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You had your best-laid plans and then COVID-19 came along and hammered the entire economy. But you’ve got this – if you have the right information. Join Rob Carrick and Roma Luciw on Stress Test, a podcast guiding you through one of the biggest challenges your finances will ever face.

ROB: You’re in debt, or maybe you’re just terrified of it. COVID hasn’t helped with that. But listen -- you got this. Today, we’re going to tackle that debt.

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ROB: Welcome to Stress Test, a Globe and Mail podcast where we look at how the rules of personal finance have changed in the pandemic for Gen Z and Millennials.

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I’m Rob Carrick, personal finance columnist at The Globe and Mail.

ROMA: And I’m Roma Luciw, personal finance editor at The Globe. Rob, we have switched our set-up for recording at home. Again. The podcast is challenging the way that we do this. Why don’t you tell me about your latest set-up.

ROB: Well, I think the listener should know that there’s three of us working on day-to-day setting up the podcast and getting them going. We’re all in our own home. We’re in two cities. I’m in Ottawa. Roma and our producer, Hannah Sung, are in Toronto. We’re trying multiple technologies to get the best possible sound and I think we’ve finally arrived at the right thing but it’s involved a lot of different technology, learning a lot of different things, moving our blankets up and down and to the side, but I think it’s all worth it.

ROMA: Hopefully, when you’re listening to this, you’ll keep in mind that some of the sounds are just us living our lives during the pandemic. And hopefully some of it will make you laugh.

I’m pretty sure I heard your wife bringing in the groceries last time we were recording Rob.

ROB: Quite possible.

ROMA: And I think that if you listen quite hard, you might be able to hear my son practicing guitar in the next room.

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ROB: I know he’s getting good.

ROMA: Either way, these are all everyday sounds that maybe our producer might not want in an ideal situation but there you have it. Everyone’s experiencing this reality now so hopefully when you listen it will make you feel more at home.

The topic of today’s episode is debt.

Debt is a huge issue, never more than in the middle of a pandemic.

We’re focusing on it because debt is a huge problem for many people and a huge source of stress.

ROB: You know I’ve been tracking debt as a big personal finance storyline since the end of the last financial crisis. Debt has gotten bigger and bigger and I’ve seen many surveys in the past few years, document how stressed people are about their debts and then you get the pandemic on top of that. I think this makes it the number one risk to people’s finances in the pandemic. How much do you owe and how able are you to keep up with what you owe?

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ROMA: Every episode of Stress Test, we’re talking to real people and experts to see how the basic rules of personal finance have been stress tested by COVID-19.

ROB: Here we go with Episode 2. Today we’re tackling debt.

COMMERCIAL BREAK: This podcast is brought to you by CPP Investments. Take comfort knowing the Canada Pension Plan Fund will be there for you. We invest to help ensure the CPP Fund remains resilient over the long-term, sustainable and secure for millions of Canadians. Learn more at CPPinvestments.com.

ROMA: In Episode 2, we’re tackling debt, and after the gig economy, this seems like one of the most pressing issues that is been raised by the pandemic.

ROB: I’ve been amazed over the last ten years at how debt levels in Canada have just kept grinding higher and higher and higher. There’s been so many warnings about a reckoning to come, an emergency, a recession, something that would cause people to find themselves in trouble because of all the debt they took on. And here we are.

ROMA: There certainly was a time that debt was considered socially unacceptable. But we’ve seen the steady erosion of that notion of this idea that borrowing is a last resort. And in the last ten years, there’s been a number of things like low interest rates that have kept people from saving, employment’s been decent. And when people have needed money, they haven’t necessarily been going to their bank account, they’ve been turning to a credit card or home equity line of credit. What’s changed?

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ROB: One of the big wildcards here is social media and how that has re-engineered our brains to spend more than we used to. How we see great things happening with our friends and our family members, and we think we should be doing that too. And I think it’s rewired our brains for borrowing, we’re way more willing to do it.

ROMA: I think it’s a natural thing to see someone doing something amazing and think, I should be doing that. I can try doing that. That looks great. And you know, the rise of social media, all these photos of people doing amazing things on Facebook and Instagram, that comes also at a time when certain things have gotten more expensive. Getting an education costs more, housing is more expensive. We’ve talked about the gig economy and how jobs are less certain. So all of that has left people with a little bit less money for doing some of the fun things in life and everybody wants to do fun things in life.

