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Surviving Job Loss with David Trahair

Surviving Job Loss with David Trahair

Losing a job is very difficult. Whether you’re a single adult or have a family that relies on your paycheque, job loss can be devastating. The most important thing you can do for yourself, and for your finances, is to move past it. Today’s guest provides practical steps to move ahead financially and put yourself in the best possible position.

David Trahair is a Chartered Professional Accountant and author of several books. You may remember David from shows #25 and #90 where he discussed some of his previous books. His newest book Survive and Thrive, Move Ahead Financially After Losing Your Job, discusses job loss from all levels. Emotional, psychological, financial, and educational challenges that recently unemployed people face.

CPA Canada sees a need for this book and has decided to finance it and give it away free. No cost to it, you just download a free PDF version of the book. Share it with whoever you think may need it.

David’s Top Job Search Tips

  • Do your research; find out which jobs are available and which industries are likely to grow their human workforce
  • Get personal; don’t just hide behind your computer as most jobs aren’t posted online
  • Network; ask friends and family for advice
  • Make use of free resources that can be found at your local library

Think about how likely this job is to exist in five or 10 years from now, especially for the younger listeners. Because if a job is very likely to be outsourced by a computer or a robot, why bother specializing in that field?

David’s Top Interview Tips

  • Practice your elevator pitch; in 30 seconds you should be able to describe why you would be a good candidate for the job
  • Personalize your story; make sure you’re fitting it to the company you’re applying for
  • Connect your skills with the job

A lot of people decide whether they like somebody, which probably means whether they’re going to hire them or not, within the first few minutes of the interview or meeting the person.

Other practical tips included in today’s podcast are how to track your spending to keep expenses low. We also discuss whether or not you should dip into your RSPs and when would be the most opportune time to do so.

What’s David’s final tip for dealing with debt? Talk to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. LITs can provide detailed advice on all aspects of debt management. We’re also held to a code of ethics so you know you’re dealing with someone reputable.

Resources mentioned in today’s show:

FULL TRANSCRIPT show #127 with David Trahairsurviving-job-loss-transcript

Doug Hoyes: Here on Debt Free 30 we talk a lot about managing debt but what happens if you lose your job? What practical steps can you take to move ahead financially after losing your job? That’s the question we’ll answer today with my guest David Trahair, Chartered Professional Accountant and author of several books.

David was my guest way back on season number one, show number 25, where he talked about his book Crushing Debt, Why Canadians Should Drop Everything and Pay Off Debt. That show was so popular we re-ran it as one of our best of shows and it’s now in our top five downloaded shows of all time. So, I know you, the listener, appreciate David’s practical advice.

David returned in season number two, show number 90, to discuss his next book, The Procrastinator’s Guide to Retirement, How You Can Retire in 10 Years or Less. And not surprisingly that was also a very popular show.

So, here we are in season number three, show number 127, and David is back on the show to talk about his latest book Survive and Thrive, Move Ahead Financially After Losing Your Job. It’s a great book and best of all you can download this book for free. There’s no cost or sign-ups required, just great advice. We’ll put a link to our books in the show notes, so David welcome back to the show. Tell me how it’s possible that anyone can download your latest book for free?

David Trahair: Hi Doug, thanks for having me back. Well, basically the idea for the book came from the Calgary Public Library because as most people know Albertans are suffering through a problem period where it’s difficult to find and keep jobs. And CPA Canada, the publisher of this guide, decided to create something, a concise guide, to help people that have lost their jobs, have financed it and decided to give it away free to anybody that could use it.

Doug Hoyes: And how can people get it then?

David Trahair: Well, you just go to the web, go to www.cpacanada.serviveandthrive with the and written out and you can just download a PDF of the book. Feel free to share it with whoever you think might like it.

Doug Hoyes: So there’s no copyright worries, you can share it around, do whatever you want with it. So, that’s fantastic, a free book, you can’t get a better price than that. And I’ll put again the link to that in the show notes over at if you didn’t get a chance to write it down. Of course this is a podcast, you can just pause it and rewind I guess and grab that URL. So, this book covers a lot of ground. Maybe to give people a sense of what’s in it, if you could just maybe walk through the different chapters. I think there’s eight different sections. What are the eight sections that are covered in this book?

David Trahair: The first one is the psychological mental and emotional toll. Chapter two gets into employment law, chapter three is finding a new job, chapter four is contracting and self employment as alternatives if you can’t find a full-time job. Chapter five is financing your life; chapter six is dealing with debt, initial steps and a separate chapter seven, dealing with debt, more drastic options. And the last chapter, chapter eight is the idea of going back to school and getting more re-training.

