Debt, it can have a massive impact not only on finances, but on our mental, social, spiritual, and even physical well-being. In my work with our church’s Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Debt Centre, a free credit-counselling service, I have seen firsthand how debilitating debt can be for people who are caught in the debt cycle.
The debt cycle starts by finding oneself short on cash. Many of the clients I’ve met through our debt centre have had complicated experiences that led them there, such as a relationship breakdown, job loss, addiction, vet bill, injury, etc. And most turned to borrowing money, usually through a credit card or money lender, to make ends meet. With high interest rates their balance grew, and they found themselves once again short of cash after paying bills. By the time they come to CAP, our clients are stuck in the debt cycle and are often finding it hard to manage.
At our CAP Debt Centre, we meet with people who are in debt and hear their story. Together, we send their financial information to CAP, an accredited credit counselling agency. CAP creates a plan to get out of debt and makes a budget tailored to each client. As an accredited credit counselling agency, CAP negotiates with creditors and asks for interest to be stopped. Instead of clients trying to figure out how much to pay to their creditors, they now make one payment to CAP, and every dollar of that goes towards their debts. With interest stopped, the balance then finally starts to significantly decrease.
It usually takes between 1-7 years for our clients to pay off their debt, and during that time our church, First Hamilton Christian Reformed Church on Charlton Ave W, gets to know and support our clients. Whether it is groceries, rides, friendship, or donations, we do our best to walk with our clients. We love celebrating with our clients when they finish the hard work of paying off their debt and going debt-free!
You can find out more about this free service at CAPCanada.org, or by calling CAP’s toll-free number at 1-855-214-9191.