Tag Archives: credit score

Five Tips to Increase Your Credit Score Quickly

tips to improve your credit score
In order to qualify for certain mortgage and loan products, a minimum credit score is essential. Even if your score is sufficient to qualify, you might find the rates being offered will be lower than if you had a higher score.

Having worked with thousands of personal credit histories over the years, we have developed some strategies that sometimes give you that much needed quick score boostsort of like jumper cables for credit!

tips to improve your credit scoreHere are a few scenarios this might help with:

  • You are being pre-approved for a mortgage, but your bank or broker remark your score is too low and you don’t qualify.
  • You want to qualify for a mortgage AND a home equity line of credit (HELOC), but your lender says you need a higher score to get both.
  • You are working with a mortgage broker who is arranging a mortgage with a B-lender for you. She tells you that your interest rate will be lower if your Equifax Fico score is over 680.

And it’s not just about homeownership…

  • You are preparing your pitch to prospective landlords. These days, that often includes your credit report. Your chances will be better if your score is in the 700s or even 800s.
  • You want to apply for a personal line of credit or a high-end personal credit card, but your score is too low.

1. Use The Optimal Utilization Strategy

When maximizing your personal credit score, you should look at your utilization of available credit for each individual credit facility. By this I mean what percentage of your available credit is the balance being reported?

Percentage utilization can have a significant impact on your personal credit score. Equifax Canada states utilization has a 30% weighting on your personal credit score.

Optimal Utilization Strategy for credit scoreOne scenario: maybe a furniture store or a home improvement store offered you “don’t pay for one year.” The balance you are carrying on this card might be relatively small, but if it’s at or over the actual card limit, this is dragging down your personal credit score. Consider paying it off now!

Another scenario: suppose you have three credit cards, each with a limit of $10,000.

And let’s say one card has a balance owing of $9,900 and the other two have zero balances. This might happen because you are trying to earn rewards on one particular card, or maybe you said yes to a balance transfer promotional offer.

Chances are your credit score is lower than if the usage was spread across the three cards equallyi.e., each with a balance owing of $3,300, or 33% of the limit.

Overall, your usage remains unchanged, but now you no longer have an individual card reporting at 99% utilization.

If you can afford to cover or reduce the balance owing on the one with a balance of $9,900, you should see a nice little score boost.

2. Use the Statement Date Strategy

It may be that the best thing for you to do is simply reduce balances owing on your credit facilities. If time is of the essence, you should plan this carefully and do it in the correct order.

Gather up your most recent available statements for all relevant credit facilities. And note the day of the month when the statement was printed. Most of the time it’s the balance on that statement date that is being reported to the credit bureau.

And give or take a day, it is safe to assume that same day of the following month is when the next statement will be issued.

So, plan your payments accordingly. And allow several business days for online payments to process in time. If you are paying a credit card issued by your own bank, you should see transfer payments being processed either instantly or overnight.

3. Pay It Down and Keep It Down

pay down your debtThis is especially important when your limits are not very large. Suppose you are a model citizen who uses her credit card frequently, and pays the balance in full every month after receiving the monthly statement, and before the due date.

That is the “correct way” to manage your credittaking advantage of the grace period you are given by all card issuers.

But these days, there is little benefit to trying to use up the entire grace period because current account interest rates are so low they are pretty much negligible. It’s far better to pay your balance in full before your statements come out. You are even more of a model citizen, and now the balance being reported to the credit bureau will always be extremely small, if anything.

4. Exercise All Dormant Credit Cards and Lines of Credit

Some people have credit facilities they never use. People tend to favour one particular credit card (maybe we like their rewards program) and we might neglect our other cards. And most of the time we don’t even need our personal line of credit.

If you are trying to maximize your credit score, it is good to use all available credit fairly regularly, even if it’s just for a nanosecond.

It will rarely be correct to close these older credit facilities since they are contributing ‘score juice.’ Equifax Canada states your history can have a 15% weighting on your personal credit score.

