4 Mar

The Shocking Impact of Consumer Debt Payments and How To Overcome This Significant Home Ownership Barrier


Posted by: Mark Alltree

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Savings, market value and government guidelines are obvious obstacles but in my opinion, one topic that doesn’t get discussed in enough detail is consumer debt payments.

First a quick definition: Disposable income, is described as total personal income minus current income taxes. Essentially, your take-home-pay.

Here’s a “live” case study.

This consumer has $62,601 in non-mortgage debt or $0.86 for every dollar of disposable income. A model citizen by Canadian standards given StatCan’s most recent report reflected Canadians have $1.64 in debt for every dollar of disposable income.

The minimum payments currently required on this $62,000 debt is $1,878.03 per month. If this consumer chose to pay only the minimum payment requested on each monthly statement toward the repayment of this debt, it would take between 73 and 98 years to pay it all off. What will AMAZE you is by keeping unchanged the exact minimum payments required today, these debts could be totally paid in full between 39 and 50 months from now. Therefore, keeping the same payment every month from this point forward rather than paying the declining payment being requested on each statement is the key to paying the debt off faster. It’s remarkable to think you could pay it off this quickly given the average annual cost of borrowing of 16.794% which is actually even worse when annual credit card fees are added, making the effective annual cost of borrowing 21.054%. By the way, anybody getting this kind of return on your market investments at the moment? Hmmmm?

Now, watch this and take a deep breath. This same $1,878 per month would carry a mortgage principal of $410,513. Amazing buying capacity eh?…all tied up in a mere $62,600 in debt.

That’s right. If this consumer were debt free, it would be possible to save for a down payment with some simple strategies and a starter home (or condo more likely) is well within reach.

Now here’s a comparison for you.

Annual interest cost on this consumer’s debt is estimated at $8,975. Meanwhile the annual interest cost in the first year on a mortgage principal of $410,513 is $10,839. The difference is a mere $1,864 for the entire year. Wouldn’t you rather be a home owner paying interest on an appreciating asset?

Here’s my formula for eliminating the debt in this case study. My recommendations:

Stop using all cards, switch to cash only. Close all credit card accounts except two primary credit cards like a Visa or MasterCard. Write letters to all the other creditors requesting the accounts be closed and be sure to follow it up. Call the two credit card companies whose cards you are keeping and get them to give you their lowest rate available with no annual fee and no loyalty points. Nothing is for free! Use any savings remaining at the end of each month and apply it to the smallest debt owing until the debt is paid in full then use the freed up payment and apply it to the next smallest debt and so on.

There are a multitude of strategies that you can take here including paying highest interest debt off first, but I often find the former approach is usually more successful and you see the results faster. Every debt reduction plan should be designed specifically for the finances of the household and this is a good place to start.

The bottom line: don’t get distracted by the destructive effect of non-mortgage debt, get help to establish a plan with your mortgage broker and, as always…experience a strategy…not just a mortgage. We here at Dominion Lending Centres can help!