Canadian Consumer Debt Reaches the Highest Levels of All Time

TransUnion, one of the 3 major credit bureaus released the most recent statistics regarding the rising debts of Canadian consumers. This credit bureau releases a quarterly analysis that contains data about the credit trends in this country.

Based on the report, we see a $192 rise in the second quarter of 2012 on the average consumer debt as it reaches $26,221. This figure is exclusive of mortgage debts. It had been a continuous climb for the past 5 years. As alarming as that may seem, the credit bureau is not really as alarmed as they should be because of another trend.

Despite the increase in the amount of debt per consumer, there is a decline in the percentage of delinquency levels. From 0.32% in Q1, it is now 0.29% in Q2 of 2012. This means that consumers are displaying a respectable ability to cope and keep up with their debts.

This statistic is consistent in major provinces in Canada. Only Saskatchewan proved to differ but only slightly.

Thomas Higgins, the analytics and decision services VP of TransUnion believe that this development is due to the low interest rates that the market is currently enjoying. However, he did note that any sudden change in the economy that results in a rise in unemployment may increase the delinquency statistic too.

It seems that while the economy can help consumers in addressing their debt problems, it can be very unstable. Because of this, every debtor and Canadian consumer must take action themselves to ensure that their debts stay within their control.

While continually paying for the minimum of credit bills may help, it is not enough to free consumers from debt. At least if you want to minimize interest rates and shorten your payment terms, you need to find an alternate route towards financial freedom.

If you want to take action against your debts, you need to learn about the many debt relief programs that can help you conquer your debts the legal way. Instead of opting for bankruptcy, there are alternative debt relief programs that you can enroll into. Below is a brief explanation of each.

Debt Consolidation. This debt relief involves getting a big loan to cover all the smaller loans. You get to concentrate on one payment and focus all your extra resources here. It usually comes with a low interest rate but you have to put up collateral to help secure this new loan.

Consumer Proposal. This option is similar to bankruptcy wherein you have to prove that you are insolvent and unable to pay for your debts. You need to enlist the help of a licensed Trustee who will negotiate with creditors on your behalf to reduce your outstanding balances.

Credit Counseling. This involves getting adequate education about financial management. A professional counselor will help you understand your current debt scenario to find a way how you can pay them off with your limited cash flow. The downside to this is it will not really reduce your debts.

Debt Settlement. If you want to reduce your balance significantly without having to file for bankruptcy or undergo legal proceedings, this is the best option for you. It is best to work with a professional debt relief company to help you.

Maple Leaf Debt Helpers is a debt relief company for Canadian consumers seeking assistance for their mounting debts. Give us a call at 877-710-3328 for fastest response.


Personal Debts Interfere with Canadians’ Retirement Plans

Recently-released data indicates that the average Canadian’s debt load has increased dramatically of late. According to Moody’s, the credit rating firm, debt balances have grown by an annualized rate of nearly 6 percent over the past two years. This trend jeopardizes the retirement plans of countless middle-class Canadians and threatens to weaken the country’s economy even further.

In the past, robust wage growth tended to offset the negative effects of debt. In other words, most indebted Canadians could count on receiving regular pay increases that enabled them to stay current on their credit card, mortgage and personal loan payments.

The new fiscal reality has fundamentally altered this arrangement. While the country’s economic boom continues in places like oil-rich northern Alberta and the financial hub of metropolitan Toronto, many other parts of the country seem to suffer from a permanent malaise. In these places, wage growth may be stagnant or even negative relative to inflation.

With increasingly bleak prospects, young Canadians who get into debt at an early age often have trouble keeping up with their mounting balances. This is especially true for university students and graduates for whom higher education would not be possible without leverage. Many of these folks expect the added earning power of their degrees to offset their hefty student debt loads.

Unfortunately, Canadian student debt is growing at an alarming rate. According to the Canadian Federation of Students, the average student graduates with about $27,000 in debt. While that’s a bit lower than the U.S. average, the cost of Canadian higher education continues to rise at a fearsome rate.

