Where Should I Go to Get Debt Help In Thunder Bay?

These days, in Northwestern Ontario, there are two options for debt help in Dryden, Fort Frances, and Thunder Bay. These options are bankruptcy, or a consumer proposal. Both options are only available through Trustees in Bankruptcy.

Trustees in Bankruptcy are individuals and/or companies that are licensed by the Government of Canada to assist individuals and businesses with their debt troubles. This assistance can take many forms, and doesn’t just mean bankruptcy. In many instances, a Trustee in Bankruptcy will work with the consumer debtor to file a consumer proposal, as opposed to a bankruptcy. A consumer proposal is a settlement to creditors to repay less than the full amount of debt owing. This repayment amount can even be as low as 25% of the amount owing. The actual amount in each case will depend on things like income, assets, and debt. Consumer proposals are an excellent tool to help people deal with their debt. And do you know who the only people in Canada licensed to file consumer proposals for people are? Trustees in Bankruptcy! This may seem strange, because a consumer proposal certainly isn’t bankruptcy, but it’s the case. The reason for this is that consumer proposals are a relatively new tool for debt management, whereas the term “Trustee in Bankruptcy” has been around for years. Sometimes though, like in this case, this older term doesn’t fit.

You may come across other entities out there calling themselves “debt management”, “debt solutions” or “life solutions” companies. Don’t be fooled, however. These companies are not legally authorized by the federal government to file consumer proposals. They may eventually direct you to a Trustee in Bankruptcy, who, as noted above, is licensed to do this, but not without taking a hefty “consulting fee” first!

So, if you have questions about your debt, cut out the middle man and contact us directly today.

Surplus Income Calculator

At Grant Thornton Limited in Thunder Bay, Dryden and Fort Frances, we are pleased to announce that we have created an online surplus income calculator for the benefit of people in Northwestern Ontario considering, or currently in, one of the debt solutions that we offer.

“Surplus income” is a concept incorporated in the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, which is the legislation that governs bankruptcy and consumer proposals in Canada. In basic terms, the idea is that if you are bankrupt and earning more than enough money to have a basic standard of living, your creditors should be repaid at least a portion of their debt through your wages. Each year, the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy publishes what the standards are for households of various sizes. Your household income is then compared to that each month, and any surplus is determined.

For many in bankruptcy, or considering bankruptcy, this is the most confusing part of the process. The most important thing to remember is that, with the exception of certain “non-discretionary expenses” such as child/spousal support, child care, and medical expenses, your household expenses are largely irrelevant. The calculation is done strictly based on your income, and the Superintendent’s Standards.

As such, it is quite easy to estimate the amount of surplus income that you will have, if you know the income of you and your spouse (if applicable) and the number of people in your household. Just plug this information in to the calculator and it will estimate your surplus income for you. Please note that this is a tool for estimation purposes only and all final calculations will be done in accordance with Directive 11R2 of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

If you have any questions about how surplus income would apply to your situation, please contact us toll free at 310-8888 to arrange an appointment in Thunder Bay, Fort Frances, or Dryden. Don’t be alarmed if the surplus income calculation results in a high number for you. If this is the case, you may qualify for a consumer proposal, which could result in lower monthly payments.

The Surplus Income Calculator can be found at www.gtdebthelp.com/surplus.

Tougher laws for debt settlement companies receive Royal Assent

On December 12, Royal Assent was granted to Bill 55 in Ontario.  As many of you know, Royal Assent is the final step before a bill becomes law, meaning that these new regulations for debt settlement companies are now in place.  We’re thrilled by this news.  As we have posted before, we have met many people looking for debt help in Northwestern Ontario who have fallen victim to a debt settlement company.  Without regulation, these companies were free to make wild promises to consumers that they often did not deliver on.

Among others, this Act will bring in the following restrictions on debt settlement companies:

–          All terms of the agreement must be disclosed

–          The effect on your credit rating must be disclosed

–          A written copy of the agreement must be given to you

–          Only one settlement agreement can be in place with each debtor at a time

–          They cannot demand payment in advance of providing the services

–          They cannot take security against their services

–          They must provide a refund if certain terms are met

We applaud the actions of the Ontario Government in this matter, bringing provincial legislation in line with that of other provinces, such as Manitoba and Nova Scotia, that have already cracked down on these companies.

