It’s a tough headline – more than half of Canadians are $200 away from being financially insolvent!

I imagine the grim reality is pretty similar for Americans.

The numbers come from an Ipsos poll commissioned by MNP, insolvency trustees in Canada.

They do similar polls every year in Canada. In 2018, it was four in ten people in B.C. who were $200 away from not being able to pay their bills. I thought that number would have been higher, at least six in ten, but it’s inching up there.

A few years ago I was on the Canadian Money Forum after one of these polls. One of the members showed the article to a group of six friends, all professionals (accountants, engineers). Two of them said they were already there – $200 away from being unable to pay their bills.


Canadians and Americans are reaching the end of financial assistance programs that were put in place for people who became unemployed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, a lot of people have already run out of their benefits!

The same goes with various loan deferment programs. They’ve come to an end.

Many workers who became unemployed due to the pandemic were lower income women in retail and food service jobs. And they’re still struggling to find steady, full-time work.

Unemployed. No income. No emergency funds. Credit cards are maxed out. Financial assistance benefits have run out.

What next?


This is a good question. What do desperate Canadians, and Americans, do when they’re less than $200 away from being able to pay the bills?

The rent or mortgage is overdue. We need to buy groceries and medicine. The lights and heat need be kept on. We have minimum payments due on credit cards. Maybe a car loan. There’s less than $200 in the bank.

Half of Canadians are $200 away from being financially insolvent. Probably close to that many Americans are also $200 away from financial disaster!

What do we do?

Unfortunately, the answer is probably going to be take on more debt.

My Financial Advisor at Coast Capital can’t Manage my Money better than Me


As we go through life, we figure out that there are no do-overs. There are some things that can’t be undone.

I know what it’s like to have only a few dollars in the bank, and thousands of dollars racked up on my credit card. The mortgage is due. I’m unemployed. There’s no work. There’s no income.

No one wants to lose their house. Their place to live. The place where they keep their stuff. They do whatever they have to do to pay the mortgage.

I have taken on more debt so I can pay my mortgage. Yes, a credit card advance.

I’ve also used credit card advances to pay the minimum due on other credit cards.

I’ve cashed in registered retirement funds so I could pay the mortgage. That’s a tax hit too, by the way.

None of these things can be undone. I’ve taken on more debt and I’ve cashed out retirement savings. That I have to pay tax on. More debt and less money.

The house had to be sold. Cut the losses.


The one thing I’ve never done is gone to one of those places that preys on financially disadvantaged people – payday loan companies.

You’ve probably seen their stores around town. They offer fast cash, two week loans, and no credit checks. The plan is that you pay off the money you borrowed on your next pay day, but the loans can be extended. They charge high interest rates and it’s a trap for too many people that they can’t dig out of.

Here’s a good article by Canada’s Credit Counselling Society on why you should avoid payday loans


If you’re in a difficult situation, and are less than $200 away from being financially insolvent, please read What Happens when you can’t Pay Bills. You will find more information on tackling your debt, consolidating loans, and free credit counseling. You can get past this!

What Happens when you can't Pay Bills?

Published on April 11, 2021 by Cheryl @ The Lifestyle Digs.

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