How To Avoid Tax Debt As A Member Of Canada’s Growing Gig Economy

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Whether it’s driving an Uber between shifts, selling the product of your hobby on Etsy or renting out the apartment in your basement as an AirBNB, more and more Canadians are opting for on-the-side jobs, becoming members of Canada’s ever growing “Gig Economy”.

The number of Canadians working on the side has more than doubled in the last 40 years according to Statistics Canada, and research conducted by Intuit Canada predicts that by 2020, 45% of Canada’s work force will be generating self-employed income under a “Gig Economy”.

What’s a “Gig Economy”?  It describes a growing workforce made up of people earning a living through “gigs” like freelancing work or short term contract jobs.  Drivers of the Gig Economy are the brave many who choose to ‘be their own boss’.

As a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, I’ve listened to many self-employed individuals talk about the financial struggle of dealing with insurmountable tax debt.  In many cases, the tax debt was so overwhelming that the only option was to file a personal bankruptcy.  The importance of being diligent with filing your income tax returns and making your remittances to Canada Revenue Agency on time is undeniably real and can save you the cost of penalties, interest and sleepness nights.


Having a proper record keeping system in place.

  • The moment you start working for yourself is the moment you have to start maintaining proper books and records. Not only will this help you at tax time, but in preparation of a audit from CRA, you’re expected to keep all of your paperwork for at least six years.
  • Keep a record of your income/revenue and expenses. What’s crucial is the day-to-day recording of transactions impacting your business. There are all sorts of methods available that will help you do this like using software or a spreadsheet. There are also apps you can have on your phone like Expensify or Freshbooks which helps you capture expense receipts, mileage, send invoices, etc.

Filing your taxes on time.

  • As we know, April 30th is the deadline for us as taxpayers to file our income tax returns. Self-employed people have a deadline of June 15th; however, CRA begins charging interest on taxes owing starting April 30th. It is important to pre-plan knowing you need to have your remittances paid by April 30th to avoid interest charges.
  • Filing your return late triggers penalties. The moment you’re late, you’re hit with a 5% penalty of the balance owing, plus an additional 1% for every month the return is late. Over the year, this could add up to a maximum penalty of 17%.
  • Familiarize yourself with CRA’s online portals called “My Account or My Business Account” where you can check on the status of your tax accounts (like your GST account), the remittances you’ve made and to stay on top of important due dates.

Knowing that the cash you receive from a job you complete isn’t disposable income you have available to spend as you wish.

  • Although there are benefits of being self-employed, one of the pitfalls is overlooking the fact that your income is still subject to taxes which must be paid to CRA. A good routine is to set aside 20-25% of what you earn for taxes. Remember, even though your tax return must be filed by June 15th, you must pay what you owe to CRA by April 30th.

The accumulation of tax debt year over year has dire consequences. CRA has a number of powers and remedies to collect what you owe them and most often, there is no notice given to you.


  • You’ll be charged compounded daily interest on the balance. The fact that the debt keeps increasing should be enough motivation to pay it off as quickly as possible.
  • You’ll lose your GST credits or future tax refunds. CRA can make use of a ‘statutory set-off’ by applying your credits and refunds to the tax debt.
  • Your bank account funds can be seized. CRA can garnish without going to court and can serve notice on your bank or any party who owes you money.
  • Your home can be affected. CRA can register your debt with the Federal Court of Canada and obtain a “Certificate” which can be enforced like a judgment order. This certificate can be registered against your property which means if you sell it, you might not see any equity since CRA will get paid first.

These are stressful situations to face but being proactive is key to ensuring you stay on the good side of CRA. Taking simple steps like hiring a good bookkeeper or accountant to help you stay compliant while you focus on the business is money worth spending.  Be realistic about your skills and abilities when it comes the paperwork.  It’s true that record keeping isn’t everyone’s strong suit, but CRA does not see this as an acceptable reason to to ignore tax filings and remittances.