As always, we recommend consulting with a government-licensed trustee in bankruptcy as a part of confronting your debt.  We are local, in your community, and we can meet you face to face to discuss your difficulties.   Visit our web site at www.thunderbaybankruptcy.com.

Debt Levels Continue To Climb

A new week means new reports on the increasing debt levels of Canadians.  This time the reports result from a survey commissioned by the Royal Bank of Canada on the debt levels of Canadians.

As you are likely aware by now, both from reading our past blogs and from the numerous and frequent news reports on the subject, the average debt levels of Canadians continue to rise.  According to this survey, only 24% of Canadians are without non-mortgage debt, down from 26% in 2012.

This survey also tells us that 38% of Canadians are anxious about their debt levels.  This is up from 34% last year.  Wouldn’t it be great if you were among those Canadians without debt, giving you one less thing to worry about and allowing you to sleep better at night?

For some people, the way out of debt is through careful budgeting, reduced spending, and improving your income situation.  Unfortunately, for many people this path is not always realistic.  Many people that we see in our Grant Thornton offices in Fort Frances, Dryden, Marathon and Thunder Bay are already great budgeters.  However, sometimes no amount of budgeting will help if you are carrying large amounts of debt and your income is limited due to things like medical issues, loss of employment, or large support payments.  Likewise, many people who visit us for debt help bring in a decent income, but already have so much debt that it simply is not serviceable, even with a steady income.

In order for these people to join the 24% of Canadians who are without debt, some form of debt restructuring is likely required.  That is where Grant Thornton can help.  Through a consumer proposal or a bankruptcy, you can deal with your debts in a way that could leave you debt free.  For more information, please call us toll-free at 310-8888.

What Options Are There For Seniors In Debt?

One of the things that we are seeing more and more of at our Grant Thornton Limited offices in Fort Frances, Dryden and Thunder Bay is senior citizens with debt troubles. Unfortunately, during a time in their lives at which people had envisioned themselves enjoying the peace and relaxation of their golden years, many seniors are instead dealing with calls from creditors that just won’t stop.

And it’s not just us noticing this trend either. Recent articles in newspapers like The Globe and Mail and the National Post are confirming this fact as well. The debt burden of Canadians over 65 years of age is increasing at a faster rate than any other age group, according to these reports. It has been theorized that the reason for this is that seniors’ pensions aren’t sufficient to live the lifestyle that they had envisioned for themselves at that age, so some are turning to credit cards and other forms of debt in order to make ends meet.  Of course, this can only last for so long before it becomes unsustainable. Other theories are that people are living longer, sometimes to the point where they outlive their retirement savings, or that seniors can be more prone to medical issues that can lead to unforeseen costs. Whatever the cause of the financial difficulties, there is a reasonable chance that a government-licensed trustee in bankruptcy can help you to get out of them, either through a consumer proposal or a bankruptcy (if necessary).

Nobody envisions a retirement full of credit card bills and collection calls. Unfortunately though, it can happen. The good news is that Grant Thornton may be able to help you to deal with your debt in a manner that takes the stress away and allows you to enjoy life again. Give us a call at 310-8888 (toll free from anywhere in Northwestern Ontario) for a free, no-obligation consultation to explore your options.

See Us in Thunder Bay & NW Ontario for Judgment-Free Debt Advice

At our Grant Thornton Limited offices in Thunder Bay, Dryden, and Fort Frances, people from all walks of life, and from all over Northwestern Ontario, come to see us for debt solutions.  There is no “typical bankrupt”.  There are many reasons why people fall behind in their bills and come to see us to find out how to become debt free.  With the cost of living constantly increasing, and wages not always keeping pace, there are many people in the region who are living paycheque to paycheque.  As such, it can only take a small piece of bad luck, such as an illness or layoff from work, to cause people to fall behind on their bills.  Once this happens, even after you recover from your personal situation, it is difficult to bring yourself current with your bills again.  If you’re living paycheque to paycheque, there isn’t going to be much extra money each month to use to make up the payments that you missed.  We understand this, and this is why we do not judge anyone who comes to see us.

