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How do I know if I have too much debt?

Article updated on 19/08/2019
Do you feel like you’re always paying off a debt? Or does your budget remind you of a sinking ship? Then it’s very likely that you’re overindebted.

Summary

How do I know if I have too much debt?
  • You may end up with debts at some point in your life. But at what point does a normal amount of debt turn into overindebtedness? Use our simple tools and quizzes to better recognize the difference.
  • If they help you realize that you’re overindebted, it’s important that you seek help quickly. This way you will avoid catastrophe down the line.
  • Even if you think you’re just temporarily overindebted, this is most often not the case. Ignoring the situation will only make it worse. Make some time to take stock and assess your financial situation. Our tools are at your disposal!

 

Here are 7 early warning signs. If they sound like you, go seek professional assistance. The faster you act, the sooner your situation will improve and you’ll regain control of your finances.

You’re borrowing money to pay for your essentials.

For example, if you’re forced to use your credit card to pay for groceries or your medication because you don’t have enough available money.

Or, as another example, you ask friends to lend you money to pay your rent.

You always pay your rent or mortgage late.

Although these payments come as no surprise, you still always pay on the due date or even after. Sometimes you also miss one or more payments.

Your creditors are harassing you.

You receive endless calls from creditors and debt collection agencies. You may even be so fearful of your creditors contacting you that you sometimes avoid answering the phone or opening your mail.

How can I quickly find out if my debts are too high for my salary?

Option 1: The debt ratio tool allows you to measure your repayment capacity. In other words, you will see whether you can pay off all your debts with the money you earn.

Option 2: Make a budget. This lets you see how much money you earn, how much you spend on living expenses each month, how much you spend on repaying your debts and if you have money left over to save. You will then have a better idea of your general financial situation.

You have to choose what bills to pay this month.

You may find yourself tightening your belt with your grocery shopping to be able to pay your electricity bill. Or you may have to choose between paying your electricity bill or your phone bill this month.

You pay off your credit cards with other credit cards.

You only ever pay the required minimum. You might also transfer the balance of one card to another without being able to pay it back at all. If this sounds like you, be careful, as doing this can damage your credit score.

You never manage to save.

In fact, your bank account is at zero by the time you receive your pay cheque. You have nothing left over by the time you pay your bills. There’s no way for you to put money aside.

Your cheques sometimes bounce.

This could include, for example, the pre-authorized payment on your car insurance being refused due to a lack of funds in your account at the end of the month. Be careful: in addition to having to deal with the problems this may cause, you may have to pay your bank a penalty fee of up to $45.

Am I overindebted?

  1. Do you always borrow money to make ends meet?
  2. Are you unable to pay your rent on the first of the month?
  3. Do you use credit cards out of necessity rather than convenience?
  4. Do you get harassed by creditors?
  5. Do you ever write bad cheques?
  6. Do you cut back on groceries or other essentials to make debt payments?
  7. Do you ever use a credit card to make the minimum payment on another credit card?

If you answered yes to one or more of these statements, you may be overindebted. Schedule a meeting with one of our counsellors to find out how you can get through this.