Do you avoid checking your bank account or credit card statements? Do you conceal what you spend from your spouse or loved ones? Do you find it difficult to relax or sleep at night, as your financial burdens keep you tossing and turning?

You’re not alone. 1 in 6 Canadians struggle with their finances, according to an Angus Reid Survey. At BNA Debt Solutions, we want to create a new conversation about debt and finances – one where you don’t feel afraid to ask questions or discuss money.

I think my finances and debt are getting out of control. How do I know?

If you’re losing sleep at night worrying about how you’re going to pay your next bill, or get out from under your mounting credit card debt, you may have problems with debt. The best way to find out if your financial situation is unmanageable is to do a pulse check.

Using a spreadsheet, a pen and paper, or a service like Mint, track your expenses for at least one month. By figuring out how much money is coming in – and where it’s going – you can determine if you simply need to cut back on dinners out and organic groceries, or if you have a larger financial problem.

Ok, I’m in debt. What are my REAL options?

If you realise that the money going out vastly outweighs the money coming in, don’t panic. There are solutions! Primarily, there are two ways of handling your debt – a consumer proposal and bankruptcy.

What happens in a Consumer Proposal?

A Consumer Proposal is when a Licensed Insolvency Trustee helps you to file a proposal to your creditors, where you agree to repay a portion of your debt in lieu of declaring bankruptcy. This option is beneficial if you have debts exceeding $5,000, but not over $250,000. (If you owe over $250,000, we have options for that as well.) Filing a Consumer Proposal will stop creditors from calling you, prevent garnished wages, and allows you to pay back a fraction of your total debt, with no interest.

It’s also important to note that any personal assets you may have, such as a vehicle or home, are not at risk under a Consumer Proposal.

Does a bankruptcy mean I have to give up everything?

No, not necessarily. When you file a bankruptcy with BNA Debt Solutions and our Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LIT), you will have to give up some things such as your personal credit cards. However, if you have a car and a mortgage, you do not always have to give these things up. If you continue to make payments on your vehicle, it cannot be repossessed. If you continue to pay your mortgage and property taxes, you do not need to worry about losing your home. If you are underwater on your home or car loan, you owe more than they are worth, filing for bankruptcy is one way to relieve yourself of those obligations.

It is important to note that you are allowed $40,000 equity in your home. If you have more than $40,000 in equity, creditors will expect you to use this for your debt repayment. If you need more information about home equity and bankruptcy, make sure you contact us to discuss your options.

Are all of my debts eliminated in a bankruptcy?

Unsecured debt is what can be discharged during the bankruptcy process, however, some debts will remain. These are referred to as secured debts, or things like alimony and child or spousal support, student loans (if you have been out of school for less than 7 years), court fines, debt caused by fraudulent activity, or debt from civil claims arising from incidents such as assault causing bodily harm or death.

If you’re not sure if the debt you carry is secured or unsecured, we can help you better understand your financial situation. The most important step you can take to relieve your financial problems is being honest and starting an open conversation with your loved ones, and a debt specialist.

How can I know who to trust to help me resolve this?

Unfortunately, the financial world is predatory, with vultures looking to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers regularly. Only a Licensed Insolvency Trustee can file a Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy. Not a credit counsellor, not a banker, not a financial advisor, not your relative. At BNA Debt Solutions, our family owned and operated business takes your financial well-being seriously. Our team of compassionate, knowledgeable LIT’s are available to help you.

Don’t take our word for it. Our clients have plenty to say as well.

If you have more questions, or think you need help managing your debt, contact us today. We’re here to help.