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  • How to Financially Recover From Gambling Debt

    How to Financially Recover From Gambling Debt

    Sandra Sherk

    Putting a couple of chips on a roulette table, pulling the lever on a slot machine or dropping a few loonies on a scratch-off ticket can be a lot of fun. But for some, the fun doesn’t just stop there—and online gambling hasn't made it any easier! Gambling can become addictive, and if “fun” has turned into “ugh,” it’s probably time to adjust the behaviour for a healthier financial future, and here's how!

    If you or someone you know is struggling with problem-gambling, the good news is there are resources available across Canada that can help. But once the behaviour is under control, the next step is to deal with the aftermath, also known as gambling debt, and here are eight tips to help you do just that.

    Know Where You Stand Financially

    When you want to get a handle on your finances you need to take an inventory of your financial life. That means determining your income, expenses, arrears, debts, and assets. While it might be an uncomfortable process, as it will likely highlight the true cost of gambling, it’s an essential part of moving towards a healthier financial future.

    Figure Out Your Income

    Determining income might be easy for those earning a consistent and regular income, such as weekly or bi-weekly paycheques. But for contractors, freelancers, and others working an irregular income, knowing exactly how much money is coming in on a month-to-month basis can be a difficult (if not impossible) task. Also, if you have a family, you’ll need to determine the household's monthly income, especially if the gambling debt impacts the family budget.

    Determine Monthly Expenses

    Listing out monthly expenses is an important step in the financial recovery process. Many expenses, like groceries and gas, can be determined by reviewing monthly bank or credit card statements. The biggies—rent or mortgage, car loans, and insurance—are likely paid out of a chequing account, so they can be averaged out as a monthly cost. You might have to estimate how much you spend on items like coffee and lunches but our free Budget Calculator and Monthly Budget Tracker can definitely help you track all your expenses.

    Consider Accounts in Arrears

    It’s oh-so important to know if you're behind on any monthly payments, like hydro, internet, phone, cable, personal lines of credit, and credit card debt. You can find out if you’re behind on any payments by checking the individual monthly statements for each account or by making a phone call to them (yes, you might be on hold for a good thirty minutes but this is a must, so put your phone on speaker and pick up around the house while you wait).

    Calculate Your Total Debt

    Canadians recovering from gambling debt will need to closely examine the debts they’ve accrued over the years. Again, bank statements will show automatic payments made on loans, as well as any payments made toward credit cards, lines of credit, etc. You may need to go through your mail and email to see what notices or information has been sent to you. You’ll also need to look through any paperwork to see what payday loans or similar loans are under your name.

    Consider Your Assets

    Having a full list of your assets can come in handy when looking at your potential options for dealing with your debts. For example, if you have a car that you can do without you can consider selling it to pay off your debt in one swoop to save thousands of dollars in interest charges. 

    Create a Spending Plan

    Now that you’ll have all of this information gathered together, you can build out a monthly spending plan, including all debt payments. The goal here is to make sure monthly expenses do not exceed monthly income, but if that’s not the case you may want to consider meeting with a certified credit counsellor who can take a look at your current spending plan and see if they can make any adjustments that will balance out your income with your monthly expenses.

    Know You're Not Alone

    If all of this sounds too overwhelming you don’t have to do this on your own. One of our certified credit counsellors can help you put all this information together (for free!) and then assist you in exploring your different options for eliminating your gambling debt and moving forward in a positive way. A good spending plan might just be what the doctor ordered to get you back on track, or maybe you can speak to your bank about refinancing you debts (just know that you’ll need a decent credit rating for this option). Or perhaps a Debt Consolidation Program with Credit Canada could be the solution you need; our counsellors will explore and assess different options that can help you achieve your financial goals.

    Gambling can lead to serious financial troubles but by reaching out and seeking help, moving forward can be much easier and faster. Call 1.800.267.2272 to book a free counselling session with a certified credit counsellor. It’s confidential, non-judgmental, and completely free!

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    Topics: Gambling Debt

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