News You Can Use January 2017

Podcasts
Posted in Money Tips
Posted by J. Douglas Hoyes, CA, CPA, LIT, CIRP, CBV

DFI30-round-table

Subscribe and download at iTunes or using the Stitcher app, or subscribe via our rss feed or download directly, or listen now:

Welcome to a special edition of Debt Free in 30. This week, instead of featuring one industry expert we're giving you four (including myself, of course). In today's show our panel of experts will answer questions on four recent issues within the personal finance realm. Each expert brings something different to the table, which gives us a well rounded view at these issues from all angles.

Today's guests are Barton Goth, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. Barton is joining us today from Edmonton, Alberta where he owns and operates his firm Goth & Company. We have personal finance expert Robert Brown, author of Wealthing Like Rabbits joining us from Ajax, Ontario. Lastly, we have my Hoyes Michalos co-founder Ted Michalos joining me here at our head office in Kitchener, Ontario.

Story #1 Walmart vs. Visa

I first reported on this story back on podcast #106 in September 2016. After a short battle, Walmart and Visa declared a truce in their dispute over merchant fees.

For listeners who may not remember, Walmart stopped accepting Visa cards in their Manitoba and Thunder Bay locations. They claimed that Visa's processing charges were just too high. Visa retaliated by offering consumers a free Visa gift card if they bought their groceries anywhere but Walmart. Walmart countered by saying they were sticking up for the consumer and trying to keep their prices low.

Visa refused to budge, noting that their credit card provides great value to card holders. They measured this value by the added features they offer like fraud protection and consumer convenience, thus making their fees worth it.

The dispute is over so someone blinked, but the settlement has been kept very hush-hush. Our experts today respond with who they think blinked first, and will customers benefit in anyway? Or will it, like many cases, only benefit the big guys, Walmart and Visa?

Story #2 Will Canadians Pay Down Their Debt in 2017?

A recent poll by CIBC found that 30% of Canadians stated that paying down their debt was their #1 financial priority for 2017. This is the seventh year in a row that debt repayment topped the list of financial priorities, yet household debt continues to rise.

With Canadians owing $1.67 for every dollar earned, it's clear that people are talking the talk, but aren't necessarily walking the walk.

Our experts answer why they think consumers want to pay down debt, but why they aren't able to do it. With financial experts prophesying a major financial correction for the past few years, why aren't people more motivated to pay down their debt?

Listen in for tips on what consumers should be doing if they want to reduce their debt in 2017.

Story #3 Bank of Canada's Warning to Consumers

How do you know things are getting to a boiling point in the financial system? The Bank of Canada hit YouTube late 2016 with a video on how financial stress could lead to a sharp correction in the housing market.

Their animated video warns everyone that Canadians are carrying too much debt, and that a correction in the housing market would affect the economy as a whole.

So, if the Bank of Canada is issuing warnings to Canadians everywhere, should we be worried? Listen in as our experts give their thoughts.

Story #4 Paid Promotion and Personal Finance Advice

A personal finance blogger was publicly scolded on social media earlier this month by none other than Gail Vaz-Oxlade. The blogger recommended that a payday loan was a good budgeting tip you can rely on. Keeping it generic may have meant it was an honest mistake, but naming a popular payday loan company, that looks like a paid endorsement.

Many others took to their feed and backed Gail Vaz-Oxlade for her harsh, yet fair reaction to this awful piece of advice.

The end result? The blogger removed their offending article. So we decided to take this ordeal to our panel today. What do they think of personal finance experts mixing affiliate product recommendations with personal financial advice. How does someone know if they're getting unbiased advice? Listen in to hear their thoughts.

Resources Mentioned in Today's Show

Story #1

Story #2

Story #3

Story #4

FULL TRANSCRIPT Show #126 News You Can Use

news-you-can-use-jan-2017Doug Hoyes: This is the first edition of the Debt Free in 30 roundtable. Unlike our regular shows where I just have one guest, today we've assembled a panel of experts so we can cover all the issues from all the angles. So, let's welcome the panel. Barton Goth is a Licensed Insolvency Trustee joining us today from Edmonton, Alberta. Bart, how are you doing today?

