Do you lose sleep over the amount of debt you’ve accumulated and can’t see a way out? Do you dream about living debt free in Toronto and finally start saving for your retirement?
Living debt free in Toronto is a realistic goal, but how you get there depends a lot on how much debt you have and what kind.
At David Sklar & Associates, we help people who are in over their heads. We file Consumer Debt Proposals and bankruptcies for individuals and businesses who can’t keep up with their payments.
#1 Pay The Full Balance On Credit Cards
Credit card debt is one of the quickest ways to find yourself in trouble with unsecured debt, as credit cards come with high interest. When you pay the full balance on your credit card, you’re not paying any interest, and it effectively works like a debit card that helps you build your credit score, rather than hurting it.
#2 Never Use Payday Loans
As Licensed Insolvency Trustees, here at David Sklar & Associates we often encounter individuals who have gotten into trouble with debt by relying on payday loans. Payday loan usage among Canadians has doubled in the last five years, and Canadians’ debt loads have likewise increased to alarming amounts. Even more troubling, just under half of people who use payday loans don’t understand the interest rate they’re being charged. You may feel like you need the money, but stop for a minute and calculate the actual interest rate before you borrow. It will only put you in a tougher financial situation later on.
#3 Never Borrow For Living Expenses
Living expenses are predictable costs, and cutting them down can be painful. If you find yourself relying on credit cards or payday loans to cover everyday expenses, you need to trim down your lifestyle. For some, that may be as easy as controlling impulse shopping or heading to the No Frills instead of Loblaw’s, but for others, it may mean downgrading from your home to a condo or a rental, or trading in your car for a subway pass or the GO train. Given the average of cost of operating a car, and the high cost of parking in downtown Toronto, if you commute 20 km 5 days a week, you could save $300 a month by switching to public transit.
#4 Don’t Use Debt Consolidation
Debt consolidation lenders advertise aggressively to “help” people buried under debt. Here’s how it works: a lender like a bank or debt consolidation company lends you a lump sum to pay down all your credit card bills, payday loans, and other unsecured debts. But, debt consolidation can get you into even more trouble down the road, with interest rates as high as 30 percent. You can quickly find yourself buried, and you may need debt consolidation loan help. A better alternative that we can help with at David Sklar & Associates is a Consumer Proposal: a legally binding renegotiation of your debt with all your unsecured creditors.
#5 Save For Your Retirement
The secret to long-term financial success is saving for your retirement, something only half of working Canadians do. Once you leave debt behind, you can start investing in your retirement by opening an RRSP or investing in property.
If you’re ready to start living debt free in Toronto, check out our blogs for advice on handling debt of all kinds, including payday loans, CRA debt, mortgages, and more. Debt consolidation may be the answer, while a Consumer Proposal can help get you out of dire circumstances. The answer might be as easy as curbing your spending. Ask us about Consumer Proposals and credit counselling to restart your financial future.