These credit facilities can become stale and may not be not pulling their weight on your personal credit history. Update the DLA (date of last activity) with a modest transaction and then pay it online immediately. If it’s a personal line of credit, just transfer $10 to yourself and the next day transfer back $10.50.

If you notice you have credit cards that have not seen daylight for months or years, take them to the supermarket or gas station, use them just once, and pay online right away. After the next statement these cards will report the date of last activity as the current month and year, and that may give you some much-needed points.

5. Scour & Clean All Reporting Errors

There might be some incorrect information in your personal credit history that’s needlessly dragging down your score.

A few examples include:

  • You have two or more personal profiles with the credit bureau and your information is scattered and diffused. Combining it all into one credit report could well increase your score and strengthen your look. (This often happens to people whose name is hard to spell, or who have legally changed their name).
  • Late payments being reported when it’s not you. Maybe you have a relative with the exact same name.
  • That router you returned to the cable company is showing as a collection; but in fact you returned it to the local store.
  • You completed a consumer proposal and all the debts included in the proposal should be reporting zero balances and should not carry an “R9” rating. This generally means an account has been placed for collection or is considered un-collectible.
  • There may be incorrect late paymentsEquifax Canada states payment history has a 35% weighting on your personal credit score.

Mortgage brokers can fast track an investigation with Equifax Canada for you. What might take you two months, we can get done in a few days. Keep that in mind if time is of the essence.

improving your financial healthThe Takeaway

This overview is a fairly simplistic way of looking at your personal credit report and highlights initiatives specifically intended to give your credit score a quick boost. These tips are not necessarily the same as when you are managing for optimal credit health or interest-expense minimization.

Ideally, you are working with someone who understands all the nuances and who can help you determine what your priorities should be.

Source:CanadianMortgageTrends – 
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The House passed Ayanna Pressley’s credit score reform bill. Here’s what it would do

BOSTON, MA - 01/20/2020 Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley speaks during a panel conversation at the annual MLK Memorial Breakfast Committee, the nations longest-running event honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The event hosted an audience of over 1,350 guests including business, civic, community and religious leaders.  Erin Clark / Globe Staff
Rep. Ayanna Pressley speaks during a panel conversation at the annual MLK Memorial Breakfast last week in Boston. –Erin Clark / The Boston Globe

Rep. Ayanna Pressley says she is “thrilled” that the House of Representatives passed her bill to reform the credit report system, though the legislation’s future in the Senate is unclear.

The House approved the Comprehensive Credit Reporting Enhancement, Disclosure, Innovation, and Transparency (CREDIT) Act on a mostly party-line vote Wednesday afternoon.

Pressley — who has championed often-arcane financial reform bills during her first term in Congress — says the legislation would address a “fundamentally flawed” system that can impede upward economic mobility in a country where “our credit reports are our reputations.”

“When credit reports determine where you can live, work and how much you will have to pay for everything from a car to a college degree, consumers deserve a system that ensures equity, transparency and accountability,” the Massachusetts congresswoman said in a statement. “American families are finding themselves trapped in cycles of debt, simply for trying to afford basic needs like healthcare and education.”

Pressley also made her first House floor appearance after revealing she had lost her hair due to alopecia to speak in support of the bill Wednesday.

She also later tweeted about the landmark day.

The Comprehensive CREDIT Act includes measures to make it easier for the estimated 20 percent of consumers who have a “potentially material error” on their credit report to seek corrections; limit the use of credit scores for employment purposes; expand the opportunity for student loan borrowers to improve their credit scores; restore credit to victims of predatory agencies; ban the reporting of debt incurred from “medically necessary procedures” and delay the reporting of other medical debt; shorten the time that most adverse credit information stays on a report from seven years to four years, and from 10 years to seven years in the case of a bankruptcy; and bolster the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s oversight of the industry.

According to CFPB data, the watchdog agency has received more than 326,000 complaints against credit reporting agencies since 2012, which accounts for nearly 22 percent of the total complaints filed during that time period.

