Mike and Jennifer are a retired couple in Winnipeg who have been married for 30 years. Mike worked in the healthcare sector and retired with a small pension. His wife Jennifer ran a home-based business that she stopped operating when her husband retired.
They had done all the calculations and thought they would be able to live modestly with their life savings and Mike's pension. However, a series of unfortunate events – their house was flooded and needed extensive renovations, and one of their children needed to borrow a large sum of money – meant that they couple began using their credit cards for living expenses and to pay for their renovations. They soon found themselves in a financial mess, using one credit card to pay off another. Their debt just kept growing and soon they had no option but to file for bankruptcy protection.
They could not believe that they were facing bankruptcy at this stage in their lives. "I had never taken the easy way out," says Mike. "It felt like I had failed both myself, and my wife." After the couple met with a Grant Thornton Bankruptcy Trustee, they saw that there was hope. "He was a young guy who could relate to what we were going through because he had helped his parents get back on track when they were facing financial difficulty." The Trustee worked with the couple to set-up a manageable budget. They're still managing that budget today, and things are much better.
Mike and Jennifer's advice:
As a couple, you have to talk about your financial situation. You have to tackle it together; it's the only way that things can get better. When you get to the point where you use one credit card to pay off another, you have to stop right then and there and start looking for a professional to help you figure out what you need to do. The relief that comes with taking that first step together is priceless.
We know that each person's situation is different and that there are no quick fixes for financial difficulty. However, you are not alone. There are solutions for every situation and we are here to help.
At Grant Thornton, we respect the confidentiality of our clients. Although the names and details have been altered, these stories are based on real life situations. They also demonstrate that every situation is different and the importance of speaking to an experienced insolvency administrator to discuss the options available.