The 12 Days of Christmas Debt

Just to get everyone in a festive Christmas spirit allow me to offer, this cautionary tale of Christmas Debt.

The 12 Days of Christmas DEBT

12 Months of Agonizing Payments

Have you paid off last Christmas yet? How about the one before that?

11 Maxed Out Credit Cards

How much room do you have on those cards? Really?

10 Overdrafts a leaping

Really, how much are you paying in overdraft fees? Just because your bank balance can show a negative value, doesn’t mean it should always be that way!

9 Minimum Payments

You realize you will pay that off in 20 years with those minimum payments, or possibly 50 years? Minimum payments simply forestall the inevitable.

8 Balance Transfers

Shuttling debt from one credit card to another is not solving the problem. Juggling chainsaws will lead to a messy end, and that is what this is.

7 Cashed in Emergency Funds

Christmas debt is an emergency? Don’t think that is the emergency you were planning for.

6 Pay Day Loans

This could be starting a death spiral in your finances that will lead you to Day (3)

5 Gold Reclamations!

Did your Grandmother leave you that ring to help you cash it in for pennies on the dollar to pay off debt?

4 Calling Collection Agencies

These are not the bogus ones you get emails from, these are the real ones

3 Calls to insolvency trustees

They can help, but you can’t keep doing this every year either.

2 Calls to your family for an emergency loan

You do have to pay those back, you realize?

1 Mortgage Refinance

Using the equity in your house to pay for consumer debt is a very bad thing.

Yes, not very festive, but ultimately a bit too true. I go to Church and I am confident the Christmas season is not designed to bankrupt you. It is at time to get together with family and friends. 

Wonder why you dislike this time of season? How many of the Days of Debt on the list are you facing in January? 

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Make More by Reducing Debt

So you’d like to get a pay raise, but you are afraid to go ask your boss for a raise? How could reducing debt help that? This is a cornerstone of Financial Literacy.

Here is a novel way to get more Net income, pay down debt! By reducing debt you have more disposable income. The arithmetic is simple, less debt payments (after you have paid down debt) means more money for you.

This is the simplest of arithmetic problems, yet it seems to be missed by so many people that I feel it is important to enumerate it for you.

Net Income = Income (I) – Expenditure (X)

X = all money spent (S)

I =  all money earned (E)

Where ∑ simply means the sum of the variables in this case things like bills, pay cheques etc.,

Straight forward? So to increase your Net Income you can either increase your Income (I) or decrease X (your expenses), haven’t lost anyone have I?

So if we look closer and see that:

X = sum ( Mortgage Payment,Car Payment,Hydro,Natural Gas,Credit Cards,Interest on Credit Cards,Eating Out, …)

The whole idea is to minimize X (expenditures) and thus your Net Income or Savings increases.

This means the less you spend, overall, the more you have left over. It is much easier to lower your spending, than it is to increase your income (these days). You don’t have to ask your boss for a raise, or work overtime, you simply, spend less.

BCM Simple Rule of Money #1

If you want to make more money, you either increase your income, or you lower your expenses.

The rule seems quite simple, but is it?

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

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Never was So Much Owed by So Many

Never was so much owed by so many to so few“, –Winston Churchill

Debt

True Heroes

I paraphrase Churchill as a precursor to the latest data from Stats Canada about the National Balance Sheet. Remembrance Day is not far off, but allow me to borrow from Mr. Churchill a bit more.

Unfortunately, the phrase is very much in context. The so few, is the banks, unfortunately.

Stats Canada published their latest update of the National balance sheet and financial flow accounts, second quarter 2018, and as usual there are some very interesting numbers in this report.

It starts off saying that we are wealthier (but you need to read carefully what that means), but then we find out about our debt loads.

So Much Owed?

The report states:

Credit market debt as a proportion of household disposable income (adjusted to exclude pension entitlements) increased to 169.1%, as credit market debt outpaced income. In other words, there was $1.69 in credit market debt for every dollar of household disposable income.

Let us not frolic with glee, while the increase is slowing, it is still increasing (i.e. we are borrowing more compared to our disposable income).

For every $1 of disposable income you owed $1.69 ? That seems quite worrisome, because eventually, someone will ask for their money. Loans are callable, especially HELOC’s, Credit Card Debt and Loans.

We are worth more, but so much of that net worth is tied up in Real Estate. If the housing market goes bust, this could lead to disastrous consequences. So much more will be owed by all of us then.

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Debt is a Four Letter Word

I am astounded that I have not written something with this title before (in fact I was positive I had). I have talked about how there is no such thing as Good Debt but I guess the word Debt as a social obscenity was missed, but make no mistake Debt is a four letter word.

I was happy to see noted financial expert Preet Banerjee using this same sentiment in a presentation to financial writers. Given the low interest rates we have lived through, folks have no idea the impact that a quadrupling of the prime rate (to say 8%) might have on folks. Could you live with the Interest portion of your mortgage payments to Quadruple?

The explanation that resonated with me (from Preet) was you are not borrowing money from the bank, you are borrowing it from your future self (and you had better hope future you is really successful).

Debt is a Four Letter Word

Debt is a four letter word (thanks to myownadvisor.ca for the image)

The numbers do not lie, every dollar you borrow today, future you has to repay, with interest on top of it. Currently interest is low, but how much longer will this last? Look at your Mortgage statements, does it tell you how much interest you pay off for each payment? If it does triple that, and ask yourself, “Can I afford this?”. If you want to figure it out yourself try my Mortgage Payment Calculator.

I am not even going to touch the levels of consumer debt (i.e. Credit Card, short term loans, auto loans, etc.,), the amount out there right now makes me shake my head.

Other Debt Posts from me? I can’t put them all here, the post would go on for pages, but here are a few of the latest.

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Debt Consolidation and Tattoo Coverups

A friend of mine had a tattoo on her forearm that after a while she grew to dislike, so she decided to see a tattoo artist and have that artist (evidently a renowned artist) see what could be done with the tattoo. It was decided to cover up the first tattoo with another tattoo that might be more aesthetically appealing. What does this have to do with debt consolidation ?

debt consolidation

This tattoo says, taken advantage of (according to Hanzismatter), I guess they were

The artist did his magic, and now a simply line drawing of an amphibian, has morphed in an elaborate colorful collage with an interesting phrase. The replacement is about 300% larger than the original tattoo in terms of surface area. I hope my friend enjoys the “cover up” tattoo, but it got me thinking that this seems much like the constant refinancing, and blending of debt (into other debt vehicles) that many folks seem to be doing these days. Still no explanation on this debt consolidation angle?

Covering up debt is not making debt go away, and while consolidation loans can make it convenient to have all (or most) of your debt in one (hopefully lower interest) debt vehicle, if you continue to live the lifestyle that got you into debt in the first place, you really are only making the debt bigger (much like the tattoo).

If you are using a Debt Consolidation loan to get control of your debts, make sure you have a solid plan in place to pay down the debt, and make sure that you are not growing the debt further. Debt Consolidation loans are simply a tool, they are not a cure, and as with all tools if you are not using them correctly, you can make one hell of a mess.

Mrs. C8j has pointed out that more than a few advertisements for Consolidation Loans imply that once you get the loan, you are “Out of Debt”, but your debt has not changed it is just all in one place. You are out of debt when it is paid off.

Another good point with the tattoo metaphor, at least my friend went to a professional to get the “touch up” tattoo (and didn’t rely on a friend of a friend who did these for fun). If you are thinking of a consolidation loan, see a professional credit councilor (or a similar financial service).

 

 

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