According to Pressley’s office, the Comprehensive CREDIT Act comprises tenets of several other bills introduced by fellow members of the House Financial Services Committee. However, the Boston Democrat authored the student loan-focused section of the bill, which would:

  • Establish a credit rehabilitation process overseen by the CFPB for borrowers facing economic hardship to repair their credit profile.
  • Prohibit credit reporting agencies from including any information on a credit report relating to a delinquent or defaulted student loan after the borrower makes nine on-time monthly payments.
  • Provide a grace period for borrowers seeking rehabilitation but experiencing significant financial hardship or other extenuating circumstances such as certain military deployments or residing in an area impacted by a major disaster.
  • Require private lenders offering repayment plans to borrowers seeking rehabilitation to offer affordable monthly payments and additional assistance.

Student debt has become an increasing burden for students in Massachusetts. A study in 2018 found that the average debt load for Bay State graduates increased by 77 percent between 2004 and 2016, faster than in any other state in the country except Delaware. According to Pressley’s office, more than 855,000 borrowers owed a total of $33.3 billion in student debt last year in Massachusetts — and nearly 100,000 are behind on their loans.

“Even if we wipe out all student debt tomorrow, the devastating impact on consumers’ credit would remain for years to come,” Pressley said in her speech. “For that very reason, we must give folks a real chance at recovery and repair.”

The bill passed the Democrat-controlled House by a 221-to-189 margin. With the exception of two moderate Democrats who joined Republicans to vote against the legislation, the vote was divided by party lines.

For the legislation to proceed any further, Democrats will likely have to wait until at least another election. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican-controlled Senate’s majority leader, has repeatedly ignored the hundreds of bills passed by House Democrats.

Massachusetts state lawmakers have also recently proposed new protections for student borrowers in the wake of relaxed federal oversight under President Donald Trump.

Source: Boston.com – Boston News – , January 30, 2020
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Those who think they are financially literate may be a bigger risk

Many Canadians are taking risks with their financial security and some of those that say they know better are building up higher levels of debt.

A new survey shows that 67% of respondents said that they are financially literate but when tested two thirds are not repaying credit cards in full each month (30% believe making the minimum payment stops interest charges); 72% are not saving on a regular basis; and 43% are not tracking their monthly expenses or spending habits.

The survey from loan search and comparison platform Loans Canada also reveals that 46% of respondents are ‘loan stacking’ or taking on multiple loans from several lenders for emergency funds or just to cover everyday expenses.

When arranging a loan 60% do not call the lender and 38% don’t compare lenders.

Almost half of the credit-constrained Canadians carry high-interest debt in the form of payday loans (45%) and credit cards (55%).

“The purpose of this survey was to learn more about credit-challenged Canadians and the role their financial literacy plays in the financial decisions they make.” said Loans Canada CTO Cris Ravazzano.

Source: Real Estate Professional – by Steve Randall 24 Jan 2020

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Canadians Need Guidance With Their Mortgages

That’s the takeaway from a national survey released this week by Rates.ca, which found half of Canadians aren’t aware of the mortgage options available to them.

Not only that, but Canadians are lacking in some other basic mortgage trivia, with an astounding 9 out of 10 respondents not knowing that mortgage interest is charged semi-annually:

  • 28% think interest is compounded monthly;
  • 17% think it’s bi-weekly;
  • 17% think it’s annually;
  • 28% just have no idea.

Should we be concerned?

confused mortgage consumerDustan Woodhouse, President of Mortgage Architects, and a former active broker who has written multiple educational mortgage books, thinks so.

“Sounds about right. We know about what we pay attention to, i.e., The Kardashians,” he wrote to CMT. “The material concern in this is how easy it makes it for the government to over-regulate the industry, with clients blaming the banksrather than the appropriate parties. This disconnect is deeply concerning.”

Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that only four out of 10 Canadians (39%) know they can avoid paying default insurance on their mortgage if they make a down payment of 20% or more.