ROB: Yeah. And the easiest way to do them if you if you can’t afford it, is to dip into your line of credit. And so we’ve had people with what they call perma-debt on their home equity lines of credit. They’ll pay it off someday, they can afford to pay the interest every month. We’ve got people with giant car loans, we’ve got people with giant mortgages, and the warnings were perpetual about how this could come back to bite you. And now we’re seeing it all play out.

ROMA: Even before the pandemic, we had a huge household debt problem in Canada. I think the last stats we saw was the fourth quarter of 2019. Canadian households owed $1.76 for every dollar of after tax income. A big chunk of that is mortgages. But post-pandemic, given the employment situation and how many people have been out of work, or lost part of their work, this is bound to get worse.

ROB: Well, you know what, a lot of the time when I was writing about debt over the past decade, I felt like I was nagging people. I’d tell people, there’s a downside to debt. There’s danger ahead and the danger never materializes. And they start thinking, “Shut up. You know what, it’s fine. I got this.” And I think there was a lot of complacency about debt. In the years before the pandemic, you looked at surveys about the amount of stress people were feeling in their lives, financial stress was consistently the number one factor and debt was the number one factor behind that. And we weren’t talking about it, but it was there and now it’s out in the open and I think it gives us a great opportunity to help people do better going forward.

ROMA: Yeah, Rob, there’s no question that you’re the debt downer in the situation, writing about all that bad stuff. But I think one thing to note is that it’s not necessarily, you know, just the fault of the consumer. I mean, banks have been playing their part by pushing additional credit on people. There’s a lack of basic financial literacy skills, at least in some cases, and you know, all that advertising is pushing people to buy more and more, I want to buy some of those things. It’s not just the fault of the people that are doing the borrowing. And it’s safe to say that there is some debt, that’s not a bad decision. We have school debt. We have, you know, people taking on debt to start businesses, we have people, you know, with mortgages, that kind of debt is not necessarily the problem. The problem is when you’re taking that debt and borrowing to supplement a lifestyle that you can’t afford, that’s when you run into trouble.

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ROB: Yeah, I agree. I think we’ve got to get away from the good debt and bad debt arguments, though. I mean, house that is technically good debt, but when people take on too much, it’s bad debt. People take on debt for education that never produces enough job, I struggle to find that to be good debt. If you do get on a good career path, it’s great debt. Anyway, I think we all need to cool it just a little bit with our borrowing and our willingness. And I think that is more than taken care of by the pandemic, I think we’re all going to reassess how much debt we want to carry. And that is a great development to come out of all of this.

ROMA: And so again, in a way, this pandemic is bringing us back down to basic personal finance ideas, which is don’t borrow more than you can afford to pay back. And so that’s part of the reason that Stress Test and this episode is going to focus on borrowing.

ROB: Yeah, I feel the name Stress Test for our podcast is at its most precise, when we’re talking about debt, that is where the stress is being felt the most.

ROMA: Every episode of Stress Test, we’re talking to real people and experts to see how the basic rules of personal finance have been stress tested by COVID-19. Meet Alanna.

ALANNA: I am 41 and I live in downtown Toronto. We’re about a month into well, a little over a month into the COVID lockdown. And I would say that after rebuilding and sort of reinventing, it’s been almost every week that an income stream has disappeared.

ROB: Alanna was doing freelance admin and operations work. And then when COVID hit, she was one of 3 million Canadians who lost most or all of their income within the first coupleof months.

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ALANNA: At the moment, I’m not doing much for a living. All of my income streams have dried up so I don’t know what’s next.

ROB: Alanna’s in debt, she has been for years. Now that she doesn’t make money, she’s not sure how she’ll pay it off. But how did she get into debt in the first place?

ALANNA: I think 2006 is how long I’ve had some of my debt. I took a student line of credit out and student loan and, you know, I think it was like $24,000.

ROB: It was a student loan from a bank and her dad co-signed. After school, Alanna had a bad breakup and decided she wanted to travel the world to find work with a working visa.

ALANNA: I went to London somewhat on a whim, I had broken up with a boyfriend. And I had a really good friend that lived in Malaysia. And she was like, well just come and visit me and I thought yeah, I’m gonna and so I did. I went to Japan and Malaysia and just sort of traveled around and did like sort of that beaten trail where you go, you know, from Malaysia, Singapore, through Thailand and Laos and I did the big the big travel for five months.

ROB: Alanna made her way to London in the UK. She got lucky right away with a job in events for a publishing company.

ALANNA: I think my salary was 30,000 pounds a year.

