It is needless to say that we are living in unprecedented times. The COVID-19 crisis is affecting almost every aspect of our lives, and our team at BNA Debt Solutions wants to let you know that we are still dedicated to helping you get out from underneath your crushing debt, and support you the best we can, despite the “new normal” we have found ourselves in.

Until we get the all-clear from health officials, the following steps will be in place:

  • We are not allowing clients into our office to reduce the risk of contamination and support our province’s request for physical distancing.
  • There will be no in-person meetings. There will be no exceptions.
  • All communications will be done via email, telephone and video conference where appropriate.

Moving forward, we are still available to speak with you and help anyone who is looking for information and answers or to start the process. If you are a current client, we understand the stress you may be feeling in regard to your account with us during these uncertain times. This is unprecedented in our lifetime and we will do everything we can within our power to help our clients through this.

Spending Money during a Crisis

Many of us are struggling with a reduction in income during COVID-19. Budgeting can be a challenging exercise during the best of times, so making a move to a survival budget is a great first step. When we focus on a survival budget you are going to start prioritizing your basic needs fist, those include:

  • Shelter
  • Food
  • Medication
  • Clothing

Shelter:

There has been an initiative for banks to offer mortgage deferrals. This will allow you to forgo all or some of your mortgage payments for the upcoming months and defer them to later on in your mortgage term. Our best advice is still, if you can pay the mortgage or part of it to do so. The interest and principal are not being forgiven, just delayed.

If you don’t have a mortgage you are likely going to have rental payments. Each of the provinces have been implementing “No Eviction” legislation.

It’s best to communicate with your landlord about your current situation, be advised that if you enter into a new payment arrangement with your landlord and default on that particular arrangement some landlords can get an eviction notice. Always consult with a legal expert when renegotiating or resigning a lease.

Utilities:

Utility deferrals are also an option when funds are low, many utility providers are allowing customers to defer their April payments. These payments will need to be made up, try to make as much of a payment as possible to avoid a larger payment down the road.

Medication:

Medication can be a large expense for most Canadians if you do not have a work group benefit plan. Group benefit plans can allow you to transition to a Provincial plan like Blue Cross within a 90 day period of time. If your employer has laid you off benefits may terminate in 30 days, if the layoff is longer you may need to seek alternative options. If your medication costs are high, speak with your physician, they can provide you with samples or transition you to a lower cost medication.

Food:

Beyond our living expenses food can be one of the most expensive line items in your budget. Some simple steps in reducing you food costs can be:

  1. Meal Plan: If you plan out your meals for the week you are less likely to make impulse purchases at the grocery store. Only buying what is needed can reduce your costs. Only going for groceries when absolutely necessary will not only reduce impulse spending but protect our front line grocery workers.
  2. Check your pantry first: You may have all or most of the ingredients you need for many of your meals. We tend to over purchase on items.
  3. Price Match: Review local flyers to see what items are on sale. Shop at one store that will match the flyer price and save without driving to multiple locations.
  4. Use points or coupons: Many stores have a rewards program that you can take advantage of for the next shopping trip.

If food is becoming scarce in the household, consider contacting 211 in your local area. They can provide you with support to local food bank programs to help fill the gap while income is reduced.

Prioritize the rest:

As stressful and traumatic a large reduction in income is for a family, it forces you to put your expenses in priority. A scarcity mindset can quickly analyze what is important and what can be shifted. A helpful exercise is to list all of your expenses, then next to each expense rank them in their level of importance. By doing this you will have a clear picture of what needs to get paid first, and which expenses you can consider giving up or reducing. Some of these expenses may be tied to loans or debts. This is a perfect opportunity to reach out to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee to discuss your options in restructuring those debts and obligations so that your income can go towards your basic needs.

Final Thoughts:

During times of stress and uncertainty we can all handle it very differently. It can be a highly emotional time, and spending can get out of hand. If you feel that you need assistance with coping strategies, or even just someone to talk to, speaking with a Licensed Counsellor or Therapist is crucial. Many local counselling agencies are offering services via video conferencing or by telephone. Many group employee benefit plans provide counselling services. If you or someone you know needs help please reach out to 211 or your local distress centre.

We want to affirm our commitment to helping Albertans through this time. If you’re feeling the weight of crushing debt, compounded by the COVID-19 shutdown, please get in touch with our team. We’d really encourage anyone feeling tapped out to please chat to us, as opposed to looking at options like a debt consolidation loan, or taking on additional debt. You cant borrow your way out of debt. Our team is ready to listen, share our knowledge, and above all else, help you and your family get through this trying time.