Online Survey Finds Half of Respondents are within $200 of Being Unable to Pay Bills

If you are struggling to make all of your payments or are already unable to make your required monthly payments, Creditaid can help. Whether you need to rebuild your credit, undergo credit counselling, tackle your credit card debt, reassess your finances following a divorce or a move, or any other challenge that life brings – we’ve seen it all and we have a program that will suit your needs.

Reposted from the Winnipeg Free Press online edition February 16, 2016.

CALGARY – A new poll suggests nearly half of Canadians surveyed last month are within $200 per month of being unable to pay for their bills and make their debt payments.

The Ipsos Reid survey also found about one-quarter of the 1,582 people who responded to the poll were already unable to cover their bills and debt payments.

The online poll was done between Jan. 27 and Jan. 29 for MNP Debt, which provides licensed trustee services in six provinces, from Quebec to British Columbia.

MNP says the poll found that 31 per cent of respondents said any increase in interest rates could move them towards bankruptcy.

Ipsos Reid conducted the poll about a week after the Parliamentary Budget Office issued a report on Jan. 19 that said Canada has seen the largest increase in household debt relative to income of any G7 country since 2000.

The survey also followed Bank of Canada’s decision to keep a key lending rate at a historically low level of 0.5 per cent on Jan. 20, as the central bank lowered economic growth estimates for 2015 and 2016.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not a random sample and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.

What Are You Doing With the Money You Are Saving on Gas?

According to National Resources Canada, the average vehicle in Manitoba travels 14,963 km per year, and for every 100 of those kilometers it travels, it consumes 11.2 litres of gasoline.

hand-pumping-gas-into-carToday’s gas price (about 88 cents per litre as of this writing) is far lower than the 2014 high in Winnipeg – $1.33 per litre in June of 2014. At this rate, the average driver is saving about $755 this year, if gas prices stay about the same.

What are you going to do with the money you save?

You could go on a short vacation, or buy a nice toy. Or sock it away for a rainy day. Most people, however, will just absorb the money in to their daily expenditures, and not really notice that it’s there. An extra cup of coffee every day.

At Creditaid, we’ve got a different idea. Knowing how many people struggle with credit card debt, we’d suggest using your windfall from lower gas prices to help reduce the credit card, loan, or line of credit with the least favourable interest terms. You’ll then be putting the money you’re saving on fuel to its best possible use – bettering your financial position now and in the future.

Creditaid is a proudly local solution to debt problems. If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed by debts, make an appointment to speak confidentially to one of our expert credit counselors.

We’ve helped many of our Winnipeg neighbours with customized solutions to eliminate their debt, including debt consolidation and debt management programs. We will help you with your current financial crisis, and give you the tools you need to ensure that you don’t have a recurrence in the future.

Do you worry when the phone rings?

Do you toss and turn at night, worry every time the phone rings or hesitate to check the mail for fear of seeing more bills? It’s time you start living your life again. Call us today.

Credit Card Debt Weighing You Down?

Are you afraid to check the mail for fear of seeing your credit card bills? Especially during this time of the year, we understand how credit card balances can be overwhelming. Give us a call and we will help you, every step of the way to becoming debt free.

Have a Debt Free Christmas This Year

We can all relate to how frustrating it can be to start a new year with last year’s Christmas bills.  With Christmas being only a few more weeks away, we can be prepared for shopping season by planning ahead and creating a budget to work off of.

Here are a few tips to help you stay within your budget this Christmas:

  1. Create a Budget – if you shop without a list, it is easy to overspend or give in to impulse shopping.  Download our Holiday Gift Giving Planner that can help you get organized.
  2. Comparison Shop – starting Christmas shopping early also means you have more time to shop around and check prices at different stores.  Many online stores offer discounted prices or one day only sales.
  3. DIY Gifts- there are many gifts that you can make to give as gifts that won’t break your budget. You can tailor the gifts to the person you’re making it for – all the more thoughtful!

Careful planning can help you debt free – you just need to invest some time now to get organized.

Control Spending Habits

Controlling your spending doesn’t always mean reducing it; however, more often than not it is the end result. Tracking your spending is the best way to manage your finances, and there are a number of ways to do it. Credit cards and other forms of electronic payment come with the benefit of easy tracking. All your transactions are available on your monthly statement or online. However, a typical credit card purchase, on average, will cost 112% more than if you had used cash.

So is cash better than credit? Well, in a lot of instances it is. Credit cards give you the convenience of on the spot purchases that you can worry about later. With cash, you can only spend what you have. The problem with cash is though, how do you track it? There are plenty of programs out there that are great for tracking your finances; Quicken and MS Money are two that come to mind right away. But do you really have the time or inclination to keep every receipt and meticulously enter them into a tracker?

The good news is you don’t have to track every purchase; you just need to control how much you spend each month. To do this you first need to identify the areas where your spending is not controlled. Usually suspects include groceries, clothing, personal spending and general luxuries. Once you have identified these areas it is time to take control. Withdraw the amount of cash that you think you will need for these purchases and put it in an envelope. Make sure to record the date and amount on the envelope too.

Don’t panic if you find that you run out of money, this exercise is about control, and it takes a few months to show positive results. You will notice that you are becoming conscious of every purchase that you make. Every price tag will represent a percentage of what you have committed to spend, and you will think twice about impulse purchases. Ultimately, you will be surprised by how easy it is to control and reduce your spending when you are parting with real hard cash.