When in doubt, seek help from a professional.  If you’re unsure how to get started, seek help from a tax professional. If you’re struggling financially and worried about paying off your tax debt, speak to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee about your options before CRA takes action against you.

Freida Richer LIT


Freida Richer is a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with our Edmonton, Alberta practice. You can watch her Money Smarts segment on the third Monday of every month on Global Morning News Edmonton.

Having “The Talk”: Why You Should Define Your Relationship With Credit Cards

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In most relationships, there tends to be a “give and take” mentality that is mutually agreed upon from the start. Your relationship with credit cards is no different. While credit cards offer ease and financial comfort when it comes to obtaining goods and services, their “buy now, pay later” philosophy comes with the large commitment of promising to use future income to pay past purchases.


  • Know yourself and your habits. It’s important to self-assess before applying for a credit card. For example, if you’re a spender, applying for a credit card with a lower limit might work in your best interest, by limiting that “buy now, pay later” mentality.
  • Set rules for the use of the card and how you plan to make payments. A credit card must be used, the bill received and the payment made on time in order to build a positive credit history. Make sure you have or will have the money to pay off the card, or at least the minimum payment, at the time of the purchase and that you know when the payments are due. Setting reminders on your phone or marking the payment due date down on a calendar are helpful ways to stay on track.
  • Be choosy about obtaining credit. Limit the number of cards you carry. Do you really need more than one card? Don’t fill out department store surveys and be careful when shopping around for credit. Too many “hits” on your credit report can actually lower your credit score.
  • Understand the costs associated with your card. Are there monthly fees? Annual fees? How is interest charged on your credit card? Take into consideration your spending plan to see how the credit card payments, interest, or even rewards program will work into your budget and financial goals.


Before committing to a credit card, it is important to know which type of card will work best for your needs, budget and credit score. Everyday credit cards from banks, financial institutions and credit card companies, and secured credit cards – credit cards obtained by providing a security deposit in case payments aren’t made – are the only credit cards that will help you build (or rebuild) credit. Debit Visa or Mastercards and prepaid credit cards are loaded with your own money, therefore the borrowing of money doesn’t take place and credit cannot be built. If you’re looking to build or rebuild credit, start by getting an everyday or secured credit card.

If you are already establishing positive credit, but tend to be more of a spender, prepaid credit cards work great as a budgeting tool for flexible expenses, as your own money is loaded onto the card and overdraft is not an option. If you have room in your budget and want to receive something other than a good credit score from your card, credit cards with money back or travel rewards can be useful in achieving short term goals like a vacation or a new computer. Though these cards sound appealing, their annual fees and interest rates may be higher. It’s important to do your research, or talk to a financial advisor to see which credit card will work best for you and your budget.


It’s easy to get caught up in a new credit card relationship – especially when hopes of a vacation, money back or a higher credit limit may be involved. However, the risks that are associated with a credit card cannot be forgotten. Playing it safe will not only help boost your credit score, but will help set the tone of your future financial well-being.

How to Practice Safe Credit:

  • Understand how credit cards work. Having this knowledge will give you the upper-hand when deciding how to use your credit card.
  • Pay your credit card charges in full every month before the due date. If you do this, you won’t be charged interest. If you are unable to pay the balance in full – ensure you pay at least the minimum monthly payment by the due date.
  • Try to avoid taking cash advances on your credit card, unless it’s an emergency. Interest starts to be charged from day one for credit card cash advances, and it can add up quickly.
  • Limit the amount you charge on your cards. Never charge more than you can comfortably afford to pay off in full.
  • Keep an eye on what you’re spending with credit cards using online banking, a mobile app or by manually keeping a budget. If you notice your habits changing for the worst, it may be time to reassess your relationship with your cards.


