May 23, 2024

What happens during the first debt help meeting?

Getting debt help can be stressful. Here's everything you need to know about your first meeting with a LIT so you can be stress-free.

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What happens during the first debt help meeting?

What happens during the first debt help meeting?

Reading about debt help might not be the most exciting way you’d like to spend your free time. Most people prefer not to think (let alone talk) about their debts. But the process of meeting with a debt professional to review your finances is actually very therapeutic. The tough part is ending the procrastination cyclefacing realityand realizing that you need to talk to someone.  

So how do you go from having debt problems to making that first call? What’s the trigger to getting over the fear of facing your debt reality and moving into solution mode? And when you have decided to get help, what does that initial step look like?  

Every debt story is different

The reasons behind a person’s debt challenges are never the same as someone else’s. But learning about how other people have navigated the debt help journey is a helpful part of the financial recovery process. It’s often how people take their very first steps towards debt relief. 

To illustrate what happens when you decide to get debt help, let’s take Anthony. Anthony is in his mid-thirties, rents an apartment in downtown Toronto. He was working as a waiter, but lost his job and has been using credit cards to get by. 

Anthony had been miserable and stressed out by his situation, but it’s not until his bank and credit card companies, who allowed him to defer his monthly payments for up to six months, started to call that it finally dawned on him: his debt was out of control. 

This feeling is all too common. It’s what most people feel when they realize they have too much debt. How long does this period last? It can last a while. Three months, six months, a year, two years? Like Anthony, many Canadians struggle for too long, trying to keep up before they actually reach out for help. 

Why people wait 

It may seem odd to some that Anthony would wait so long before seeking professional help. It’s actually very common. A 2023 BDO Affordability Index showed 21% of Canadians find debt a difficult subject to discuss. That’s more than relationships (18%) or medical issues (12%). 

There’s a real taboo and stigma attached to discussing financial issues. Many often wait longer than they should before reaching out for help. 

The debt help journey often starts with a breaking point (but it doesn’t have to)

As his credit card bills mount and debt collectors begin to call, Anthony finally decides to get help. 

It’s here, at this low point, where most people schedule their free initial consultation with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT)

Think of meeting an LIT as therapy for your finances. People often meet an LIT when they are at rock bottom. But the initial consultation can be the light at the end of the tunnel. LITs not only have answers, they can also empathize with all sorts of money problems. 

“It’s not our job to judge. We have a duty to be caring and compassionate. It’s very rewarding for us to see the relief people feel after the initial consultation. It can be emotional, but also very therapeutic.” 

– Jennifer McCracken, LIT at BDO Debt Solutions in Vancouver, BC 

What happens during the first debt help meeting with an LIT?

Anthony is determined to get debt help. He knows that a consolidation loan won’t be enough to help him. It’s not a matter of simplifying his debt load or lowering his interest payments. He owes more than he owns and is unable to reduce his debts, in other words, he is insolvent 

Anthony makes the decision to speak with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee about his debts. The initial consultation is free and he figures that he has nothing to lose.  

Before sitting down with an LIT, they ask him to provide the following information: 

  • The value of his assets (car, bank accounts, RRSP) 
  • The amount he owes (student loans, lines of credit, car loan, credit cards) 
  • His income  
  • His monthly responsibilities (rent, car payments, living expenses) 

In about an hour, the LIT is able to understand Anthony’s full financial situation and presents all the options that are available to him and the time he would need to see each one through. Because he is still young (early thirties), has few assets, and is hoping to be able to get a mortgage in the next five to seven years, his LIT suggests filing a consumer proposal 

What happens when you file a consumer proposal?

After careful analysis, it was decided that a consumer proposal was the ideal solution for Anthony. With it, Anthony will only pay back a third of what he owes (a total debt reduction of about 70 per cent). He can spread out his payments over a period of five years, which keeps his monthly payments affordable. His credit rating will be impacted, but he will be able to build it back up over time. The consumer proposal will stay on his credit report for three years after completion. 

This is welcome news to Anthony, who has never heard of a consumer proposal before. When the consumer proposal is finished, he will be completely debt free. 

Here’s something else about consumer proposals: they’re not all the same. They’re tailored to each individual person’s needs. 

Anthony’s won’t be the same as someone else’s. Think of them as an agreement that the LIT negotiates with your creditors. Because of this, the debt reduction amount varies from person to person and can even go as high as 80%. 

According to BDO Licensed Insolvency Trustee Jennifer McCracken, “Consumer proposals are a compromise, a middle ground between you and your creditors. They can be as creative and varied as the people involved.” 

Like many people who first visit an LIT, Anthony really didn’t know what to expect. He worried that bankruptcy would be his only way out. After the initial consultation, he was able to breathe again. He has a plan for resolving his debt. He’s relieved and proud of himself for getting help. 

BDO LITs help people like Anthony all the time, all across Canada. If we could offer you any advice, it would be to speak with an LIT as soon as you feel like you are carrying too much debt. Don’t wait until you don’t have the choice. Asking for help is a sign of strength. 

Meeting with an LIT to go over your debts isn’t difficult. The hard part is taking that first step, facing your debt reality, and reaching out for help. You don’t have to wait until things reach their proverbial breaking point. 

Are you having trouble managing your debt? Learn more about your debt relief options during a free, initial consultation.

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May 23, 2024

What happens during the first debt help meeting?

Getting debt help can be stressful. Here's everything you need to know about your first meeting with a LIT so you can be stress-free.

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