To ensure that they remain current on their obligations, underemployed recent graduates may need to put uncomfortable amounts of their take-home pay towards paying down their student loan balances. This may mean that they have little disposable income left over for basic necessities like food, fuel and clothing.

In many cases, young Canadians must pay for these essential items with high-interest credit cards. While financial experts often frame debt management in terms of personal responsibility and impulse control, it’s more often the case that struggling borrowers’ debt problems are created by fiscal necessity.

The outlook for borrowers trapped by stagnant incomes, mounting credit card balances and rising interest rates often appears to be bleak. Most Canadian financial experts recommend that their clients save enough money over the course of their careers to generate an annual stipend equivalent to 70 percent of their pre-retirement income.

For someone who earned an average of $50,000 per year, an acceptable replacement income would be $35,000. To fund a 20-year retirement, this would require savings of $700,000.

For folks dealing with serious debt problems, it is impossible to sock away such large amounts of money. As such, borrowers who wish to retire comfortably must first seek help to retire their debts.

Among the many available debt relief options, debt settlement often offers the clearest, lowest-cost path to debt-free living. Maple Leaf Debt Helpers, one of Canada’s premier debt relief firms, specializes in debt settlement.

Its professional staff negotiates directly with credit card companies and other lenders to reduce the principal balances on its clients’ outstanding debts. Thanks to their efforts, the firm’s customers may find themselves free of their debts in as few as 12 months.

They may also save thousands of dollars in the process. Every case is different, but past debt settlement clients have seen their total debt burdens reduced by as much as 60 percent.

To learn more about its exciting debt relief process, call Maple Leaf Debt Helpers today or fill out their online quote request form.


Low Interest Rates Create an Economic Mirage

Despite louder and louder warnings from some of the country’s top financial experts, Canadian households continue to leverage themselves at an alarming rate. According to Moody’s, the debt burden of the average Canadian household has grown by about 1.5 percent per quarter over the past two years. That translates to an annualized growth rate of 6 percent.

Moody’s argues that historically low interest rates are the primary culprit for the recent increase in household leverage. In a recent report, the respected credit-rating firm expressed skepticism that Canadian households would change their borrowing habits until rates rose significantly.

Many of Canada’s top financial experts believe that such a rise will come too late to prevent an economic catastrophe. Mark Carney, the current head of the Bank of Canada, recently went public with a passionate plea for fiscal restraint.

His concerns may be prescient. During the past decade, the average Canadian household’s debt load increased by 154 percent. By comparison, average household income increased by just 54 percent during the same time frame.

At the moment, elevated levels of household debt may actually be good for Canada’s economy. 70 percent of the country’s aggregate consumer debt is mortgage-related and supports a still-thriving housing market in many major Canadian cities.

As a result, rising home values have spurred breakneck growth in the value of the nation’s home equity loans. The value of outstanding Canadian home equity loans has quadrupled since 2000, and these credit facilities now represent a major source of income for many of the nation’s homeowners. In fact, the average Canadian now derives nearly 10 percent of their total disposable income from home equity lines of credit.

The United States experienced a similar period of easy credit during the mid-2000s. It created tremendous wealth and millions of jobs while it lasted, fueling a construction boom that saw the development of entirely new suburban communities as well as major urban mixed-use projects that remain popular today.

Of course, the euphoria came to an abrupt end in 2007 as the country plunged into a deep recession. The collapse of the U.S. housing market and the subsequent rash of consumer defaults nearly took down the global economy. As it is, the world still has yet to fully recover from the carnage.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty worries that the same sequence of events may yet derail the Canadian economy. If interest rates rise or banks decide to tighten their lending standards, millions of borrowers across Canada may be thrown into default. The ensuing collapse of the job market would only compound the problem.

For many Canadian households struggling under severe burdens of debt, this grim future has already arrived. In many parts of the country, stagnant wage growth has forced millions of middle-class homeowners to use credit cards and other unsecured credit facilities to purchase basic necessities.

While their home equity lines of credit may be keeping them afloat for now, these folks are just one interest-rate spike or pink slip away from insolvency. An economic downturn would likely force them into bankruptcy. In fact, thousands of Canadians have already given up on servicing their debts and consigned themselves to a long, hard slog through the bankruptcy process.

