Tag Archives: consumer debt

Apr 22: Best from the blogosphere

A look at the best of the Internet, from an SPP point of view

Savings – the spirit is willing, but the effort is weak

An interesting new report from Edward Jones is featured in a recent Wealth Professional that suggests Canadians really do place saving on the top of their list of financial priorities.

The study of 1,500 Canadians found that 77 per cent – more than three quarters of respondents – “have prioritized saving.” The story goes on to note that only 44 per cent see paying down debt as their top priority.

So the spirit is willing, as they say, but debt is getting in the way. “The most recent data from Statistics Canada points to a significant debt problem for Canadians, with household levels reaching a record high of 178.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018,” the article reports.

Despite that crippling debt level, when asked, Canadians see retirement saving as their top priority, followed by “funds for lifestyle expenses (like vacations), future family or child’s education, and emergency fund” topping out the top four, Wealth Professional reports.

The article goes on to say that despite those worthy savings goals, 58 per cent of those surveyed admit they have “underperformed” on their savings efforts, with only 12 per cent saying they were on track and have met their savings goals.

Let’s face it. In an era where we all owe about $1.78 for every dollar we earn, it is difficult to do much with our money other than paying down debt. And if we’re only able to make the minimum payment, those debts can take decades to pay off, which is discouraging.

Like most things that we hate having to do – such as losing weight, eating better, hitting the gym – getting out of debt requires patience and self-discipline.

According to the Motley Fool blog via MSN.ca, there are practical ways to turn things around with debt. Their first idea is to stop taking on more debt. “This means committing not to charge any more on your cards until you’ve paid off what you owe,” the blog advises. Having a budget in place will help you live with this new limit on your spending power, the blog notes.

The second step is to try and reduce your credit card interest rate. You can do this, the blog advises, by switching to a lower-interest credit card or via a debt consolidation loan.

Third idea is “to make a debt payoff plan,” the blog says. Essentially, the plan should have you paying more than the minimum on the card each month in order to pay it off more quickly, the blog advises.

Through this hard work of steady debt reduction, be sure to chart your progress, the blog advises.

Debt, like a big ocean liner, takes a long time to turn around. But once you’ve paid off a single credit card, you have extra money to pay down the next. Clearing up your debt will also, once you’ve completed it, allow you to focus on positive savings/spending goals such as retirement planning, vacations, education savings and an emergency fund. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan is a wonderful resource for long-term retirement savings, check out their website today.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

How to erase your debt

By Sheryl Smolkin

SOURCE: SHUTTERSTOCK
SOURCE: SHUTTERSTOCK

A recent CBC article reports that the average Canadian’s consumer debt load hit $27,485 at the end of 2012, a six per cent increase over the previous year’s level and the first time the figure has been above $27,000.

According to credit monitoring firm TransUnion, at the end of 2012 consumer debt had increased at the fastest pace seen since 2009, with average debt loads increasing by more than $1,500.

If erasing debts was as easy as spending money, there would not be so many Canadians struggling to take from Peter to pay Paul every month. It takes courage, commitment and perseverance to make a bare bones budget and stick to it.

If you didn’t catch Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s signature television series ‘Til Debt Do Us Part” when it originally aired, I encourage you to watch a few episodes online to get you started.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada also has the following tips to help you get your finances under control:

  1. Stop using credit:  If you continue to spend beyond your means, it will be difficult to realize your goal of being debt-free.
  2. Find ways to cut spending: Review your budget and list ways you can cut down on your spending. Make coffee at home instead of buying it. Consider selling some of your assets or taking on additional work to bring in extra money.
  3. Pay at least the minimum by the due date: If you do not, you will harm your credit history and score. Paying off the debts with the highest interest rate first will reduce the amounts you pay in interest and reduce your debt more quickly.
  4. Contact your creditors: You may be able to negotiate a lower interest rate or a payment plan that works better for you.
  5. Set a reasonable repayment time: If your time frame is too long, debt fatigue will set in and you will lose focus. If your time frame is too short or unrealistic, your chance of success decreases and so does your motivation.
  6. Once a debt is paid, close that account: You do not need the temptation of that available credit to pull you back into debt. You will need to keep some credit and loan products in order to rebuild your credit, but only keep what you need and can manage responsibly.
  7. Commit to a payment schedule: Write post-dated cheques in order to keep to the payment plan and to show your creditors you are committed to repaying them.
  8. If your debt has gone to collection:  See Tips for dealing with a debt collector.

If you are stressed because of your debts, struggling to make your minimum payments, and need a plan to get your finances back on track and get out of debt, the Credit Counselling Society in Saskatchewan can help.  Other provinces have similar services.

The free and completely confidential service is available to all residents of the province. Connect them by phone, email or online  live chat.

Are you working hard to pay down debt? Send us an email to socialmedia@saskpension.com and tell us about your successes and your set-backs. Your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card. And don’t forget that the Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers a flexible way to save affordable amounts for retirement.

If you would like to send us other money saving ideas, here are the themes for the next three weeks:

7-Mar Airline points Which kind of airline points are better?
14-Mar Insurance Getting a better deal on car, house insurance
21-Mar Books Comparing eReaders