Did you need help paying bills before the coronavirus hit? The probability is high that you had debt prior to the current pandemic. The difference is that there are many government programs providing assistance to many Canadians who could use the help. These government programs and stimulus packages are helping those having trouble paying bills.
From medical care to revised payment plans and childcare assistance, federal and non-profit organizations are providing aid to those who can’t pay their utility bills and other essential expenses. And while many companies are offering short term relief, this pandemic may stifle your household income in the long term.
Learn more about your options below if you need help paying bills.
Canada’s Economic Response Plan for COVID-19
Right now, the Economic Response Plan is the closest thing you’re going to see to free personal government grants Canada is going to offer.
The Department of Finance is currently offering the following support to individuals and families:
Increased Canada Child benefit
The government is offering and $300 per child, which means an average $550 increase.
Special Goods and Services Tax Credit Payment
Starting April 9th, qualifying individuals and couples will automatically receive a one-time increase between $400 – $600.
More time to file your taxes
The deadline is now June 1, 2020. Payments are deferred until August 1st.
Help with your mortgage
Contact your mortgage company to discuss payment forbearance or deferral if you need help paying bills.
Back to basics
When you recognize that you need help paying bills, you’ve got to identify the essentials:
Once you’ve determined how much that will take of your available income or savings, go from there. Avoid using credit or other debt to pay your bills. Eliminate all other non-essential spending to conserve your monetary resources.
Many credit card organizations are offering adjusted payment plans while the country and the rest of the world deal with complications brought on by COVID-19.
Perhaps the most important thing that you can do is to proactively reach out to them to communicate your difficulties. They may have a number of options available to you (debt restructuring, interest relief, payment forgiveness/skip a payment) depending on a number of variables, but you won’t know unless you reach out.
Depending on your options, you may be able to develop a plan with your creditors to help, especially now.
Look for support
Seek professional support from a financial advisor or trained credit counsellor who can help you understand your options and help you chart your path towards financial health.
Look for ways to shift your budget
If you can’t manage your debt load, you’ve got to take steps to shift your household budget so that it fits within your limits.
On the income side, consider taking on a part-time job or selling some of your belongings in an effort to open up cash flow.
On the expenses side, be ruthless in slicing and dicing your spending. Cut out all unnecessary spending and look for additional ways to save, such as:
- Using coupons
- Cancelling subscriptions
- Spending less on activities (social distancing will help on this front)
- Use less energy at home
And let’s not forget about the help the federal government is currently offering its citizens.
We are all in this together
“That moment when you realize that your income just isn’t going to be able to cover your debt commitments is overwhelming. A very common reaction is to ignore the situation, hoping that things will change or that the debts will somehow disappear,” Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“The only way to get rid of that anxiety is to take charge. The longer you wait to own your situation and develop a plan, the more challenging it will be to achieve your goal. Not only are you continuing to accumulate interest, but you are also letting your worry grow as well,” says Schwartz.
Have you suffered a job loss and need help paying bills? We can help if you reach out. Call us at 1-888-294-3130 or check out our free online debt analysis.