How To Fix Financial Difficulty In 5 Steps

fix financial difficulty


A common cause of financial difficulty typically stems from not being able to manage money properly.

Obvious right? Well, not to everyone which is why bankruptcy exists.

Money management is the key fundamental for success and critical to anyone who wants to avoid financial difficulty.

In fact, today it seems that avoiding financial difficulty is as easy as getting more credit but that’s only a short-term fix.

It’s a band-aid that many Canadians take on because they feel they are left with no other options other than credit counselling and bankruptcy.

Going bankrupt is no easy decision but if you’ve dug a hole so deep that may be your own option.

Before you even jump on the end-game wagon perhaps there are signs that you are missing.

It’s easy to brush debt under the carpet when you have other sources of income or ways of silencing creditors.

No one wants to believe they are suffering financial difficulty which makes it easier to turn a blind eye to mounting debt.

It’s this avoidance that causes Canadians to hide from their debt concerns in the first place.

Financial Difficulty Ahead

Dear Mr.CBB,

My husband and I have been married for 5 years and I feel we are headed towards a life of financial difficulty.

Unfortunately, I am the only person in the relationship that can sense this impending doom since I pay the bills.

I was hoping you could help me compile a list that I could sit and share with my husband when I talk to him about our financial problems.

I think having support from a financial expert such as yourself might help him to grasp the severity of our problem.

I’m tired of taking on the burden of stress every month trying to make bill payments on time and wondering if we are going to lose our house.

For instance, last month I had to borrow money from my sister to pay the mortgage.

I’m terrified for the rest of the year as I hope I can juggle the money to make ends meet.

Thanks for any help,


Pickering, Ontario

What is Financial Difficulty?

Financial difficulty is when you can’t make ends meet as Audrey is experiencing above.

Not being able to pay your bills on time, in full or even limiting one budget category to pay for another.

An example of that might be having to lower your grocery budget to pay the minimum payment on your credit card bill.

By the time you realize you are in financial difficulty, it becomes a sink or swim situation.

It won’t fix itself and will take an army of people, typically those who created the financial difficulty to fix it.

However, there are many warning signs when it comes to financial difficulties that are hard to miss.

Credit Card Problems

If you dread getting the mail and let it pile up once a week only because you know there are bills to pay this is a big problem.

Credit card debt is one of the most common debts around because owning a credit card is easy to do.

The problem with credit card ownership is being loyal to the money you spend by paying it back in full.

When you don’t do this the amount you owe will continue to rise through interest accumulation and any other purchases you make.

If you find you are only paying the minimum balance and have multiple credit cards that are maxed out or near, you are in financial difficulty.

Using a Spouse’s Credit Card

mans wallet filled with credit cards

I was watching a documentary the other day about a woman who was unhappy with her life and took on shopping as a high.

When her personal credit cards were maxed out she would steal her husband’s credit card and use that to shop with.

Since she managed the bills he wouldn’t even know she was doing this because she made sure it was paid off by defaulting or paying the minimum on other debts.

Limited Savings

If you don’t have a savings account with emergency savings to the tune of 3 to 12 months of your monthly expenses you may be in financial difficulty.

The worst feeling in the world is having an empty bank account or living paycheque to paycheque.

Borrowing Money

You may be taking cash advances from your credit card, bank loans or calling friends and family to lend you money.

If you do any of the above you are suffering from financial difficulty and need to mop it up fast.

If you are the lender in this situation especially friends and the family consider whether you can afford to part with money you may never see back.

Graduating with debt from a bank loan and no job will push you into this category as well.

Although you may have heard borrowing to educate yourself is a good debt at the end of the day, it’s still debt.

Bill Payments Late

Are you that person who pushes the limit on due dates for your bills in hopes you’ll come into some money?

Perhaps you’re calling utility companies and offering them excuses or even lying about why your bill payment will be late.

Whatever the case late bill payments or partial bill payments are a sign that financial difficulty is in your corner.

Fight it or it will fight you.

Minimum Payments

You should never just pay the minimum payment on credit cards if you can afford to pay it in full.

In fact, you shouldn’t even ben using a credit card if you can’t pay the bill in its entirety every month.

Credit cards are not free money and only paying the minimum is asking for trouble.


financial difficulty stealing with pliers

If you find that you must resort to stealing then it’s quite obvious you are suffering from financial difficulty.

Stealing not only is illegal but it can land you in jail, police record and a big fine along with a ban from the store.

There are so many things that can happen when you get caught stealing that it’s never worth the effort.

