much can you afford to put towards paying off the debt?
How will you find the money to pay the debt?
How long it will take to pay off the debt?
Next, your payment options may be:
Making monthly minimum payments
Using your tax refund
Talking to your creditors to change your payment terms
Or, getting a consolidation loan
Do you know exactly how much you owe? This is a simple calculation. Be sure to include auto loans, payday loans, credit cards and other loans like family loans and medical bills. Start by itemizing your debts by gathering your most recent financial statements for all loans and credit cards. You may also decide to check your credit report from each of the credit bureaus (Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada).
Next, list all our debts on a worksheet or computer program, specifying:
Name of creditor
Minimum monthly payment
From this list you can create a monthly budget:
A: Add up our monthly income after taxes and other remittances.
B: Tally up all our monthly expenses, which will include our rent or mortgage payment, utility bills, childcare, student loan payments, insurance, groceries and other monthly household expenses.
C: Subtract all of our monthly expenses from our monthly income and what’s left is the amount we have left to pay off our debts. The formula would basically run this way: A minus B = C.
If you think the amount going towards your debt payments is too small, review your expense numbers and look for ways to reduce your spending. Also, consider ways to make more money so you can pay off your debt faster. It’s important to remember that the higher A is and the lower B is, the faster you’ll reach the finish line.
Another option is to try to obtain better terms. Now that you’ve come up with a clear repayment plan, you can try to negotiate better terms with your creditors. Remember: nothing is necessarily carved in stone. With a good plan, you actually have something of value to offer the creditors. Your main goal is to negotiate a more favourable interest rate. That would make the finish line closer still, which makes a big difference.
Here are some tips to use when speaking to your creditor about lowering your interest rates:
Ask if you qualify for a balance transfer on a zero interest or low rate interest credit card. This can save you a lot of money in terms of interest.
Check out student loan consolidation and income-based repayment plans that are exclusive to high level student loan debts.
Look into whether you can refinance a high-rate auto loan into a lower-rate.
Inquire if you can consolidate your debts into a personal loan or home equity loan.
Richard Killen, Licensed Insolvency Trustee and author of the new eBook The Glass is Half Full which is now available to be downloaded for free from iBooks, Amazon, Indigo and Kindle. Richard Killen & Associates, with offices conveniently located across the GTA, have been helping Canadians resolve their debt issues since 1992.
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