How to tackle household debt

 The topic of household debt is a popular one in this age of extremely low interest rates. With household balance sheets remaining unbalanced, and debt continuing to escalate, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney recently came out and said he wouldn't be against raising interest rates if Canadians continue spending money they don't have.

I'd like to say our household is exempt, but it's not. We, like seemingly everyone else in Canada, are carrying a lot of debt -- a mortgage, car loan, student debt and the dreaded credit card debt. Below is our plan of action to get it under control:

1. Get rid of the high interest stuff.

Our credit cards were charging us 18.5% to carry a balance. So on my roughly $2,000 balance, I was being charged over $30 a month. I don't even want to know what my husband was looking at. Our first step? Get a line of credit. Luckily, I was preapproved for one in the mail, so being lazy I just signed the form and sent it in. Probably not ideal, but with a baby and a freelancing business, I wasn't sure when I'd have the time to shop around. And a 7.5% interest rate, in my mind, was better than 18.5%. We transferred both the credit card balances over to the line of credit immediately.

2. Make debt payment our priority.

Our goal, right now, is to pay off our credit card debt as fast as possible. After that, we'll likely change our focus to my student loans. These haven't been a priority because the interest is minimal, and it's a tax write-off anyway. That being said, they're scheduled to be paid off by the end of next year, so we might just speed the process up a bit, if possible. That will free up $200/month in student debt payments, which we then plan to put toward our car loan.

3. Add a little bit to our mortgage payments.

When we bought our home, our mortgage was about twice our household's annual income. In our mind, that's a comfortable amount -- we had enough extra income to increase and accelerate our payments, and afford an extra $500/month for our condo's "special assessment" that lasted nine months last year. It also allowed us to weather my drop in income after having a baby, and the extra expenses of having a baby. That being said, we're trying to keep our eye on the prize and build up as much equity as we can in this place, so the next time my husband's up for a raise, we'll likely try to increase our payments accordingly. We're stretched a little thin these days, so it might be just a bit -- but every little bit counts, right?

What is your household's plan for getting out of debt?

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