With default insurance running anywhere from 45.85% of the mortgage value, we’re talking some serious dinero being spentpotentially unknowingly and unnecessarily.

So, what can be done? Woodhouse admits there are no simple answers, but says making mortgages more tangible to borrowers would be a good place to start.

“The root issue is making mortgages interesting and relevant to clients more often than when they need one,” he said. “It needs to be all about housing, not simply mortgages.”

Paul Taylor, President and CEO of Mortgage Professionals Canada, agrees.

“Unless you deal in mortgages, you only talk about them, generally, once every five years,” he said. “I’m sure at the time of signing, the borrowers understood what their payment obligations were and the schedule; after that, the rest of the information provided was likely filed under ‘nice to know but not relevant enough to me to retain.’”

Making the Case for Mortgage Brokers

With a growing trend towards “do-it-yourself” online mortgage shopping, we wondered if these survey results reinforce the need for mortgage brokers in guiding uninformed borrowers about their mortgage options.

mortgage broker helping clients“Big time…more than ever brokers are required,” Woodhouse said.

Taylor added that the stats “clearly demonstrate the need for professional and impartial advice at the time of purchase/renewal/refinance. And while some may suggest they are comfortable purchasing online without counsel, I think we can see that is inadvisable in almost all cases.”

Taylor pointed to the UK as an example. Following the crash of 2008, he noted the country adopted several policies by 2014, including disallowing borrowers to be able to self-declare income, and requiring mortgage consumers to be provided mandatory advice on mortgage products.

“The last point, I think, would likely begin to receive international discussion/attention if online sales begin to increase too quickly given the data this survey demonstrates,” Taylor said. “Given the size of these loans, the personal liability and the potential interest-cost difference for as little as a quarter-point in interest, I expect there may be some scrutiny on consumer outcomes for these self-serve options.”

Additional Survey Tidbits

The Rates.ca survey revealed some additional interesting findings about Canadians’ knowledge gap when it comes to financial products, including:

  • Nearly 7 out of 10 Canadians (68%) aren’t aware that interest on credit cards is calculated daily.
  • 30% admitted they are unlikely or somewhat unlikely to make the minimum monthly payments on their credit cards.
  • 40% of respondents admitted to not knowing their credit score.
  • 43% said they felt comfortable negotiating their mortgage over the internet.
  • And 94% believe schools should place greater emphasis on teaching financial literacy.
Source: Canadian Mortgage Trends – Steve Huebl 
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Why 4 websites give you 4 different credit scores — and none is the number most lenders actually see

These three consumers looked up their credit score on four different websites and each got four different results. (Jonathan Stainton/CBC)

The most popular credit score that lenders use in Canada can’t be accessed directly by consumers

Whether through ads or our own experiences dealing with banks and other lenders, Canadians are frequently reminded of the power of a single number, a credit score, in determining their financial options.

That slightly mysterious number can determine whether you’re able to secure a loan and how much extra it will cost to pay it back.

It can be the difference between having a credit card with a manageable interest rate or one that keeps you drowning in debt.

Not surprisingly, many Canadians want to know their score, and there are several web-based services that offer to provide it.

But a Marketplace investigation has found that the same consumer is likely to get significantly different credit scores from different websites — and chances are none of those scores actually matches the one lenders consult when deciding your financial fate.

‘That’s so strange’

We had three Canadians check their credit scores using four different services: Credit Karma and Borrowell, which are both free; and Equifax and TransUnion, which charge about $20 a month for credit monitoring, a plan that includes access to your credit score.

One of the participants was Raman Agarwal, a 58-year-old small business owner from Ottawa, who says he pays his bills on time and has little debt.

Canadian company Borrowell’s site said he had a “below average” credit score of 637. On Credit Karma, his score of 762 was labelled “very good.”

As for the paid sites, Equifax provided a “good” score of 684, while TransUnion said his 686 score was “poor.”

Agarwal was surprised by the inconsistent results.

“That’s so strange, because the scoring should be based on the same principles,” he said. “I don’t know why there’s a confusion like that.”

