How Much Debt is too Much Debt?

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Canadians like their stuff. They’re not afraid to go into debt for their new cars, homes, large-screen TVs and other items, big ticket and small.  As a result, many of us owe way too much.

Moody’s, one of the world’s leading credit agencies,  recently gave Canada an AAA rating for its “relatively solid economic performance” and stable banking system. But at the same time it warns that the country’s high household debt levels and soaring house prices pose “a potential risk” to those strengths.

Even though debt isn’t usually a good thing, sometimes it can be justified. Rather than simply buying something we can’t afford, debt can be a shrewd way to get ahead if you’re reasonably sure that you will have the means to pay it off. . . . Read the entire blog post I wrote for Richard Killen & Associates.

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Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees

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For more than 20 years, Bill had run a successful Toronto tree care business, doing tree removals, pruning, planting and much more. His finances fell into the rhythm of the growing season. In the spring, the work would flood in and then taper off into the summer and fall.

In the winter, during his downtime, Bill would use credit cards to finance advertising, equipment purchases, insurance payments and personal expenses. He would depend on the work coming in the following spring to pay things off and get him ahead in the game. . . . Read the full blog post I wrote for Richard Killen & Associates.

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Serenity After Trial

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“I thought the process was going to be hideous, humiliating and shameful,” Karen recalls of her bankruptcy more than a decade ago. “I was terrified when I went to see Richard Killen. I was in tears as I walked into his office.”

Karen’s story of battling debt is a familiar one. She had decided to make a brave midlife career change from working as a bartender. Finding employment in a Toronto health food store, she made the decision to go back to school to get certified as holistic nutritionist. . . . Read the blog post I wrote for Richard Killen & Associates, showing how their trustee services helped a woman cope with one of the most difficult trials of her life.

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Graduating into Debt

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Getting a student loan can be double-edged sword. Many kids can’t afford a higher education without one. But the downside is that a lot of students are graduating with huge debts that they many find hard and in some cases impossible to pay off.

The problem of student debt in Canada is on the rise. According to a September 2013Globe and Mail article,  accumulated student debt is now more than $15 billion nationally, and perhaps as high as $23 billion, if you take into account credit card debt, lines of credit and provincial loan programs.

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Will I Lose My House in a Bankruptcy?

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This is a post that I wrote for the Killen Landau & Associates blog, which seeks to deal with people’s worst fears when dealing with a personal financial disaster.

The fear of losing your home is a powerful one. When their finances go south, many imagine that bankruptcy will leave them homeless. Is this fear justified? Not really, or not in the normal course of a bankruptcy.

Yes, when you go bankrupt, you give control of your assets to a trustee in exchange for getting rid of your debts. This, in theory, could mean that the house gets sold to help pay back the creditors. But in practice this rarely happens, mainly because it is not in the best interests of everyone involved. The trustee has a lot of discretion, which he or she generally uses to safeguard the rights and interests of both the creditors and the debtor. Selling the house outright usually doesn’t achieve this purpose. So what normally happens? . . . Read more.

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Bankruptcy: The Road to Recovery

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It was a perfect storm of personal and professional misfortunes.

Bryan was a successful independent marketing communications consultant, well respected in the business with a good network of friends. But in his late 50s he discovered that he had adult attention deficit disorder (ADD), with a host of problems, ranging from an inability to focus to poor organization skills and depression. After years of laboured compensation for the symptoms, he felt the copying structure he had carefully built begin to fall apart.

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