Unfortunately, many Canadians know little about the debt relief alternative known as debt settlement. Compared to bankruptcy, this process often saves consumers thousands of dollars and years of crippled credit.

Debt settlement programs often conclude in just 12 months and may reduce their participants’ total debt burdens by 40 to 60 percent. Unlike popular but expensive debt consolidation loans, debt settlement involves direct negotiations with creditors and attacks the principal balances on outstanding debts.

Maple Leaf Debt Helpers, one of Canada’s premier debt settlement agencies, offers its services at surprisingly affordable rates. To learn more about the power of debt settlement, call toll-free or fill out the no-obligation online form today.


Get Help With Your Debts Without Judgment

Credit card debt has an insidious way of accumulating without attracting much attention. You may find it easy to ignore early warning signs like balances that rise despite your best efforts to pay them down and interest rates that slowly increase with each successive statement. Like the proverbial frog that fails to realize it’s being boiled alive, you may find yourself overwhelmed by debt all at once.

Recognizing that your debts have become a problem is a crucial first step in the process of regaining your fiscal footing. Before you give up and declare bankruptcy, do your best to solve your personal debt crisis on your own. You may save thousands of dollars in legal fees and prevent untold years of damage to your credit score.

First, determine exactly how much debt you’re carrying. If you’re like most consumers, you’re using a variety of credit cards to cover your everyday expenses. Check the most recent statement for each card and add your current balances together to find the total value of your credit card debt.

Next, figure out the total monthly interest charge on each card. This may require some arithmetic: You’ll have to multiply your current balance by your card’s annual interest rate and divide by 12. For instance, a $5,000 balance that accrues interest at 20 percent will grow by roughly $83 each month.

Once you’ve determined the extent of the problem, stop the bleeding by freezing your credit card spending right away. Keep just one card on hand for emergency expenses and hide the rest in an out-of-the-way location. Avoid canceling them: Simultaneously shutting down multiple credit facilities may further damage your credit score.

It’s unlikely that all of your credit cards accrue interest at the same rate. If you want to save as much money as possible, target your most expensive card first and devote the bulk of your disposable income to paying it down. To avoid accruing penalty interest due to an avoidable late payment, continue making the minimum payments on your other cards.

After zeroing out your most expensive card’s balance, take a moment to celebrate and then repeat the process with your less-expensive cards. Don’t assume that this will be easy: You’ll encounter unexpected temptations and expenses along the way.

Depending upon the size and cost of your outstanding balances, it may be possible to work your way out of debt within a few years using this method. Unfortunately, do-it-yourself debt management doesn’t work for everyone. If your credit is less than perfect, your interest rates may be too high for you to make much headway in the fight against your debts.

If so, don’t despair. You’re not out of options.

There are plenty of debt relief choices that don’t require the intervention of a lawyer or judge. While using any form of professional help to eliminate your debts may damage your credit score temporarily, the negative effects of most debt relief methods are transitory compared to the years-long ordeal that typically follows a bankruptcy filing.

Although every personal debt crisis is unique, debt settlement may be your best bet for avoiding bankruptcy. Unlike credit counseling or debt consolidation loans, which merely reduce your interest rates, debt settlement may lower your principal balances in dramatic fashion. As a result, you’ll save thousands of dollars and wind up the debt relief process in a relatively short period of time.

Talk to a debt settlement professional today to learn more about how it works. You can call toll-free during regular business hours or fill out the free online form at any time.


Debt Counseling To Reduce The Burdens Of Debt

Until recently, most Canadians have avoided taking on significant amounts of debt to pay for everyday expenses. Unlike its southern neighbor, Canada has always been known as a stronghold of personal fiscal responsibility.

The recent financial crisis and the recession that it produced dramatically shifted this paradigm. In the past few years, millions of Canadians have taken on crushing debt loads just to keep their heads above water. For many, this is a losing battle: From Newfoundland to Alberta, thousands of folks throw in the towel each year and choose to file for personal bankruptcy.