Unfortunately, not all relationships are healthy. Sometimes, financial self-reflection is needed to figure out whether or not it’s time to cut ties and reach out for help. Warning signs of an unhealthy credit card relationship tend to include behaviour such as:

  • Consistently paying only the minimum balance on your card (or not at all).
  • Racking up past due payments.
  • Using one credit card to pay the balance on another.
  • Receiving or ignoring calls and messages from collection agencies.
  • Negatively affecting your credit score because of your relationship with your card(s).

If you’re beginning to worry about how your relationship with credit is affecting your finances, contact us for a free and confidential debt consultation. Our Licensed Insolvency Trustees understand how easy it can be to get caught up in an unhealthy relationship with credit cards, and will work with you to find the best solution for your debt problem.



Rob McLernon is a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) and a Chartered Insolvency and Restructuring Professional (CIRP) with our Nova Scotia Grant Thornton team. He’s been working primarily in the consumer insolvency area since 2003. In addition to being a LIT, he is a Certified Insolvency Administrator and Counsellor. Rob has extensive background knowledge on debt restructuring and brings this to his current role.

The Other Option: The Rise of Consumer Proposals in the World of Insolvency

BlostPost - The Other Option - Consumer ProposalsAccording to the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB), 122,198 Canadians filed an insolvency proceeding in 2017 – however 53% were able to avoid bankruptcy.  These individuals chose to file a Consumer Proposal instead of bankruptcy to resolve their financial difficulties.  Monthly OSB statistics also reflect a growing trend of Consumer Proposal filings in many regions across Canada.


  • The emotional and social stigma heavily tied to “Bankruptcy” is disconcerting to people, so they seek an alternative remedy to their debt problems.
  • People have less money to give to their creditors if they’ve experienced short or long term job loss.
  • For a variety of reasons (ie. poor credit score or lack of assets to pledge as collateral), people aren’t qualifying for consolidation loans to pay off 100% of their debt.
  • Those currently impacted by or who are recovering from a recessionary period are earning substantially less than what they were earning pre-recession, thereby impacting the ability to service debt.


Simply put, a Consumer Proposal is an offer to pay your creditors a percentage of what you owe them. A Consumer Proposal allows for the consolidation of debt—often at a reduction of the total amount owing—under a single manageable payment up to 60 months. The payments must be affordable, fitting within your monthly budget, and realistic to personal circumstances.  For example, if you plan on retiring in less than 2 years, offering a proposal over 60 months would not make sense.


A Consumer Proposal is a creditor driven process in that your creditors will vote on whether to “accept” or “reject” your offer. This is determined 45 days after filing the proposal.  Acceptance of your offer will be legally binding and, upon completing the terms of your proposal, creditors agree to write off the remaining balance that you owe.  For example, if creditors accept your offer to pay back 40% of your debt over 5 years, they will write-off the remaining 60% once you complete the terms of your proposal and requirements in the process.

The motivation for creditors to accept your offer is that they are receiving a higher return over what they would get if you go bankrupt.


  • You are in control of your assets. You can continue to make mortgage and vehicle payments during the Consumer Proposal.
  • It provides a solution for tax debt and multiple payday/cash store loans.
  • You know where you stand with your creditors. Collection action and interest charges from creditors will immediately stop upon filing a Consumer Proposal.
  • Your monthly payments are fixed and paid at no interest.
  • It’s viewed more favourably. You avoid the stigma of filing a bankruptcy and there is less of an impact on your credit rating which will sit at an R7 instead of an R9 (bankruptcy).  You can also continue to act as a Director of an incorporated business.

Bottom line – the offer to repay a percentage of your debt over five years or less must be realistic, monetarily and circumstantially, based on your financial situation. A consumer proposal might not be the right option for everyone, but it is important to explore before deciding on bankruptcy. Talk to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee to see if a Consumer Proposals is the right option for you and your debt.

Freida Richer LIT


Freida Richer is a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with our Edmonton, Alberta practice. You can watch her Money Smarts segment on the third Monday of every month on Global Morning News Edmonton.

