Take Charge of Your Debt

How a young woman struggling with debt overload can put her finances back on track

Monica, 25, is drowning in debt. Between her student loans, car payments and high-interest credit-card balances, she can barely pay her rent, let alone contribute to her retirement savings plan. But there's hope. A few savvy financial moves can help her begin to climb out from under her debt.

Consolidate: Monica took out several student loans to pay for university. Combining those loans into a single new one may bring her a lower rate than what she's now averaging (given the current relatively low interest rates). In addition, combining loans that have different terms and repayment schedules - or that come from different lenders - may simplify loan repayment.

Similarly, Monica should consider transferring the high-interest balances she carries on multiple credit cards to a single debt instrument such as a lower-interest-rate card. This could reduce her monthly payout, but she must be careful. Some cards offer very attractive introductory rates that eventually increase dramatically. The last thing Monica wants is to end up with even higher debts.

Get professional help: Monica should meet with her financial advisor to discuss her finances and put plans in place. If Monica needs further assistance in managing her finances, she might consider turning to a credit counsellor for help. Credit Counselling Canada is a national association that can direct her to one of its members in her area. Once Monica gets her finances in order, she can begin to focus on her savings plan.

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