Loans and Mortgages

Discerning the ‘good debt’ from the ‘bad debt.’

Get Debt Relief From Your Mortgage

How to Avoid Foreclosure in Canada

By Julie Jaggernath

Worrying about debt is stressful. Worrying about how to avoid foreclosure is one of the most stressful situations someone can find themselves in. If you’re struggling to make your mortgage payments or can’t pay your mortgage at all right now, there are things you can do that will help you to avoid foreclosure and manage your situation better.

Woman on the phone, looking at her laptop

Ask for Help
Consider Options for Financial Hardship

Stress impacts our ability to think about our situation clearly. Although they might not be your first choice, don’t automatically rule out speaking with a trusted family member or friend. They care about you and don’t want to see you struggle.

Getting their insight could help because they might be able to suggest something you hadn’t thought of. But go easy on them if they point out something you don’t want to hear; they’re only trying to help. If they aren’t able to suggest anything specific to alleviate your financial hardship, at least they can support you as you look at other options.

Talk to Your Lender
They Might Be Able to Help

Make an appointment to meet with your lender. If you haven’t missed a payment yet, they might not realize that you’re struggling. If you have missed payments, know that they don’t want to become your landlord and will do what they can to help you. Some lenders have special hardship programs that you may qualify for.

If your mortgage is insured (meaning that you bought your home with a down payment of less than 20%) through CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.) or Genworth Financial, they also have programs to help people struggling with their payments. Either your lender or the company who insured your mortgage can provide you with more information about options which might be right for you.

Credit counsellor woman talking to a couple during a meeting in the office.
Woman going through bills, looking worried

Want to Sell Your Home?
Before You Start Planning to Sell

Your lender can also provide you with information about your mortgage terms and conditions, including how much it would cost to pay off your mortgage or move it to another property.

This is important if you think that you may want to sell your home and look for something more affordable to rent or buy.

However, before you consider selling your home, take a look at how much your debt payments, other than your mortgage, are costing you.

Dealing with Other Debts Might Be the Right Solution

If you notice that your debt payments are a lot each month, getting debt relief from your line of credit or credit card payments might mean that you can get back on track with your mortgage payments.

Debt payments that use up more than 25% of your take-home pay each month are considered a lot. Before you consider selling your home or taking drastic measures to get mortgage debt relief, getting help dealing with your other debts might mean that you can manage your mortgage payments again.

Close up of a table full of letters and bills, with a calculator on it

How to Get Help With Your Debt

If you think that you might need help dealing with your debts or your mortgage, get help sooner rather than later. Not only will you feel better knowing how to handle your situation, you’ll have more options than if you delay. In extreme circumstances and for those who have ignored the problem for too long, bankruptcy may be their only option. However, before it gets to that point, take proactive steps to deal with your debts.

Consider Your Expenses

Part of dealing with your debts means knowing what your income and expenses are. Most people know how much money is coming in, but they’re less clear about where it’s all going, especially when they’re dealing with stressful circumstances. Start by jotting down all of your fixed expenses.

Couple sitting on the floor with a calculator, with a lot of bills around them

These are the things you need to spend money on each month and the amount is usually the same. Some examples of fixed expenses are your mortgage, utility payments, daycare, gas (for your car), or a transit pass.

Then grab your bank statement or credit card bill and add expenses to your list that aren’t as regular. These variable expenses are there every month, but the amount changes.

Some examples of variable expenses are groceries, eating out, entertainment, recreation, coffees / snacks, or even cell phone bills. Variable expenses aren’t optional; you do need to spend money on them, but you have more flexibility about how much you spend on variable expenses versus fixed expenses.

Create a Budget

A budget needs to be realistic and based on your current circumstances. If you’re facing reduced income, focus on your priorities and take care of the basics for now. If you aren’t sure how to get started with a budget, here are 7 steps that will help you build a budget that works. Or feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to help you.

Reduce Your Spending or Increase Your Income

After you’ve got your budget outline, you’ll likely see areas where you could cut back a bit with your spending. Start with expenses that are easy to reduce and try cutting them back by half.

Quitting cold turkey is hard because you’ve developed your spending habits over the last number of years. Your circumstances are stressful enough – don’t make them worse by setting yourself up to fail. And if there’s something you really can’t cut back on, look for ways to increase your income even just a bit. For example, could you:

 

  • Take in a student or tenant?
  • Rent out your garage?
  • Use space out back for someone to park their RV during the off-season?
  • Take on an extra shift each week at work?
  • Have your teenage children start working part-time to earn their own spending money?
Stacks of coins sitting on the table with a piggy bank
Top view of a person sitting on a table looking at invoices with a calculator

Track Your Spending

If you can’t see where to reduce your spending, try tracking your expenses for a few weeks to get a better handle on your spending habits.

Track expenses that you’re not sure about, like if you shop at all-inclusive grocery stores. If you can buy milk, pizza, and new patio furniture all at the grocery store, try tracking what you spend in that store. You might be surprised how much you buy in addition to your groceries!

Also, don’t forget to keep track of how often you buy coffee or snacks on the go. Every little bit counts. If you need help tracking, try using our expense tracker, a little notebook, or a free app on your phone to get started.

When You Need Mortgage Debt Relief and to Avoid Foreclosure

While this is a very difficult and stressful time for you, you’re not the only one who has ever struggled to make their mortgage payments, or think they need to get out of mortgage debt fast, so don’t feel bad. Instead, use this as a wake-up call to get your financial house back in order. You have lots of options to get help, deal with your debts and avoid a mortgage foreclosure. We’re happy to help.

 

Worried about a loan?

Get answers from an expert.

If you feel overwhelmed by a mortgage or other kind of loan, or are not sure what the best option is for you, we’re here to help. One of our professional credit counsellors would be happy to review your financial situation with you, answer your questions, and help you find the right solution to overcome your financial challenges. Speaking with our certified counsellors is always free, confidential and without obligation.

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