The Cryptocurrency Craze: Is Debt Worth It Or Will Bitcoin Bite You Back?

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Cryptocurrency is a hot topic that has catapulted it’s way into mainstream media, social media, water-cooler gossip and dinner table discussions alike.  While there is something to be said about the excitement and optimism generated from a ground breaking concept like Bitcoin and the rest of the cryptocurrencies, the bad news is that some people are risking their financial security to join the cryptocurrency craze and avoid the fear of missing out.


Cryptocurrency is a digital form of currency which changes the traditional way we store our money. Unlike paper money—which is government regulated, controlled and issued by central banks—cryptocurrencies exist without any regulations and no central authority.

Another way to explain it is to use the example of purchasing something from an online retailer.  Normally, you would rely on a third party authority like your bank, PayPal or a credit card company to verify and facilitate the payment for the product; however, using cryptocurrency, there is no third party involved.  You, the consumer, are dealing directly with the retailer as your Bitcoin, Litecoin, etc, would simply be paid from your cryptocurrency wallet.  Yes, a wallet.


The main step is setting up your cryptocurrency wallet using an online software. Think of the wallet as a bank account where you send and receive the currency. A person can have multiple wallets that are stored online, in your computer harddrive or on your mobile device. Once you have your wallet, you’re ready to invest in one or more of the 1,500 different types of cryptocurrency directly from an online exchange.


There is now a major concern surrounding the fact that people are taking out mortgages, depleting their retirement funds or savings and even using credit cards as means to invest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Throughout these financial crazes, people adopt either a ‘fear of missing out’ or ‘get rich quick’ mentality, as they want to get into the game that their peers and potentially friends and family are profiting from. Unfortunately, when this happens people lose sight of assessing their current financial situation and put themselves at risk in hopes of a big return. Those especially vulnerable, are people who are already carrying heavy debt loads and getting into more debt to chase a profit they may never see.

Fortunately, I have yet to come across a situation where a person’s financial distress was caused by their investment in or use of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency. However, in my experience as a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, I know that people might be reluctant to disclose the true cause of their financial difficulties because they are too embarrassed or ashamed.


The cryptocurrency market is extremely volatile. In 2009, Bitcoin’s value was worth only a few cents. In 2017, it’s price bounced from $1,000 to $20,000 and then dropped back down to $13,000.  With that much volatility, true value is hard to pinpoint, and combined with it’s newness and not fully understood technology, these concerns make cryptocurrencies a risky investment.

Let’s be clear, there are numerous stories of people who’ve got lucky with cryptocurrency—but this risky investing is not for everybody.  Especially, since using cryptocurrencies doesn’t protect you from the risk of being scammed. In 2017, the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre reported that Canadians lost more than $1.7m through scams connected to cryptocurrencies—doubling the numbers from 2016. If you do plan on investing in cryptocurrencies, it is important you make yourself aware of potential scams such as:

  • Scammers who have attempted to extort money from people using Bitcoin
  • Scammers who have posed as tax collectors from Canada Revenue Agency demanding immediate payment through cryptocurrency


Over-extending yourself on credit to purchase cryptocurrencies or depleting your savings intended to pay down debt could potentially position you in an insolvency situation.  With household debt levels in Canada already high, people simply can’t afford to lose more money and fall deeper into further debt.

The banks are taking notice as well. TD Bank announced on February 23rd, 2018 that it would be banning the purchase of cryptocurrency with its credit cards to protect its customers as well as the bank. This ban announcement joins the wave of bans globally from other major banks.


If you are thinking about investing in a cryptocurrency or other risky investment, please consider the following steps before making your purchase:

  • Educate yourself & seek professional advice. Take the time to do the research and talk to a professional investment advisor about the cryptocurrency market.  You should have a solid understanding and realistic expectation of what you’re investing in.
  • If you don’t have the money, don’t invest. Focus your efforts on paying down your debt first or building your emergency fund/savings.  You do have control over in seeing your debt go away and having a comfortable cushion of savings.  You don’t have control over your return on investment in the cryptocurrency market.Freida Richer LIT

Freida Richer is a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with our Edmonton, Alberta practice. You can watch her Money Smarts segment on the third Monday of every month on Global Morning News Edmonton.

