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Managing Debt


In challenging or encouraging economic times, understanding how to manage debt is important for your financial health. Sometimes it can be overwhelming.

If you're feeling that way, remember, you're not alone. There are many solutions that can help make debt manageable. But just as it takes time to get into debt, it can also take time to get out of it.

Here are some guidelines to help you manage and reduce your debt:

 • Create a budget and stick to it. Budgets can help you gain control of your debt and manage future spending.

 • Prioritize your outstanding balances based on interest rate. Pay off your highest-interest debts first. But remember to continue paying at least the minimum amount on the other outstanding balances.

 • Consider consolidating outstanding balances into one convenient payment. You might also be able to consolidate balances to a lower interest rate, and save on interest payments.

 • Source your available payment options. Some lenders offer a variety of payment methods. See what’s available and use the option best suited to help you pay on time, every time.

 • Utilize services such as American Express Account Alerts to help you remain aware of your due dates and spending levels.

 • Talk to your lenders if you’re struggling to make your payments. Don’t skip the payment altogether, as this will only make the situation worse and impact your credit rating. In many cases, lenders are willing to work out a solution with you.

 • Seek advice from a professional credit counselor. You can find advice and information online at

 • Investigate alternatives for paying down your debt. You may want to consider using money from your savings account or using another alternative to help you pay down your debt.

• Review the Payment Period Remaining on your Credit Card or Line of Credit statement.

Your Credit Card or Line of Credit statement features a key enhancement that can help you remain ‘in the know’ and stay in control of your account.

Payment Period Remaining shows you an estimate of how long it would take to pay off the New Balance shown on your statement if you make no additional charges using your Card or Line of Credit and each month you pay the Minimum Amount Due only. New Balance refers to the total amount owing on the account as of the Closing Date of your statement.

This estimate assumes that:
     you make no additional charges using your Card or Line of Credit
    each month you pay the Minimum Amount Due only by the Payment Due Date
    with the exception of any special interest rate offers, there are no changes to the annual interest rate(s) applicable to your account
    when any special interest rate offer expires, the balance that is subject to the special rate offer will be treated in the same way as purchases, including the applicable annual interest rate that currently applies to purchases.

For more information on payment alternatives the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada provides a
Credit Card Payment Calculator Tool .

This self-help tool is intended for your general information only and is not intended to provide tax, legal, or financial advice. Please Note:  The results provided are typically longer estimates compared to your Credit Card or Line of Credit statement.  They are based on compounding of interest calculations which does not apply to American Express.  You should not assume results apply to your individual circumstances.

Budgets build healthy habits

Budgets can help you recognize spending habits and identify areas where you might be able to cut back. They're an important tool for managing your debt, and are simple to create.

Download a Budget Worksheet

How to prepare a budget

After downloading the Budget Worksheet, follow these steps to prepare your budget:

 1. Track your income and expenses: Over a two-month period, keep records of all your money coming in (income) and going out (expenses). Certain expenses may be fixed each month, including rent, mortgage, groceries, insurance premiums, utilities and transportation. Other expenses may vary – such as vacations, entertainment and gifts.

 2. Create your budget: Use the information you gathered above to help you complete the fields on the Budget Worksheet. It is recommended that you prepare the budget for one month so you can directly compare your monthly expenses against your income. You may also choose to complete your budget from a household point of view. If this is the case, be sure to consider income from all contributing household members and the total of everyone’s monthly expenses.

 3. Follow your budget and keep track of your spending: When you have a good record of where your money is going, see if you can cut costs in certain areas. Or, see if you can add to your savings.

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