You’re probably not going to end up in a bad financial situation overnight. It will happen slowly over time. If you can catch these red flags ahead of time, you might be able to avoid getting into serious financial trouble.
Red Flag: You’ve Maxed out Your Credit Cards
One of the major signs that you’re heading into financial trouble is maxing out your credit card — or worse, maxing out multiple credit cards. Reaching your credit limit is a risky game to play. You leave yourself a lot of debt to pay off incrementally and you’ve taken away the safety-net that credit offers when you run out of available savings.
Red Flag: You Have Nothing Ready for Emergencies
An emergency fund is a small stash of easily accessible money that you can use when an important and unexpected cost comes up. Maybe your car breaks down. Maybe your furnace stops working in the middle of a cold snap. Or maybe your dog needs to be rushed to the vet after eating something that it shouldn’t have. The fund can take care of these unpredictable moments so that you don’t have to use your credit or take out a loan.
Red Flag: You’re Living with Financial Anxiety
You think about your money — or lack thereof — all of the time. The worries run through your mind during the day, distracting you at work. They keep you from sleeping at night. The stress is overwhelming.
Here are some other red flags that you should look out for:
- You’re taking out payday loans
- You’re getting calls from collection agencies
- You’re living from paycheque to paycheque
- You have no savings
- You only make the minimum payments for bills
- You borrow money from loved ones
- You have frequent arguments about money with your partner/roommate
What to Do When You’re in Trouble
If you’re deeply in debt and you don’t know how to recover on your own, you should see if you’re eligible for a consumer proposal. The proposal is a legally binding agreement made between you and your creditors, allowing you to pay a certain amount of debt within five years.
Applying for consumer proposals can sometimes be scary and nerve-wracking for people dealing with insolvency, which is why a licensed insolvency trustee will be there to guide you through the process. If the creditors reject your first proposal, the trustee will help you revise the conditions and resubmit it for approval. If the offer is accepted, the trustee will be there as an intermediary between you and the creditors. They will make sure that unsecured creditors stop doing things like making collection calls and garnishing your wages.
Applying for a consumer proposal is a popular alternative to filing for personal bankruptcy. It allows you to keep your assets throughout the repayment period. A personal bankruptcy doesn’t allow you to keep all of your assets and it can take longer to remove from a credit report.
Keep an eye out for financial red flags. When you notice the warning signs early on, you can stop yourself from getting into some severe financial trouble. Nip the problem in the bud as soon as you can.