Chances are good that you’re feeling the pinch as well. If you’ve taken on excessive amounts of debt in an effort to maintain your standard of living, you’ve placed yourself in a precarious position. As your bills mount and the minimum payments on your outstanding obligations grow larger with each new billing cycle, you run the risk of missing a payment and incurring the wrath of your creditors.

If you’re finally ready to break this unhealthy cycle, talk to a debt counseling professional. While debt counseling is just one of several proven methods of reducing the burden of debt, it offers several distinct advantages.

Upon your enrollment in a credit counseling program, the unpleasant phone and e-mail harassment to which you’ve been subjected by your creditors will cease almost immediately. Going forward, they’ll be dealing exclusively with your credit counselor. Rather than have to worry about screening calls from collection-agency representatives, you’ll be able to focus on drawing up a new household budget.

The mechanism behind debt counseling is simple. Once they’ve taken your case, your credit counselor will begin negotiating lower interest rates and more generous repayment schedules with each of your existing creditors. This approach to debt relief has worked well in the past: From British Columbia to Quebec, credit counseling participants have seen the effective interest rates on their credit cards and personal lines of credit slashed by 50 percent or more.

If you’ve missed payments in the past, the average interest rate on your current debt mix could be as high as 25 percent. In this case, credit counseling may save you a significant amount of money. On a $10,000 balance, a 50 percent reduction in your effective annual interest would lower your payments by $1,250 each year.

Many of the non-profit outfits that perform this service receive funding and guidance from banks, credit card companies and other for-profit lenders. This may seem like a conflict of interest, but it’s actually a guarantee of results: Since credit counselors owe a great deal to their big-money benefactors, it would be irresponsible for them to abdicate their responsibility and allow you to default on your obligations.

Likewise, your creditors have an interest in cutting deals that lower your interest rates and permit you more time to repay your outstanding balances. Failure on their part to do so might push you into bankruptcy, in which case they’d be lucky to walk away with more than a fraction of your original balance.

There are a few drawbacks to the debt counseling process. For one, it takes a long time: Depending upon the scope of your debt, it may take five to seven years to work through your program. Credit counseling may also deal a serious blow to your credit score. In this regard, the process is indistinguishable from bankruptcy.

Even after you’re out of debt, the negative credit effects of using debt counseling can linger for several more years. You can’t recover from a painful punch to your credit overnight, and the process of rebuilding your financial reputation can be downright frustrating.

Worse, debt counseling may not be the most cost-effective debt-relief solution. The process merely reduces your interest rates without shrinking the principal balances on your loans. While a $1,250 annual cut to your interest payments translates to $7,500 over six years, you’d be able to save even more than that by shrinking the actual amount that you owe.

Debt settlement can do just that. Like credit counselors, debt settlement providers negotiate directly with creditors to save their clients money. Unlike credit counselors, these professionals have proven to be adept at reducing the principal balances on even the most fearsome debt loads by 40 to 60 percent. On a $10,000 balance that’s accruing interest at a rate of 25 percent each year, this translates into an immediate savings of $5,000 and annual interest savings of $1,250.

What’s more, debt settlement takes far less time than debt counseling. While every case is different, typical work-through times range from 12 to 48 months.

Stop putting off your quest for financial freedom. Make the most important call of your life today and start planning for a debt-free future!


Can You Borrow Your Way Out of Debt?

Man in credit crisisSo you’ve gotten into trouble with debt. It seems as if you’re receiving a past due notice every day. Debt collectors and credit card companies are calling you constantly. You didn’t want to get so deeply in debt but when you were laid off from that job and your benefits ran out you just had no choice except to use credit cards just to get by. Or maybe you were able to get another job but you’re earning only half what you were just a few short years ago.

Budgeting hasn’t worked

Maybe you’ve tried budgeting but you just can’t cut your expenses any further and you’re still not saving enough to put a real dent in your debt. A friend suggested that you get a debt consolidation loan and you’re wondering if it might make sense.

Do your research

Many Canadians have turned to debt consolidation loans as a way to get rid of their monthly payments. One of these loans might make sense for you but before you rush out to get one, you need to do your research and understand your options.

