Happy upcoming September ‘New Year’

For many of us, September feels more like the start of a New Year than January does. September marks the end of summer and brings a ‘back-to-school’ reality that we feel (whether or not we have school-aged children).

September is a time to re-focus, get back to work and also—back on budget!

If you have back-to-school-shopping to tackle, then budgeting is essential. Too often compelling advertising, apparent sales and our child’s idea of what they need, can cause us to spend more than we have . . . and more than we can afford. Buying clothing, back packs, lunch boxes, stationery supplies and electronics can be an expensive undertaking. If your child is off to college or university the costs can be even higher to set up dorm rooms and to purchase books, food plans and transit passes.

A good start to managing your budget is to involve your child in the planning. Refer to lists the school or post-secondary institution has provided. Remind your offspring of the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ (it will serve them well for their future money management too). Determine together what is essential for when school starts and what can wait to see if it is really required. Encourage your child to pay something towards some of the ‘needs’ from their savings; or at least to pay for their perceived must-have from the ‘wants’ list. There are many back-to-school budget planners online to help you track planned and actual expenditures. These can help you avoid impulse purchases and stay within budget.

Budgeting for upcoming expenses

Balancing the budget

 

But what if you don’t have back to school expenses…

September can also the ideal time to pause and refocus on your personal or family finances. It’s a good opportunity to revisit your near and long term goals.

In the near term you might be looking at how you’re going to plan and pay for the expenses associated with the upcoming holidays (both Thanksgiving and Christmas) or deal with the additional rising costs of heating and electricity. There is also thinking about getting yourself ready, do you have what you need for fall and winter (ie:a fall/winter coat and other clothing)?

If you are carry debt, resume your commitment to paying it off; remember to start first with high interest rate credit cards. It can be a time to check in again on your household budget and ways to trim expenses. And, it can be an opportunity to start saving for upcoming holiday spending. Even a little money put away each week starting now, can help toward the costs of future Christmas or Hanukah celebrations.

If you are facing financial struggles or would like some help with managing your debt—one of our professionals is available to discuss your situation. There are many options available to help and you may not need to go bankrupt. Contact us for a confidential, no-obligation, complimentary consultation. Call us toll free in at 310 8888.

 

 

Meeting with a Bankruptcy Trustee is no scarier than dinner with your in-laws.

When you’re struggling with unmanageable debt, we know everything else in your life can suffer. The thousands of people we have helped over the years share similar stories. They’ve told us of struggling to pay the minimum amount on credit cards, borrowing from one card to pay another, liquidating assets to pay bills and still being overwhelmed with day-to-day financial obligations. We know this can happen to anyone. Suddenly a change in your work, health or personal situation can take you from managing—to being in serious financial difficulty.

 

The idea of meeting with a Bankruptcy Trustee can perhaps be intimating or feel like a blow to self-esteem. As you might imagine though, we have met with men, women and couples from all walks of life; all ages, occupations and backgrounds. Ultimately: anyone can find themselves with debt problems and that’s when we can be of help.

 

Meeting with a Trustee, here’s what to expect:

  1. Call or email us to schedule a confidential, no-cost, no-obligation appointment. We have several locations where we can meet and flexible office hours. You will be asked to bring along (or know) some of your financial details such as monthly expenses, debts (and to whom) and your monthly income.
  2. The Trustee will review the information you have provided and go through the options available to you, what may happen, the costs and timeframe surrounding your options. These might include Informal proposal, consumer proposal or bankruptcy. (Only a Trustee can help you file a consumer proposal or bankruptcy)
  3. If we cannot help you, we will recommend options to you and refer you to someone who may be of assistance.
  4. You will always have time to review and consider your options. We will not pressure you to make a decision. You will have a better understanding of the options available to address your debt problems and you will understand the next steps and implications.
  5. If you enter into a formalized process to address your debts, and documents are signed, then garnishees and collection calls will stop.

Remember, debt problems can happen to anyone. A Grant Thornton Trustee can be a source of important information and guidance to help you toward solutions—and peace of mind.

If you are facing financial struggles or would like some help with managing your debt—one of our professionals is available to discuss your situation. There are many options available to help and you may not need to go bankrupt. Contact us for a confidential, no-obligation, complimentary consultation. Call us toll free at  (your area code)310 8888.



Sometimes bankruptcy really is the best option

We know from experience that debt problems are typically not a sign of weakness or bad decisions. Often circumstances beyond a person’s control such as divorce, illness, inherited debt or unemployment can make debts unmanageable.

So, our role is to help people explore every possible way to resolve their debt problems. There are options and we frequently help people implement solutions that avoid bankruptcy. We understand people may feel there is a stigma or a sense of failure attached the idea of going bankrupt.

However, there are times when bankruptcy is absolutely the best (or only) course of action.

Keep in mind that sometimes efforts to avoid bankruptcy can actually make things worse. An individual may use a line of credit or take on a new loan to deal with debt. These may help in the short term but ultimately can increase debt problems. We know people want to avoid bankruptcy because of the impact on their credit rating. While it’s true your credit rating ‘takes a hit’ when you go bankrupt—it is also negatively impacted when payments continue to be missed.

The positive outcome of going bankrupt is that you are finally able to have a ‘fresh start’ after years of trying to cope with excessive debt and feeling like you are not getting ahead. And, many people don’t realize that tax debt to Revenue Canada is a dischargeable debt in bankruptcy too.

When you declare bankruptcy you are allowed to keep your RRSP’s and you may be able to keep your home, car and your ‘tools of the trade’ (exemption amounts apply), so realistically you can be in a good position to ‘start over’ and rebuild your financial situation. Keep in mind that during a bankruptcy you will be making regular payments towards your estate and once you’re discharged from bankruptcy, with the habit of making these payments, you could consider taking this same amount each month and placing it in an emergency fund,  savings for retirement or a down payment.

