Managing debt

Managing debt doesn't have to be overwhelming. These tips and tools from the Ontario Securities commission can help you borrow wisely and pay off debt more quickly.



Accessible financial services incubator

Drive through a low-income neighborhood in virtually any American city and it quickly becomes apparent that the area’s financial health is at risk.

The giveaway? The abundance of payday lenders. According to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, there are now more than 20,000 of these organizations across the country—which tops even the ubiquitous McDonald’s storefront by roughly 40%.1

These alternative financial services providers offer short-term loans at interest rates that can top 400%. They appeal to desperate consumers with no access to traditional, more affordable credit and offer an immediate fix that can lead to months, if not years, of financial pain. In its Payday Lending in America series, the Pew Charitable Trusts reports that Americans spend roughly $7.4 billion (B) on payday loans each year.

Could traditional financial institutions find a way to deliver credit to this consumer niche without compromising their own health? The Filene Research Institute, a consumer finance think-and-do tank, hypothesized that the answer was yes. 

Read the full report. 



Pilot study: Buy now, pay later services in Canada

A key component of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s (FCAC’s) mandate is to monitor and evaluate trends and emerging issues that may have an impact on consumers of financial products and services. Technological innovations in financial services and shifting consumer behaviours have resulted in a steady increase in retail e-commerce sales over the past several years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on how consumers make retail purchases. Retail e-commerce sales reached record levels during the pandemic. This has further contributed to the proliferation of buy now, pay later (BNPL) services in Canada.



Thriving or surviving study 2022

The Thriving or Surviving study uncovers the kitchen table issues that confront Canadians daily, revealing how the country is coping with concerns such as debt, savings, emergency funds and financial literacy.



Debt consolidation calculator

Debt Consolidation is the process of combining multiple debts into one. Use this calculator to calculate what your new monthly payments would be, how soon you could be debt free, and how much your total interest amount would be when you consolidate your debts.



8 ways to prepare financially for retirement

This article from OSC provides 8 tips to help you plan for retirement. 

Transitioning from working life to retirement takes careful financial planning and decision-making – give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Here are some things you can do ahead of time.



Pay down debt or invest tool

If you have extra money, this calculator helps you decide whether to invest or pay off debt.



Debt got you down?

The CBA partnered with Credit Counselling Canada, an association of accredited non-profit credit counselling agencies, to offer the Debt and Money Quiz. 

The online tool helps Canadians assess their financial health and provides recommendations to help those who are struggling financially. 

Take a short “Yes” or “No” quiz to find out if you need support managing money and debt. See how you compare with other quiz respondents.



Debt Relief Options in Canada – Long Term Outcome Comparison

This research report compares the long-term financial outcomes of Canadians, based on a study comparing consumers who used a debt management program (DMP), bankruptcy (BK), or a consumer proposal (CP) to obtain relief from debt.



Budgeting resources webinar

This webinar hosted by Credit Canada features guest expert Prosper Canada's Manager of Learning and Training, Glenna Harris. She shares some of their tried-and-true resources to help get people started on budgeting and debt management.

She also provides a new tool - Financial Relief Navigator - that can help connect people with income supports they might be eligible for.



Debt settlement and financial recovery companies: too risky an option?

This report presents a study of the debt settlement and financial recovery industry and examines Canadian consumer issues from these services. 

Data is gathered from company websites and contracts as well as customer surveys and questionnaires completed by governmental and non-governmental organizations. A comparative study of legislation applicable to the industry is also conducted.



Financial well-being in America

This report provides a view into the state of financial well-being in America. It presents results from the National Financial Well-Being Survey, conducted in late 2016. The findings include the distribution of financial well-being scores for the overall adult population and for selected subgroups, which show that there is wide variation in how people feel about their financial well-being. The report provides insight into which subgroups are faring relatively well and which ones are facing greater financial challenges, and identifies opportunities to improve the financial well-being of significant portions of the U.S. adult population through practice and research.



Financial Health Index: 2019 Findings and 3-Year Trends Report

This report explores consumer financial health, wellness/ stress and resilience for Canadians across a range of financial health indicators, demographics and all provinces excluding Quebec. This report provides topline results from the 2019 Financial Health Index study and three-year trends from 2017 to 2019.



Using Research to Improve the Financial Well-being of Canadians: Post-symposium Report

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) co-hosted the 2018 National Research Symposium on Financial Literacy on November 26 and 27, 2018 at the University of Toronto, in partnership with Behavioural Economics in Action at Rotman (BEAR).

This report presents the key ideas and takeaways from the event, while shining a light on the research shaping new solutions designed to enhance financial well-being in Canada and around the world.