The benefits of a debt consolidation loan

There are several good reasons to get a debt consolidation loan. You can use it to pay off all of your debts. You will have a monthly payment that is likely to be much lower than all of your current monthly bills added up. If you do it right, a debt consolidation loan can help you get out of debt faster, reduce the amount of interest you need to pay to your creditors and even improve your credit rating.

Evaluating a debt consolidation loan

All of this might make a debt consolidation loan seem very attractive. But there are factors to take into consideration before you apply for one. First, you need to find a loan where the interest on your debt will be lower than the interest rates on the debts you are consolidating. For example, if you have credit cards at 18%, 20% and 22% and can transfer that debt to a credit card with an interest rate of 15% or get a bank loan at 10%, a debt consolidation loan would make sense. Second, you should have a payment on that loan that will be less than the amount of money you have to pay each month on your debts. Third, you need to be careful and not trade fixed-rate debt for variable-rate debt. A variable rate loan might start at a very attractive interest rate but could move up substantially in the years to come. Finally, you should be able to pay off that new debt as fast as you can. Since you will have a lower monthly payment, you might be able to double up and, thus, get out of date in just a few years.

Will your house be at risk?

If you need to borrow a substantial amount of money like $10,000 or more, you will probably have to get either a second mortgage or a personal line of credit. Regardless of which of these options you choose you may be putting your home at risk as your lender could foreclose on it should you ever fail to make your payments.

Other options

There are other ways to consolidate your credit card debt that you might want to explore. For example, you could transfer your high interest credit card debts to a credit card that has a lower interest rate. Many of the credit card networks are now offering zero balance transfer rates. These are cards where you’re not required to pay any interest for as many as 20 months, which gives you the opportunity to pay down more of your balance owed.

If you have a whole life insurance policy, you could borrow against it. You could do the same thing if you have a retirement account you could borrow from.

You can’t borrow your way out of debt

The biggest problem with all these options is that you’re basically borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. In other words, you’re not paying off your debt so much as you’re moving it from one set of creditors to another. In comparison, if you choose Maple Leaf Debt Helpers, our professional debt counselors can negotiate to have both your balances and interest rates reduced. They will help you develop a payment plan where you make monthly payments that are set aside to eventually pay off these reduced balances. You should be able to save thousands of dollars and be debt free in 24 to 48 months.

Call our toll-free number today for help or fill out the form on this page to get a free debt analysis and let us take that debt burden off your back.


Debt Consolidation Loan – A Good Way To Pay Off Debt?

The past few years have not been kind to Canada’s economy. Unlike its southern neighbor, the country avoided a direct hit from the recent financial crisis, but the recession that followed dramatically reduced global demand for the raw materials and finished products for which Canada is known. From the industrial cities of Ontario to the oilfields of Alberta, much production capacity now lies idle, and thousands of once-proud workers struggle to find menial employment in unfamiliar workplaces.

The difficult economy has created a parallel problem that’s just as unfamiliar to most Canadians: crushing debt. As real wages decline across the country, more and more families are being forced to rack up serious credit card balances in order to keep their homes warm and stocked with basic food staples.

If you’re struggling along under a suffocating debt burden, don’t panic. Digging yourself out of debt won’t be easy, but you have several clear options for doing so at your disposal.

Whether you live in Nova Scotia, British Columbia or anywhere in between, you’ll need to weigh your options against the size and cost of your debt as well as your own personal needs. Once you’ve gotten a grip on your predicament, choose the debt relief strategy that’s best for you and begin blazing your way out of trouble.

Your first thought may be to take out a debt consolidation loan and pay off all of your existing debts in one fell swoop.

At first, the typical debt consolidation loan seems like a straightforward arrangement. Lenders make these loans with the expectation that they’ll be used to repay credit card balances, outstanding personal loans and other big unsecured debts. In fact, your debt consolidation lender will generally make these payments directly unless your credit score is unusually strong. From your lender’s perspective, this eliminates some uncertainty from the process and guarantees that you won’t use part of your loan to make an unwise impulse purchase.

Once your existing debts have been paid in full, you’ll be responsible for a single monthly payment on your debt consolidation loan. In addition to being far more convenient than juggling multiple smaller credit card bills, this arrangement has the potential to save you hundreds of dollars per year in redundant interest charges.

