Debt Consolidation Vancouver

Real people's stories about their struggle with debt. For more information go to www.debtgone.ca

Archive for the student loans

Hard Pill To Swallow

Sometimes you have to hit bottom, to know how to climb back up.

Bottom came when a repo man appeared at my door on a Wednesday morning in April. He wanted my television, my couches, my sound system and my laptop. I was able to save the laptop with a quick loan from one of my neighbours. The couches, TV, speakers and receiver were put on a truck.

Sitting in my apartment that afternoon, I pulled out all my bills and made a list of what I owed. I wrote the number on a piece of paper with a sharpie pen and stared at it for over two hours as I thought about all the options at my disposal.

My Parents: I had gone to them for money when I was in University, but that was it. I could have gotten student loans, but they helped me pay for my entire tuition outright. I still owed them that favour. I couldn’t go to them again.

The Bank: Use one loan to pay for another…? I hear you could do it, but was it worth borrowing from one evil empire to pay another?

My Friends: They had money, but I had Butch’s nagging sting. I could never ask them.

Who or what then would be the answer? How would I continue with my payments with the smallest of incomes?

I Bid Adieu

Hi guys, it’s Julia here. It’s been awhile since I blogged. My life has taken a turn. I finally landed a teaching job! Hurray for me!!! And I have been busy preparing for my first classroom assignment this fall.

I landed a job in Creston B.C. It’s a small town of about 5,000 people. I’ll be teaching at Adam Robertson Elementary.

Finally, I will have a steady paycheck. I talked with Rob, my credit counsellor at Full Circle, and worked out a plan to increase my payments. Hopefully I will be financially free in less than three years.

Rob has been a rock for me and I cannot thank him enough for his support and advice.

But unfortunately, the new job will occupy the majority of my time. So I have decided to pass on the writing reigns to a friend of mine who also signed on with Full Circle Debt Consolidation. His name is Tyler. Hopefully he will provide you with the information you need to survive in this crazy city. Cause we all know how costly it can be…

Anyways, thanks for reading. I enjoyed sharing my stories with you.

My last piece of advice, and I know I’ve said it numerous times already, “you’re not alone.” There are a ton of Canadians out there going through the same financial struggles. Finding help is the only way to deal with your debt. If you try to turn your back on it, it will only rear its ugly head to bite you. Talk to Full Circle. They helped me and they can help you.

Alright Tyler, I hand the pen (keyboard) to you.

So Long Guys

Lose The Rent and Move Towards Ownership

Renting is for suckers. That said, I am the city’s #1 tootsie pop. I have been paying rent for over eight years, if you include student housing and living with my brother.  All that money I paid for a simple roof over my head and running water in the taps is gone. I will never see it again.

The smart option is home ownership. Paying into a mortgage is far more financially productive than paying a third party for the right to stay in their dwelling.

Getting your credit under control is the first step towards owning a home. Without a decent credit rating you will never be accepted for a mortgage.

Full Circle Debt Solutions can help you right your credit ship. They will construct a tailored repayment plan that will direct you out of your credit cave.

Once you have proven to your creditors that you can make punctual payments, your rating will begin to show positive signs. You can also take your credit plan to the banks to present a powerful argument for your capacity to repay your mortgage.

Credit troubles should not be black spot for life. Reduce the risk. Talk to Full Circle about a plan and get your finances in order for the big move into your first home.

Starter Home in Vancouver

Paying Online

Part of my problem when I was struggling with my debt issues was the denial of my growing debt. The bills would come and I would immediately stash them in a drawer in my room. The numbers depressed me and I knew I could never pay them.

The same applied to my bank statements. I never wanted to know how far I was into my overdraft or the amount I had spent on my Visa that month. I just wanted to pay the minimum and move on with life.

This, dear friends, is no way to live.

You need to be conscious of your spending if you ever plan to manage your life in a progressive manner. One way I found to manage my resources efficiently was to signup for online banking. It literally only takes a few minutes and you can do all your account transfers and budgeting online.

Opening monthly bank statements can be traumatic. Opening your account online is easy and painless. You will also be able to track your balance as you move through the week. It is an excellent resource for financial management.