Almost every community in Canada has a food bank or community service to help people in need of food, clothing, and furniture.

If you are stealing big-ticket items to sell to pay your bills then you most definitely have financial difficulty and a money mindset that needs adjusting.

Lastly, if you are breaking into cars, houses or businesses or coming up with scams to steal money from people you have financial difficulty.

Creditors Calling

If you cringe when the phone rings because you think it’s a creditor wanting you to pay them back you have financial difficulty.

Creditors will hound you until you pay all or even part of the money you owe a company.

In some cases, the company you owe a debt to will sell that debt to third party creditors who will come after you knife and fork in hand.

They will stop at nothing at getting their money back even if they break the laws in Canada.

It happens every day, law or not.

Related: How To Deal With A Debt Collector You Can’t Pay


Financial difficulty homeless sleeping against a wall

Lastly, if you find yourself living in your car, couch surfing or on the streets you are most definitely suffering from financial difficulty.

There are resources available to those in need and if you want off the streets and into a new life then take the leap.

You can’t expect a job to come to you so do what you need to do to get where you need to go as long as it’s legal.

5 Ways To Fix Financial Difficulty

One of the first steps to take when you are suffering from financial difficulty is to let your creditors know.

By making a simple phone call and explaining to them that you have financial setbacks they may offer you payment options.

Other ideas would be to use the food bank to help cut down on expenses to pay off debt so you can get ahead.

Shop for second-hand items such as clothing and other household needs before buying anything new.

Let’s have a look at 5 other ways you can work on fixing your financial difficulties.

  • Budgeting

Get out of debt with a budget is commonly heard from just about every financial expert and it’s true.

You have to know where your money is going and have a place for it every month.

By creating a budget you have a money plan in place that keeps your finances in order.

However, in order for a budget to be efficient, you need two things, income, and consistency.

  • Working as a Team

If you are in a relationship or married and find that you are suffering financial setbacks it’s critical to work together.

Having only one partner take on the burden of financial hardship is a sure-fire way to stress, depression, divorce or terminating a relationship.

Take turns with budgeting chores or take charge of who does what and when in terms of budgeting.

Having a budget is only one step in the process, executing the budget is the other.

Both need to be present for a budget to work.

If you are not in a relationship you know what you need to do and have only yourself to answer to.

  • Multiple Income Streams

I’m a big advocate for having more than one or two income streams because they will always come in handy.

Starting this blog became a second income stream for me that I never imagined would happen.

Sometimes doing something you love can earn you an extra income on the side or even passive income like this blog.

Passive income is when you earn money while you are sleeping.

Anything you earn profit from such as earned income, second income (spouse), investments, rental income, and online businesses are just a few examples of multiple income streams.

  • Financial Tracking

You must track where your money is going or you will fail your finances.

The easiest way to track your money is to ask for receipts and document the expenses on a daily basis.

Taking 10 minutes out of your day to get familiar with your spending habits is worth its weight in gold.

Fixing financial difficulty when you have a spending record offers you the ability to wipe away the debt.

  • Say No

There are lots of reasons why you need to say no when it comes to your money.

  1. Do your friends/family invite you out often for a night on the town? (Parties, Gatherings, Trips.)
  2. Have you been asked to co-sign to help someone in need?
  3. Does the lure of sales tug at your pocketbook?
  4. Are you bored and find yourself spending money you don’t have?

The list of reasons why you should say no is personal and can take a devastating toll on your financial life.

An unfortunate lesson we learned early on in our budgeting career was to walk away.

Learning how to say no to spending money, lending money and borrowing money is a big step towards financial freedom.

Borrowing money to get a mortgage is far different than borrowing money from a credit card.

One assumes a long-term investment with the potential return and the other is just stuff you buy with the money you don’t have.

Don’t be ashamed to back away from purchases or saying no to your friends and family invites to spend money.

Approach Financial Difficulty Head On

In review, financial difficulty can happen at any age even when you think you’ve mapped out your path in life.

Health problems, job loss and a whole other host of crisis issues can creep up when you least expect it.

If you want to be prepared then get ahead of the money game now so you aren’t suffering down the road.

In the end, there are limited resources to help people in financial need and they typically amount to the word, Basic.

Whatever you do make sure that you do it for the reasons that meet your needs for today and tomorrow.


What steps are you taking today to avoid financial difficulty? 

If you’ve suffered financial difficulty what steps have you taken to work your way out of the mess?

Leave me your comments below and any tips you may have for Audrey.