We haven’t lived your life and haven’t been through your job loss, medical issues, marital problems, or whatever circumstances put you in the position that you are in.  Stuff happens, we get that.  All you can do it make the best of your own situation, and by coming to this website you are taking a step towards that.  Bad circumstances got you into debt, and we can help you get out of the debt.  You have options, including consolidation loans, informal settlements, consumer proposals, and bankruptcy.  The first step is find out which one is right for you.  Contact us by email at nwodebthelp@ca.gt.com or by phone at 310-8888 (toll free) to get started turning your financial situation around.

And for that, we will applaud you, not judge you.

Help with Credit Card Debt in Thunder Bay & NW Ontario

Am I okay if I’m just able to make minimum credit card payments?

If you are struggling under mountains of credit card bills, you’re not alone. Per capita credit card debt has been at record levels in recent times. Many people in Northwestern Ontario are struggling and can’t make significant payments on their credit card debts. Instead, people make the minimum payments, doing enough to keep the card companies at bay, but not making any real impact on their total debt levels.

To illustrate the fact that minimum payments do not make any real contribution towards the repayment of debt, the Canadian Ministry of Finance has mandated that credit card companies disclose how long it would take you to pay off a credit card while making only the minimum payments. For instance, if someone has a credit card of around $2,000, with a standard interest rate of 18%, the minimum payment would be around $40 each month. By making these $40 payments each month, it would take almost 31 years to pay off this $2,000. 31 years to pay off $2,000! And that’s if you never charged another thing to the card! Almost $5,000 of interest would result. And that’s just on a relative low credit card balance of $2,000… many people have credit card debts much higher than that. You can see how being able to make the minimum payment isn’t really helping you to get out of debt fast. Being allowed to make only a minimum payment is useful if you have a month where you are tight on money, but being able to make only minimum payments for an extended period of time is a definite warning sign of financial difficulty. Take a look at your own credit card statement for this disclosure and you will see for yourself how long you would be paying minimum payments for.

As result, if you are only able to make minimum payments, and don’t foresee this changing anytime soon, you should really talk to someone who can provide you with debt help in Thunder Bay, Dryden, Fort Frances and the rest of Northwestern Ontario. At Grant Thornton Limited, we can discuss solutions with you that will bring actual debt relief, as opposed to the false sense of security provided by making minimum payments. Call us at 310-8888 or email us today at nwodebthelp@ca.gt.com for a free, no obligation consultation.

Should I use my RRSPs to pay debts and become debt free?

We get this question asked of us every day as a possible debt solutionto get out of debt fast.  However, RRSPs are meant for our retirement and not to be used to become debt free.  RRSPs can be liquidated at any time but individuals with locked in pension plans don’t have this option which is a good thing in order to protect their future income for their retirement years.

Before withdrawing money from your RRSP, you should consider the following:

(a) RRSPs are intended to save for retirement. Every dollar you withdraw today is a dollar that won’t be available when you retire.

(b) Funds taken from an RRSP will be considered income in the year in which it is withdrawn. The institution will withhold income tax based on a sliding scale, but depending on your income, this may not withhold sufficient tax. This could leave you with a large tax bill at the end of the year.

(c) Depending on the amount that is withdrawn from the RRSP, your increased “income” for the year may bump you into a higher tax bracket, which would increase your overall amount of income tax.

(d) RRSPs are exempt in a proposal or bankruptcy (except for contributions made in the last 12 months). This means that if you file a proposal or go bankrupt, your RRSP will not be affected. If you have already withdrawn RRSP funds to pay debts and later file a proposal or go bankrupt, those funds are gone – your Trustee cannot get them back. However, the Trustee could help take care of the income tax liability created by the RRSP withdrawal.

Grant Thornton provides advice and solutions to individuals and businesses experiencing financial difficulty and reviews all the alternatives to bankruptcy. For Thunder Bay Bankruptcy, Dryden Bankruptcy, Fort Frances Bankruptcy, Thunder Bay Consumer Proposal, Dryden Consumer Proposal or Fort Frances Consumer Proposalplease contact us toll free at 310-8888 or email us at nwodebthelp@ca.gt.com to book a FREE private consultation to review all of your options.

