Get Help With Money Problems – Googling “how to get help with money problems” is like googling “I am already down, run me over again”.  There are all kinds of people offering debt help but like any other industry there are experts and there are “wanna be’s”. The key is finding a licensed professional.  Having a business license does not make you a professional in the debt (insolvency) industry. You need someone licensed by the federal government as a “Licensed Insolvency Trustee”.  They have many years of training and education and are continually required to upgrade their knowledge and training to best serve the public. Much like any other licensed professional.

Many people advertise as Debt Counselors, Debt Consolidators etc but in fact, don’t have the legislative authority or perhaps even the education or expertise to deal with your debt properly. Their staff may have just answered a “help wanted” ad and may not be properly trained to assist you. Many of these companies will charge you a fee to refer you to a “Licensed Insolvency Trustee”.  You do not need to pay for a referral but can contact a Trustee directly.   There are companies that advertise as “Not for Profit” which leads you to believe that they are free, when in fact they aren’t. They have a “Not for Profit” designation from Revenue Canada which just means they can’t make a profit. Any surplus income they earn, they usually spend on advertising and that’s why you may hear their ads everywhere.

There are also Credit Counselling debt agencies that advertise that they will reduce your interest rate and lower your payments. This may be true, but this is not always the best or right decision for you. If you have very small amounts of debt, these may be the right solution for you.  Lowering your interest rate a few points or stretching out the repayment term may just be prolonging the agony.  Most people with unmanageable debt, worry about their credit rating, when in fact their credit rating may already be bruised. Sometimes the credit rating may be fine, but their debt servicing ratio is to the point that they can’t qualify for a consolidation loan. Banks make millions of dollars of profit every year and they do that by lending money to consumers at high-interest rates. If they can find a way to get you approved, they will, that’s their livelihood, but it may not be in your best interest. Remember, “YOU CAN NOT BORROW YOUR WAY OUT OF DEBT”.  Many people believe that dealing with an Insolvency (Bankruptcy) Trustee is the worst thing that can happen when in fact they can often turn your life around much quicker and with less pain.  Facing your problems, figuring out a solution, and following through with the solution, is the quickest way to a fresh start and improving your credit rating. Struggling with credit card debt that is never going to get paid off or Revenue Canada fines and penalties that multiply in your sleep, is not the way to move forward.

Insolvency Trustee’s do a lot more than Bankruptcy and that’s why they went through a formal name change a few years ago. In fact, Bankruptcies are declining every year while repayment plans involving no interest and reduced payments are far exceeding them. An Insolvency Trustee is trained to look at the big picture, not just this credit card or that line of credit like a bank would. They look at income, expenses, home equity, debt levels, RRSP’s, and preparing for the future. A good Trustee will examine with you, all options available, consequences of all options, cost of all options, possible outcome of all options. It should not be a “slam bam” process. This is your future and your families’ well-being that is at stake.  Take the time to do your research, find a professional and know that there is a solution out there for you. Making those minimum payments for eternity and never getting ahead is not the answer.

The other big mistake people make when looking to get help with money problems is searching online for a company that seems to have all the answers. First, if they don’t have a bricks and mortar location in your jurisdiction where you can meet them face to face, they won’t have the legislative authority to deal with your debt, that’s a government requirement. Secondly, do you really know who they are? Anyone can build a website, post fake reviews, and look legitimate. DO NOT SEND YOUR HARD-EARNED DOLLARS TO THESE COMPANIES!!!  You will only be throwing your paycheque down the drain.  Find a local Insolvency Trustee who can help you answer your question “how to get help with money problems”.  The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy website can help you find one in your area or better yet, contact the company with all the solutions, BNA Solutions. 20 years in Calgary (and now in Edmonton) helping our clients move forward for a better tomorrow.

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PHOTO BY CRISTIAN NEWMAN ON UNSPLASH