Looking to beat inflation and increasing debt? Here are some expert tips

High inflation and rising interest rates, along with high unemployment is creating the perfect financial storm for Canadians, say experts.  (Spencer Platt/Getty Images - image credit)
High inflation and rising interest rates, along with high unemployment is creating the perfect financial storm for Canadians, say experts. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images - image credit)

A high unemployment rate during a time of peak inflation means many Windsorites might be struggling to make ends meet.

For most of last year, Windsor remained one of the big Canadian cities with the highest unemployment rate, and December was no different.

Based on the latest data from Statistics Canada, Windsor's unemployment rate for the month of December was 8.2 per cent. While it dropped from the previous month by 0.4 percentage points, it still remains above the national rate of 5.0 per cent and it's higher compared to other large Canadian cities.

And that number remains high at a time when inflation continues to bump up the cost of food and rent.

Mike Braga, senior vice-president and partner with BDO Canada, told CBC News that there has been high rates of bankruptcy across the country and specifically in Windsor.

"We're anticipating and the government is anticipating that bankruptcies will continue to increase ... just because Canadians are continuing to carry debt," he said.

Jennifer La Grassa/CBC
Jennifer La Grassa/CBC

Braga said he looks at the debt-to-income ratio and that, right now, that ratio shows that for every dollar Canadians earn, they're spending about $1.83.

He said a year ago it was about $1.70.

"We're seeing that number continue to increase. Some of that has to do with inflation, some of that has to do with rising interest rates, but the issue is not only are we adding to our debt, the debt we are carrying is becoming more and more expensive to cover with the interest rates continuing to increase," he said.

Here's some tips to keep your finances in check

1) Budget

Braga said that half of Canadians don't keep a regular budget.

He said people need to start budgeting by tracking their expenses for at least one month.

"Figure out where your dollars are going and then asking ourselves the question, 'can we really afford to be living the lifestyle that we are right now or where can we cut back?'" he said.

2) Consider a side hustle 

People should also be reflecting on the ways that they can possibly increase their income through side gigs or hustles, Braga said.

He suggested people could also look at belongings they can sell or increasing their hours at work, if they reduced them during the pandemic.

3) Get a financial planner

Someone who can help you with the first two items on this last is a financial planner, according to Chris Clark, a financial planner at Clark Financial Group.

He said people like him can offer professional advice that can help people watch their spending and focus on paying down debt. He added that people often think they need a lot of money to have a financial planner, but that that isn't true.

"[A financial planner] will help you navigate the pitfalls and the dos and don'ts," he said.

In particular they can help with:

  • Balancing your income with your expenses.

  • Tracking your expenses.

  • Analyzing your bank statements and credit card statements.

4.) Save up an emergency fund

Clark said you should have three to six months worth of emergency funds saved up to help you fall back on.

"Some people just aren't getting there, it's paycheque to paycheque," he said.

He said they encourage people to pay themselves first, which means "save first and spend later."

If you find yourself struggling with unemployment or having to manage high inflation and interest rates and want to talk about it, please reach out to us at windsor@cbc.ca