No Internet access? Use the computers at your local public library.* You can check your Facebook, watch YouTube and manage your money all in one stop. Try it. It helped me. And most of my friends said I was beyond help.

*When working on computers at the library and at Internet cafés, always remember to clear your cache and reset your browser. You do not want your banking information getting into the wrong hands.

Just Remember To Check Over Your Shoulder

Add It Up

Well hello again. It’s me Julia, your friendly storyteller and fellow debtor. If you have been following my story, you know that by the fall of 2009 I was seriously floundering.

Let’s quickly review my situation for those who weren’t paying attention:

I was unable to find work in my field of study, Education.

I applied and received a credit card to pay for my bills and rent.

I found a job as a waitress to pay for my rent and the minimal payment on my card.

Student loan repayment had me paying another $357 a month until I got it reduced to $187.

I found a position inside a school, but fortunately it was only volunteer. Income tax can be a killer.

To get back and forth to my non-paying job I bought a car. Correction; I agreed to start making payments on a car.

Now let’s add up those monthly totals:

Credit card min. payment: $110

Student Loan: $187

Car payment: $263

Rent: $720

Subtotal: $1280

Lets add to that my other major expenditures:

Groceries: $375 (roughly)

Cigarettes: $120

Gas: $60

Subtotal: 555

Grand Total: 1835

Ouch. And I was barely making $2,000 a month. Paying the bills, but only when I could. I prayed for an easier way, a path of less resistance. It came, finally, but not before I added another debtor to my list…

The List

Dine Out Vancouver 2011

One for the girls, now one for the boys.

Fellas, I know times are tough and we all are a little bit strapped for cash after Christmas, but trust me, you need to take advantage of the Dine Out program running now in the many restaurants around Vancouver. This may be the only time you can take your girl to that restaurant she has been talking about for weeks. With a fixed menu at incredibly reasonable prices, you can afford to play the high roller for one night.

If you really want to impress her, find your own gem using the Dine Out map at the Tourism Vancouver website. You can search under cuisine type, which really helps.

A little tip though, stay away from the wine list. Last year I went with a friend to a a little French bistro on Broadway. The three-course dinner was billed at $38 a piece, but somehow the waiter convinced us to buy a bottle of red. He neglected to mention the price. The bill came and we owed close to two hundred dollars once we had factored in a tip. A student loan payment up in smoke.

The Dine Out program began on the 24th and will run until the 6th of February.

Enjoy my friends.

Student Ball and Chain

July 2009  – The Heavy Hand of the Federal Government

Opening up the bill, I slowly scanned the statement provided by the National Student Loan Bureau; $357 a month was to be my minimum payment. Wow. That was half my rent!

Well my friends were at the beach, I spent July working like an animal and worrying about how I could pay my credit cards and my loan payments. I felt alone, left to meek out a meager existence in a forest of debt.

Then a co-worker told me that I could apply for debt relief. By filling out a form and providing details on my current income, I could become available for a short term, reduced payment plan. I applied and two weeks later was accepted.

My new payment was $187. Steep, but manageable.

I paid the minimum on all my bills at the end of the month. Again, I was just barely surviving. The credit card interest was killing me. I needed a way to pay them off and focus solely on reducing my debt to the government.

I also needed out of the waitressing gig and into my field of study.

Maybe August would hold more promise.

Crippled by Debt

The Credit Trap

Like Lindsay Lohan’s career, my debt issues spiraled out of control in the early spring of 2009.

April 2009 – The First Bill Arrives
With my rent paid for with the Devil’s blood money, I resumed my efforts to find a job placement in my field of study. Maybe they could sense my soul had been removed, but by the middle of the month I was still without work. I was now making weekly visits to the school board offices, but each time they explained that there was already a list of available teachers and I was at the bottom.
On the 27th, my first bill arrived from Visa. Apparently interest begins immediately on cash advances. Why was this never explained in Grade 10 Business Education? I buried the bill, took another advance and paid off another months rent.

