For the most part, we all carry debt loads. But how much debt is too much? Chances are if you suspect you have a debt problem, you probably do. But you don’t have to let your debt take over your life.
“Credit can be a great tool when used responsibly to help you achieve your financial goals. It’s when credit is used irresponsibly or when you consistently spend beyond your means that a debt problem are created,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“Sometimes debt problems happen overnight, as the result of life events. But also very often, debts grow a little at a time until your debt load is running your life, and not the other way around. Remember, even if your mountain of debt seems too tall to climb, you are ultimately in control. You just have to make the choice to reverse the cycle,” says Schwartz.
Here are some telltale signs that your debt problem is unmanageable, and some suggestions on what to do about it.
The bare minimum
Do you have multiple credit cards? Are you only able to make the minimum payments? Unfortunately, when you pay only minimum payments, you are only scratching the surface of your overall debt because most of your payment goes to servicing the interest charges instead of paying it down.
Cash flow is an issue
Does every dollar you make pretty much go towards debt? That means that your debt-to-income ratio is way out of whack.
Are you even able to make your debt payments, or are you borrowing from one card to pay another. That’s a vicious cycle that will only continue to make your debt load swell.
Do you worry constantly about being able to pay your bills? Do you frequently endure sleepless nights? Do you find yourself avoiding family and friends, or having lots of conflict with your spouse about money? Are you feeling any of the physical effects of anxiety because of your debt worry?
The only way to get rid of this particular kind of stress is to go right to the source- eliminate the debt.
Are you frequently missing payments or are late with them? Is this because you simply don’t have the cash month-to-month? Not only will this continue to grow your debt, it will do some serious damage to your credit history.
What should I do?
The first step is deciding to make a change and committing to a plan to that will conquer your debt. The next thing you need to do is determine what that plan will entail.
Depending on your debt problem and your needs, your options and solutions will vary. Maybe a simple DIY consolidation with a loan or balance transfer will help you change course. You may need additional support or credit counselling. Either way, the first steps towards getting rid of that debt are the most important.
Take the first step to getting rid of all that debt stress, help is just a phone call or click away. Call one of our trained credit counsellors at or take a look at our free online debt analysis.