Brokenhearted with an Empty Wallet—Warning Signs of Online Relationship Scams

BlostPost - Brokenhearted with an empty walletAs a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, I hear a variety of facts, circumstances and events that have led to one’s financial distress. Being victimized through an online relationship scam can leave someone both emotionally and financially devastated.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, online relationship scams are the highest grossing scam compared to other internet frauds. As is usually the case, the online dating starts out innocently on a legitimate dating website, but evolves with intention by the perpetrator to ultimately steal money from the innocent party. It’s tough to pinpoint the exact number of people in Canada who have been victimized by an online dating scam, because a person is usually too embarrassed or ashamed to admit that they were taken advantage of.

The most heartbreaking story I’ve heard was from a lady who was involved in a nearly one year online relationship which was ultimately discovered to be fraudulent.  Throughout the “relationship”, she lost in excess of $100,000—her entire life savings—from a series of wire transfers to the perpetrator.  She didn’t see the warning signs at the time. Why? She believed him.  She was in a time in her post-divorce life where she was desperately seeking companionship and he preyed upon that.

With love being top of mind during the month of February, those involved in online relationships should take time to evaluate whether their relationship is causing them financial distress.

Look for the non-financial warning signs by asking yourself:

  1. Is he/she “too good to be true”? Have your guard up if they appear perfect or are giving you all the right answers all the time.
  1. Is he/she transitioning the contact from the dating site to personal email, text or phone? If so, they may be moving into their next phase—gaining trust and more personal information from you outside of the restrictions of a bona fide dating website.
  1. Is he/she making excuses for not being able to meet in person (i.e., problems with their travel visa or lost passport)? Keep their reasons for not being able to meet in your back pocket and determine if there is a pattern.

Look for the financial warning signs by asking yourself:

  1. Am I being asked about my financial background in the early stages of the relationship? If they want to know how much you earn, the car you drive, whether you invest, or the kinds of credit cards you have, you’re being sized up. This is the start of their attempt to gain access to your assets, money and credit.
  1. Am I considering sending money to this person and why? Scammers often use the excuse of an “emergency” or “crises”, like a sick family member. The dollar amounts usually start out small, but progressively get higher and with more frequency.
  1. Am I using credit more frequently to cover living expenses or taking out bank loans? Finding yourself with more money issues since you’ve started the online “relationship” should be a clear warning sign.

Taking these simple steps can prevent you from falling victim to an online dating scam:

  • Tell a family member or close friend about your new relationship.  Victims have told me in hindsight that had they told a friend about the first wire transfer of money, matters wouldn’t have escalated.  If you’re blinded by love, let your friend or family member be that voice of reason.
  • Don’t release financial information about yourself and never send money to someone you’ve met online.  Be clear from the start that there will be no discussions about your finances, and if a request for money is made stop communications immediately.  If these conditions are a problem for the other person, then you’ll know where their intentions lie.

If you are concerned that you are being financially targeted in an online relationship, you should contact your bank immediately to stop payment on any cheques or money transfers you’ve recently issued.  Unfortunately, any money you’ve given the perpetrator up until that point is money you’re never going to see back.  Next, report the matter to the RCMP.  You’ll likely be directed to file a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

If you are now facing overwhelming debt because of a fraudulent online relationship, it’s important to speak to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.  The emotional toll of not only losing the relationship, but your savings as well, can make it extremely difficult to focus on resolving your situation. A Licensed Insolvency Trustee can help sort out the situation and help you come up with a viable solution to your financial troubles. Practical solutions such as budget adjustments, debt consolidation and a consumer proposal are all options to consider before bankruptcy.