ROB: She still had that school debt from back home in Toronto. So how was she making it work?

ALANNA: Bank of mum and dad really helped a lot.

ROB: She was working a lot and even saving a bit. But think back for a minute. Do you remember 2008? The world’s markets came crashing down due to a financial crisis.

ALANNA: And you could really feel it like the tenseness and the guys on the street selling the papers talking about you know, everything’s falling apart.

ROB: Alana came home to Canada, not necessarily by choice.

ALANNA: I had to come home, my visa was up, you know, moving abroad and coming back is that re-entry is actually much harder than leaving. It’s just like you coming back to like a different world. So that was really rough.

ROB: She came back to a job that paid $32,000 a year…

ALANNA: Which is just not living wage.

ROB: And she couldn’t find the money to put towards her debt.

ALANNA: I was just paying the minimum. So basically, I just pushed the debt under and just kind of ignored it as much as I could. And then finally in 2017 I got a job with a big firm. I worked my way out pretty quickly, and finally had a livable salary where I was able to pay all my bills and make some plans.

ROB: Alanna was on the right track, but she found the job very stressful. So she left and took a different one with an $8,000 pay cut. Unfortunately, that job didn’t work out either. And she still had that mountain of debt. Exactly how big is that debt today?

ALANNA: I want to say $28,000.

ROB: Even before she became one of the millions of people who lost their income in the wake of COVID. Alanna knew she needed help. She went to a non-profit credit counseling agency, Credit Canada.

ALANNA: Well, they consolidated my debt for me.

ROB: Debt consolidation is when you take out a new loan to pay for a bunch of smaller debts. Basically, you’re just putting everything into one big pile and trying to service that one debt with a lower interest rate. This is an option when you’re in trouble with your debt. It can be easier to manage and Alanna found it helpful. But at first Alanna wasn’t sure what to expect going to a credit counselor.

ALANNA: And when I went in there, I was petrified. I was like, she’s gonna yell at me or I don’t know what I thought, but…

ROB: The credit counselor did not yell.

ALANNA: She’s almost like, like a doctor with like, no judgment. And she’s been so helpful. And like just even asked me about my mental health, which was just like the sweetest thing.

ROB: Now that Alanna’s with a credit counselor. She’s been getting some knowledge around different types of savings.

ALANNA: I don’t know maybe I feel kind of stupid for not thinking about this. But I always wondered why people had checking and savings accounts. And sometimes people would take things out of their savings accounts. I’d be like, but isn’t that a savings account?

ROB: Her counselor explained.

ALANNA: She told me that that’s where you’re going to put your budgeted money for haircuts and for the dentist and for things for the dog, you know, their savings, and then there’s like a savings you don’t touch. Like I’d never heard that before. Maybe I just missed the boat. I don’t know. Nobody ever taught me about finances. So I always wonder how people learn.

ROB: Alanna hasn’t had an easy time financially speaking, how does she feel about money in general?

ALANNA: Oftentimes, I would stick my head in the sand and be like, I don’t want to deal with it.

However, when I started making money, then I was like, Okay, let's do this.

Let's do something about this. And I guess my thought was always if you don't have the money, what what? Like what can be done kind of thing. Like, some people would call me, when I lost my job and they're like, why aren't you making a payment? I'm like, Listen, you can't squeeze blood from a rock. Like, I don't have the money. It's a cold hard world out there. I don't know how people are living in Toronto and earning what they're earning, like I just can't wrap my head around it. Or is everybody just in serious debt?

ROB: Alanna, I don’t understand that either I look around my neighborhood in Ottawa and I see the cars people drive. And I think really everybody’s making that much money? I think debt is the quiet story in a lot of people’s personal finances. It’s standard. A line of credit, a big car loan or little balance on the credit card. A big mortgage, it’s normal in Canada to have debt.

ROMA: One thing that I think is common with Alanna’s situation is her lack of financial knowledge. That’s something that a lot of young people, and older people talk to us about. How they didn’t learn this stuff in school, their parents might not have spoken to them about it. And so when they start off, building their life, starting to dabble in debt that they have to take on, they’re not really quite sure how to handle it and they make these decisions without the knowledge of how to protect themselves.

We're going to figure out how to work your way out of debt, or just be smarter about it. That's up next.