Budgeting – Review Your Spending

Budgeting – Review Your Spending Before You Create Your Budget

If you want to reduce your debt, then you need to have a budget. I know, you have tried this a million times and it is a waste of time. You see, the problem with a budget is that it only works if you know what you are budgeting for. If you sit down and pull numbers out of your head, what you are doing is the equivalent of wishing away your debt. First and foremost, a budget needs to be realistic; which means you will have to do the ground work.

The key to success is in reviewing your spending, before you create your budget. To do this you are going to have to be honest with yourself. The easy part is your recurring payments, such as mortgage, insurance, taxes and credit cards; so start with those. Next you will need to look at your outgoings for less predictable or fluctuating costs. Consider your groceries, clothing, travel expenses, entertainment and any other impulse purchases. Track what you spend on each area for a month to give a realistic view of what you are currently spending.

Now, once you have calculated your outgoings, there is a chance that you will be over budget. Don’t let this dishearten you. You have effectively listed the component parts of an overall formula; you now need to make those components work for you. This is where you budget really begins.

Look at your outgoings; especially those that are not essential or are adjustable, and consider how you can reduce them. Allocate higher amounts from your budget to payments which have high interest rates. If, after you have tweaked the numbers as much as you can, you are still in the red, it is time to speak to your lenders. You may be able to make further monthly reductions by changes to your payment plans.

Saving Commitment – Change Your Habit, Pay Yourself First

Whether you are saving for one big purchase or simply as a means of combating debt, you deserve a reward for your efforts. If you have ever played games on social media sites, where you effectively click buttons for six hours, you will appreciate this article. The developers of those games use psychology to keep you hooked. They are based on an effort and reward system, which keeps the player motivated to continue in order to receive their reward.

Saving is just like those games, except for most of us, it is often a long time before we see a reward. So why not have a little fun with your saving, by setting yourself challenges? It is difficult to appreciate the results of your hard work when the goal is in the distant future. By setting incremental goals, with a reward at the end, you will feel that your efforts are worth it and you will also notice an increase in your motivation.

So, let’s say that you set a target of $5,000 dollars and you reach it within your estimated time frame. Now you can reward yourself. Here’s a tip: create two dates; one is your reward date and the other is your ultimate deadline. If you reach your target by the reward date, you can treat yourself to a night out or a similar luxury. Obviously the reward should reflect the target amount, so if you are aiming to save $100 dollars, don’t splash out on a foreign holiday as your reward or anything else that will eat up a large chunk of the money saved.

This simple idea will make saving fun, rewarding and worth the effort. Get as creative with it as you like, as long as the end results are the same.

Pay Down Credit Card Debt

It may surprise you to find, that in an article about reducing credit card debt, we are not going to tell you to stop using your credit cards. Responsible spending, using credit, will actually help you keep a healthy credit score. This will make all the difference in the future if you need to take out a large loan for a new home or car. However, you do need to keep your credit card debt down, and to do that you have to keep up with your payments.

Whatever you pay, you need to be realistic about it, so create a budget to track your outgoings. Try to avoid paying the minimum on your credit cards at all costs. It may seem like you are chipping away at your debt, but really, all you are doing is paying interest. The next step is to compare the interest rates on all your credit cards. You want to allocate the highest payment to the cards with the highest rates. You may not have it within your budget to pay more than the minimum on all your cards; however, you can pay off the larger ones while maintaining minimum payments on the others.

A low-rate balance transfer is another option for reducing your debt. You can consolidate all your credit card debt into one easy to manage, lower rate payment. Be careful when choosing this option, and make sure to check the rates and how long they last.

Results are In for Top 5 – Winnipeg 2012 Debt Resolution

We recently asked you, our Manitoba readers, to share your debt resolution for 2012 for a chance to win an Apple iPad.  Our iPad winner is Janice Margelino! We were very happy to meet and present the prize to Janice. We were extremely impressed by her dedication to good saving practices and determination to pay off her student loans!

Also, here are the Top 5 Resolutions we would like to share, as chosen by the contest participants. The choices are listed in descending order from lowest to highest votes.

Number 5. Commitment to save – By creating a budget and cutting your costs you will put yourself in the best position to save in 2012. You can use those savings in the future so that you don’t find yourself in debt again.

Number 4. Follow your budget – A budget is absolutely essential, if you really want to reduce your debt. The key to success is to make sure that the budget is realistic and to stick to it. If your budget comes in over your monthly income, it is time to start looking at where you can cut costs.

Number 3. Pay off student loans – Those students loans are not going to go away on their own. Commit to making regular payments on student loans as part of your overall budget. If you are struggling to meet your payments, speak to your lender to discuss your options.

Number 2. Pay down credit card debt – Credit cards are a quick and convenient way to pay for the things you want. However, they are also a sure way to increase your debt and put a huge dent in your monthly budget. Pay off your highest card balances first and work your way down.

NUMBER ONE. Cut frivolous spending – The top choice for debt resolution, and rightly so, is to cut frivolous spending. This does not necessarily mean going without. Look for cheaper alternatives to your favorites treats. For instance, retro clothing is fashionable at the moment, so why not check out your local thrift stores?