3 Ways Canadians Can Manage Spending, Debt, and Finances This Year


Samantha Mehra

June 22, 2020

The high-spending season has come and gone and, as Canadians move into the next few months, we’re spent. Unfortunately, for thousands of Canadians, so are their hard-earned dollars at the threshold of the year. And top of mind for them all? Managing their high credit card bills, and the battle with credit card balances and (perhaps) bad credit scores.

The retail industry has done well for itself of late, with customers snapping up clothing, electronics, and other goods in advance of gift-giving season. Giants like Amazon, PayPal, FlipCart, Zappos, and Asos all reaped the revenue from Valentine's Day, Back to School, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, holiday, post-holiday, and end-of-year sales.

And: While families across the country felt the warmth of the holiday spirit over gift exchanges, many are left wondering how they will cull their credit card debt this year and begin pay-back plans. According to the Canadian Banking Association, 42% of Canadians carry a credit card balance forward and pay interest on it (at a whopping 19.99%). As much as 25% of retail card users default on their 0% interest promotion and pay retroactive and revolving interest that spikes their purchase cost by 30% more. These are troubling numbers, to be sure.

Luckily, there are simple ways to begin managing your billowing credit card bills and credit this year. Here are three golden rules for lowering your credit card debt and setting yourself up for good credit scores in future, and not be dragged down by interest.

Buy now, pay later without affecting your credit score.

For Canadian shoppers struggling with credit card debt, there exists a way to manage payment plans on items big and small, without sacrificing purchases: buy now, pay later (BNPL).

A disclaimer: In the past, BNPL was seen as a suspicious way to supposedly manage debt (think unfriendly terms, red flags hidden in the fine print) and ultimately affected credit scores for Canadians. But luckily, interest-free, transparent, and credit-score safe BNPL options do now exist.

Brands that offer a buy now, pay later option also can generate up to 40% of their revenue through merchant fees and unfair penalty interest to their customers. This is not exactly a ‘customer-first’ approach.

FinTech brands like PayBright are helping international retailers and their shoppers to meet their respective bottom lines. How? By offering BNPL options at online checkout, with little to no interest, and without affecting credit scores.

If you’re looking to make significant purchases while better managing cash flow, consider BNPL as an option. It allows you to easily pay later while nearly eliminating borrowing costs. It’s a two-way win, really: Retailers can push their goods, and customers get what they need with little risk to their financial status.

Budget, budget, budget.

In her book Debt-Free Forever, Canadian financial advisor Gail Vaz-Oxlade writes, “You can have everything you want. All you need is a plan. And how do we spell plan? B-U-D-G-E-T!”

The most important step you take towards culling down debt and paving a path towards a better credit score is creating a budget: Daily, monthly, quarterly, and annually. Digital apps and .coms have taken note of this need, and luckily for us, have created tools to help us take next steps, including PocketGuard and Goodbudget. You may also opt to download your bank’s money tracking app, such as TD Bank’s MySpend. Through custom phone alerts and other means, these apps encourage your spending to be top of mind, and may convince you to make savvier spending choices.

But when in doubt: Always consult your bank or financial planner.

With a budget, being realistic is key: Choose a payment plan that works for you, your family, and your needs (and it doesn’t hurt to ditch some of the plastic). You may be working to improve your credit history this year, but it’s not reasonable to stop all spending any time soon – this is an expensive world, after all.

Track your credit score like you track your steps.

A credit card is easy enough to use and the growing credit card bills are even easier to ignore. This ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality often lands consumers in a no-win financial situation, often with the credit card debt being so high it seems impossible to pay off.

But that’s simply not true: According to Gail Cunningham, formerly of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, taking the simple step of “cutting back can be more effective than cutting out.” One of those simple steps is to face the music and track your credit score, even obsessively. If you don’t know where to begin, some tools exist that make the process less daunting for the modern consumer:

  • Borrowell: With this quick, simple app, you can check your credit score in just three minutes. Additionally, you can receive recommendations on financial products based on your credit score and overall personal finance goals. They also provide education tools for the newly credit-card savvy shopper eager to get ahead of their spending.
  • Credit Karma: Available in the Apple App Store, this handy tool offers a free credit analysis, as well as insights into how you’re negatively impacting your credit score. The credit alerts and planning features will boost a long-term budget, too.
  • With this credit score app, you can glimpse your Equifax credit score and monitor it closely on a monthly basis. The goal? To help users achieve their financial goals, boost credit ranking, and save up for all-important purchases (like a first home).

With credit card debt and personal financial planning, there is always a way to improve, but ultimately success lies in the strategy you choose to take. Whether it’s budgeting, credit score monitoring, or opting for Buy Now, Pay Later at checkout, taking small, simple steps and being monetarily mindful will help pay off debt over time.

How do you typically plan your budget and improve your credit score?

Let us know at

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not an exhaustive review of this topic. The content is not financial or investment advice. No professional relationship of any kind is formed between you and PayBright. While we have obtained or compiled this information from sources we believe to be reliable, we cannot and do not guarantee its accuracy. We recommend that you consult your personal finance professional before taking any action related to this information. PayBright is a provider of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solutions. BNPL providers offer plans with a variety of terms and conditions, including interest rates, fees, and penalties, and have different standards for qualifying for loans. Laws and regulations governing BNPL providers vary by jurisdiction. We recommend that you compare and contrast plans, read the fine print, and conduct detailed research into any BNPL provider before using their services.

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Samantha Mehra

Senior Content Manager

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