COMMERCIAL BREAK: This podcast is brought to you by CPP Investments. At CPP Investments, we never lose sight of the long term. We invest the Canada Pension Plan Fund to help provide financial security for generations of Canadians. We diversify the CPP Fund across geographies and asset classes to access the best investment opportunities and generate sustainable long-term returns. The fund is now more than $400 billion. To learn more about our investment performance for Canadians visit CPPinvestments.com.

[music]

ROMA: Shannon Lee Simmons is the founder of The New School of Finance. And she also writes a Q&A for us at the Globe and Mail. She’s a great person to talk to when you want the straight goods on how to handle your money.

Shannon, so excited to talk with you today. I put on a fancy pair of sweat pants.

SHANNON: I have a scrunchie in my hair. So we’re living our best life right now.

ROMA: We really are. I’m really happy to have the opportunity to talk with you today. You occupy a very unique space in the financial planning landscape in Canada. You are a planner who works quite a bit with young people, which is something that is not necessarily common. And you have a very wonderful, frank approach in how you provide financial information and advice. And to boot you have written a book about debt. So you’re the perfect package for today’s chat. And I’m super excited to be talking with you today.

SHANNON: Oh, well, thanks for having me. I could wax poetic about debt all the time every day.

ROMA: So let’s get started here. When do people start getting into trouble with debt? And when I’m speaking about debt, I mean non-mortgage debt. Does it start when they get their first job, their first credit card? Tell me what you see.

SHANNON: I think there’s two entry points that I typically see. So the first major one is student debt. And graduating with student debt into an economy where you’re not really making a lot of money, maybe it’s a gig economy type of situation. So you’ve got minimum payments that are due. And so that is the first place where you can kind of kick off your cycle of debt. People who have a lot of privilege and don’t graduate with student debt are so far ahead of the game compared to some of their peers who may be starting life in the red, right? That would be place number one. And then I actually see it happening later on in life, usually in people’s early 30s, into late 30s. And the second kind of wave, if you will, of debt that I see is house, car, kids, child care, can’t make it all work. There’s been maybe a couple parental leaves that really kind of kick you to the curb financially, and then kids cost money and so there’s never really the pickup and if you’ve bought a house there’s always something the porch has to be fixed or this has to be fixed or that there’s a leaky pipe or something At that point, I find emergency accounts don’t really exist anymore. So people are kind of living paycheck to paycheck. And so often, that’s when I see people slipping into credit card debt that then is paid off with a home equity line of credit, which then inevitably goes up and is continually rolled into a mortgage at renewal. So you’re never really building that equity and just banking everything on housing prices rising. So those are the two major sweeping times that I see debt accumulate.

ROMA: If someone has to borrow money, what are the best and worst ways to do that?

SHANNON: So if you have to sink into debt, the best thing to do is to get, if you have an asset like a house, a home equity line of credit would be ideal. Because then you have lower interest rates, because it’s secured to your asset, and you can pay it back at any time. So let’s say that you just had to dig yourself out of a quick emergency. It was a few more months of this, you know, you you’re comfortable you say I’m going to go into $4,000 worth of debt over the next three months. It’s happening, I’m aware that it’s happening, I’m just going to do it very strategically. And then you have $4000. Well, with a line of credit, we can easily pay it back and you haven’t been charged that much interest, you know, in the grand scheme of life, that’s not going to rob you of a safe retirement, or potentially haunt you for years to come. The worst way would be those super-high interest rate debt. So some of the online borrowers that are out there right now can be extremely high interest rates. And then what happens with things like payday loans is that you take money the interest rate is so high can be as high as 35%, 50%. And then you have to pay that back and you never end up getting caught up. And so you can almost instantly get caught in a debt loop without any room to breathe. So that would be the absolute worst way to go into debt. We want to try to stay away from the high-interest rate debt. I mean, everyone knows that but it’s hard to actually practice that if you don’t have any other access to debt

ROMA: We heard from Alanna earlier in the episode and what struck me about her situation is how frustrated she was with her debt. She feels that she can’t make any headway paying it down. And she was feeling apathetic, like she was never going to get ahead of it. And obviously, no one wants to be in debt, especially now with COVID, adding this extra layer of anxiety about people’s finances, but what do you see? How do you think people really feel about their debt?