Barton Goth:I'm great, thanks Doug.

Doug Hoyes: Thanks for being here Bart. Robert Brown is a personal finance expert and the author of Wealthing Like Rabbits, joining us today from Ajax Ontario. Robert, how are you doing today?

Robert Brown:I'm doing great, thanks for having me on the show today Doug.

Doug Hoyes: Thanks for having me Robert. And joining me right here at the head office, the head office of the Hoyes Michalos empire here in Kitchener is Ted Michalos, Ted how are you doing?

Ted Michalos:Just fine thank you.

Doug Hoyes: Excellent. Well, thanks to the whole panel for joining me today. We've got four stories to cover. We're going to go through them quickly and provide some insight on them so let's to story number one, Walmart versus Visa.

I first reported on this story back on podcast number 106 in September after a short battle Walmart and Visa declared a truce in their dispute over merchant fees. So, for listeners who may not remember Walmart stopped accepting Visa cards in their Manitoba and Thunder Bay locations, claiming that Visa's processing charges were too high. Visa retaliated by offering consumers a free Visa gift card if they bought groceries anywhere but Walmart.

Walmart said they were standing up for the consumer with low prices. Visa said that their credit card was a great value because they provided features like fraud protection and consumer convenience so their fees are worth it. Well, it's apparent someone blinked but the settlement agreement has been kept hush, hush so we don’t exactly know what's happened.

So, my question for the panel who blinked first and more importantly do you think consumers will benefit from any of this or will it only benefit the big guys Visa and Walmart, so, Bart why don’t I start with you, what are your thoughts on the Walmart and Visa battle?

Bart Goth:Now who blinks? I don’t know if it matters who blinks. I think this is a matter of any publicity is good publicity regardless of what's happening. The fact of the matter is who makes money? The banks, the financial institutions and a piece of that pie is what Walmart's after. So, they're trying to grain headlines, they look like they're this wonderful person that's here protecting consumer rights. But realistically they're just looking into standing into a very profitable business.

Doug Hoyes: So that's a vote for they're both going to make money off of this. Robert Brown, what do you think, who won and more importantly what does this mean for consumers or either Visa products or shoppers at Walmart?

Robert Brown:Well, I don’t know who won but if I had to guess I suspect Visa won. I just can't imagine anecdotally anybody who wanted to shop at a Walmart refusing to do so because they couldn’t use a Visa card. I suspect that they'd just use their MasterCard instead or here's a neat idea, maybe they just paid with cash instead. But if Walmart really did win this battle and it was all about lowering the prices to consumers, I guess we'll see a cross the board reduction in Walmart prices in Manitoba and Thunder Bay pretty soon.

Doug Hoyes: Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's going to happen, massive price reductions. So, Ted what do you think, lots of price reductions at Walmart coming, is that what we're going to see next?

Ted Michalos:I'm sorry Robert mentioned something I've never heard of before, cash? I think Robert's probably right, the consumer simply said we're going to shop here, we're going to shop here, we're going to shop here. And it's in Walmart's best interest to accept as many credit cards as possible, that's how they maximize their earnings. So, my guess is that Walmart blinked first.

Doug Hoyes: Yeah and obviously they're both going to make money off this, that's really what this is all about.

Ted Michalos: Yeah Bart’s right about that. I don’t think anybody should expect to see any savings. I wish I gotten one of those free cards though, that would have been good.

Doug Hoyes: Yeah that would have been totally awesome. So, okay so let's go onto story number two because we've got a lot of ground to cover here. So, story number two, will anyone pay down their debts this year?

So, a new poll by CIBC found that 30% of Canadians stated that paying down debt was their number one financial priority for 2017. Okay, makes sense. But this was the seventh year in a row that debt repayment topped the list of financial priorities and yet household debt continues to rise. So, it appears that consumers are talking the talk but aren’t necessarily walking the walk.

So, the question for the panel, and I'll throw this to Ted first so if the other two guys can keep their mics muted while Ted's answering this one, we want Ted to have the floor here. Why do you think consumers want to pay down debt but don’t seem to be able to pay down debt?

