Bankruptcy is one of those things that is much easier to get into than it is to get out of, especially with these new more stringent rules in place. If you ask a bankruptcy trustee, they will all tell you that filing should always be your last resort when it comes to settling your debt. When you meet them, you know it's the end of the line. But, what is it like for trustees from the other side of the desk? Trustees have seen people at their most destitute, so no one knows better than they do what it takes to keep your head above water and never have to see them in a professional capacity.
Douglas Hoyes, founding partner of Hoyes Michalos & Associates Inc., started his career as a bankruptcy trustee for a corporation, but in 1999 he realized he'd make more of a difference aiding individuals with their financial difficulties. Now he's one of the most high profile bankruptcy trustees in the country, with appearances on Canada AM, 'Til Debt Do Us Part and CBC Newsworld.
He makes it his business to help people rise above their financial circumstances and frequently writes about what it takes to not have to see him. Here are some of his greatest tips:
"You gotta watch out for the predators (people who see widows as an opportunity that they can cash in on)," cautions the plucky 50-something, who would have celebrated her 38th wedding anniversary this year.
In the late nineties, Barbara's husband unexpectedly suffered a fatal heart attack. Suddenly, she found herself as a widow with four young children to raise on her own - without a job or previous work experience. To describe the loss of her husband as an emotional and financial adjustment is an understatement. But with the support of others, Barbara eventually rebuilt her life and her finances one day at a time. She shared with me how she did it, and, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, how you can too.
In any of these cases, the pain caused by the event is amplified by the ongoing financial struggle. However, there are some steps you can take to prepare your finances and minimize the stress.
Inspired by an article in the Globe and Mail, here are 10 steps you can take to help get you through a personal finance meltdown:
Liquid savings are assets that generally keep their value and that you can turn into cash in your hand quickly. For example, money in a savings or chequing account, money market accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs) or short-term government bonds. If disaster strikes, you'll want to make sure you have access to real money, and fast. When in financial stress, avoid higher-risk investments like stocks or other investments that have the potential to lose value at short notice. Try and build up your liquid assets to a point where they will be enough to pay the bills and living expenses for at least three months, preferably more.
10 Ways to Survive a Personal Finance Crisis
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Core inflation -- a measure of the cost of living -- rose only 0.9% in the 12 months ended February, the lowest reading since records began in 1984. In fact, a reading that low would usually cause the Bank of Canada to lower interest rates to stimulate the economy and price increases.
Canadian investors are in luck: our home stock market is predicted to chalk up some of the best returns in the world this year amid continued economic struggles in Europe and the United States and political turmoil in the Middle East.
"Relative to the U.S. or east Asia, Canada's equity market carries more insurance against a worsening geopolitical climate in the Middle East, in the form of a larger basket of energy stocks and safe havens like gold shares," Avery Shenfeld, the chief economist at CIBC, says in an economic report.
He says that while a diversified investment portfolio is always wise, this year it looks like Canadian stocks will offer you some of the best growth opportunities.
"The recovery in Canada is proceeding slightly faster than expected, and there is more evidence of the anticipated rebalancing of demand," Canada's central bank governor Mark Carney said in a statement Tuesday.
Watch for our Dealing with Debt series starting next week, but in the meantime, have a browse through our gallery of AOL readers' real-life debt collection experiences. Clearly some companies have invasive and sometimes underhanded methods for debt collection.
AOL User SOCCERUTD Says:
"We had an unpaid bill because of a dispute in our retail business. Our sales rep doubled our order and then went on maternity leave, and [the company] said the only person who could fix it was her! A bill collector from Texas called over and over and I attempted to explain (the situation) to him ... The day before Thanksgiving he called and my daughter answered the phone -- she was 7 years old at the time. He said to her, 'Because of your daddy you are not going to be able to live in your house anymore and won't be able to have Thanksgiving there with your family, it is your Daddy's fault!'"
Debt Collection Horror Stories
The price of crude oil reached almost $120 a barrel yesterday, but had dropped to $111.38 earlier today.
Real Disruption to Supply
It seems like just a few weeks ago that we were on the edge of our seats because oil was approaching $90 a barrel. Oh, that's right. It was. Last month's civil unrest in Tunisia saw oil prices rise rapidly, then fall again to slightly more comfortable levels. At that time, the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) said they would not change their output quotas because there was no issue with supply.
More than 90 per cent of Canadian business executives believe Canada has benefited from existing free trade agreements (FTA), a survey of 200 senior executives by national business law firm Miller Thomson LLP showed. Canada has FTAs with the U.S. and Mexico (NAFTA), Panama, Jordan, Peru, Chile and Israel.
About 60 per cent of Canadian business leaders said free trade with the European Union should be a government priority and 37 per cent said the government needs to urgently examine Canada's trade relationship with China.
Celebs That Make You Spend, Spend, Spend
Advertisements are one of those pesky things that most people have learned to simply ignore. They're often generic, boring and sometimes downright condescending.
But when ads are good, they tend to be very good and the public takes note.