The other two participants also each received four different scores from the four different services. The largest gap between two scores for the same participant was 125 points.

The results when three consumers checked their credit score using four different websites. (David Abrahams/ CBC)

 

The free websites, Borrowell and Credit Karma, purchase the scores they provide to consumers from Equifax and TransUnion, respectively, yet all four companies share a different score with a different proprietary name.

Credit scores are calculated based on many factors, including payment history; credit utilization, which is how much of a loan you owe versus how much you have available to you; money owing; how long you’ve been borrowing; and the types of credit you have. But these factors can be weighted differently depending on the credit bureau or lender, resulting in different scores.

So, which credit score is giving Agarwal the clearest picture of his credit standing?

Marketplace learned that none of the scores the four websites provide is necessarily the same as the one lenders are most likely to use when determining Agarwal’s creditworthiness.

We spoke with multiple lenders in the financial, automotive and mortgage sectors, who all said they would not accept any of the scores our participants received from the four websites.

“So, we don’t know what these scores represent,” said Vince Gaetano, principal broker at MonsterMortgage.ca. “They’re not necessarily reliable from my perspective.”

All consumer credit score platforms have small fine-print messages on their sites explaining that lenders might consult a different score from the one provided.

‘Soft’ vs. ‘hard’ credit check

The score that most Canadian lenders use is called a FICO score, previously known as the Beacon score. FICO, which is a U.S. company, sells its score to both Equifax and TransUnion. FICO says 90 per cent of Canadian lenders use it, including major banks.

But Canadian consumers cannot access their FICO score on their own.

To find out his FICO score, Agarwal had to agree to what’s known as a “hard” credit check. That’s where a business runs a credit check as though a customer is applying for a loan.

Lenders are contractually obligated not to share a copy of the report FICO provides with the customer. They can only discuss the information and provide insight.

A hard check comes with risk. Unlike the “soft” check Agarwal agreed to from the four websites, a hard check could negatively impact his credit score.

As Credit Karma’s website explains, “Multiple hard inquiries in a short period could lead lenders and credit card issuers to consider you a higher-risk customer, as it suggests you may be short on cash or getting ready to rack up a lot of debt.”

Mortgage broker Vince Gaetano offered to do a hard credit check for Agarwal, as if he was applying for a loan, so he could learn his FICO score.

Agarwal took him up on the offer and was stunned to learn his FICO score was 829 — nearly 200 points higher than the lowest score he received online.

Raman Agarwal of Ottawa was shocked to learn the disparity between his FICO score and the four other credit scores he received online. (CBC )

 

“Oh my god!” Agarwal said when he heard the news. “I am really happy, but totally surprised.”

Doug Hoyes, co-founder of Hoyes, Michalos and Associates Inc., one of the largest personal insolvency firms in Canada, was also surprised by the disparity between Agarwal’s FICO score and the other scores he’d received.

“How can you be poor somewhere and fantastic somewhere else?”

Marketplace asked all four credit score companies why Agarwal’s FICO score was so different from the ones provided on their sites.

No one could provide a detailed answer. Equifax and TransUnion did say their scores are used by lenders, but they wouldn’t name any, citing proprietary reasons.

Credit Karma declined to comment. However, on its customer service website, it says the credit score it provides to consumers is a “widely used scoring model by lenders.”

‘A complicated system’

The free services, Borrowell and Credit Karma, make money by arranging loan and credit card offers for customers who visit their sites. Borrowell told Marketplace the credit score it provides is used by the company itself to offer loans directly from Borrowell. The company could not confirm whether any of its lending partners also use the score.

“So there are many different types of credit scores in Canada … and they’re calculated very differently,” said Andrew Graham, CEO of Borrowell. “It’s a complicated system, and we’re the first to say that it’s frustrating for consumers. We’re trying to help add transparency to it and help consumers navigate it.”

From Agarwal’s perspective, the credit companies are simply using the scoring system as a marketing tool.

