by Lucie Roy
Linda Mak, Stakeholder Relations Coordinator Money Mentors, was the guest speaker at Rotary Wednesday. Money Mentors is the only Alberta-based not-for-profit credit counselling agency. They have six offices, including one in Edmonton. They assist people in becoming debt free and in finding financial solutions, credit counselling, money coaching, retirement planning and financial literacy. They provide free first appointments for advice, free drop-in financial fitness classes across Alberta and free debt information online at moneymentors.ca.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) raises awareness across Canada about the importance of financial literacy. Financial Literacy is being able to balance spending, saving credit and debt successfully and making smart money decisions on a daily basis.
In her presentation, Mak said, it is not what you make but what you spend. Mak went on to say financial literacy is important because education changes behaviour. More education leads to more changes in behaviour and attitude that help make better decisions and right choices.
Part of that education takes place in November during Financial Literacy Month (FML). Mak said FML precedes the highest annual spending, which usually occurs in December for Christmas.
Mak said the organization is the exclusive provider of the Orderly Payment of Debts(OPD) program in Alberta. Money Mentors helps clients pay back all unsecured debts with a reduced rate of five per cent to gain the peace of mind that comes with credit protection and the end of collection calls. Debts under the Orderly Payment of Debts program includes credit cards, lines of credit, unsecured loans, payday loans, student loans, personal loans, income tax, utility and phone bills for discontinued service.
The difference between the OPD and bankruptcy is creditors are paid in full in OPD. Debtors keep their assets, and the debt remains on the debtor’s records for two years after completion. Bankruptcy stays on a credit report for six years after discharge.
Mak said Edmonton leads the province with the highest debt ratio.