Tag Archives: Consumer Proposals

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Sands & Associates Featured Office: Langley

The friendly staff of Sands & Associates’ Langley office are available to assist you with your debt resolution options in our office located at 56th Avenue and Logan Avenue in downtown Langley (right near the sign that reads “Cut Your Debt by 70%!).

Trustee and VP Blair Mantin and Estate Managers Marlene Byrne, Dana Timko and Cindy Wortley will work with you to understand your situation and help create a plan on how your debts can be managed.

Langley Staff Spotlight: Dana Timko

Dana has over 17 years of experience with consumer proposals and bankruptcy, and is both an Insolvency Estate Manager as well as a Qualified Insolvency Counsellor.

Dana’s Top Trustee Tip:  “Take advantage of RRSP and savings plans offered by your employer, or employer matched pension plans that are automatically deducted from your paycheque.  You never see the money so it’s hard to miss it.”

Contact us to arrange a free, confidential evaluation of your debt solution options in our Langley office.

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Blair Mantin Shares Top 5 Financial Myths & Misconceptions with Breakfast Television

Did you know that November is Financial Literacy Month?  To help increase consumer awareness, Proposal Administrator, Trustee in Bankruptcy and Vice-President of Sands & Associates Blair Mantin recently shared some of his top financial myths and misconceptions with Vancouver’s Breakfast Television.

Blair’s Top 5 Myths and Misconceptions that can save consumers money:

1 – Confusing activity with achievement

Many individuals fall into a trap of just making the minimum payments on their credit cards and assuming that they are actually making progress.  The fact is that at 20% interest, making the minimum monthly payments of $250 on a $10,000 debt will take more than 5.5 years to clear and will cost more than $6,600 in additional interest charges.  Banks are now forced to disclose exactly how long it will take to pay off a debt if you make only the minimum payments.  I’ve seen payment terms in excess of 150 years for some individuals.

If you can only afford to make the minimum payments each month, you very likely have a debt problem.

2 – Buying insurance for everything

Banks are quick to sell and aggressively promote various insurance products.  Some are great, but some provide little to no value.  One of these is ‘balance protection insurance’.  Each month you pay fees into this product even if you don’t carry a balance.  The fees can be as high as 1% of the purchases on the card.  Over the course of one year, this could take a 20% credit card interest rate to 32%.

The real issue is that, in most instances where you’d expect the insurance to really help, it actually does very little.  i.e. If you lose your job, it will cover the minimum payments for the period of time you are unemployed but very little of these payments will actually reduce the balance you owe on the card.

3 – Not being aware of your rights as a consumer 

Many people in BC are completely unaware of the exceptional amount of protections afforded to them under provincial legislation in BC.  Here are some major points:

  • If creditors are harassing you by phone, BC is the only place in Canada where you can send them a formal request to only deal with you via mail instead of phone calls.  It’s much easier, and less stressful to deal with collection letters rather than an aggressive collection agent on the phone
  • The province of BC is the only jurisdiction of Canada where, if you’ve financed a car and are unable to make the payments, the creditor can seize the vehicle from you but cannot come after you for the shortfall.  Many individuals I meet feel as though they are ‘stuck’ in a financing arrangement where they owe more than the vehicle is worth – the fact is they can return the vehicle without being held accountable for any shortfall (i.e. if the vehicle sells for $10,000 and they owe $15,000 they cannot be made to pay the difference).

4 – Thinking there’s no way to re-negotiate government debts

If you owe money for taxes, MSP, or student loans you may think there’s no way out.  In fact, there is one single way of ‘making a deal’ on these amounts.  A Consumer Proposal is an option that can be used to stop interest, reduce amounts owing, and work out an affordable payment plan.  A Consumer Proposal can only be filed by a licensed Trustee and is a relatively unknown, yet extremely powerful way of restructuring your financial affairs.

5 – Thinking that your credit rating is a barometer of self-worth

Many people are scared to tackle their debt burden because they believe that their credit rating is an indicator of self-worth and that they could never recover from something as bad as a bankruptcy.  The fact is, your credit rating can change dramatically in a short amount of time.  People can go from bankruptcy to getting a mortgage in as little as 2-3 years.  Often, it’s by taking the step to tackle their debts that people end up in far better shape sooner, than if they had hunkered down and make minimum payments for years and years on end.

To find out more about Sands & Associates or meet in one of our 12 BC locations, please contact us for a free, confidential consultation.

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Sands & Associates’ NEW Location: Victoria

Sands & Associates is pleased to announce the opening of our newest office in Victoria on Vancouver Island!  Our Victoria office is located in the Atrium Building in beautiful downtown Victoria.

We are British Columbia’s largest firm of licensed Proposal Administrators and Bankruptcy Trustees, focused exclusively on personal and small-business insolvency services.  Vice-President of Sands & Associates, Trustee Blair Mantin; Proposal Administrator and Trustee Raj Hara; and Cindy Wallas, an Insolvency Estate Manager and Qualified Insolvency Counsellor, are available by appointment to assist residents in and around the Victoria area with their debt restructuring needs.

