High-wire debt is like crossing Niagara Falls without a harness

Toronto ON – ABC Television is insisting Nik Wallenda wear a harness when he attempts his high-wire walk across Niagara Falls next month. ABC wants to protect its assets by insuring Wallenda doesn’t fall to his death. And for Canadians, carrying too much debt without a plan to repay it is like walking the high-wire without a harness.

The recently released Fitch Ratings report called “Canada’s fast-climbing housing prices and record household debt levels unsustainable.” That’s scary. If Canadians thought about their household budget like a small company and their assets in business terms like ABC, would they continue putting them at risk by carrying too much debt?

“If Canadians treated their household budgets as a balance sheet they would be more reluctant to take on additional debt and reduce the risk of losing their assets,” said Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc. “Working with the right financial resource will help the consumer change attitudes and behaviours towards money and put their balance sheets back in the black.”

One such resource is a not-for-profit credit counselling agency. A trained credit counsellor will assess the situation, review current budgeting practices and provide suggestions for working towards financial stability. The consumer will receive advice and have access to financial resources free of charge.

In some cases (but not all), enrolling in a Debt Management Program (DMP) may be the answer. On the consumer’s behalf, the not-for-profit credit counselling agency negotiates with the creditors for reduced interest rates so more money can be applied to repaying the debt. The DMP helps consumers achieve their financial goals in a structured environment.

“We advocate for the consumer so they can pay their debts back in-full,” continues Schwartz. “Speaking with a credit counsellor will provide them with education and tools to help get their finances on track in the most efficient way possible.”

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