“There should be one score,” he said. “If they are running an algorithm, there should be one score, no matter what you do, how you do it, should not change that score.”

The FICO score is also the most popular score in the U.S. Unlike in Canada, Americans can access their score easily by purchasing it on FICO’s website, or through FICO’s Open Access Program, without any risk of it impacting their credit rating.

 

FICO told Marketplace it would like to bring the Open Access Program to Canada, but it’s up to Canadian lenders.

“We are open to working with any lender and their credit bureau partner of choice to enable FICO Score access to the lender’s customers,” FICO said in an email.

Hoyes, the insolvency expert, suggests instead of focusing on your credit score, a better approach to monitoring your financial status would be to shift attention to your credit report and ensuring its accuracy.

All four websites Marketplace looked at provide credit reports to consumers.

A credit report is the file that describes your financial situation. It lists bank accounts, credit cards, inquiries from lenders who have requested your report, bankruptcies, student loans, mortgages, whether you pay your credit card bill on time, and other debt.

Although the mathematical formulas used to calculate different credit scores are unknown, credit score companies say these are some of the factors that could influence your number. (David Abrahams/CBC)

 

Hoyes said consumers are trying too hard to have the perfect credit score. The fact is, some activities that could boost a credit score, such as getting a new credit card or taking on a loan, aren’t necessarily the best financial decisions.

“My advice is to focus on what is better for your financial health, not what is best for the lender’s financial health.”

He said paying off debt and increasing savings is a better idea than focusing solely on the factors that can increase your credit score.

You focusing on this one metric, that isn’t the same thing the lender is using anyways, is really pointless, and I think it leads to bad decisions.– Doug Hoyes, Hoyes, Michalos and Associates Inc.

He points to billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the third richest person in the world, as an example.

“Would you rather lend to Warren Buffett, who’s got … cash in the bank but has a lousy credit score because he’s never borrowed and hasn’t built up any history, or some guy who has five credit cards and he constantly … moves the balance from one to the other and keeps his utilization under 20 per cent?”

The real estate, mortgage and auto lenders Marketplace spoke with said they look at more than just your credit score before making a lending decision. They also consider things like your income, your history with their company, the size of a downpayment, and other factors not reflected in your score.

For Hoyes, those factors are much more important than a three-digit number.

“You focusing on this one metric, that isn’t the same thing the lender is using anyways, is really pointless, and I think it leads to bad decisions.”

 

The good news, according to Borrowell CEO Andrew Graham, is that if you’re doing things like paying your bills on time and not maxing out your credit cards, you will see improvement in whatever credit score you track.

“I think that’s the power here.”

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Keeping score

Keeping scoreBrokers must be willing to take on the role of educator when preparing the next generation of homebuyers to apply for a mortgage. A recent survey by Refresh Financial found that only 41% of Canadians know their credit score, and 20% are too scared to even find out their score.

Millennials (those born between the early ’80s and mid-’90s) and generation z (those born from the early ’90s to mid-2000s) are particularly anxious about their credit history and uninformed about how to build good credit. Thirty-nine per cent of millennial and gen z respondents said they were more stressed about their credit score than they were a year ago, and 25% admitted they’re not sure what makes up their credit score. In addition, a third of 18- to 34-year-olds said they believe their credit score is holding them back from making important life choices such as purchasing a home.

Click all images to enlarge.

Source: MortgageBrokerNews.ca –  08 Aug 2019

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Acceptable debt versus bad debt

Not all consumer debt is bad but it’s wise to be cautious: expert

Increasing the amount of consumer debt isn’t necessarily bad as long as it’s affordable, according to Matt Fabian, director, research and industry analysis, at credit research company TransUnion.

TransUnion studies Canadian debt and produces a report every quarter. Their latest report is for the second quarter, ending June 30. In an interview, Fabian said the study is providing an overview of debt in relation to how fast income rates are rising and household net worth is increasing.

