Personal debt level a concern for Alberta residents

By Geoff Smith (@smithco on Twitter)
May 9, 2017 - 11:04am

LETHBRIDGE - While Lethbridge is at least partly insulated from economic woes facing other parts of the province, it doesn't mean people aren't concerned about their level of debt.

A survey conducted for licensed insolvency trustee firm MNP found 55 per cent are less than very confident in their ability to pay down debt. More than half of respondents also expressed concerns about their ability to budget, save emergency funds, or the impact of interest rates on their debts.

"There's certainly unemployment, there's certainly a lot of underemployment in the local community here and although people may have found replacement work if they worked in the oil and gas industry, I think they're finding that the dollars aren't there and they need to adjust their budgets accordingly," said Randy Kobbert, a Lethbridge-based trustee with MNP.

Kobbert said while things have improved a little over last year, many are still making ends meet by using credit cards or payday loans.

"I think they need to start by finding out, determining where they are now, track their spending for a month or two, and then look at that dreaded 'budget' word, it really doesn't need to be the monster people make it out to be," Kobbert said.

He recommends keeping a notebook on the kitchen table and writing down your spending, once you've determine your level of debt and interest payments.

"It'll start to influence your behaviour. So you'll actually start to rechannel your spending in areas where you see appropriate needs, just by keeping track of it."

The survey found 71 per cent were less than very confident in how they understand insolvency and bankruptcy.

"It's always a difficult decision to go and seek help," Kobbert explained. "But I think people will find that a free consultation with a professional will certainly open up all the options for them, and determine, is this something that they can fix on their own or something that has more dramatic changes that need to be made, and they need professional assistance."

People can get more information online from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

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