If you’re currently paying an average rate of 20 percent on a $10,000 basket of unsecured debts, your interest payments alone are costing you $2,000 per year. That’s equivalent to the standard down payment on a mid-sized car!

Although its exact rate will depend on factors like your credit score and province of residence, your debt consolidation loan might carry an annual interest charge of 10 to 12 percent. On a balance of $10,000, that’s good enough for savings of $800 to $1,000 per year.

While this sounds like a good deal, it’s important to remember that lenders don’t take debt consolidation loans lightly. Unless you have better-than-average credit, you can expect the premium that you pay for your loan to negate any perceived financial benefits. In hard-hit places like Newfoundland or northern Ontario, you may be unable to secure one at all.

What’s more, most lenders place onerous restrictions on these products. Whereas your credit card issuers are only too happy to let you run a balance on your account and fork over small monthly payments comprised mostly of interest, debt consolidation lenders take a different approach to credit.

If your lender’s contract prohibits late or partial payments, make sure that you can afford your monthly bill before agreeing to take on the loan. Defaulting on a debt consolidation loan can have serious, long-lasting repercussions for your financial reputation.

Compared to consolidation loans, debt settlement offers a lower-key, results-oriented approach to debt relief. Unlike costly loans or opaque credit counseling services, the debt settlement process is designed to reduce the principal balances on your outstanding obligations. It’s by far the most cost-effective debt relief solution, reducing past Canadian customers’ debts by an average of 40 to 60 percent.

Since the debt settlement process is likely to shave thousands of dollars off the top of your debt load and stop the remaining balance from accruing interest, you’ll also find it to be substantially less time-intensive than loans or counseling. Depending upon your creditors’ willingness to negotiate, debt settlement typically takes 12 to 48 months from start to finish.

While the debt settlement process isn’t perfect, it’s the only realistic debt relief solution that’s able to reduce the total amount that you owe your creditors. Of course, the scope of your financial troubles and your own personal needs will ultimately determine which course of action is right for you. Choose your next move wisely: If you make the right decision, you may wake up debt-free sooner than you think.


Compare debt relief options

Stack of bills with stamp Paid OffIf you’re heavily in debt, you know that it’s no fun. You may be receiving harassing phone calls from your creditors – especially your credit card providers – or even from debt collectors.

If you are being hassled by debt collectors, we don’t have to tell you how ugly this can be. They may be calling you all hours of the day and night, at home or even at work. One or more of them may even be threatening to contact your employer, calling you names or intimidating you in some other way.

Fortunately, there are debt relief options that can get you out of debt in 24 to 48 months or even less – depending on how seriously you are in debt. Here are the most popular options.

Credit counseling

There may be a consumer credit counseling agency in your town or city. If not, you can always find one online. In either event, you will be teamed up with a debt counselor who will review your finances and help you develop a payment plan. He or she will also contact your creditors to negotiate reductions in your interest rates and to have them approve your plan.

When all your creditors sign off on your payment plan, you’ll no longer have to pay them. Instead, you will send one payment a month to the credit counseling agency and it will pay your creditors. However, it’s important to understand two things. First, credit counseling services can only negotiate your unsecured debts. And second, if you are deeply in debt it will take you from 5 to 7 years to complete your plan.

A debt consolidation loan

A second option for dealing with your debt is to get a debt consolidation loan. If you owe less than $10,000 you should be able to get an unsecured or signature loan. However, if you owe more than $10,000, you will probably have to get a secured loan – or one where you have to pledge an asset as collateral. In most cases that asset will be your house. This means you would need to have sufficient equity in the house that you could borrow enough to pay off all your debts. In other words, if you owe $15,000, you would have to have at least $15,000 in equity. Your debt consolidation loan would probably take the form of a second mortgage or homeowner’s equity line of credit.

Regardless of which of these you choose you would be putting your house at risk. This is because if you were to ever default on that loan, your lender could repossess your home. Another disadvantage of a debt consolidation loan is that it would probably you 7 to 10 years to pay it off – during which time you would have to be very, very careful about running up any new debts.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy

The third debt relief option is to file for bankruptcy. However, before you file you will need to review your finances in great detail with a licensed trustee. This means you will have to provide him or her with your tax records, bank statements, and even sales receipts for durable goods so that your exact net worth can be determined.

