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How to Change Your Attitude about Getting Help with Debt

Are you hiding your need to get help with debt from your significant other?

Having a large amount of debt can be stressful. In Newfoundland, a higher cost of living is putting the pinch on many as debt climbs. The number of consumer insolvency filings in our province rose 8.8 per cent in just one year (October 2016 to October 2017).

When you’re struggling to make payments, or living paycheque-to-paycheque, it can feel impossible to get ahead. If you’re keeping those struggles to yourself, or keeping financial secrets from your spouse or partner, you could be making matters more difficult.

Our new poll about relationships and money revealed some startling results about how Canadian couples communicate (or don’t communicate) when it comes to their finances.

We found that 36 per cent of Canadians in a relationship rarely or never discuss personal finances. One in 5 Canadians have never discussed their debt with their partner. And those people who have the most debt are the most likely to never have that money talk with their significant other.

Open and regular conversations about money with your partner are important, especially if you have a lot of debt.

According to our poll, many of the financial secrets Canadians keep from their partner are debt-related. If you’re not talking, the best first step you can take is to sit down and discuss your personal debt together.

Conversation and honesty is just one part of the equation, though. Dealing with overwhelming debt usually means seeking professional advice from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT). Having your significant other by your side and on the same page when you’re learning about debt solutions is important, especially if you’ve been reluctant to get help in the first place.

Changing your attitude toward seeking professional help with your debt is the first step to getting help, and avoiding secrecy.

Here are a few steps you and your partner can take together, and resources you can use before your meeting with an LIT.

  • Use a repayment options calculator. Before your visit with an LIT, you can do some homework online to learn about your choices. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) website has all kinds of information about managing debt. You can also use an online repayment options calculator to plug in your debt and see which solution’s monthly payments you can afford.
  • Think of your free consultation with an LIT as a fact-finding mission. It’s an opportunity for you and your partner to learn about all available solutions, and find the one that will work for your situation.
  • Change your spending habits. Regardless of what debt solution you and your partner decide on, making small changes to your lifestyle can make debt repayment easier.

For example, Noel D’Souza from Money Coaches Canada advises really doing research before making buying decisions — like when you’re choosing a new cell phone. By taking the time to research what phone best fits your budget and life, you’re “less susceptible to impulse shopping and being talked into a purchase by a salesperson.”

Opening yourself up to honesty is important, because without the secrecy you and your partner or spouse can work together on getting help with debt. Try out a few of these mindset adjustments, and if you’re keeping your finances a secret, reach out and start a conversation with your significant other.

Have other tips for seeking professional help with debt? Share your thoughts on social media by using the hashtags #DebtSolutions, #DebtConfessions, and #LoveAndMoney.

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