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Debt management, consumer proposals, and personal bankruptcy can be incredibly stressful situations to deal with. Thankfully, you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re experiencing any of these challenges, we can help:

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    We effectively negotiate the ins and outs of Canada Revenue Agency laws and regulations to get you relief from CRA’s collections, garnishments and tax liens.

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    Stop wage garnishments and unfreeze bank accounts with our licensed bankruptcy and consumer proposal services.

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Recent Articles from the Blog

May 4, 2018

Consumer Proposal or Debt Management Plan?

Pen focused on a piece of paper with a blank signature.

Understanding Options for Debt Help in Ottawa to Find the Best Solution for You

If you have a lot of debt and are in need of counselling in Ottawa, proposals and debt management plans are both viable options for avoiding bankruptcy.

They both involve paying your creditors over an agreed-up time frame. They also both pool together your debts so you only have to make single monthly payments instead of multiple payments.

Both debt help options also have similar impacts on your credit report. These will stay on your credit report for three years after completing the debt payments. Although these two options are similar, the best option for you will depend on your financial situation and the level of creditor protection you need.

To help you decide which debt solution is best for you, here is a comparison of debt management plans and consumer proposals in Ottawa.

What Is A Consumer Proposal?

A consumer proposal is a debt solution administered by a licensed insolvency trustee. This solution is only for those who are insolvent—debtors who cannot repay their unsecured debts in a reasonable time.

With a consumer proposal, your trustee will act as an administrator to negotiate a settlement with your creditors. This proposal usually requests that:

  • You pay back less than the full amount owing within a specified timeframe (with a maximum period of five years);
  • The amount you pay back has zero interest; and,
  • You have creditor protection.

You can increase your monthly payments to pay off your debt in a shorter period, but you cannot extend your payment period set out in your proposal.

The consumer proposal will make an offer to settle with your unsecured creditors, which they can accept, amend, or reject. They typically have 45 days to make a decision.

If more than half of all votes by your creditors accept the proposal, then the proposal is approved and all of your creditors are legally bound to accept it, whether they voted yes to it or not.

This legally-binding contract between you and your creditors means they must stop collection calls, wage garnishments, and legal action.

Note that you can also include debts to the Canada Revenue Agency in a consumer proposal.


Who Is A Consumer Proposal Ideal For?

Consumer proposals are ideal for those:

  • Who cannot afford to repay their debts in full in a reasonable amount of time (insolvent);
  • Who need reduced monthly payments to their debts; and,
  • Whose debts are higher than $10,000.

For example, say you owe $60,000 in credit card debts. This debt, plus the additional interest which could result in you owing upwards of $100,000. This debt will take years to pay off, and it’s possible that you may never be able to afford to repay this debt in full.

But with a consumer proposal, your bankruptcy trustee may be able to negotiate a settlement in which you pay only half of your debt—$30,000—with monthly payments of $500 for 60 months, or five years.


What Is A Debt Management Plan?

A not-for-profit debt or credit counsellor will administer a debt management plan on your behalf.  Your debt counsellor will pool your existing debts together and negotiate a settlement with your creditors.

This settlement involves you repaying your debts in full over a specified period but at reduced or zero interest. Debt management plans typically run for four years but may go up to five.

Debt management plans are voluntary, so your creditors can choose whether to participate or not. Even if some creditors agree to be part of the plan, not all have to, meaning you could still owe interest on some debts.

Your creditors can also agree to stop taking action, such as sending your accounts to collections and garnishing your wages. However, they are not legally bound by this agreement; therefore, you will not be eligible for legal creditor protection.


Who Is A Debt Management Plan Ideal For?

A debt management plan is ideal for those:

  • Whose total debt owed is relatively small (i.e., $10,000 to $15,000);
  • Who owe to only a small number of creditors (i.e., two or three credit cards); and,
  • Who are able to repay their debts in full but need a break on the interest.

This means you can pay off your debt faster without getting in more debt from growing interest. And applicants do not need to be insolvent to apply for a debt management plan.


How to Select Which Option Will Work for You

As previously mentioned, debt management plans typically run for four years but may go up to five. To estimate what your monthly payments could look like with a four-year plan, take the total amount of debt you owe and divide it by 48 (total number of months in four years). For a five-year plan, divide your total debt by 60.

If you can afford the estimated monthly payments, then a debt management plan could be a good option for you. But if you can’t afford to repay your debt or the estimated monthly payments, and you need legally-bound creditor protection, then consider opting for a consumer proposal.

With a consumer proposal, your bankruptcy trustee will aim to reduce your debt owing so you can have manageable monthly payments and get out of debt while having creditor protection.

