The number of Atlantic Canadians just $200 or less away from being insolvent at month-end has dropped seven points since September to 49 per cent, according to the latest MNP Consumer Debt Index.
“The latest wave of research signals an improving financial situation for some and it is very positive to see that fewer people are near that $200 or less level,” said Joe Wilkie, a licensed insolvency trustee with MNP LTD.
“Although it is clear many still have a ways to go before they feel confident they won’t go further into debt in 2020.”
The quarterly poll conducted by Ipsos also showed that fewer people who say they already can’t meet their monthly financial obligations is down two per cent (27 per cent). It also showed that over half (55 per cent) of Atlantic Canadians are unsure if they will be able to cover their family and living expenses without going into further debt this year — an increase of 15 points since September.
There are no specific numbers for Cape Breton but Wilkie, who is the trustee from the MNP office who travels to Sydney, has observed a fair number of seniors having financial issues, as well as those who at one point relied on work out West for income.
He’s also seen many people also turn to multiple payday loans to make ends meet.
“Some seniors, they might have their own home and might find it difficult to make ends meet, so they turn to credit, the short-term credit. Sometimes it can be expensive and once you start the snowball it just keeps going and you can’t repay the debt,” he said.
“If you are using credit to pay your daily living expenses you can only do that for so long.”
Many things can lead to financial difficulties, according to Wilkie, but generally speaking, people are taking on too much debt for one reason or another.
Sometimes debt is taken on for education purposes and then the person is not able to find suitable employment, a loss of employment is a major factor, as are matrimonial issues.
“People, if they split up, sometimes it is difficult to pay the family expenses on the one income and so situations change and that causes problems and sometimes people have just taken on more credit than they can handle.”
Putting together a monthly budget is one important tip a licensed insolvency trustee will offer.
“What we find is when people put it down on paper it opens their eyes a little bit,” he said. “You think you are spending a certain amount on a certain expense but then when you start to track it you find out that it is more than what you think.”
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