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What to Do If You’re Saying “I Need Help Immediately”

by Stacy Yanchuk Oleksy

Sometimes when life presents us with challenges we think to ourselves “it’s okay Self, we got this. We can handle it.” And sometime we wonder, “maybe I need help immediately.” This is no different for our personal finances.

What to do if you're saying I need help right now.Money and personal finances is a tricky thing – we think it’s about the dollars and cents, the money. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What it’s really about is the stuff underneath the surface that most people can’t see. It’s about our values, hopes, beliefs, history, triggers, and our desires and goals. Furthermore, money is one of the last taboo topics in Canada and so we don’t typically seek out help because we don’t want to feel like we’re the only one in the room that doesn’t know what’s going on with our money.

Did Anyone Teach You These?

When I teach workshops, I do this exercise every time.  I have the whole group stand up and then ask them three questions. If any one of them is true, they can sit down. The questions are:

  1. Were you born with money management talent?
  2. Did you parents teach you how to manage your money well when you were growing up? And,
  3. Did you have teachers who taught you how to manage money while you were in school?

Some people sit down for each question but most of us including me, couldn’t sit down for any question.  The reality is we’re not typically born with money management talent, our parents, while they did their best, likely didn’t talk about money growing up, and it wasn’t part of the curriculum for teachers to teach us.  And yet, we expect that once we get our first credit card, that we’ll know intuitively how to manage it.  Yikes!  We don’t hand the keys to the family car over to our new driver and hope she knows how to drive because she’s watched us, her parents drive for years.  So why do we do that with credit?

Things get trickier when we start racking up the credit card bills, maxing out our line of credit and/or constantly using our overdraft to cover our spending.  We start to feel like we’re the only person who doesn’t have a clue about our money because everyone else looks so confident and self-assured, with their new car, their home, and the vacation they’re about to take to someplace sunny.  How do they do it, we wonder?  This is when feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, and incompetence creep in, creating a doom loop, sinking us further into embarrassment and shame.  Our world starts to close in on us as our options evaporate and so when a life raft is tossed to us by way of a commercial on TV or ad on the radio, with a confident expert telling us they know what we’re going through and they can help, we reach out.  But do we know who we’re reaching out to?  Do we feel confident in asking some hard questions so we don’t get taken advantage of?

Many Canadians Struggle with Their Finances

What I’ve come to learn in working in the financial industry for nearly a decade is that most of us lack confidence when it comes to asking for help.  We feel embarrassed and ashamed, judging ourselves with statements like “I should know this.”  “How hard can this be to figure out?”  “Why does everyone else have it together but we don’t?”  We don’t want to appear clueless and definitely don’t want anyone to know our problems, lest they think we’re incompetent!

The reality is many Canadians struggle with managing their day-to-day finances.  Are we surprised?  We likely didn’t talk about it as kids growing up, we didn’t learn it in school, and no one taught us when we started our first job.  But rest assured, for every money problem, there is a money solution.  The key is understanding your own personal circumstances and creating a tailor-made solution that works specifically for you.  But this requires being brave and courageous and asking for help immediately.

Signs You Need Help with Your Debt

As soon as you feel that niggle of worry about money, ask for help.  If you got a sudden and unexplainable pain, you would see a doctor.  If your car started making a weird noise, you would check in with your mechanic.  Money is no different.  Some signs to pay attention to include but aren’t limited to:

  • Worrying about money
  • Fighting about money with your partner
  • In your overdraft
  • Making minimum payments on your credit products
  • Being declined for additional credit
  • Considering or using payday loans

What to Do If Your Seeing These Signs

Similar to a pain in your body or a noise in your car, these are warning signs.  And if they’re not addressed, things will get worse and your options will become inaccessible.  So get help immediately.  Book an appointment with a non-profit credit counselling agency, ensuring they are accredited and licensed.

I can tell you that when I had the privilege of leading our Credit Counselling department for three years, I saw clients regularly who were afraid and embarrassed.  But they made the courageous decision to pick up the phone and book an appointment.  And in this appointment, we reviewed their whole financial situation and discussed options available to them.  The act of letting the words touch the air, letting out all of the stress and worry to a competent, non-judgmental individual and figuring out some possible solutions reduces stress, worry, anxiety, and increases hope!  And even better, over 67% of our clients reported sleeping better after seeing a Credit Counsellor.  Because who couldn’t use a better night’s sleep?!?  Money problems don’t get better if we ignore them.  In fact they get worse.  So if I can leave you with one piece of advice, it would be at the first little sign of stress, get help immediately.

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