Ted Michalos:I would be willing to bet in that same survey it asks do you want to lose weight in 2017? And it's asked that same question for the last 10 years. And the answer's been the same as I want to pay down my debt. And it takes a certain degree of discipline and it has to be some motivating factor other than I think people want to hear me say yes the answer is I want to pay down my debt.

Reality right now, it's so cheap to carry debt that I don’t think people are as motivated as they should be. It's one of the reasons they're allowing debt to accumulate. And it's an alarming thing. If you take a minute to look at what Canadians are carrying, it's scary. It's $1.67, a $1.68 now?

Doug Hoyes: Yeah, they're carrying $1.67 of debt for debt for every dollar of disposable income. So, somebody who earns $10,000 a year has $16,700 worth of debt. Now of course that includes mortgages so it may not sound like that big a number but it is still a big number. So, Bart what do you think would the answer be the same if we asked people if they want to exercise more and lose weight? Is this just the way surveys work? or is there something deeper here?

Bart Goth:Well, I can't speak for the entire country but I can tell you in Alberta we weren’t paying debt when we had high oil values and there were lots of jobs. We don’t have lots of jobs and oil has dropped dramatically. So, there's no way in my province people are going to be able to accomplish that goal.

Doug Hoyes: So, what are you seeing in Alberta right now then? It's - I mean we're here, the other three of us are here in Ontario and the economy in Ontario is doing pretty well right now. I mean things seem to be humming along on the surface. Are you seeing a lot more activity? I mean you're a Licensed Insolvency Trustee so obviously you're helping people with bankruptcies and proposals, is it busier today than it was a year ago?

Bart Goth:Absolutely. It just stays at that peak, it doesn’t seem to be dropping. We've got oil up a little bit but it's not enough to really make a difference in our province. We've got an NDP government who has added a brand new carbon tax so that's going to increase the cost of production for both oil and gas sectors.

You add to that the fact that our employment is higher, unemployment is higher than it is in a decade. There's just not anything positive happening right now. And then you have Trump in the White House who's talking about protectionist trade policies and you reduce what goes across the border. And there's no money being invested so no money equals no jobs, therefore nobody can pay down that debt.

Doug Hoyes: So even if they want to, they're not able to. So, Robert Brown, let's go to you then. Obviously in your book Wealthing Like Rabbits, which of course I can hold up to the camera here, I'm surprised you haven’t done it already. We're doing this as a podcast but we're recording the video in Google Hangout so we may or may not post it on YouTube if it works. So, what do you think? Are people saying they want to pay down debt and they aren’t able to, they don’t know how to or it's just something they're saying and it doesn’t really mean anything?

Robert Brown:Well, obviously a lot of people are saying they're going to pay down debt and they're not doing it. And I think there's a variety of reasons why that may be.

But I think if someone is serious about paying down their debt they need to, and this is going to sound a little hokie. But they need to have that look in the mirror conversation with themselves because like the weight loss proposition if it only lasts for a couple of weeks, or the first month, you're really not going to make any real progress. People need to understand if they're going to really tackle a debt problem, it's going to take probably a long-term commitment depending upon the situation they're in.

And then it's going to acquire a change in lifestyle and perhaps looking for some more money somewhere else and going without some of the things that may have got them into trouble in the first place. And then once they've made that kind of attitudinal shift, then they can look at some of the technical things they need to do to take on their debt. But they've got to decide they want it and they've got to be serious for the long term.

Doug Hoyes: So this is not a technical question then, this is you've really got to want it, you've really got to do it, is what it comes down to.

Respondent: I think the first step is that you've really got to want it and you really want to do it. And once you've made that commitment then you can dig into some of the technical aspects in how you can pay off your debt.

Doug Hoyes: Excellent, makes sense, any other comments from either Bart or Ted on that one before we move onto the next question? Makes sense though, right, I mean you're both Licensed Insolvency Trustees, people have to want to get out of debt before they can start in on it.

Ted Michalos:Yeah. There are no surprises and I think if you ask this question 12 months from now you're going to get the same answer.