When to Consult the Services of A Professional to Help

If you are in desperate need of debt relief and are tired of hearing from creditors and having your wages garnished, it’s time to get professional debt counselling help.

Depending on your financial situation, you might qualify for a consumer proposal to reduce your total debt owing and have more manageable monthly payments. To find out if you are insolvent and are eligible for a consumer proposal, contact a licensed insolvency trustee.

For help with your specific debt situation and more information on the debt management and the consumer proposal process in Ontario, contact your local professional debt counselling services in Ottawa.

April 12, 2018

How to Manage Your Debt Without Filing for Bankruptcy

A man sitting in a dark room on a leather couch, holding his head in stress and frustration over his financial issues.

Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your Debt Load before Contacting a Personal Bankruptcy Trustee

Filing for bankruptcy should be a last-resort debt management option. After all, it’s a significant step with serious commitment, not a quick fix for your financial woes. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your debt, there are things you can do to help get back on your feet.

While filing with a personal bankruptcy trustee or filing a consumer proposal can help you get out of debt, don’t overlook the benefits of developing your own debt management skills. Taking the time to work on personal budgeting can help you stand on your own feet financially and doesn’t prevent you from seeking help when you need it.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few things to focus on:

Spending, Budgeting, and Smart Finances

Debt management needs to start with an honest appraisal of your finances. Take a look at your spending by preparing a monthly budget for your household. Record your earnings per month and look at how that money is spent each week, tallying up expenses and expenditures. Are you spending more than you’re earning? If so, it’s time to take a closer look at your habits and find ways to change them.

Your monthly budget should account for bills, food, rent, entertainment, and more. Laying everything out can give you an immediate idea of where you can save some money. For example, cut unnecessary expenses – if you’ve got Netflix and a complete cable package, say, chances are you can make some sacrifices there.

Here are a few tips that can help you rethink your spending:

  • Create grocery lists and stick to them – planning out meals for a week can prevent you from quick trips to the store to grab one item that quickly turn into impulse-buying sprees.
  • Commit to paying off your debts – create a realistic payment plan that covers at least the minimum payments and work to pay off larger debts first; once a debt is paid off, you can apply the savings from it to the next debt and so on.
  • Save for a rainy day – even if all you can save is $5 per week, that’s still $20 a month and $260 a year. A rainy-day fund can help you out of unforeseen expenses and emergencies, giving you peace of mind when things go wrong.
  • Take the time to treat yourself – modestly. If you’ve been making payments and getting things back on track, then there’s nothing wrong with a nice dinner in or out – even if it’s just pizza for the family.

Taking control of your debt and spending can help you manage your finances in the long run, getting you out of debt and keeping you debt-free.

Getting Effective Debt Help

In some cases, though, you do need a helping hand with your debt issues. There are a few options available to you, but working with a financial expert can help you determine the approach that’ll work best for your unique situation.

Debt Consolidation Plans

Debt consolidation means consolidating your debt payments into one monthly payment. So instead of making multiple payments each month to various high-interest debts, you can make one payment to a new lower-interest loan.

Consolidation pays off debts with the new loan, so you end up saving on interest payments over time. It’s also easier to manage one payment each month, instead of multiple payments, especially if you tend to skip payments to some debts.

Debt Management Plans

A debt management company will take your debts, negotiate new payments with your lenders, and make the payments on your behalf. You will make one monthly payment to the debt management company, and they will split up the money to pay each creditor/lender accordingly. These plans bear a lot of outward similarity to a consumer proposal but lack the legal enforcement and oversight you get when working with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.

Debt Settlement

You may be able to reach a debt settlement with your credit card lender if you’re very far behind on your payments. This could mean paying off a discounted balance with a lump sum. Or, you could go through a debt buyer who buys debts at a lower price and will likely lower the amount you owe as long as they still make a profit.

Consumer Proposals

A Licensed Insolvency Trustee can arrange for you to file consumer proposals with your creditors. These propose a new set of terms between you and your creditors and indicate that you will make monthly payments to pay back part of what you owe. You pay the LIT directly, not your creditors; your payments are then distributed accordingly. This immediately halts collection calls and actions, unfreezes any holds on your accounts, and much more. Your creditors will then agree to the proposal or not.

Hopefully one or a combination of these options will help you manage your debt. But if not, use the help of a personal bankruptcy trustee to stop living with mounting debt on your shoulders.

August 1, 2017

Why You Shouldn’t Hire a Non-Licensed Debt Consultant or Credit Counsellor

A few things to keep in mind before committing to working with a non-licensed credit counsellor or debt consultant.

a) Unlike Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LIT), credit counsellors and debt consultants are unregulated. Anyone can call themselves a credit counsellor or a debt consultant. They are not subject to formal training or professional development standards.Read More