Know Who You’re Dealing With

Thunder Bay Debt Help and Bankruptcy

Consumer debt levels are on the rise.  According to Statistics Canada, Canadians now owe $1.64 for every dollar that they earn.  This means that more and more people are now looking for ways to get out of debt.

Unfortunately this has also led to the growth of “debt settlement” companies preying on people looking for debt solutions.  Recently there has been a flood of advertising from companies claiming to help you “avoid bankruptcy” and “get out of debt fast”.

However, many of these companies aren’t as helpful as they claim.  The Ministry of Consumer Services has received numerous complaints about them.  For instance, in one example given on the website of the Government of Ontario, a debt settlement company charged a consumer a fee and told the consumer that all of his creditors had been settled with.  In fact, however, one creditor had not accepted the deal and served the consumer with court papers.  When the consumer pointed this out to the debt settlement company, the company “cancelled” his settlement and kept their fee.  In other words, the consumer paid for a settlement that never existed.  Because the debt settlement company was unregulated (unlike Grant Thornton, a Thunder Bay Bankruptcy Trustee, who are licensed by the federal government as proposal administrators and as a trustee in bankruptcy) they could get away with things like that.

As a result of this and many other complaints, the Ontario government recently announced that they would be joining Alberta, Manitoba and Nova Scotia in restricting the activities of debt settlement companies.  Having met many people who have fallen victim to these companies, we applaud this move by the government and hope that it prevents people looking for debt help in Ontario from being taken advantage of.

Examples like this demonstrate why it is so important to know who you are dealing with.  Before entering into any sort of debt settlement arrangement with anyone, make sure that you have met with them in person at least once (or will be meeting with them), make sure that they have a physical office in Northwestern Ontario so you know that they are a legitimate business, and make sure that they are a reputable firm with experience helping consumers and companies with debt.  Above all, you should ensure that they are government-licensed trustees in bankruptcy and/or proposal administrators, just like we are.

For many people, the best legitimate alternative to bankruptcy is the consumer proposal.  With a consumer proposal, you can offer a settlement to your creditors that is legally binding and monitored by the federal government of Canada.  Once your creditors have agreed to accept your consumer proposal, they are obligated to honour the terms, as long as you do the same.  Give us a call today, toll-free at 310-8888, or email us at nwodebthelp@ca.gt.com to discuss if a consumer proposal is a possible debt solution for you.

Debt Help in Thunder Bay & NW Ontario

Are you looking for ways to get out of debt and to become debt free? Do you want to avoid bankruptcy? If your answer is yes to both of these questions then there are bankruptcy alternatives that will provide you with debt solutions on the best way to get out of debt. At our Grant Thornton offices in Northwestern Ontario, you can get debt help Thunder Bay, debt help Dryden and debt help Fort Frances.

At our offices, we provide FREE no obligation consultations both in person and by phone to review and discuss your options. Some of your possible options include: debt consolidation, informal settlement, credit counselling, consumer proposal and bankruptcy as a last resort. Frank Fabiano, the Trustee in Bankruptcy, and his staff of Grant Thornton professionals will help you navigate through some of these complicated situations to arrive at your best option. We will explain everything in detail so that you can get out of debt fast and start fresh!

Furthermore, we at Grant Thornton are not here to just sign you up and then forget about you. We want to make sure that we set you up for success and that you can complete what you decide to start. We ensure that whatever option you choose is a viable option for you, and more importantly is something that will help alleviate your financial stress on a go-forward basis for you and your family. We also make sure that we follow the spirit of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act which states, “To give an honest but unfortunate debtor a fresh start”.

We always tell debtors that Grant Thornton is here to provide them debt help in Canada; however, we also remind them that they have to be committed to the process in order to get it completed in the shortest possible time period without setting a foot in a court room and/or incurring additional costs.

To get debt help in Thunder Bay, Dryden, Fort Frances and other areas of Northwestern Ontario, call us toll free at 310-8888 for a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your options. We look forward to hearing from you!