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November is Canada’s Financial Literacy Month, with this year’s 10th anniversary theme aimed at helping Canadians learn how to manage their finances in challenging times. As BC’s largest firm of Licensed Insolvency Trustees focused on providing debt help services to individuals and small businesses, the team of debt experts at Sands & Associates are no strangers to helping people work through and find solutions to their financial challenges.

Sands & Associates Licensed Insolvency Trustee Blair Mantin joined BT Vancouver to talk about one of the biggest impacts consumers feel with a financial problem, when debts are piling up – debt-stress – and to share insights to help British Columbians manage the emotional side of money.

Watch the clip here and read more below:

Common Debt-Stress Impacts

Debt-stress can manifest itself severely, and in fact ‘overwhelming stress’ was one of the top indicators for participants in the 2019 BC Consumer Debt Study to realize that their debt was becoming a problem. Additionally, the study found that:

  • Nearly 90% of respondents said they experienced a constant or daily worry about their debts or general finances.
  • Many people said they were sleeping poorly, having arguments with their spouse or partner about money, and alienating themselves from family or friends.
  • Over 70% said their self-esteem suffered because of being in debt, and 65% said their health suffered; many also felt their family or children, and job performance suffered.
  • Anxiety or depression was cited as a debt-stress impact by 77.1% of respondents.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 people even said the stress of their debt resulted in them experiencing thoughts of suicide.

You are not alone! Non-judgmental support and debt solutions are available from professionals at Sands & Associates. Connect with a debt help specialist today.

Get More Insights from the 2019 BC Consumer Debt Study

Tips to Manage Debt-Stress

If you are beginning to feel stress or anxiety about your finances, one of the first things you can do to try to regain control and make positive changes is to:

  1. Identify and Acknowledge Your Debt Stress Triggers

Is there a specific aspect of your financial situation that is causing you worry? Some people might be stressed about a credit card balance that keeps growing, or a bill they cannot seem to pay off.

  • Try to identify what specifically you are worried about and recognize what is triggering the stress for you – this also gives you some idea as to what needs to be addressed to solve the challenge.

Consider how you cope with this stress so you can be on the lookout for and avoid unhelpful (or further aggravating) coping habits. Some common areas to watch for might include:

  • Are you avoiding looking at your bills? Hiding account balances from your spouse or partner?
  • Turning to coping strategies like overeating, substance abuse, overspending or gambling?
  • Neglecting your health or “punishing” yourself with negative self-talk or behavior?
  1. Put Plans in Writing and Keep Track

Many people do not have a written personal budget or overall financial plan to refer to. Take some time today to get in “paperwork shape” and restore some feelings of control – this will help you manage your money more efficiently by avoiding the stress of “the unknown” and simply guessing. Start by:

  • Listing all your debts, with account balances, account numbers and the payment requirements;
  • Ensuring you have a realistic household budget that balances, and commit to sticking to it; and,
  • Keeping track of your income, and your actual spending.

If you have a spouse or partner get them involved in this planning too. Many people are surprised to learn just how much their spouse has been shouldering alone when it comes to organizing the household finances; it’s important to get on the same page, and have financial goals you can work towards together.

Remember: No one is born with money management skills – these things take time to learn and understand (and often some trial and error).

Read some Frequently Asked Questions about your Spouse Filing for Bankruptcy

  1. Tackle Other Financial Items One Step at a Time

As you move towards new habits, take note of other lingering financial “to do’s” that can cause anxiety. Do you have any financial-related tasks you are always meaning to get to? Common examples include:

  • Overdue tax returns that should be filed;
    • Bump outstanding tax filings up your priority list – you could be missing out on benefits you are entitled to, or risking Canada Revenue Agency to prompt you to file.
  • Looking into life insurance or setting up a Tax-Free Savings Account (or other retirement plans); and,
  • Having a will written.

Keep track and celebrate your progress as you get these (often long-lingering) tasks completed. This will help you to keep up the momentum and sense of accomplishment.

Learn About Solutions for Having Government Debts Forgiven

  1. Seek Professional Assistance

Many people prolong debt-stress and anxiety because they delay seeking professional debt advice, trying instead to manage on their own. Some other common reasons people postpone getting debt help include:

  • Feeling ashamed of needing help with financial commitments;
  • Worry about being judged, or feeling embarrassed to ask for help; and,
  • Thinking there is no solution to their situation, or not knowing where to seek help.

Licensed Insolvency Trustees are the one debt help professional legally empowered and endorsed by the government to offer advice about your situation – and solutions to deal with debt for good. There is no cost to connect to get direction and talk about how you could move forward financially, and it could take less than an hour to get your debt-free plan.

Whether you are starting to worry about your debts, have felt underwater for some time, have a “perfect” credit score or are facing collection actions – we are here for you, without judgment.

We often have consultations with people who ultimately don’t require professional debt solutions but finding out about another avenue of debt legislation or even just professional confirmation that they’re on the right track gives them the support and tools they need to move forward financially. Knowing is not owing!

Connect with a caring Sands & Associates representative and get a plan to be debt-free today. Book your free debt consultation now.