SHANNON: Yeah, I think the word “apathetic” is a really important one. In everybody’s life, there’s a time when you don’t have debt, and then you become a person that does have debt. What happens is, and this is what it sounds like, with Alanna, you kind of get used to being in debt if you weren’t able to make headway. So if you didn’t have an income that was high enough that you could live a reasonable life and pay down debt at the same time. Because keep in mind, once you have debt, a portion of your money goes towards that just to service the interest every single month. And then what happens is you go from a place of fear to like, I have to pay this back. You know, every single paycheck, I'll put everything to debt, and I'll live off of you know, $10 a week. And like all these very aggressive plans, that's all fear-based planning, when we're very afraid of it. And then after a while when you keep failing at those plans again and again and again, because they are completely unrealistic. At that point, you start to shift the self-talk to what's the point? I've tried so hard for so long. And it's going to require something so huge in my life, a major shift for me to get any headway that this is kind of like my new normal. And when you feel yourself go from being afraid of debt to apathetic about it, I think that for me as a financial planner, that's the dangerous part. Fear is motivating. And we just need to harness that fear for positive. And we can do something about that. But apathy is not motivating. And so if we can avoid going to the apathy zone, then that's a big win. But if a lot of clients are already in that apathy zone, and the only way to get out of there is hope. And so we have to provide them with a plan that feels doable and reasonable.

ROMA: I want to touch on something that you’ve mentioned that I think is really important. And I don’t think we can talk about debt without talking about social media. We’ve all felt this fear of missing out, all looked at other people’s Instagram account and social media accounts and seen all these pictures of them traveling to wonderful places or eating amazing meals at great restaurants. What kind of pressure how much of this are you seeing, you know, in terms of social media, getting people to spend when they otherwise might not have?

SHANNON: I see a ton of it. The example I always use is the travel one because it’s a big one. One of my clients, they were planning to go on a summer vacation, and it was like a camping trip. It was like $2,000 they had saved for it. Nothing would have ended up on debt. It was completely within their means and they were stoked their kids were stoked, they’d done it for years. Very excited. And then over March Break, this woman she was you know, followed some of her kids’ friends’, parents on Instagram. So she’s seeing what her kid’s classmates are doing for March Break. And the kid’s classmates are like going to Mexico. And that was motivating enough for her to be like, you know, “We should rent a cottage, we should rent the jetski, we should do the things we should do something special.” And like eight years ago, that wouldn’t have happened because she would not have ever had access to photos of classmates vacations and how fabulous they were. That would have been creepy of her to like, ask, you know, at pickup being like, Can I see the photos of your vacation like, ew, but now she can see them whenever she wants.

ROMA: And those photos often hide a very different reality than what they’re showing.

SHANNON: Yeah, like this family went to Mexico, like that’s real, but maybe they fought the whole time and it was terrible. No one ever comes home and post their credit card bill after their vacation. So don’t forget that like all of that stuff costs money and you have no idea how that family or that person is affording that. So I think social media has really had a horrible impact on what we think is normal. It just makes everything feel like you have to be better than what you think you’re capable of. And then you feel like you’re not good enough, you might throw money at it to make it go away.

ROMA: It must be a hard thing to combat as a financial planner as well, because it’s not out there in the open. And it’s not probably immediately clear why someone’s trying to do these things that are potentially not something that they can financially afford.

SHANNON: Yeah, it is. I will say this though. Whenever somebody has debt, one of the first questions that I’ll ask is like, you know, what’s your debt story, so to speak. So like, how did we get here? And one of the big deciphering moments or like, the questions that I can ask is, you know, has this been a slow build over time? Or did this happen all at once? And that will really indicate to me the type of spending that’s happening. So if someone comes in and they’re like, I’ve just had a financial emergency, my cat was sick. It was $4,000 in surgery like, Okay, well, this isn’t a person with a spending problem. They have debt because of an emergency savings problem. Easy, super easy fix. That’s a totally separate type of debt issue than someone who says, I’ve had debt for as long as I can remember, I’ve never been able to pull out of it. And like, this is the situation it’s been slowly building over time. You know, it’s like, I basically get paid, I pay $500 onto my credit card. I don’t even know where it goes. And the cycle repeats again and again every month.

ROMA: How could someone tell when their debt is a problem?

SHANNON: All debt should be something to be avoided. That’s the gold standard, that nobody has debt. Okay, so like, let’s get that out of the way and then talk about realistic life. So how do you know if your debt is a problem? I think that there’s a couple things that you want to zone in on. Number one, is it giving you anxiety? Some people, $200 on a credit card could keep them up at night. So like, okay, you already have an issue because your money is causing you undue stress. So like boom, somebody else it may be $4,000 or $10,000 before they feel anxiety depending on their history and where they’ve been and what their story is, right? So I think number one is an emotional check in with like, How do I feel about this? Or is it causing fights at home? Am I acting differently in my relationship, as a parent, as a partner, with my family? And then financially speaking, it’s a problem if you can’t get any headway on it. So, you are constantly sitting at a specific number and no matter what you do it never really budges, I would say that that’s probably a lifestyle creep scenario. And it’s not so much that your debt is an issue, it’s that your spending is an issue and you might want to look at where is your money going and is everything that you’re paying for every month necessary?

