Sometimes life happens and you get caught off guard with the unexpected. When you are faced with an unforeseen financial emergency, it is natural to seek advice from your family and/or friends. Sometimes, all you are really looking for is a comforting voice to set your mind at ease.

When you are in a tough financial bind and you are struggling to manage your debt, it may sound like a good idea to ask your friends and family for financial advice however do so with caution. Not all advice is good advice and if you act on bad financial advice out of desperation, you can make a manageable debt problem balloon into a monstrous one.

There are three kinds of people you should avoid seeking debt management advice from:

Friends and family who never have money

Although your friends and family members may have your best interests at heart, if they never seem to have money, it may not be in your best interest to seek advice from them. If you are trying to manage your debt – there are other ways to get help. However if your friend or family member is seeking credit counselling and enrolled in a debt management program, you can take this opportunity to find out more about the program so you can learn how to manage your debt load.

Credit counsellors who haven’t been trained

Be aware that not all credit counselling agencies are created equal. There are some bad apples out there with the only intention of making a fast buck. If you are struggling to manage your high interest credit card payments on your own, recognize when you need help and seek the guidance of a trained credit counsellor. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed – you are not alone. Many Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque and they are faced with some hard decisions on a monthly basis. There’s legitimate credit counselling agencies available to Canadians to get the help they need to manage their debt.

Shady financial professionals      

You shouldn’t run to every financial professional you find online. It is important to do your research, ask questions and look at the reviews of an organization or individual is receiving.

Consider the following:

  1. How long they have been in business?
  2. Do they have an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau?
  3. How many positive reviews do they have?
  4. Do they require large upfront fees for service?
  5. How are they compensated?
  6. What makes them an expert? Are they quoted in the media? Etc.

When you are faced with a financial emergency, it is important to review your options. Not all options are created equal. Do your research and do not be afraid to ask questions. There is help available out there, you just have to make a few phone calls or ask some questions to find it.

Jeff Schwartz is the Executive Director Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada. You can learn more about Jeff Schwartz and Consolidated Credit at

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