“Our study this quarter suggests that Canadians are still increasing their debt, up 3.9 per cent in the second quarter, compared to the same quarter a year ago,” he said.

“A couple of things that we note are, although debt continued to go up, the rate with which it increased has started to slow for the past couple of quarters, when you compare it annually,” said Fabian.

“It might be too early to say we’re at … an inflection  point but the combination of interest rates increasing and some economic uncertainty in different regions of Canada are giving people pause and maybe they may not be accumulating as much debt as they were, at the rate they were,” he said.

There is some good news coming from the Atlantic region, Fabian said of the quarterly study.

Although the economy can be volatile in the Atlantic region, he said, TransUnion sees provinces like Nova Scotia performing much better than the national average.

The average non-mortgage consumer debt in Nova Scotia is about $28,400 and only went up about 1.24 per cent on a year-over-year basis, said Fabian. New Brunswick is similar, even slightly less, at $27,300 and it went up about 2.37 per cent. Prince Edward Island had average non-mortgage consumer debt of $28,426, which is up 2.16 per cent in the second quarter, compared to the same quarter in 2017.

Newfoundland and Labrador came in under the national average in the second quarter as well, he said, with average non-mortgage consumer debt landing at $30,169, up 2.16 per cent when compared to the second quarter of 2017.

Generally, the Atlantic provinces are well below the national average non-mortgage debt, which increased by 3.87 per cent in the second quarter, said Fabian.  From a delinquency perspective, however, the region scored “a little bit higher” than the second quarter national average of 5.33 per cent.

New Brunswick’s consumer delinquency rates on non-mortgage debt in the second quarter – 90 days past due – was 8.37 per cent, the highest in the region.

According to TransUnion, Newfoundland and Labrador’s consumer delinquency rate was 6.88 per cent, Nova Scotia’s delinquencies were 6.87 per cent and P.E.I. had a consumer delinquency rate in the second quarter of 5.74 per cent.

“Newfoundland (delinquency rate) trended up .32 per cent while Nova Scotia went down about 0.7 per cent,” Fabian said. “Halifax among the major cities has amongst the lowest consumer debt, about $26,000, and it was the only major city in Canada that had negative consumer debt growth (in the second quarter).”

When one takes into context growing household net worth consumer debt is not necessarily a bad thing, Fabian said. “I think the fact that delinquency rates are a little bit higher might be a little bit concerning from a risk perspective but they’re not way out of whack and delinquency rates tend to have a long tail. So, some of the Atlantic provinces for sure are coming out of a little bit of a slump economically and it takes, sometimes, 12 to 24 months to manifest itself in delinquency rates.”

Fabian said as the economy bounces back it leads to jobs and increased salaries, so it seems reasonable to be optimistic about the debt situation.

“We tell people, generally, there’s two things to keep in mind. Understand how much you can afford. So, from a delinquency perspective there’s the notion of stress testing and you should kind of stress test yourself.

“When you’re looking to take out debt or increasing your credit card payments, by putting something on your credit card or taking out a line of credit for a renovation, or whatever it might be, don’t just consider the position you’re in right now and say, ‘Yeah, I can afford that $300 monthly payment.’ But kind of consider your cash flow and maybe, take into account your circumstance to say: ‘Could I cover that payment in the event that I lose my job.’ Or, ‘Can I cover that payment for three months while I’m looking for another job.’ This is what we call … stress testing yourself to see if you can absorb that shock should there be some unforeseen event.”

By taking a realistic view of debt and one’s ability to manage it, Fabian says it will provide a little bit of comfort for an individual to realize they really are comfortable taking on some additional debt, he said.

“From a balance perspective, as long as you feel like you can take that on, I don’t know if taking on credit debt is necessarily a bad thing, it depends on what you’re doing it for. If it’s a mortgage or a line of credit to renovate your home or something like to improve the value of an asset or property for investing then that might be a good use of your debt. If it’s to buy new shoes or go on a vacation because you just want to, might not be the best use of your debt,” Fabian concluded.

Source: Cape Breton Post –  
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