Bottom line: there are situations where declaring bankruptcy is the responsible choice and the quickest way to a new, stronger future.

To learn more about bankruptcy and whether it is the best course of action to address your debt issues, contact us for a confidential, no-obligation, complimentary consultation. Call us toll free from anywhere in Alberta 310 8888 for a free consultation or visit our website at www.gt.alger.ca for more information on your debt options.

Why a consumer proposal is (almost) beating out bankruptcy as the best way to deal with debt.

Across Canada individuals are increasingly using a consumer proposal to address (what has now become) their unmanageable debt. A proposal is based on what you are capable of paying . . . not what you owe – and it allows you a fresh start without going bankrupt.

Under a consumer proposal, with the guidance of a Trustee, you negotiate to pay creditors all or a portion of your debt over a specific time period, or to extend the time allowed to pay the entire debt. You just need the majority of creditors to agree to the proposal—then all unsecured creditors are bound by it.

After you make your proposal, most creditors can no longer ‘hound’ you for collection of their accounts and public utilities can’t discontinue their service. Also, a consumer proposal prevents your creditors from garnishing your wages.

In 2006 only 15 per cent of insolvent Canadians chose to make a consumer proposal. Now that number is at an all time high of 40 per cent. There are a number of reasons why.

Firstly, in 2008, changes to the Bankruptcy Insolvency Act (BIA) increased the limit of the size of non-mortgage debt for qualifying for a proposal from $75,000 to $250,000.

And too, economists suggest it’s a sign of improving times where consumers are more optimistic about the future and are keen to ‘clean-up’ their debt issues in ways that are manageable—and without going bankrupt. With a consumer proposal you keep control of your assets and it has shorter-term – and less significant – impact on your credit rating than bankruptcy.

For some it’s all about keeping their car, home or signed jersey by Jerome. A consumer proposal starts with the consumer – you propose a deal to your creditors to pay back the debt. If you want to sell your car to do it, that is your choice. Remember, whatever you negotiate with your creditors should be fair otherwise they may just ask for your prized collection.

Remember too, in a bankruptcy you are mandated to make some payments toward your debts—for example (depending on the debt) you might be required to pay $1,000 a month for 21 months. In contrast, with a proposal you might negotiate to pay $600 a month for 40 months. This can be a more manageable option.

And, sometimes avoiding bankruptcy is very important. Your profession or employer may require that you not be an undischarged bankrupt. You also can’t be a director of an incorporated company if you are an undischarged bankrupt.

Not to mention, sometimes it’s also a psychological thing—people in general don’t like the ‘b’ word (bankruptcy). A consumer proposal provides a solid solution to resolving debt issues without committing to bankruptcy.

To learn more about a consumer proposal and whether it is the best course of action to address your debt issues, visit our website at www.gt.alger.ca or contact us for a confidential, no-obligation, complimentary consultation toll free from anywhere in Alberta 310 8888.

 

RRSPs protected if you file bankruptcy in Canada

ImageIn a final act of desperation, many consumers resort to the one last asset they have left but fear losing if they have to file a bankruptcy…their RRSP account.  People end up tapping into their future retirement savings to pay creditors or subsidize their living expenses if no money is left after debt payments. But consumers have told me that one of the main reasons why they felt the need to deplete their accounts is the fear that the bankruptcy Trustee will take their RRSPs and so the thought is, why not clean out the account first before the Trustee does.

 

Before you dip into your retirement savings, you need to know that bankruptcy has no interest in your RRSPs.  People are surprised to hear that there is protection given under provincial and pension legislation for RRSPs, LIRAs and pensions which prevents the seizure of these funds.  Knowing this vital information ahead of time can prevent the depletion of retirement savings that has, for most people, taken years to build.  I am seeing more and more people who’ve cashed out their RRSPs before filing a bankruptcy which not only resulted in eliminating their retirement plan but created a tax liability to Canada Revenue Agency. Don’t add to your debt load… keep your RRSPs for retirement since that was the intention, and still must be, of banking your hard earned dollars.

 

Start planning a way to deal with your debt…but plan to keep your RRSPs.

 

Freida Richer, Trustee in Bankruptcy

 

RRSPs proteced if you file bankruptcy in Canada

In a final act of desperation, many consumers resort to the one last asset they have left but fear losing if they have to file a bankruptcy…their RRSP account.  People end up tapping into their future retirement savings to pay creditors or subsidize their living expenses if no money is left after debt payments. But consumers have told me that one of the main reasons why they felt the need to deplete their accounts is the fear that the bankruptcy Trustee will take their RRSPs and so the thought is, why not clean out the account first before the Trustee does.

 

Before you dip into your retirement savings, you need to know that bankruptcy has no interest in your RRSPs.  People are surprised to hear that there is protection given under provincial and pension legislation for RRSPs, LIRAs and pensions which prevents the seizure of these funds.  Knowing this vital information ahead of time can prevent the depletion of retirement savings that has, for most people, taken years to build.  I am seeing more and more people who’ve cashed out their RRSPs before filing a bankruptcy which not only resulted in eliminating their retirement plan but created a tax liability to Canada Revenue Agency. Don’t add to your debt load…keep your RRSPs for retirement since that was the intention, and still must be, of banking your hard earned dollars.

 

Start planning a way to deal with your debt…but plan to keep your RRSPs. 

 

 

This post written by Freida Richer

Trustee at Grant Thornton Alger Inc.