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Do you know what repaying debts has in common with writing a blog post? In both cases, it’s often hard to figure out where to start from!

There is obviously no problem for someone who has a low level of debts and enough money to repay them. But people sometimes do not know what to do when confronted with a large amount of debts, or when they do not have sufficient revenues to reimburse the whole sum. Feeling overwhelmed, they will look for a solution to solve their debt problem while trying to understand what lead them in this tough spot. That’s when they start having the impression of being caught in a whirlwind. In short, they do not know where to start.

5 steps to repay debts

To write a blog post, you need more than a good idea and a computer. A lot of steps must be taken before you can even start to write. Yet, the same goes for repaying debts. To find a real solution, one must first go through a number of steps.

1- Identify the source of the problem and, if possible, fix it

Financial difficulties arise from various causes, including:

  • job loss
  • separation or divorce
  • sickness
  • misunderstanding of the proper way to use credit
  • and various other reasons

Identifying the problem that is causing you financial difficulties is a crucial step. As long as this problem persists, any attempt at repaying your debts will only provide a temporary relief.

2- Assess your debts

Are you really aware of the scope of your debts? Do you understand all the clauses included in your loans and credit card contracts?

Start by listing your consumer debts, as well as any overdue accounts. When doing so, record the following information:

  • type of debt
  • creditor
  • amount due
  • interest rate
  • minimum payment

You can use a computer software to create a spreadsheet, or simply write down the relevant data on a piece of paper.

Such an exercise is crucial since it will allow you to see the true scope of your debts.

You may at this point feel completely discouraged. You might even feel like paying back your debts will prove to be as hard a task as climbing a mountain. Do not let that feeling get you down. Know that just by reading this post, you’re proving that you’ve got the most important asset to solve any debt problem: your will to make it through. Had you chosen to ignore the problem, you would only worsen your situation.

So, take a deep breath and take the next step.

3- Draw up a budget

Now that you are aware of the scope of your debts, the task at hand is to determine your capacity to repay them. To achieve this, start by drawing up your budget.

Make a list of all your monthly revenues and expenses. You can do so by using our budget worksheet to record your data or by creating your own worksheet based on this model.

If necessary, review your bank and credit card statements. This might help you to identify most of your expenses.

4- Repay debts

Once your revenues and expenses are accounted for, do you have enough money left to repay part of your debts? If so, the most cost effective approach to consider is to:

  • Make the minimum payment on each of your debts
  • Affect any residual amount to the debt subject to the highest interest rate
  • In the case where you have some basic living expanses debts like overdue rent, you should repay those before any other debts

But if you’re in the red with no or not enough money left to repay your debts, do not lose hope. There are other solutions.

5- Meet with a trustee

Despite your efforts, you are unable to repay your debts? Fortunately, all is not lost. The trustee in bankruptcy’s role is precisely to help people struggling with debt make it through.

Whatever the amount of your debts may be, the trustee will be able to find a solution to your problem. For example, you could avoid bankruptcy by making a consumer proposal to your creditors. Such a solution provides numerous advantages, such as:

  • it reduces the total amount of the debts to be repaid
  • interests cease to accumulate
  • it stops recovery actions undertaken by creditors
  • it protects you against a number of legal proceedings, including the garnishment of your income and the seizure of your assets

Furthermore, when carrying out his free assessment, the trustee will establish your actual capacity to repay. The amount defined in the offer of settlement proposed to your creditors will therefore be determined according to your budget.

Negotiation with creditors, voluntary deposit (in Québec only) and debt consolidation are other solutions available to you. While the trustee does not administer such processes, you can still visit our Web site to get further information on these solutions.

Obviously, the trustee is there to advise you and to help you to choose the solution that’s right for you.

Repay your debts step by step

When creating a blog post, the first lines are often the most difficult to write. But once I start typing, I get into a rhythm and it flows easily. This is especially true if I’ve taken the time to do some proper research on the subject and to write down a plan. It’s kind of the same when trying to repay debts. Taking the first step is always the hardest thing to do. But once the process is initiated, most people actually succeed in getting out of debt. But in order to do so, you need a good plan and be willing to seek advice from insolvency professionals if necessary.

Chantal Gingras

President, FPAIR, Licensed Insolvency Trustee

Official Office: Ottawa
Phone: 613-729-4391

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