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I'm having trouble managing my debts. Where can I get help?

I'm having trouble managing my debts. Where can I get help?
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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)

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I'm having trouble managing my debts. Where can I get help?
This question has an answer and 5 steps
March 24, 2017

If you are not able to pay your debts or if you are having trouble paying your debts on time, there are people who can help. A non-profit credit counsellor or a debt settlement agency can help you set up a debt repayment plan. They will both give you advice, but they do not work the same way.

Non-profit credit counsellors

Non-profit credit counsellors will look at your financial situation. Then, they will help you decide the best way to pay back your debt. They can give you ideas about how to avoid the same problems in the future.

Non-profit credit counsellors usually charge a fee for their services, but they are not trying to make a profit from you. If you cannot afford to pay for their services, they might charge you a reduced fee, or no fee.

When you look for a non-profit credit counsellor, make sure they’re a part of a non-profit credit counsellor association. Otherwise, they are a for-profit credit counsellor, which means they do not work the same way as non-profit credit counsellors.

Debt settlement companies

Debt settlement companies are for-profit businesses that say they can help you settle your debt. However, you should be careful when making an agreement with a debt settlement company. See Step 3 for more information about the risks of using a debt settlement company.

Getting out of debt

There are several ways to get out of debt. You can:

  • Look at your income and expenses and make a plan for repaying your debt.
  • Call your creditors and try to negotiate different terms, like lower interest rates, more time to pay, or ask them to reduce the amount you owe.
  • Try to get a consolidation loan from a bank. A financial advisor at your bank can help you understand if a consolidation loan is a good option for you
  • Talk to a non-profit credit counsellor to make a debt repayment plan.
  • File a consumer proposal.
  • File for bankruptcy.

If you cannot pay your debts and need to file a consumer proposal or file for bankruptcy, you should talk to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee

Before making a decision, you should think about all of your options carefully.

There are some organizations that help people manage their finances through services like personalized financial coaching sessions and financial literacy workshops. For more information, contact Ontario Financial Empowerment Champions

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