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One Comment

  1. When I found myself in financial difficulty after a marriage breakdown, I would ask myself if I would actually DIE if I didn’t spend money on item XYZ. If I could continue to draw breath without XYZ…it simply did not happen. I knew very well that if I had shelter and water, I could find enough food to not die and as a result I could make a bigger dent each month in my outstanding bills until my entire debt was paid off. Did I eat well…healthy yes. Did I eat what I wanted to eat…no. I ate enough to survive. But, I managed to dig myself out of that HUGE financial hole in a couple of years and then there was no stopping me…it was onwards and upwards!

    Easy changes for me were to realize I could not afford to continue smoking or drinking alcohol…I was shocked how much I could save by giving up those two items. To this day, I still don’t smoke or drink. In fact…since those funds are no longer needed for debt repayment in my world, they are instead used to ensure hubby and I can travel every year. Some years we go further than others, but we always get to go somewhere.

    My question is how badly do you want out of this mess? Are you willing to go to any lengths to be debt free? It really is quite simple, QUIT SPENDING! You may need to earn more income as well. If it isn’t life critical…shelter and water with minimal food – get rid of it! No cable, no phones, no internet, no shopping, no going out for dinner, no whatever else you are spending money on! Harsh yes…but just STOP spending!

    The library has books, music, movies and internet that you can borrow for FREE so you aren’t without options for entertainment. It’s time to figure out all the FREE things you can do to enhance your quality of life…walks, picnics, outdoor music festivals, meet up with friends in a park for a visit and bring a thermos of tea to share. Look for FREE classes to take. I learned to sew, quilt, crochet and do canning by taking FREE community classes. I was out in the world with people and it was FUN! Learn to love the word FREE, let it be an inspiration and challenge to you. Look for FREE and let it enhance your life. Our local pool and skating rink have FREE days, watch for them in your community. At least a couple times of year there are FREE dance classes. Hubby and I are certainly not Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers but we have taken some free classes…ballroom, salsa, line dancing. It’s an evening out together for FREE. My hubby calls me “The Keeper of the Calendar” and yes I keep track of all the bring forwards, billing dates, appointments etc but I also put in the effort to plan fun stuff that’s free into every single week of our life together. Everyone needs something to look forward to and I announce what we have coming up in the week that I have planned for us. Sometimes it’s Dinner and a Movie Night at our house…we get a movie from the library and I make a big pot of soup or maybe a bowl of popcorn for us to enjoy. I plan cards nights, games nights, reading and a pot of tea nights…really the possibilities are endless. And make sure to work the fun stuff to suit the season…when was the last time you made snow angels together or went snow shoeing around the neighborhood? How about bike riding? Could you put on your rubber boots and go splashing in the puddles on a walk? Cooking and baking together can be another lovely winter pass time where you get to enjoy the tasty rewards. Put on the radio and enjoy a few tunes while you work. Most nights hubby and I eat meatless meals…get some books out of the library and learn how to make budget friendly but tasty meals. I must have read 100 library books when I was laid flat on my back for 6 months after an MVA and the investment of my time has saved us bundles by teaching myself how to eat vegetarian and be healthy. After the 100 books I invested in our future and met with world famous vegan author, Vesanto Mellina, for a 1 hour vegan nutrition discussion to make sure I thoroughly understood what it would take to eat vegetarian and bolster our health in the process. I was on track but I felt much better having it confirmed by someone formally educated on the topic. Hubby still enjoys meat but I plan it into his packed lunches for the office. Pack a travel mug for your tea/coffee in the morning and a stainless steel thermos for your ice water…there’s no need to pay for drinks away from home. I encourage you to pick whatever topic excites you and learn, learn, learn but do it for FREE!

    Hubby and I have attended many financial seminars…put on by banks, credit unions, investment companies and seniors facilities, all for FREE. I’m always on the hunt for a webinar that I can learn from as well. It can be done from the library…and if the topic excites me, I can grab a book afterwards to expand my understanding on the subject.

    If you want to appreciate your life, volunteer somewhere. It will give you a whole new appreciation of how good your life is compared to others. Are any of your neighbors seniors or disabled? Mow their grass or shovel their snow for them and I am sure you’ll receive either a glass of ice water or a hot drink for your efforts depending on the season. The elderly have a lifetime of wisdom to share…and it’s FREE!

    Remember that whatever changes you make, they are just for today. You can do anything for one day, even if you wouldn’t want to do it for a lifetime! One day at a time, you can get yourself back onto sound financial footing. Start now!

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