May 2009 – Resumé Rebuild
In the hole for over fourteen hundred dollars, I gathered what little pride I had left and returned to the Island to ask for help. I sought out one of my Ed teachers and asked him if he would mind reworking my resumé. We sat down for two hours and tweaked my professional CV and brainstormed a new, tentative cover letter.
Once back on the mainland, I returned to my hustling ways, but still no results. Rejected and convinced of failure I gave up my search and applied for a waitress position at a local restaurant.I was hired the next day.

When the end of the month came, I begged my boss for a cash advance to pay for my rent. He agreed. Thank you Rob.

June 2009 – Balancing Act: Waitress Nightmares
Two months overdue, I was finally able to pay the minimal payment on my credit card. I was working doubles and picking up any shifts I could get my hands on.
The work was physically demanding and tediously boring, but there was a small trickle of money coming in. At times I wanted to quit, but at the back of my mind was the now close to two thousand dollar debt that I had racked up on my Visa. It pushed me on and kept me from ripping off my apron.
I didn’t apply for a single position in June. I was caught, working a job that just barely held me afloat. I was treading water, but determined to survive.

Serving it Right

But that was before the government heavies sent me my first student loan bill

Resumés, Self Pity And The Devil

It’s been a week dear readers. Did you miss me? Please say yes.

Well, lets get back to the gory details.

January 2009 – Resumés, resumés, resumés!
So after completing my Education program on the Island, I crossed the Inlet to look for work in the lower mainland. I had a brother living here, so I moved in with him. That proved difficult, but again, that is a story for another blog.

The first month here I spent my time checking different job posting websites. I submitted my resumé to every position that became available and waited patiently for a response… nothing. Then I started dropping my resumé in person at every school board office between Squamish and Chilliwack. I got one phone call. From the Surrey office. They called to say ‘they weren’t hiring, but they would keep my resumé on file.’ Excellent.

February 2009 – Tears and Fears
With no responses, I started to panic. What if I never found work? What if I went years without work? How would I afford to live in the city? I couldn’t move back home, that would admit failure. Could I take on another job and still look for work?
Totally confused I spent the rest of the month feeling sorry for myself.

March 2009 – Last of the Free Rent / Deal With the Devil
In March my brother told me I would have to start paying rent. I needed to come up with money quickly. That’s when a friend of mine, a so-called-friend, suggested getting a credit card. They said I could use the card to take out an advance and then pay the money back when I found work. Honestly, looking back, I thought I was smarter than that. Turns out I wasn’t. Like a junkie’s first hit, I took the card, paid my brother off and bought a new pair of boots to help boost my spirits. And like that, I was hooked.

Aren't They Cute???

Text Talk

Well, I should probably tell you how I found my financial saviours.
It all started with a text conversation, with my good friend Alexis:

Alexis: OMG! Have you heard the Arcade Fire’s new album? Frking amazing!
Me: Yeah, I downloaded it last nite. The Sprawl 2 gave me goosebumps.
Alexis: You know theyre coming in Sept?!?! Lets get tix!
Me: Love to, but honestly, I have 0 funds. Can’t even afford to pay Rogers bill. This time next week I may be sending this msg by carrier pigeon. LOL
Alexis: Seriously, is it that bad? ☹
Me: You have no idea!
Alexis: You know my brother signed up for this debt program online.
Me: Oh yeah. You know what it was called?
Alexis: No, but Ben said it made his life way easier.
Me: How???
Alexis: Well for 1, he got in touch with a credit counselor. They explained his rights and then worked out a plan for repayment.
Me: Was this 2 different org.s?
Alexis: No, the debt program and the counselor were from the same company. I think the term Ben used was debt consolidation.
Me: Sounds like a disease.
Alexis: Hey! Don’t you knock it. Ben is way better off now. You should try it. Just google debt-consolidation-Vancouver.
Me: Alright, I’ll try it. But if I develop a thirst for kool-aid…
Alexis: LMAO!!! Don’t worry babe. It works.

Saving Tip: Pick Your Plan Wisely

Reality Closes In

So like I mentioned earlier, I had just recently graduated as a Certified Dental Assistant and I was now enjoying life in the workforce earning a decent wage. About 6 months in I received a letter regarding my student loan, stating that the interest payment freeze was over and I was now responsible for the payments of my previous student loans. Ouch. Also, my newest loan was now requiring monthly payments.