Doug Hoyes: No, I suspect you're exactly right, that's just the way it is. So, okay let's go onto question number three then. Story number three, even The Bank of Canada thinks we're about to explode. Now YouTube is a popular source for a lot of interesting videos but you wouldn’t think that The Bank of Canada would be a go-to source for anything interesting, at least I wouldn’t. Yet this month they issued an animated video, okay, a fancy cartoon that seemed to warn everyone about the fact that Canadians are carrying too much debt and that a correction in the housing market might blow the whole thing to bits.

So, the question for the panel, if The Bank of Canada is starting to issue videos about warning about the end of the world, should we actually be worried? So, how about I go to Robert Brown first on this one, should we be worried about this Bank of Canada warning?

Robert Brown:I don’t know if we need to be worried about The Bank of Canada warning but I think there's cause to be at least concerned about the Canadian economy and the Canadian housing market. Listen, I'm one of those guys that's been saying Canadian housing market in Toronto and Vancouver is overheated and due for correction. And I've been saying that for five years and I've been wrong every year. So, I don’t know when and where it's going to happen but I think there's cause for concern. When you look at the price or real estate in those areas and the amount of debt we were just talking about, yeah I think there's cause for concern.

Doug Hoyes: So, Bart he talks about the overheated real estate market in Vancouver and Toronto, Vancouver has eased off quite a bit, I assume the same is true in Edmonton?

Bart Goth:It's starting, it's eased off for the more expensive houses, although those are cheap compared to the houses that you guys are used to in Ontario and Vancouver. But we definitely have seen a decline. That decline has hit more into the smaller centres but it's starting to creep into the Edmonton and the Calgary's as well and I expect that's going to continue for some time.

Doug Hoyes: So Bart, should we be worried that The Bank of Canada is actually putting out this warning then, that hey, debt's a problem?

Bart Goth:Well you and me have been talking about debt being a problem for a long time. Interest is low, money is cheap, or at least that's how people see it oftentimes. And they have very little incentive to keep their spending in check. And there's just a matter of time before something happens out there that's going to shock the system.

Doug Hoyes: Yeah I totally agree and I think Robert said it, that we've been warning about this for years. You and I have been doing the same and so has Ted. So, okay Ted, you know, should we be worried or are we going to be having this same conversation again next year? Is it really all dependent on interest rates, is that what this whole, you know, what keeps it all going?

Ted Michalos:Yeah, at the end of the day interest rates are the things that are going to finally break the camel's back. I think back to that old joke where the fellow's died and he's at the pearly gates and he says to Peter why didn’t you give me some warning. Peter says I sent you a boat, a sent you a helicopter. We don’t have time for the whole joke but the point is lots of different people have been giving everyone warnings now for years.

The fact that the Government of Canada, sorry the Bank of Canada, has stepped up and they're adding their voice to the warnings, that's got to be the final thing that brings people around. I mean the Bank of Canada is not supposed to issue that kind of warning. They're not supposed to interfere with the markets in that kind of way.

Doug Hoyes: And yet they are.

Ted Michalos:And yet they are.

Doug Hoyes: So, what should people be taking from that then? Okay, is this the time when I really do have to start dealing with my debt or is it yet another warning. We've all said it, we've all been warning this for years and years and years and nothing's happened. So, are we the boy who's cried wolf and it hasn’t mattered or do you think that yeah, okay this could be the year when it actually starts to matter?

Ted Michalos:I think 2017 has already started out to be the year that it's going to matter. And it's got more to do with Mr. Trump then it does the Bank of Canada.

Doug Hoyes: We should do a whole show - wait, a minute I already did a show on Trump. You can go back a couple of podcasts.

Ted Michalos:the government deficits, right? The money supply is still pretty good, the government's going to start running up debts that's going to push the interest rates higher just because of supply and demand. And then there's going to be trouble. Every point that yourinterest rate on your mortgage goes up, an extra $100 a month for $100,000 year mortgage. And the average mortgage in Ontario is something like $289,000. So, every time it goes up, it's $300 extra a month. I mean it doesn’t take long to get you into a lot of trouble.