We can’t mend your broken heart, but we can help mend the hole in your wallet.

Freida Richer LIT


Freida Richer is a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with our Edmonton, Alberta practice. You can watch her Money Smarts segment on the third Monday of every month on Global Morning News Edmonton.

A Tough Pill to Swallow – The Link Between Your Medical and Financial Health

BlostPost - Medical and Financial HealthIn Canada, we’re fortunate to have a health care system that covers our basic medical needs. Therefore, as a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, I don’t come across a lot of situations where people are in debt due to unpaid medical bills and invoices. What I do see however, is the impact of how a medical condition or health related issue can prevent a person from continuing to pay their financial responsibilities like mortgages, vehicles payments or credit card bills. In fact, according to Grant Thornton’s 2017 numbers, 20%, of those we helped cited medical or health-related issues as a contributing factor to their debt situation. That’s one in five of all people who filed a bankruptcy or consumer proposal with us last year.


When I listen to peoples’ stories about how their medical or health well being is linked to the state of their financial affairs, it is incredible how every situation can be so different, yet result in the same thing; that people lose the stability of an income and the ability to continue to service their debt payments.

For example:

  • Workplace injuries that evolve from being short term downtime to more lengthier recovery periods and, in some cases, people finding they are unable to return to work.
  • People who’ve suffered from severe depression for many years and have a pattern of being unable to sustain employment because of their condition.
  • Those with an acute or short term medical condition that actually turned into a longer term/chronic condition which resulted in the inability to work can be financially devastating to households, especially when it happens to the sole income provider.

Lastly, serious & unexpected news, such as a cancer diagnosis, hits you like a brick wall and can put you and your family in a financial tailspin.  When my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer over 10 years ago, it was very difficult to focus on anything other than fighting the disease.  So, when people come to me saying everything was a blur, I fully understand that. It wasn’t because they were being negligent, it’s just such a difficult time.

According to the (CCAN) Canadian Cancer Action Network, a family dealing with cancer goes into debt an average of $30,000 to $40,000 in the first three months from:

  • lost income to not one but maybe both partners
  • increased daycare costs for your children because you have to be with your partner or spouse;
  • increased travel expenses for fuel, parking costs at the treatment facility and staying in a hotel (if it’s out of town)
  • medical equipment and drugs that aren’t covered

So, what occurs is a reliance on credit to supplement the reduced income flowing into the household.


Check with your employer on the availability of paid sick leave and other benefits you are entitled to receive such as

  • Workers Compensation;
  • Short term (up to max. 17 weeks) and Long term disability insurance – so that you can get paid a % of your salary while you’re not working; If you don’t have disability insurance through employment, you can claim Canadian Employment Insurance (EI benefits) (NOTE: employers are not required to have a LTD plan for employees; it is discretionary.)
  • Other health benefits through your employment

Unfortunately, if you’re self-employed or unemployed, you have to rely on savings or borrowing money if you don’t have disability insurance.

If you have additional private health insurance (ie. Alberta Blue Cross),determine what additional health benefits and coverage you may have.

  • If you have it, look into your Mortgage Protection Insurance (this is NOT the same as “Mortgage Insurance”, which protects the lender if you default on the mortgage and is required if your down payment is less than 20% ). MPI is essentially a type of life insurance that pays you (MI pays the bank/lender) a lump sum to use towards paying your mortgage if you become disabled or pass away.  As with any insurance program, there is a premium you’ll pay on top of your mortgage.
  • If you have it, look into your critical illness insurance on credit cards and loans.This type of insurance pays the minimum payments on your loan or credit card for a certain period of time if you fall ill or are unable to work due to an accident. Generally, it won’t pay off the entire balance owing.
  • Don’t ignore your bills.To prevent delinquent accounts, you may have to dip into your savings or emergency fund to continue with the debt payments until you’re back to work. If focusing on bills is tough for you during this time, seek help from family members or friends to remind you or to help facilitate the payment of your bills.
  • If you’re in a situation where the debt is overwhelming, set up a free consultation with one of our Licensed Insolvency Trustees to talk about what you can do if your medical condition is causing a temporary downtime or if the situation is more long term.

