Low Income – No Income . . . Now What?
Not knowing for sure where your next pay cheque will come from, or if it will be enough to pay the rent and groceries this month, is one of the most difficult circumstances someone can find themselves in.
If this is your situation, here are some points to consider during this difficult time:
Take Care of Essential Living Costs
Your essential living costs are what you need to survive,. By keeping yourself as healthy and safe as possible you’ll be better able to deal with your situation. Taking care of your essential living costs means:
- Pay your rent and food first.
- Pay your utilities. Reduce or cancel any services that you don’t need right now.
- If you’ve lost your job, do you have assets that you can sell? Look around the house and see what you could do without, even temporarily.
- Are you able to increase your income? Consider temp work, taking in a boarder, renting the garage, working part-time from home, babysitting or delivering newspapers.
Banking, Credit, and Debt
Keeping the little money you do have safe is important. If you owe money to your financial institution (loans or credit cards) and fall behind on payments, your bank or credit union can use any funds that you have in your accounts to pay down these debts without notifying you. If you suddenly receive a deposit, like an income tax refund or birthday gift from a loved one, this money is in jeopardy as well.
Open a new account at a financial institution where you don’t owe any money. Deposit any money you receive to this new bank account. Find out more about your banking rights and responsibilities from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.
If you’re not able to pay your debts, your credit rating will be affected. However, your credit rating will start to recover after you return to work and you’re able to make your payments again. In the meantime, take care of the essentials first.
Communicate your current situation to your creditors so that they can work with you on a solution. For more information and guidance about how to do this, review our guide on dealing with creditors and collection agencies.
Only use cash and only buy essential items during this time. Your family and friends won’t want to see you struggle, so only spend what you can truly afford. Relying on credit and getting into debt will only make your situation worse.
Get Help When You Have No or Low Income
Community assistance is available to those who need it. For example, don’t be afraid to ask for help at the food bank or at your place of worship if you’re struggling to make ends meet. Community service centres are also great places to find additional resources. More informal support is available through community Facebook and social media groups. Getting a little help now will hopefully allow you to regain stability and pay it forward later. You can also contact us to speak with a credit counsellor about your situation. We're happy to answer your questions and provide you with guidance during this difficult time.