What to do if you’re struggling with debt

Anyone can become financially vulnerable – regardless of income, background or education. If you’re struggling to pay your debts, know that you’re not alone and that there are ways to help reduce some of the stress.

Having a plan will help you achieve your financial goals, such as becoming debt-free. You can start by making a list of all your debts and then decide on a strategy for paying them. The types of debt and the amount you owe will influence your strategy. For example, you’ll likely be better off paying your debt with the highest interest rate first. Then, set a payment timeframe that is reasonable and affordable for each of your remaining debts.

If you feel overwhelmed by your debt situation, make sure to be proactive and don’t wait to seek help. Talk to your bank to discuss your options right away. They may be able to offer temporary accommodations such as making special payment arrangements, mortgage deferrals or allowing you to skip a payment on your loan.

You may also want to consider taking on a consolidating loan so that you only make one monthly payment instead of paying each debt individually. These usually have a lower interest rate than the debts you are consolidating. If you think this is something that would help you out, talk to your bank and do your research to figure out if it really makes sense for you. And remember, before accepting a proposal, make sure you understand the terms and conditions. If you are uncertain about something, make sure to ask questions.

You may also consider consulting a financial advisor or credit counsellor for guidance tailored to your circumstances. If you are considering that option, make sure that the agency is in good standing with a provincial or national association. These associations require members to maintain specific standards of practice. If an agency’s services seem to meet your needs, ask to meet with a credit counsellor to discuss your situation. This way, you can see if it’s a good match. No reputable credit counselling agency will charge you for the first meeting.

Learn more about how to manage your debt and how to get help at canada.ca/money.