Vancouver is an expensive city and I soon found my new wealth drying up.  I was struggling to make monthly minimum payments and rent, let alone any extras for fun.  It’s such a trap, like a hamster on a wheel.  Any extra money I had would go straight onto my ever growing credit card bill but it didn’t make a difference.  My funds would run out before the next pay period so back on the credit card it goes.  At this rate I would never pay anything off not to mention be able to afford to do anything fun.  I wish someone would have told me about Full Circle Debt solutions at this point in my life.

I Finished School!

To continue with my story for Full Circle Debt Solutions …

It felt exhilarating to be released from school and to finally be earning a proper wage.  I managed to land a great job that paid more then I expected ($19/hr) to start and I was on my way.  Life was good.  Roger and I were stronger then ever and I suspected that we would soon be moving in together, away from wild roommates and communal living!

And boy did I spoil myself those first few months after school!  But I deserved it, or so I rationalized.  A girl can only take so much suffering and I used a great deal of my new cheques to spruce up my wardrobe and buy lovely things for my house that I could never afford before.     

  It took about 6 months for the dust to settle and then I realized that I was in a whole world of trouble but I’m off to sleep right now so this story will have to continue later.

Roger

Actually, vocational school wasn’t all bad.  Dental Assisting is a very practical and hands-on profession, which I found a refreshing change of pace from my university days.  It felt good to be a little settled on a career path too.  I was able to put a hold on my former student loan interest payments while I was in school so my debt was less intrusive to my day-to-day existence.

At this point I wasn’t yet clued into Full Circle Debt Solutions.

Plus I was in love!  His name was Roger and was a ruggedly handsome carpenter that I met through a friend of a friend on a wild night at the commodore.  We drank martinis and discussed everything under the sun until dawn.

Love has an all-consuming quality and my year of dental assisting school whirled by soon spitting me back into the workforce.

Don’t Give Up!

You know when something haunts you? No matter what you do or where you go, there it is. It hangs over your head until it becomes a part of your DNA and you can’t remember life without it.

That was my debt.

Before I found Full Circle Debt Solutions I was lost. I would oscillate between trying to be responsible by paying the miniscule amounts I could towards the debt or throwing my hands up at the sheer absurdity of my struggle and splurge to treat myself with some new clothes or such.

It was such an intense feeling to feel this debt looming over me and being powerless to do a thing about it. I became accustomed to avoiding thinking about it all together. I reasoned that there was nothing I could do about it so no point dwelling on the topic. Something like plugging ones ears and singing la la la la la la I can’t hear you! Probably not the best strategy granted.

Anyway I do digress. What I’m trying to say there is a way out. Don’t give up!

Vocational School

What is a girl to do with a mountain of debt and no skills beyond table service?  Vocational school!  So I swallowed my pride, cut my losses and succumb to the seemingly happy girls in scrubs advertised on route to my crappy job.

Dental Assisting.

I figured in for a year and out with a decent paying job that would tide me over until I could figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.

Interestingly, when I headed down to my local community college I discovered that many people had a similar plan.  The dreaded 2-year waiting list.  I mean who has 2 years to wait around to get into a course?  2 more years of slinging hash browns.  Forget that!  Luckily one of the private schools offered the program too but of course the catch was cost.  Almost $20 000 for the year.  That is more then the combined total of my stint at university.  Unbelievable.  Highway robbery.

  But what is a girl to do? 

Time is of the essence and the sooner I complete the program I can start earning a decent wage.

Indecisiveness Killed the Cat

I’ve always been an indecisive person.  I become enamored with something for a short period of time until I soon grow restless and in search of the next thing.  School turned out to be no different.  First I studied chemistry but I soon realized what a giant mistake that was (so boring!) so I moved on to philosophy and when I lost interest in that I moved on to psychology.

That is how my mountain of debt began, with school.  A year here, a year there, dancing through different disciplines and trying to find my niche. Post secondary education is a very expensive place to find oneself. After three years I was no further ahead and I had completed nothing.

Oh, and I had a load of debt and no skills to land me a decent paying job so back to serving in a restaurant it was. Only now I’m in my late 20’s and it is even less fun.

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