Black Press file photo

New Year a good time to assess personal finances

Poll shows half of Albertans anxious about incoming holiday bills

For some, the New Year will be greeted with a financial hangover.

“Pressure mounts right before the holidays and that’s when people are most tempted to borrow money from a payday lender or really over-extend themselves on credit cards,” says Donna Carlson, a Red Deer insolvency trustee with MNP Ltd.

“The extremely high interest rates on these types of credit can trap them in a cycle of debt that will be impossible to get out of.

“We’re bombarded by a flurry of sales and ‘buy now, pay later’ offers but what might seem like a small purchase or look like a great deal on Boxing Day isn’t really a bargain if you end up carrying them on credit.”

A recent poll conducted by Ipsos for MNP found half of respondents admitted feeling anxiety over the pending arrival of holiday bills. About the same number already had buyer’s remorse and regretted how much they forked out over the holidays.

Perhaps not surprisingly, half of poll respondents had getting their finances back on track topping New Year’s resolutions lists.

The survey of 2,154 Canadians interviewed online uncovered some numbers that ring alarm bells for those dealing with people struggling with debt.

As many as 27 per cent admitted to paying only the minimum balance on their credit card. For lines of credit, the number is 20 per cent.

Fifteen per cent said they borrowed money they cannot afford to pay back quickly and 16 per cent put a major purchase on their credit card without paying it off right away.

One in five respondents admitted to being lured by Black Friday and Boxing Day sales. Just over one in 10 said they bought something on credit that allows delayed payments.

For those who are concerned about their household finances, the best advice is to get on it right away, said Carlson.

“There’s no time like the present — new year, new ideas, new budget,” she said.

She advises those looking to straighten out their finances to put it down on paper to get a clear view of where you stand and how to deal with future expenses.

“One of the bigger things I hear from people is that ‘I didn’t realize how much it added up to. I didn’t realize what my budget was.’”

Building a solid financial footing means planning ahead for life’s financial curve balls — the unexpected car repairs or the property tax bill that may have slipped one’s mind.

“Budgeting for those ahead of time on a monthly basis if you can is a lot easier than trying to budget for it all out of one month.”

For those who feel they are drowning in debt, declaring bankruptcy should not be the first option. It is often better to put together a debt repayment proposal with help from a professional.

Times have been hard across Canada. The Superintendent of Bankruptcy, which keeps bankruptcy statistics, has detected an increase Canada-wide.

“Normally, over the last three years you see the spikes in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland — the oil provinces — but in October this year it was right across the country,” said Carlson.

Canada has the highest debt levels of the G-7 countries, and Alberta usually leads the nation in debt levels and insolvencies have increased in this province over the past three years.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Gasoline Alley Harley Davidson hosts 7th annual Toy Run

Bikers jumped on their motorcycles this weekend to help make Christmas better… Continue reading

Innisfail RCMP locate drugs during traffic stop

A Rocky Mountain House man is facing charges after Innisfail RCMP located… Continue reading

Expert says acquittal of Alberta parents in boy’s death unlikely to set precedent

CALGARY — A law professor says the acquittal of an Alberta couple… Continue reading

Take Back the Night rally marches through downtown Red Deer

Dozens marched through the city’s downtown chanting, “Red Deer unite, take back… Continue reading

Houston area sees relief, rescues after Imelda leaves 4 dead

HOUSTON — Emergency workers used boats Friday to rescue about 60 residents… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Tuesday Bower Place Community Association Seniors Card and Coffee party at 1:30… Continue reading

Missing hiker found safe after spending night on North Vancouver mountain

VANCOUVER — Rescue crews have found a missing female hiker safe after… Continue reading

Trudeau was only one in dark makeup at 2001 party but nobody took offence: attendee

VANCOUVER — A man who attended an “Arabian Nights” gala held by… Continue reading

McKenna defends Canada’s climate credibility amid Trudeau controversy

OTTAWA — Liberal cabinet minister Catherine McKenna says Canada still has credibility… Continue reading

Blue Jays rookie Bo Bichette trying to “be smart” with head injury

NEW YORK — Blue Jays rookie shortstop Bo Bichette says he’s feeling… Continue reading

Climate activists step up protests in Britain and France

PARIS — Environmental activists in Britain and France stepped up campaigns Saturday… Continue reading

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — A hiker has been found dead in Banff… Continue reading

Singh campaigns in Toronto, May in Winnipeg, as Liberal and Tory leaders pause

OTTAWA — Jagmeet Singh and Elizabeth May are continuing on the campaign… Continue reading

Most Read