How Far From the Brink are You?

An emergency department sign.

I was reading the newspaper with my tea this morning, yes, I am old fashion like that when I came across an IPOS Reid survey that scares me. For as long as I have had this blog I have shared my story of debt and how hard it is to rebuild after debt destroys your life. It’s hard, it takes work, it takes time. One simple emergency and things change.

A new poll stated that many Canadians are less than a paycheque away from being able to pay their bills in fact many where already there. That should scare you. I know it scares me. Many are on the road to bankruptcy. They see bankruptcy as an option. Bankruptcy doesn’t change habits. It doesn’t change mindsets. Emergencies happen, they are a part of life. I have lived through divorce, fire, flood and hurricane.

I know of more than one who declared bankruptcy only to have to declare it again within years. Why are we allowing ourselves to live so close to the brink? Many Canadians live with no savings and live paycheque to paycheque. I was one for many years. It’s a scary place to be. You have no safety net. You are not prepared for any emergency.

As a nation, we are a nation of debtors. Us Canadians carry the highest debt load in the G7.  We believe because of the low interest rates we can afford more, need more. We no longer save for what we want, we go and buy it and then worry about the payments. We buy furniture, clothes, travel, cars, education all on credit. What does it all this credit do to us. It makes us slaves to those we owe.

Have you ever stopped before you bought on credit? before you took that deserved trip? bought that pair of shoes? took that night out? They all have ramifications if you don’t have the money in the bank.

Getting out from under your debt load takes hard work. It takes taking a step back and seeing how close to the brink you really are. It takes realizing you made a mess and being willing to clean it up. It means being willing to do the work. It may mean some major life changes. I know for me it did.

If you are in consumer debt, figure a way out, stop spending your tomorrow. I know for me it meant being real about my debt, it meant hard conversations, it meant making choices and realizing I really did want a better tomorrow and I would make sacrifices today. Do you know how close to the brink you are?

Things like seeking a professionals help are ok, so is building a nest egg of savings to keep you away from the brink. Build an emergency fund. Start with a $1000 in the bank that is there for emergencies, and build from there. How do you get that first $1,000. Most who have huge consumer debt loads, have stuff. Sell some of it or get a part time job or create a secondary flow of income. Do the hard stuff to get where you want.

Trust me it takes time and energy to move away from the brink but it is worth it for the peace that comes.

One thought on “How Far From the Brink are You?

  1. I grew up quite poor and our family's tough economic situation was not hidden from me. In hindsight, it was the best lesson in my life and led me to where I am today. I learned "wants" from "needs", common sense finances, etc. People living a meager pay cheque from the brink are either very unfortunate in their circumstances in life, or hopelessly naive (selfish? entitled?) in their spending. Unfortunately I know of MANY in the latter category, but I empathize for those in the former.

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