“No matter what you do, do not go into debt! Basically, that is what we are told over and over again by the government and the financial experts.
That may be good advice
But we Canadians do not seem to listen, with household debt levels continuing to rise. According to the Equifax Credit Bureau, average consumer debt has risen 2.9% in the last 12 months and demand for credit cards has increased by a massive 8.5%. The Bank of Canada recently reported that consumer debt was at 163% of disposable income, a record for Canada and at the same time higher than in the United States. And we say that we are more financially responsible than our neighbors in the South.
Clearly, there is a growing disconnect between what we hear and what we do. So, it’s time to change the conversation: Let’s stop talking about the problem. Let’s start talking about the solution. How can we handle the debt we have? How can we create a plan to get out of this debt?
Here are four tips for those of us who carry more debt than they want
Give a control visit to your debt
To begin, make a list of all your active debt, including mortgages, auto loans, credit card balances and installment loans. Write the amount and the interest rate for each. The interest rate should be indicated on your statement. If you can not find it, you can call your bank or cashier and ask them.
There are several types of debt. Certain types, like mortgages, can be healthy in moderation: mortgage rates have never been so low, plus a mortgage gives you a home and a place to live. Other types of debts are less healthy. For example, credit cards typically have higher interest rates, between 19.9% and 29.9%.
Why do credit cards have higher interest rates? When banks announce a new credit card, they must offer it to everyone. They can accept or reject customers, but they can not offer different rates for different people (called “price based on risk”). So even if you are a responsible consumer, you will pay the same rate as someone who is not. You get no credit for having good credit . The result is a market dominated by high interest rates for credit cards.
Make Your Debt More Intellegent
With your list in front of you, look at the loans with the highest interest rates. These are the most expensive and best to reduce first. Credit cards can be a very good place to start while many people who have credit card balances could easily qualify for lower interest rates – see the explanation of the price based on the risks above. One way to test this easily is to see if you can qualify for a low cost loan. Borrowell for example, gives you the chance to check your rates instantly and for free from your computer – no visit or bank call required. Just go to their site and click “check my rate”. Fill out a small form and you will instantly know if you qualify for a reduced rate.
Another advantage of a Borrowell loan (or similar) is that there is a fixed term. Which means that in three to five years, it will be fully paid. On the other hand, if you only pay the minimum monthly payment on your credit card, it can take you decades to pay off the balance. During this time, you could end up paying thousands of dollars in interest.
Read Small Characters on Credit Cards with Low Rates
Some institutions offer credit cards with low rates, but the savings are often an illusion. First, these cards usually have an annual fee between $ 29 and $ 79 or more. If you have a balance of $ 1,000, that translates into an addition between 2.9% and 7.9% of your rate.
Secondly, these credit cards have no rewards or cash back function. As a rule of thumb, these credit cards typically have a value of 1% of the purchases you make with the card, so you will lose that profit if you make the change to a credit card with low rate. Thirdly, these cards are not typically advertised – and you will not find them at most bank sites. Often, they have low limits, and are not difficult to qualify for.
If you are a responsible borrower, you are better off getting loan products that offer you personalized interest rates and rewards or cash back credit cards that you can pay back each month. In this way, you get the best of both worlds: a low interest rate loan so you do not subsidize everyone, and a rewards or cash back credit card that pays you and not the other way around.
Make a Budget
It’s no secret that the best way to get out of debt is to make a good budget. With more information on the cost of a custom fixed term loan, you can see what can fit in your budget – and see the changes you want to make.
Mango Graham is the CEO of Borrowell, a lending platform that offers fixed and affordable interest rates to give Canadians a better alternative than credit cards or other high-cost debt. The team from him and Borrowell are passionate about bringing innovative financial services to Canadians. Previously, he led the insurance company to PC Financial and graduated from The University of Edinburg and Harvard Business School. Andrew likes coffee and bycicle, – but not at the same time.