Erik is about to start university and does not know how to draw up a budget. Nancy is having difficulty finding information that will help her clients pay off their credit card debts. Kelly is getting phone calls from a debt collector; she doesn't know what her rights are or how to start repaying what she owes.
In today's economy, many Canadians are looking for ways to reduce the burden of financial costs. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) has a variety of tools, resources and tips for consumers, credit counselling agencies and community businesses, keeping them better informed about the financial market. As consumers continue to search for answers to important questions about debt, we believe that FCAC should be their first stop.
This issue of our newsletter looks at the financial basics - drawing up a budget, paying off debt and dealing with a collection agency. With the information provided, you and your clients will have the necessary tools and resources that will help in making financial decisions and reducing fees.
It's a challenge to reduce debt and still save for the future, but FCAC's Success Stories prove that anything is possible. The stories present lessons learned by real people like Rodney and Ashley who are featured below, and have used FCAC's tools.
It's not always easy for a college or university student to keep enough money in the bank and maintain a good credit rating. We live in an age of consumerism. Ads urge us to buy the latest electronic gadgets or brand-name goods. It becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between needs and wants, particularly for students.
Making a budget is an excellent way to manage personal finances, especially when there are significant debts to repay. Obviously preparing a budget takes a little effort, but the benefit is freedom from financial worries.
For young clients who ask for your help with budgeting, suggest FCAC's tip sheet Making a Budget and Sticking to It. This includes a worksheet for drawing up and following a budget plan. Watch how it helped Rodney Noriega, a business graduate from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. He used the budget worksheet to reduce his student loan debt load.
Paying a credit card balance in full each month allows the cardholder to enjoy the advantages of credit without incurring interest charges. It's also the best way to avoid accumulating debt. When you meet with your clients, encourage them to pay the entire balance each month. If that's impossible, remind them that it's important to make at least the minimum payment. Failure to make the minimum monthly payment can affect the cardholder's credit rating and lead to the imposition of higher interest rates.
FCAC offers many tips and tools to help your clients deal with debt. Hand them the tip sheet How to Beat that Debt, or invite them to try our Credit Card Payment Calculator. This tool will help them determine how long it would take them to pay off their credit card balance if they only made the minimum payments, and will show them other options to pay off the balance faster. Even better, show them Ashley Reid's video testimonial. According to Ashley, her financial knowledge and the use of the calculator enabled her to manage her finances and avoid falling into the debt trap.
What happens when someone doesn't pay a debt owed to a creditor, such as a bank or credit card company? It's simple. A debt collector usually gets involved to try to recover the money. The collection agency normally gives written notice before calling to try to collect the debt.
For your clients, it's important to know what to do when a debt collector calls, what their rights are or what to do if there has been an error. You can help them by showing them FCAC's tip sheet Tips for Dealing with a Debt Collector.