One of the benefits of a Consumer Proposal is that you can reduce your debt payments while your income is low and you will be protected from collection action while you focus on your medical situation and getting better!

Other Helpful links:

Freida Richer LIT


Freida Richer is a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with our Edmonton, Alberta practice. You can watch her Money Smarts segment on the third Monday of every month on Global Morning News Edmonton.

Tackle Your Debt in 2018 Using SMART Goals



Now that we’re a few weeks into 2018 and you’re thinking about your goals or resolutions for the year, it’s the perfect time to reflect on where you sit financially and tackle your debt. Perhaps, you have already set out to be more physically fit by signing up for those hot yoga classes, or are tapping into your mental wellness by dedicating five minutes to meditation. While these are all great goals, why not round out 2018 by focusing on improving your financial wellbeing?

With any goal, financial or otherwise, it takes thoughtful planning and organizing to be carried through.  Avoid delays in your achievements by setting SMART goals to keep you focused, organized and on track for success. SMART goals are one of many goal planning tools that can be used to organize and track your financial progress throughout 2018.

SMART goals consist of 5 key components. They must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. When developing your SMART goals, keep these helpful tips in mind:

1. Be specific about what you want to accomplish. Think about “what” is important to you and why?

2. Make sure the goal is measurable to help track your progress. Assign numbers or percentages to your financial goal, like “paying down $10,000 of debt” or “saving 10% of each paycheque”

3. & 4. Have an achievable and realistic goal. Think about the factors that are outside of your control and how those factors could impact your success.  If the goal isn’t realistic, think about what is achievable and plan from there.

5. Set specific milestones throughout the year to measure your progress.  For example, if your goal is to build an emergency fund, think about how much you want to have saved in 3 months’ time. At the end of each quarter, check-in on to see if you’re meeting your goal..  If you’re on track, great – keep doing what you’re doing. If not, make adjustments to ensure you reach your target at the next check-in point.

To make planning SMART goals easier, check out online goal tracking tools like


Staying motivated to achieve these goals can be difficult, especially when it comes to reducing debt and saving money. It’s easy for anyone to have set backs when it comes to financial planning, as it involves changing habits that can be difficult to break like spending less, learning to budget and putting a stop to using your credit cards.

To help you achieve your 2018 financial goals, our Licensed Insolvency Trustees shared their top tips kii.,/,to staying financially motivated:

Continue reading

#GTKnowledgeisMoney – Top Money Management Tips from Peers


Since Financial Literacy Month has officially wrapped, we’d like to express our gratitude to everyone who joined the conversation online to share their best money management advice. We received an overwhelming amount of submissions and loved reading everyone’s advice on how they manage their finances.

The financial tips from the community were so great that we decided to share some of the tips people submitted – after all, the campaign was all about peer-to-peer sharing, so in our minds, these tips can’t be shared enough!

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We also want to send a big congratulations to ANDREA DUNCAN, who was the winner of the #GTKnowledgeisMoney $500 prize!

Thank-you to everyone who participated – even if the official month of financial literacy is over, the learning should never stop.

If you’re looking for debt management advice, our experienced team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees are available for free consultations at any of our locations across Canada, to meet with you and provide the best debt solutions for your particular financial situation.

We believe every one deserves a chance for a financial fresh start. We look forward to hearing from you!

#GTKnowledgeisMoney – Know Your Financial Rights and Responsibilities


As part of our #GTKnowledgeisMoney series, we’ve been sharing our financial advice on the different themes throughout Financial Literacy Month, you can read them here:

This week is focused on consumers knowing their financial rights and responsibilities. It’s important to know your rights and responsibilities to help guide your decisions.