Doug Hoyes: Well and maybe that's kind of a key point. It doesn’t really matter what the rest of the economy is doing. And maybe the rest of the economy is doing great but what happens if something happens to you? What happens if you lose your job or have some other shock to the system?

I mean Robert, you've obviously written a book directed at people, not the entire economy. Is that really what this comes down to? I should be worrying more about what's happening with myself than what's happening with the economy as a whole?

Robert Brown:Well, I think that you have a lot more control over your own behaviour and what you do yourself than over the economy as whole. And it's funny, when interest rates started to drop about five years ago, I initially saw that as a great thing. I said to people, wow what a great opportunity to pay off the principle of your mortgage while rates are low before they start to go back up. Well, what happened was people just took advantage, and I'm using the quote signs when I say take advantage, of the low interest rates, to borrow, borrow, borrow more money. And if and when rates start to go up I think Ted's right, there's going to be trouble.

Doug Hoyes: A question for you Bart then, if you could turn back the clock a year or two years, so the oil crash price happened, help me out here, early 2015, is that when it started? Is it into 2016, what time was it?

Bart Goth:It was near the end of 2015, at least that's when I saw it.

Doug Hoyes: So starting in 2016 the oil price starts going down. So, if you could go back in time two years to everyone you know in Edmonton, Calgary, Fort McMurray, all those sorts of places, and actually give them a warning, the same kind of warning we're giving everybody now, what would that warning have been?

Bart Goth:Well, we've been giving that warning for the last 10 years. Debt is too high, you are at risk if interest rates go up. You're carrying more than you can afford and you need to take advantage of these low interest rate times to be able to right the ship. So, that when things get crazy, you're still going to stay afloat.

Doug Hoyes: And that's really the same warning we're giving people now is what it comes down to. So, I guess the point is perhaps we've been warning this for a long time and it hasn’t come true in Ontario. But it did come true out west, there's no doubt about that. You're seeing it in Edmonton and we're certainly seeing it in Vancouver and there's no reason that it couldn’t come true here in Ontario, maybe not today but in the future.

So, I guess my message would be don't worry what's happening with the rest of the economy, use interest rates being low not as an excuse to borrow more but as an excuse to pay down your debts. I think that's probably what it means. Does anyone have anything else to add on that before we get to story number four? We're good. I'm hearing nothing from the panel so story number four it is.

This is our last story for today, it's about paid promotion and personal finance advice. So, this is a story that kind of hits home for me so let's see what the panel has to say about it. So, a blogger, and I'm not going to mention this blogger's name because it doesn’t really matter.

But she published an article on one of her website's a little while ago titled Budgeting Tips You Can Rely on, which apparently suggested that a payday loan was a good idea.

Now it may have just been an innocent mistake, however given the fact that she named a popular payday loan company it looked to me more like a paid endorsement. Now she was immediately slammed on social media by people like Gail Vaz-Oxlade and Robert Brown and a few others. In the end the offending article was taken down by the blogger website.

So, my question for the panel, and I'm going to start with you on this one Robert because you were one of the people who jumped on her and I think got her to take this offending post down, but what do you think of personal finance experts mixing affiliate product recommendations and personal finance advice? I mean how does a consumer know that they're getting unbiased advice?

Robert Brown:Well, I would start by saying you're right. In the interest of full disclosure I was one of the people on Twitter and social media giving Gail digital high fives and kudos for calling this person out. And I find it very hard to believe it was a mistake. A personal finance blogger recommending a payday loan place, pretty much had to be a paid endorsement. And even if it wasn’t, it was horrific advice.

And I think that if somebody is going to be paid for endorsing a product or a service they should be upfront and announce it either on their blog or at the beginning of the piece so at least they've been upfront and told people that they're being paid for this advice. But even if they do so, it still needs to be good advice. And if it's not you're out in a social open platform and you're subject to a certain level of what I hope would be polite and professional criticism. So, I guess that's where I stand first of all on that piece of advice.

