How Can a Trustee Help Me Reach My Goals?Dec 20, 2016
Many Albertans are under a lot of financial stress. Since 2014, when oil prices plummeted and the province began experiencing increased unemployment, jobs in the province have dropped by approximately 122,000. Recent announcements by large pipeline companies of more jobs being cut suggests that the financial pressure isn’t letting up. This is one reason a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) and other financial professionals — along with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) — are encouraging Canadians to revisit their financial plans and find money management strategies to alleviate debt and worry. If you’ve felt the sting of Alberta’s economic squeeze, a good goal for the coming year is to decrease your financial stress.
You’re not alone
The economic downturn has touched the lives of so many Albertans — individuals both on the front-line and those who have 25-plus years of experience are struggling to find stable employment. In the last year, Alberta food banks have seen a 17.6 per cent increase in usage. It’s evident that families across Canada are struggling. The number of Canadians accessing high-interest payday loans has more than doubled in the last seven years.
The personal stress that result from financial difficulties can be overwhelming, and can take a toll on individuals and families. Small adjustments to your money management could help to take some of the pressure off, and help keep you on track to achieve your goals.
If your goal for 2017 is to decrease the financial stress in your life, and lessen its impact on you and your family, here are three ways you can start:
- Review your finances from 2016 — where did your money go?
If you can identify how much income went to personal items, like entertainment costs, vacations, add-ons in cell or cable bills, you may be able to find areas to cut back on expenses. You may be able to use a family cell plan, or you might have a cable provider who is willing to work with you to decrease your costs.
- Review your debts, and how they’re structured
Do you have payments going to multiple creditors? Are the interest rates high? Do you have trouble keeping track of your payments, or making them on time? If you need to reduce your debt but are having a difficult time making any headway, a debt consolidation loan might be suitable. Debt consolidation loans allow users to consolidate different types of debt with one loan at a lower interest rate. As a result, you can pay down your debt sooner. If you are unable to meet your payments, a LIT can help you understand your other formal debt solutions.
- Contribute to an emergency fund
If you’re feeling the stress of economic uncertainty, one way to relieve some of that stress is to build up your emergency fund. Though it seems difficult to do when you’re already pinching pennies, contributing even small amounts when you are able will add to your cushion. You may need to rely on an emergency fund if you are unemployed for longer than anticipated, or lose your job in the future.
If you’re unsure where to start when it comes to creating financial goals, the FCAC’s Financial Goal Calculator can help you create specific debt reduction and savings goals. Having concrete goals can help you avoid financial problems in the future, while increasing your current level of stress. However, even after you’ve set debt reduction goals and you have a plan in place, you may find you’re unable to meet your repayment obligations. A LIT can help determine what to do next, explaining all your other options before you make any decisions. It’s important to understand that declaring bankruptcy always be a last resort after you’ve eliminated all other solutions.
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