Most people are aware when they are having trouble with money, the difficult part is not recognizing this, but determining when it is necessary to obtain professional help. While there magic formula or clear way to measure when profession help is needed, the following questions can often be a good guide.
Question 1 Are you left with more bills than money at the end of the month?
Question 2 Are you finding it necessary to use your credit cards as a necessity rather than a convenience?
Question 3 Is it necessary to borrow money simply to make it from one payday to the next?
Question 4 Are your wages currently being garnisheed by your creditors?
Question 5 Do you find you are constantly borrowing from Peter to pay Paul?
Question 6 Do you find that you can only afford to pay the minimum monthly payments of all your bills?
Question 7 Are your creditors constantly pressing you for payment, threatening to sue?
Question 8 Have your accounts been turned over to a collection agency?
If you answered yes to any of these questions you are likely in a position where you need to take action before things get worse. This is where most people stumble, there are a lot of good resources that tell you what to do when you have lots of money, but it is often difficult to find resources that help when you owe lots of money. This is the purpose of this article. We have tried to provide a resource that you can reference to determine the major options available when dealing with debt.
Options Available When Dealing with Debt
Consider the following options when looking for a solution to your financial problems:
1. Contact your creditors
The First you should do is contact your creditors directly. Often these creditors will agree to temporary measures that will allow you to get back on track. When you contact your creditors it is best to explain why you can’t make the payments in question, provide a suggestion that details what the creditor could do that would enable you to get a handle on things and be prepared to demonstrate how this temporary measures will help you to return to a position where you are in good standing with the lender. Often, if you do this correctly and make disclosure of all pertinent areas of your financial life you may be surprised but many creditors are willing to accept such arrangements.
2. Credit counseling
Credit Counseling is another service that has proved to be helpful. In Alberta there are two main credit counseling groups and both provide a variety of services that may be able to help to rectify the existing difficulties. They hold regular workshops that cover budgeting, debt management, credit and many other topics that are often of interest. With their help you may be able to rearrange your current situation in a manner that will allow you to deal with the debt in question.
3. Consolidation loan
A consolidation loan is a common solution that is provided by most financial institutions. Often these institutions will give you a loan that you can use to pay “consolidate” your other debts into one loan. Typically this “consolidation loan” will be at much lower interest rate, result in monthly lower payments and often allow you to pay off the total debt in a shorter time. However, you must make sure to stop buying on credit. If you continue to use credit after consolidating you will end up in a much worse position than you are right now.
4. Orderly Payment of Debt
In Alberta (as well a a few other provinces) there is a program called Orderly Payment of Debt (OPD). OPD is a program that is much like a consolidation loan, but is done through the courts. Essentially the court makes an order to freeze your debts where they sit and you make a monthly payment to pay the debts in full plus a 5% interest rate. In Alberta, this program is administered through Credit Counselling Services of Alberta and if you couple it with many of their budgeting and credit workshops you may find that you can reduce your monthly payment enough to allow you to manage your finances more effectively.
5. Consumer proposal
Consumer proposal’s are becoming an increasingly popular way to deal with outstanding debt without having the severe impact on credit or stigma that are associated with bankruptcy. For those of you who have not heard of a consumer proposal before, it is a legislated mechanism that allows you to make a court sanctioned settlement offer with your creditors. There are a wide variety of things that could be offered in a consumer proposal, but the most common would be either a reduction to the total balance owing, an extension of the time you have to pay, or some combination of both.
6. Personal bankruptcy
Personal bankruptcy is the most severe of the options and should only be considered if you simply cannot afford any of the other alternatives. The premise behind bankruptcy legislation is that it permits an honest but unfortunate debtor with a mechanism to eliminate their debts. This doesn’t mean that simply filing a bankruptcy will completely erase any debt with no effort on your part. There are a number of duties and obligations that you must fulfill and once you have done so you will find that the majority of your unsecured debt will be cleared.
We suggest that when you are dealing with outstanding debt you are best to begin at the top of the list and work your way down. Focus on your existing cash flow each month to determine whether or not the alternative in question will work for you and work you way down the list until you find an alternative that you can afford. We find that typically timing is the key and the longer you wait the further down the list of alternatives you will have to go. As a rule, it is always better to catch things early so that you can prevent your situation from deteriorating further and resulting in greater difficulties.
If you find yourself in a position where you need more information on any of these options feel free to visit us online at our Edmonton Bankruptcy Site, or call us directly at (780) 435-5110 and we will be happy help.