Doug Hoyes: No and I totally agree on that. And I think, I should probably clarify this for people because it seems obvious to me but maybe it isn’t obvious to everyone listening, what we mean when we talk about an affiliate relationship. So, we all know what an ad is, if I go to a website and there's a, you know, an ad at the side of it, a Google ad or a display ad or whatever, I know it's an ad.

But when I read an article and it talks about well, you know I bought my kids this new kind of toothpaste today, you don’t know for sure if the person writing the article, the blogger, is saying that's a good kind of toothpaste because they really believe it or because they're getting paid to embed that as part of their article. That's what an affiliate link is. That's what's called native marketing, so, native advertising. You don’t know what it is, you think it's part of a normal story.

And I think that's the thing that I kind of find most offensive about this, that I look at it and go oh, this is something legit they're actually trying to make an honest recommendation. You know, Ted what are your thoughts about this whole issue of what people are actually doing?

Ted Michalos:You just want to wind me up on payday loans.

Doug Hoyes: I do, I do.

Ted Michalos:Well, what's the warning you give people, don’t believe anything you read on the internet. Don’t believe anything that you heard, do your own investigation, do you own due diligence. There are so many different ways that this native advertising that you're talking about is occurring in our culture and you can't tell. There could be people watching this podcast that go wait a minute three of these guys are Licensed Insolvency Trustees, they want me to deal with my debt so they can make their living. Well, that's true it's how we make our living. I want you to deal with your debts because you life will be better if you do it. But that's a different topic for a different day.

Doug Hoyes: No but you're absolutely right. Everybody has some kind of agenda. Our agenda is exactly what you just said, we would like you to deal with your debts. Now I think at Hoyes Michalos and I think at Bart's firm, we're certainly upfront about the fact that we know not everybody needs to do a consumer proposal. We want you to explore all the different options and find the one that's right for you. But yes, I agree, you've got to look at your options.

Now Bart, let's bring you in on this. Ted said you shouldn’t believe anything you read on the internet and of course he didn’t mean anything I personally wrote.

Ted Michalos:Not in particular, no.

Doug Hoyes: That's certainly something you should absolutely be believing. But what do you think in general then of how a consumer should be responding to what they read on the internet? Do you have to be skeptical about absolutely everything? What are you supposed to do, how do you know what's true?

Ted Michalos:I think it's healthy to start with a reasonable level of skepticism. Take what you read, don’t take it at face value, let's see if you can find something to corroborate that. You know, if you're dealing with an organization for instance, perhaps you get some references, perhaps you look for some testimonials for people that have actually used those services and found some success doing so. Perhaps you go and sit down and meet in person whoever this is you're dealing with.

I think one of the most scary things is when you can't find somebody that you can sit down in an office and have a face-to-face conversation with. To me that's a number one red flag that regardless of what industry you're dealing in, there's risk.

Doug Hoyes: Yeah and I think that's an excellent point. Who are you dealing with? So, somebody who writes a blog who maybe doesn’t even put their real name on it, who doesn’t have an actual location, you can't actually talk to them. Is that as reputable as somebody you can actually go and talk to? I'm guessing probably not. So, Ted you're not a fan of payday loans then? I don’t think I got you wound up quite enough there then.

Ted Michalos:I don’t know when this podcast is going to hit the airwaves but sometime in the very near future you and I are going to testify before the Ontario government because they're making changes to this stuff. I can't say enough bad things about payday loans.

Doug Hoyes: Well and the answer to that question is this podcast will hit the airwaves the last Saturday in January. So, we're actually recording this a couple of days in advance. So, it's pretty current. So, yes Ted's exactly right. The Ontario Legislature is holding hearings on some legislation that they've already passed but are thinking of tweaking.

I don’t know why they hold hearings after it's already passed but the payday loan legislation in particular, the Ontario government lowered the maximum cost of a payday loan from $21 per $100 borrowed to starting at the beginning of 2017 the number's gone down to $18 and next year it's supposed to go down to $15 for every $100 borrowed. And I think both you and I agree that that's a good start but I think there's much more involved in it than that.

So, assuming we are actually called to testify and we won't find out until the middle of February then we will certainly do a podcast from the steps of the legislature, that's how we'll do it because everyone would like to hear the wind and everything as we do that. But yes, it's certainly a big issue.

