Q: This past summer, we bought our first home. It took three years of sacrifice with no holidays and very little entertainment. My family celebrates Christmas in a big way. We are a little concerned about accumulating debt this season. Fortunately, I got a small raise, our credit card limits were increased and we received a new card in the mail. Are there any suggestions you can offer a young couple this Christmas season?
A: It looks like you are off to a good start. Buying a new home in Toronto is an accomplishment for any young couple. Real estate market values in the Toronto area have increased to such a high that it is unaffordable to many young and older couples. Fortunately, you recognized at a very young age the sacrifices and discipline are necessary to set and achieve a goal.
I applaud you in succeeding with saving a down payment and entering the housing market. However, as the old popular song lyrics go “you’ve only just begun,” let us not get caught in the vicious web of the debt cycle. Year after year, many Canadians struggle and wrestle with debt and cannot get off this cycle. Same-day cash money stores and credit card companies make outrageous profits from individuals that cannot manage debt. Your cost for using their money varies up to 25 per cent for credit and department store cards and up to 400 per cent for same-day cash money stores.
Let’s be honest, this is the twenty-first century and we all need credit cards, particularly for convenience. Try renting a video or a car; making a hotel reservation, an online purchase, and yes, shopping is made easier.
Advertisers do their utmost to put you in the spending spirit. Retailers count on you every season and I am all for keeping the economy going, but not by getting into debt. Be more selective and get value for your buck.