Here is a list of tips to help you better understand your rights and responsibilities:


  • You have a right to open a personal bank account and cannot be turned away if you are unemployed, unable to deposit money in the account immediately or if you’ve been bankrupt.
  • You have a responsibility to provide sufficient ID to the financial institution and your SIN if you are opening an account that earns interest.
  • You have a right to receive a copy of your account agreement within 7 business days from opening your account including information on the interest rate (if applicable) and how interest earned on the account is calculated.
  • You have a right to receive 30-days of notice regarding any increases to fees or new charges on your bank account.
  • You have a right to withdraw the first $100 from any cheque you deposit UNLESS:
    • Your account is less than 3 months old;
    • The cheque has been endorsed more than once;
    • The cheque is deposited more than 6 months from its date;
    • The cheque is not in Canadian dollars;
    • The cheque was issued from an account situated outside of Canada; or
    • The financial institution has reasonable grounds to believe that illegal or fraudulent activity has taken place.
  • You are responsible for protecting your personal information when banking online such as keeping confidential your debit and credit card information, user IDs, passwords and PIN numbers.

Credit Cards and Loans

  • You have a right to receive a statement every month detailing items like your account balance and transactions, interest charged, maximum and remaining credit limit.
  • Joint borrowers on credit cards have a right to receive the same statements as other borrowers.
  • You are responsible for reviewing your any loan or credit card agreement to understand the terms and conditions of the loan or your use of the credit card.
  • You are responsible for paying the minimum payment calculated on your credit card statement by the due date if you cannot pay off your balance in full.
  • Co-borrowers on the same credit account are responsible for the full balance owing on the account.
  • You are responsible for immediately notifying the credit card company if you lose your card or are a victim of fraud.
  • You have a right to not be charged overdraft fees or interest for prepaid credit cards unless you’ve given your consent to the financial institution.
  • You have a right to the investigation of a disputed or unauthorized transaction on your credit card.

Grant Thornton Limited is an experienced team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees who provide advice to clients who are looking for financial guidance and assistance across the country. Grant Thornton offers clients help with financial counselling, debt restructuring, consumer proposals and bankruptcy. Find an office near you for a free consultation by clicking here.

Want a chance to win a $500 prize?  All you need to do is share your money management advice online with us.

To be eligible for the contest, entrants must:

Contest is open to all Canadian residents. Deadline for entry is Thursday, November 30th, 2017 at 11:59 pm AST. Winner will be selected through random draw. Full contest rules here. 

Tell us how you achieve financial wellbeing by using the hashtag #GTKnowledgeisMoney on Facebook or Twitter.

#GTKnowledgeIsMoney – How to Teach Children About Money


Financial Literacy Month is about helping Canadians establish healthy financial habits. When it comes to your finances do you ever find yourself thinking “Wow, I wish I knew that years ago!”?

That’s why it’s never too early to start teaching kids about money.

That brings us to this week’s topic – How do I teach my children about money?

Teaching children about money is an ongoing process that helps them to understand money management early on and provide helpful skills to prepare them for adulthood.

Here is our step by step guide to help you get started:

  1. Get them involved
  • Teach your kids about what the different methods of payments are and how they work (ie the debit card – and the idea that there is always money there – money doesn’t grow on trees).
  • Talk to them about the budget and how much things cost and where the money comes from. Keep them on a budget (needs vs wants).
  1. Have a conversation about money and budgets early on
  • Don’t wait to have a conversation with your children about how to budget, teach them how to budget and keep the conversation going.
  1. Talk to them about credit and how it works
  • Tell them about the importance of having an emergency/savings plan.
  1. Give your kids an allowance for work
  • Pay your children an amount that you are comfortable with when they do chores around the house. If they do not do the chore, then don’t pay them as this teaches them that they must work hard to earn money.

How do you teach your kids about money? Share with us on social media for a chance to win a $500 prize using the hashtag #GTKnowledgeisMoney