So, Robert any other thoughts then on what we should be looking for when we're looking for stuff? I mean Bart gave some good advice there in terms of, you know, know who you're dealing with and so on. I mean is there anything else we can add to that or is it literally as simple as that, you know, think?

Robert Brown:Yeah, well I think that, you know, consumers have to be aware and they have to own some of the responsibility of the products that they buy. But yeah if somebody is on a blog or a podcast and they're promoting a product, then they need to be upfront about that, put that as part of the disclosure that they're being paid by the company. And then the people listening to the company can make their own decision about what they want to buy. But they need to be upfront about that.

Doug Hoyes: Yeah except for this podcast, then you can trust everything we're saying obviously. But no, I totally agree. I think that's exactly right, that's exactly how you have to do it. You can't blindly accept anything, that's just not the way it should be. Okay so let's end this first ever round table ever of Debt Free in 30 with some practical advice. So, we're going to go around the table and I want each analyst to give us some practical advice that we can use.

So, first up Ted Michalos, my Hoyes Michalos co-founder and business partner, what practical advice have you got for our listeners today?

Ted Michalos:So the only way you can incur or increase your debt is if you have access to additional credit. So the best way to control your debt is to control the credit. So, get to it before it even becomes debt. So, take a look in your purse or wallet, if you've got more than one, possibly two credit cards, cancel the other ones, cut them up. Look at the limits that you have on your lines of credit or personal loans or anything like that, limit your access to this money and then you'll have to think harder before you spend it.

Doug Hoyes: Makes sense, don’t make it easy for you to get into debt is good advice.

Ted Michalos:Right.

Doug Hoyes: Okay, so from Edmonton Barton Goth, Licensed Insolvency Trustee, proprietor oF Goth & Associates. So, Bart you're in Alberta, we've talked about the fact that the oil prices collapsed, the economy in Alberta is a lot worse than it is here in Ontario. So, what advice have you got for our listeners today?

Bart Goth:Well, I'd say remember every dollar you make as money that's hard earned. And if we spent half as much energy considering how we spent that money, I think we'd be a lot more cautious of the things that we purchase. I think we'd be a lot more cautious of the debt that we take on because we'd recognize that that's something we're going to have to pay back in the future. Regardless of whether it's low interest or high interest there is going to be a cost, it's just a matter of how much. And we need to make sure that we're aware of those things and think through them before we make choices.

Doug Hoyes: Yeah you can't go wrong with thinking, I totally agree on that. So, final panelist, personal finance expert, multiple time guest here on Debt Free in 30 and author of a fantastic personal finance book Wealthing Like Rabbits, Robert Brown, what advice have you got for our listeners today?

Robert Brown:Well, first up the first two pieces of advice from Barton and Ted were great. My go to piece of personal finance advice is usually for people to be comfortable living within their means. It's not hard to find a personal finance book or a podcast with the advice live within your means and it is great advice. But I always like to add the caveat to be comfortable doing it because if you look at it as some sort of hardship or sacrifice, it's going to be pretty hard to maintain. But once you've decided you're comfortable with it, it makes that lifestyle a lot easier.

Doug Hoyes: Fantastic. Well, I think that's great advice. And my advice is similar to what you guys have said. We live in the age of Facebook where everyone is an expert. I see it on our @310Plan Hoyes Michalos page all the time. We've got, you know, people who have some knowledge but don’t necessarily know all of the nuances of what they're describing. So, you should not blindly trust anything you read. Go to multiple sources, make sure you're getting it from the source, make sure you're getting it from an expert and talk to an expert, I think it's as simple as that.

That's our show for today. Thanks to Barton Goth, Ted Michalos and Robert Brown for joining me on the first ever edition of Debt Free in 30 roundtable, full show notes, including links to all the news stories we discussed and how you can get in touch with each of the three guys on the discussion will be on our website at hoyes.com. We'll also have a full transcript there. So, that's h-o-y-e-s-dot-com.

I'll be back next week with a regular show. Until then, thanks for listening, I'm Doug Hoyes. That was Debt Free in 30.