2018 White Paper: Financial Wellbeing Remains Challenged in Canada

The study examines consumers’ financial knowledge and confidence levels; financial and money stressors, financial capability aspects and financial management behaviours and practices (across the financial services spectrum). The study also explores external or environmental factors such as income variability and the extent to which Canadians have access to and lever their social capital (i.e. their family and friends who can provide financial advice and/or support in times of hardship).

The study also explores consumer financial product and service usage, debt management and debt stress, access to financial products, services, advice and tools, usage of more predatory financial services (e.g. payday lending) and perceived levels of support by consumers’ primary Financial Institution for their financial wellness. The study also provides benefits of improved support for financial providers improving the financial wellness of their customers – including from a banking share of wallet and brand perspective.



Debt management solutions

This is a one-hour webinar on debt management solutions in Canada for situations where someone's debt is significant enough that specialized solutions are needed. The speakers explain what steps are likely to be involved in the credit counselling process in setting up a debt management plan, or working with a licensed insolvency trustee to file a consumer proposal or bankruptcy.

The speakers in this webinar are:

Click 'Get it' below to access the video link, and scroll down to access handouts, slides, and video timestamps for this webinar.



Read the presentation slides for this webinar.

Access the handouts for this webinar:
How we help people – An overview (Webinar handout) – Credit Counselling Society
Our services (Webinar handout) – Credit Counselling Society
Debt solutions 101 (Webinar handout)  – msi Spergel Inc

Time-stamps for the video-recording:
4:13 – Agenda and introductions
7:00 – Audience polls
12:31 – Debt in Canada (Speaker: Glenna Harris)
15:20 – Credit Counselling Society on debt management plans (Speaker: Anne Arbour)
34:05 – Spergel Msi on Consumer Proposals and Bankruptcy plans (Speaker: Gillian Goldblatt)
56:00 – Q&A

Dealing with debt: Worksheet 7 – Know your rights and options

When dealing with debt, there can be some difficult situations where you may need help. If you are dealing with creditors, or collection agencies, there are steps you can take to ensure you are communicating clearly. It is also important to know your rights and options.

This worksheet describes options for what to do if you need help with significant debt issues.

'Know your rights and options' is the seventh worksheet in the 'Dealing with debt' toolkit. Find the full resource here

 



Dealing with debt: Worksheet 4 – Tracking fluctuating expenses

Unexpected expenses can make it harder to pay off debts. Knowing your spending needs can help prevent borrowing more money in the future. Use this worksheet to plan ahead for emergency or fluctuating expenses. If you can make a plan to pay for these this year, you’ll be less likely to borrow more money.

'Tracking fluctuating expenses' is the fourth worksheet in the 'Dealing with debt' toolkit. Find the full resource here



Dealing with Debt: Worksheet 3 – Making a debt action plan

Once you’re ready to start tackling your debt and have a clear sense of how much you owe, your next step is to make an action plan. Use this worksheet to think about your debt repayment goals, the steps you can take now, and the help you will need along the way.

'Making a debt action plan' is the third worksheet in the 'Dealing with debt' toolkit. Find the full resource here



Dealing with Debt: Worksheet 2 – What do I owe?

Knowing what you owe is the first step to paying it off. This worksheet will help you see the full picture of your debt. Although it may be difficult to face, it is an important first step. Then you can think about

'What do I owe?' is the second worksheet in the 'Dealing with debt' toolkit. Find the full resource here

Dealing with Debt: Worksheet 1 – Your Money Priorities

What would it feel like to have less debt in your life? What other goals or activities would be possible? 

This worksheet will help you think about your values and goals. Setting goals is the first step in making a debt repayment plan. Think about what is motivating you towards your goal.

'Your money priorities' is the first worksheet in the 'Dealing with debt' toolkit. Find the full resource here



Dealing with debt


Many of us struggle to talk about money, especially when it comes to talking about debt. It is when debt becomes too much for us to manage, or when we do not have a plan to pay it off, that it can become stressful and even overwhelming. This is when it is time to have those tough conversations and make a plan to deal with debt.

This booklet provides a set of activities to help you manage your debt, identify your money priorities, calculate what you owe and strategize how you can pay it back. These worksheets can be completed on your own, in the sequence that works best for you. However, we recommend working with a trusted financial coach or credit counsellor if possible.

Printed copies of this booklet are available to order at $150 per box of 50 booklets.

Order "Dealing with debt" Booklets - English

 

We are grateful to the Government of Ontario for generously funding this resource, and to Credit Counselling Sudbury for their content consultation.

Updated August 30, 2022: Added Dealing with debt: Training tools (Training deck, facilitator guide, and sample Equifax credit report)

Updated August 2, 2022: Dealing with debt - Resources

Updated May 14, 2020: Worksheet resources in this toolkit are available as fillable PDFs. Please open with Adobe Acrobat Reader for full functionality.