Different provinces have different laws governing the bankruptcy process. However, no matter where you live you can expect that your creditors will take a substantial amount of your assets.

You will be allowed to retain certain exempt assets but others can be seized. If you live in Ontario, you will be allowed to keep your car if it’s worth less than $5,650 and up to $11,300 in work related tools. You will also be able to keep certain home furnishings and clothing items but most of your other possessions can be seized. About the same rules apply in Saskatchewan. However, there you can keep any car worth less than $10,000 and up to $7,500 in clothing items. Plus, filing for bankruptcy can ruin your financial reputation for anywhere from 6 to 14 years.

Debt settlement

The fourth, and we think best, option is to have us settle your debts. This is better than debt consolidation because we can actually get your balances and interest rates reduced. It is also better than filing for bankruptcy as it will not have as serious an affect on your credit.

Debt settlement can probably save you thousands of dollars. The way this works is that we evaluate your debt and create a customized debt program. You save funds for settlement. We then negotiate settlements with all your credit card providers and your debts will be resolved.


How To Make A Personal Budget

Smiling woman with pen, paper, calculatorHow much did you spend last month on food? How about clothing and entertainment? Did you spend a lot on eating out? If your answer to these questions was, “darned if I know,” you need to start tracking your spending as this is the first step in how to make a personal budget.

Apps make it easy

If you have a smart phone – whether it’s from Apple or android-based – tracking your spending will be a cinch. There are some great apps available that are designed to do just that. If you have the iPhone there is Mint, Xpenser, PocketMoney Lite and others. If you have an android phone, there are a number of expense trackers available, including Mint again (it’s cross-platform), Loot and BudgetDroid.

If you don’t have a smart phone

You say you don’t have a smart phone? No problem. You can track your expenses using nothing more sophisticated than a notepad and a pencil. The important thing is to make sure you write down everything you spend money on. This doesn’t mean just utilities, clothing and groceries. You need to write down everything – right down to that drive-through coffee you have in the morning or the soda you drink at work.

Create categories or let the app do it for you

If you have a smart phone with an app such as Mint, it will divide your spending into categories for you. If not, you’ll have to create them yourself. They will most likely be food, housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, medical/health, entertainment), savings, insurance, personal, charitable gifts and, yes, that old devil debt. Of course, you may create some different categories – depending on your spending and lifestyle. You might also want to have a few subcategories, especially for entertainment and transportation. Under entertainment, you might have movies, concerts, dining out and recreation. Transportation could have sub-categories of auto maintenance, gas, loan payment and the like.

Assigning percentages

Next, you will want to assign percentages to each of your categories based on your current spending. These should be fairly easy to calculate because you now know how much you’ve been spending in each category and you know your total net income.

Step two is to set new percentages for each of those categories where you believe you can reduce your spending. These could be the categories of entertainment, food, transportation, personal, debt and clothing. The percentages you assign to these categories should be goals. In other words, if you write down 5% for clothing and 13% on food, these should be less than you’re currently spending. The one category where you might want to increase the percentage is debt because one of the objects of budgeting is to get rid of it.

Your overall goal

Of course, your overall goal should be to reduce your spending to less than your income so that you’re no longer accruing debt. If possible, you should reduce your spending by a large enough percentage that you will free up money you can use to pay down your debts. For example, if you were able to reduce your monthly spending by $200, that would be $200 you could use to pay down your credit card that has the highest interest rate. Once you pay it off, you could add that money to the $200 and start paying off that credit card with the second highest interest rate – and so forth. This could help you become completely debt-free much faster than you might imagine.

An alternative way to get out of debt

If you’re so deeply in debt you feel that no amount of budgeting will do the trick, let us help. We here at Maple Leaf Debt Helpers can customize a debt settlement plan for you, negotiate settlements with your creditors and get your debts resolved. Call our toll free number today or click on the red button for a free estimate.