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Hi everyone,

I'm a journalist with the Globe and Mail. I wanted to reach out on this forum because I'm looking for people who might be open to sharing their experiences for a series of articles we are doing on household debt.

I wanted to post this in the Money Diaries forum because reading through it, there are some really interesting and detailed posts from people who are working diligently to pay down their debts and I'm hopeful some people may be willing to share those same stories with the Globe.

There are plenty of studies and reports and surveys that talk about household debt in Canada. Most talk in generalizations, some are quite alarmist and garner a lot of headlines, but don't necessarily paint a true picture of what the average Canadian household is experiencing. We're hoping to delve deeper and talk to people about their personal situation. What does their debt picture look like? How are they managing to afford it and what are they doing to reduce their debt load?

One of main goals of this piece is to demystify and destigmatize the idea of being in debt. A majority (two-thirds) of Canadians carry substantial debts, that includes Canadians rich and poor. Thanks to tuition costs and home prices that are rising faster than incomes, for many people taking on large debts is essential to getting an education and affording a home and their debt loads can be substantial. Low interest rates have helped keep it affordable for people to carry large debts, yet at the same time low interest rates have made it easier to rack up large debts.

If you're interested in sharing your story in the paper, please contact me either by private message or e-mail. My e-mail is tmcmahon at globe and mail dot com.

I'm very happy to have a chat and answer any questions about what we're trying to do.

I hope I'm not breaking any forum rules by posting this message. I did try to contact an administrator by private message before I posted, but because my account is so new, it appears I am not able to do anything other than post a message to a forum.

Thanks,
Tamsin McMahon
 

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I think 'average' would not be terribly use. I think it would be more useful to look at debt levels at quantiles of canadian income (20,50,80) or something.

What I think is most interesting is people inability to gauge risk appropriately. For example, what are the consequences if there is a major housing bubble? I think most people would admit that there is at least a 5-10% chance that housing prices could correct by 30% for an extended period of time. What are the consequences to someone in the 50% quantile of income if that occurred? I would suspect it would put them in the loer 20% of quantiles relative to net worth. Going from a have to have not within a year would be a bitter pill to swallow.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Average

In this context what I mean by "average" is regular Canadians. That's obviously a pretty vague definition, out of necessity. But someone who racked up debts because they lost their life saving in Vegas, or because they had to spend six figures on experimental life-saving medical procedures in the U.S. might not be an average Canadian debt story. (Not that those stories aren't relevant, they're just more extreme.) As part of this series we are indeed looking deeper in the demographics of debt (and the geography of debt). But for this particular request I'm hoping to talk to people about their own personal stories. Thanks!
 

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On the topic of household debt, we hear about all of the debt that Canadians have constantly. Does anyone know if that includes line of credits that are not being used, high limit credit cards that are not being used etc..? It certainly counts as debt when applying for other loans. Could really distort the numbers....
 

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I just think that debt without the context of risk doesn't make a lot of sense. Borrow 500K at a locked in 2.5% for 30 years? Low risk, Borrow 500K at a variable 2.5 that may rise to 5% in 5 years - higher risk. Add on top of that that the 500K may only be worth 400K after 5 years and the picture changes.

That's the rub about debt - it's really high and has the potential to get MUCH higher.
 

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One of main goals of this piece is to demystify and destigmatize the idea of being in debt. A majority (two-thirds) of Canadians carry substantial debts, that includes Canadians rich and poor. Thanks to tuition costs and home prices that are rising faster than incomes, for many people taking on large debts is essential to getting an education and affording a home and their debt loads can be substantial. Low interest rates have helped keep it affordable for people to carry large debts, yet at the same time low interest rates have made it easier to rack up large debts.
Household debt has been getting alot of press, for certain. I read, in the G&M today that, because bank rates are so low, that some money managers are looking to "alternative" (riskier) ways to supply their retired clients with sufficient income. Pensioners and savers have been punished by monetary policy. Risk-takers and individuals who borrow money on margin are inflating the asset bubble, real estate values etc. You mention rich and poor taking on large debts, but I am equally concerned about older (retired) folks who borrow. Their pension and savings were supposed to sustain them, but rates and policy are punishing them. How much longer will retirees be able to manage their finances in a climate as this. Many don't have the time or cash flow to improve their financial circumstances. What effect will that have on the debt time bomb?
 

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Canadians in debt has been done to death in the media the last few years, so much so that everyone thinks we are going to hell in a hand basket ...why not do a story on responsible Canadians not in danger of living in a culvert if the interest rate pops to 5%...there's lots of us including my 4 kids & their families...oh that's right...it would not be news worthy...
 

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Canadians in debt has been done to death in the media the last few years, so much so that everyone thinks we are going to hell in a hand basket ...why not do a story on responsible Canadians not in danger of living in a culvert if the interest rate pops to 5%...there's lots of us including my 4 kids & their families...oh that's right...it would not be news worthy...
I think it would be news worthy, especially if it's with a modest or median income. A lot of the G&M profiles have to do with high income earners, or lots of pensions, etc.
Maybe it wouldn't be so news worthy though if the underlying theme is save, live within your means, don't keep up with the jones'
 
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