A multi-year Consumer Choice Award winner, Sands & Associates was founded in 1990 and previously operated throughout BC’s lower mainland; our expansion to Vancouver Island allows us to assist both individuals and businesses throughout British Columbia who are struggling with unmanageable debts.  As Credit Counsellors, Licensed Trustee and Proposal Administrators, we are government-licensed and regulated, and offer confidential consultations regarding your situation and potential debt management options at no obligation or cost.

To discuss your debt options with a Sands & Associates representative at the BC location nearest you, please contact us for a free, confidential consultation.

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Sands & Associates wins Consumer Choice Award for Third Consecutive Year

Sands & Associates, Credit Counsellors and Trustees, is proud to announce that we have been selected as the Consumer Choice Award winner in the category of Bankruptcy Trustees in the lower mainland of British Columbia for the third consecutive year.

The Consumer Choice Award is considered a “seal of excellence”, identifying businesses chosen by consumers as outstanding service providers via independent market research surveys.  Consumers are surveyed annually by Leger Marketing, the leading Canadian-owned market research firm, to gather opinions and expectations regarding services they use on a daily basis.  Consumer Choice Award was established in 1987 and is considered Canada’s most distinguished award for business excellence.

This award would not be possible without the continued support of the lower mainland communities we serve and our dedicated staff at Sands & Associates, we thank you!

To learn more about Sands & Associates’ services, please contact us for a free, confidential consultation.

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Blair Mantin guest on “Debt Free in 30” Radio Show and Podcast

Sands & Associates Vice-President and licensed trustee Blair Mantin recently spoke with Debt Free in 30 host Doug Hoyes about American-based debt settlement companies, and their impact on Canadians.

While debt settlement companies have received media attention and the implementation of legislation changes restricting their practices in other provinces, British Columbia has yet to follow suit.  Blair discusses the possible ramifications of unlicensed debt settlement, and alternative solutions for Canadians.

Debt Free in 30 is a weekly 30-minute radio show and podcast; industry experts on topics such as debt and personal finance offer insights and advice to listeners.  Hosted by Doug Hoyes, licensed trustee and co-founder of Hoyes Michalos & Associates Inc, other notable past guests have included well-known personal finance expert and TV personality Gail Vaz-Oxlade, personal finance columnist Jonathan Chevreau, as well as Dr. Leanne Davies who recently co-authored a book with Blair entitled “When Life Bites you in the Wallet”.

Click here to listen to the free podcast at the iTunes store.

A full summary of the Debt Free in 30 episode “Predatory Practices of U.S. Debt Settlement Companies” can be seen here.

To meet with a licensed trustee regarding your available debt options, please contact us to arrange a free, confidential consultation in your area.

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Subtle Signs of Money Troubles Ahead

Warning signs that financial difficulties are looming may not always be obvious.  In many instances where individuals are struggling with money there’s been an indirect slide into debt over time, or a few overlooked events have caused a manageable situation to get out of hand.  Maintain control over your debts and keep credit trouble from creeping in by checking for these five subtle signs:

1)  Ignoring your account balances.  Do you know how much is currently in your chequing account?  How about the balance on your VISA?  Not being aware of your bank and credit balances can easily result in everything from bounced cheques to being overcharged.  Lenders and vendors you deal with may not notice discrepancies so make a point of reviewing your balances after every few purchases and after each payment is made.

2)  Not having a budget.  Having a budget that functions is key to staying on top of your finances, meeting money goals AND getting out of debt.  Leaving your financial obligations to chance and haphazardly paying expenses that hopefully coincide with payday is a sure-fire way to run into roadblocks down the line.  A cycle of using payday loans or regularly relying on an overdraft to fill the gaps in cash-flow is hard to break once it’s been started; planning your income and expenses can help avoid this.

3)  Leaving it all to your spouse.  While it may seem like a great idea to delegate all the responsibilities of the household financial management to one spouse, the reality is that this can result in huge problems.  The managing spouse may feel stressed and eventually resentful about bearing the sole burden of juggling finances, and while the other spouse may be blissful in their ignorance, debts for which both are liable may be mounting.  Conversely, the hands-off spouse may feel worried, kept in the dark and be unaware of key money matters.  Have an open dialogue with your partner and make sure you both contribute to handling the family’s financial affairs.

4)  Forgetting about the future.  Like it or not, time flies and a healthy outlook on finances also includes looking to the future.  Whether it’s contributing regularly to savings for retirement, working towards  a financial goal, or avoiding the temptation of using credit you can’t repay immediately, it’s important to remember that ‘tomorrow’ will come sooner than you think.  Nothing can derail well-made plans like unmanageable debts – so carefully consider before committing to major purchases and curb any impulse spending you may find yourself indulging in.

5)  Misunderstanding how your credit works.  Do you know how compound interest accumulates?  Are you up-to-date on your account dues and late-penalty charges?  Have you signed up for credit with annual fees?  Always read the fine print before you sign and ask for clarification on any terms you may be uncertain of before agreeing to credit.  Lenders extend credit to make money so always be sure the terms are working in your favour and that you’re fully aware of your responsibilities under the contract.

Credit can be a great tool if used correctly and a huge frustration otherwise, so if you find yourself with any of these subtle signs, now is the time to take charge of your finances.

To speak with a local licensed trustee about your debt management options please contact us for a free, confidential consultation.