ROMA: You know, we’re going to be dealing with this pandemic for some time. It’s a good heads-up anyhow, because people should be you know, stress testing their finances to make sure that they can absorb things like this. If you’re listening to this, how can you set up your finances so that you would be prepared for something like this to happen the next time it comes around or you know, how can you be ready for this? What are what are some specific steps you can take with your finances in order to be ready for this?

SHANNON: Okay, so number one, being as debt-free as possible. So again, not counting mortgage or even car loans sometimes. But consumer debt-free is important because the less places your money has to go every month, the more flexible that you are financially so that if your income takes a hit, you can bounce back. That’s that resilience thing, right? So, trying to get the debt paid off sooner rather than later is a really good way to like recession-proof or depression-proof or pandemic-proof your life. The other thing I would say is building up that emergency account. I’ve been harping on this for years, and they are so not sexy. Everyone hates an emergency account. The most common thing I hear is, I want to make my money work for me. Why would I leave it in a high-interest rate savings account earning like 1% when my TFSA is earning 6%? I mean, not not in this climate. But I’ve heard that for many years. And what I think we don’t really realize and I think maybe the pandemic has brought this to the forefront is that that emergency account was doing something for you. It was providing you with a warm blanket of calm at times when your anxiety might be through the roof if you didn’t have it. So those are the basics. I mean, I’m sure everybody knows those things, but really taking it seriously to do it. And so implementing that, I think is the last piece. So getting yourself on a cash flow plan, where you’re doing monthly contributions. And if you’re self-employed, you’re doing, you know, percentages, like, Okay, well 2% or 3% of my revenue goes towards emergencies and that kind of thing. And if you’re self-employed, also making sure you’re paid up on your taxes, I think that’s another thing you want to make sure that you’re doing to recession-proof your life. And then lastly, one of the big things that I’ve seen is having a strategy to balance your investments with your mortgage and which one is more important. So having access to money, knowing when and how to be liquid with your money with big sums of money and really looking at the mortgage like, Okay, if I can pay this down sooner than maybe was scheduled, then I’m more resilient and I can bounce back from a setback much faster.

ROMA: So no longer will the emergency fund be this quaint idea that your parents had and maybe not potentially relying on a line of credit, but actually having some money set aside. Shannon, I think we’ve covered everything. I think that your children are quiet and mine don’t seem to have burned our house down. So I think we’ve done well today.

SHANNON: Awesome.

ROMA: Shannon Lee Simmons, always a great person to talk to. She also writes for us at the Globe and Mail, and you can find her at TheNewSchoolOfFinance.com.

That was a lot to take in about debt. I'm going to give you my three takeaways. One: After years of low interest rates, we've become comfortable with the idea of debt. But spending more than you can afford can set you back financially for years. Before you borrow money, think hard about whether you need it and how you will pay it back and whether the stress is worth it. Two: Be aware of how social media is influencing you to spend in ways you might not even realize no one is doing anything amazing right now in terms of vacations or restaurants. meals. If you're lucky enough to have income, this is a good time to tackle your debt. Three: If you have debt or been forced to borrow money to get through this pandemic, it's okay. But be realistic about how you will pay it back. Make sure you come up with a plan that still lets you have a life. Maybe even save a little. Remember, everyone has been in debt. All you need is a plan.

ROB:Thank you for listening to Stress Test. This show was produced by Hannah Sung. Editing and mixing by TK Matunda. Our executive producer is Kiran Rana.

ROMA: Big thanks to Shannon Lee Simmons and Alanna in Toronto. Thank you also to Credit Canada. If you like what you heard, let the world know about it. Leave us a rating and a review at Apple Podcasts.

ROB: And if you know someone who needs this advice, send them this show. Tell them to subscribe to Stress Test at Apple podcasts. Google Play, Spotify or their favorite podcast app.

ROMA: You can find us at globeandmail.com where Rob’s got several columns in the newsletter and I’m behind the scenes helping shape all of our personal finance coverage. Together we cover all things financial. Thanks for listening

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