Doug Hoyes: So there’s a bunch of chapters that are quite interesting there. I’m going to focus sort of on the beginning and the end of the book, the last two chapters obviously talk about debt so I want to get to that. The first one I found quite interesting so let’s start at the beginning chapter one where you cover the psychological, mental, and emotional toll that losing a job can take. So, explain it to me, what happens psychologically when you lose your job?

David Trahair: Well, a lot of people feel like they just got hit by a truck. It just comes out of the blue, it’s maybe never happened to them before. So they get very emotional, they get worried, they get confused and this is I think the most important step because, you know, obviously money issues are going to be a concern.

But if you are suffering to the point where you have no idea what to do and you can’t get out of bed in the morning, then there’s no sense starting to discuss how you’re going to finance your life going forward. So, a lot of people really need to think about whether they are handling this well, whether they might perhaps need help to get them through this difficult time.

Doug Hoyes: And you’re right it’s a difficult thing if you’ve never been through it, it really is a bit of a kick in the gut. I mean if you’ve lost your job before it’s no big deal I guess. If it happens seasonally and you get laid off you’re expecting it. But I guess for a lot of people it’s an unexpected thing. So, okay let’s get to some practical stuff here because the whole point of this show is to give some practical tips. So, what practical tips do you have for getting on your feet once you’ve gone through a job loss situation?

David Trahair: Okay. Well, first of all is to keep busy. A lot of people just sort of cocoon in their house, they don’t want to go out and meet friends, they don’t want to, you know, get out and exercise or do anything. The key is to sort of motivate yourself, to get out of the house and get somewhere.

There’s actually, I’m going to refer you to another free website that’s actually really good. has tremendous tips and I got a lot of good tips for the book from that online guide. Among them, reach out to family and friends to stay strong. One of the best stress relievers in life is talking to another person. So, if you know somebody who is a good listener, that is strongly recommended just so you can air your thoughts. And not necessarily get answers back from them but just air how you’re feeling. Involve the rest of your family, this is going to impact your spouse, if you have children it’s going to impact them. This is no time to cocoon and cut yourself off from a discussion with them, it’s obviously going to have an impact on them.

Exercise, perhaps you had a high-level stress job, you didn’t have time to exercise. Well, now you’ve got the time and not only that, it’s probably one of the best things you can do to relieve stress because it focuses on your body rather than what’s going on in your mind.

Another tip, watch your diet. It’s easy to succumb to the call of junk food and ordering in and going out to restaurants when really the best thing you should do is focus on home cooked meals. If you don’t know how to cook possibly buying a cookbook, you’ll eat healthier, the added advantage it’s often cheaper to cook your own meals than to order in or go out.

Sleep is another area where, you know, it’s recommended that you spend as much time as you can focusing on your sleep, trying to get a consistent amount of sleep even though you might be losing sleep because of worry. Think about relaxation techniques, yoga, deep breathing, meditation. There’s lots of free mindful apps that people can download for free or a very small amount of money.

And also consider volunteering. Remember that no matter how bad you are, or how bad off you are, there are other people that are in worse situations. So, you get out and volunteer to help other people you just do something positive for them as well as for yourself.

Doug Hoyes: Well and those are great tips and they’re the kind of thing that you don’t think of right off the top of your head but you’re right it’s – you got to get your head in the right space before you then go onto the next step. Obviously the next step, if you’ve lost a job, is to find another one. And I guess I would have thought that was the first step, but you’re right, I think getting the other stuff on the go makes perfect sense.

But again let’s keep it practical here and you just rhymed off a whole bunch of practical stuff, which was fantastic. So, practically speaking I’ve lost my job, I need to find another one, give me your best job search tips.

David Trahair: Okay. Well, the first thing is to start with research, looking into what kind of careers, what kind of jobs are there out there that you would be suitable for? And again with automation and robots taking over jobs, I recommend people think seriously about what it is that they’re going to get into now, that you have an opportunity to get into something else, think about something else. Think about how likely this job is to exist in five or 10 years from now, especially for the younger listeners. Because if a job is very likely to be outsourced by a computer or a robot, why bother specializing in that field?

Top three job search tips, first of all get personal. Don’t hide behind a computer, don’t just send out millions of resumes in a scattered shot gun approach. Most jobs are not advertised. So, you know, this is why point number two is important is to network. Networking, get in touch with people that you know. You don’t have to be the life of the party to effectively network. I mean you’re not going out there and trying to impress people with what an amazing person you are at a party, you’re simply trying to find another job.

One technique I find useful is to, when you meet with people, whether they’re a friend, family or somebody else is to just simply ask them for advice. You know, don’t say do you have a job for me, just ask them for advice. People love to give advice and you’ll have no problems with people talking your ear off if you ask them for advice in most circumstances. So, start with friends and family members, then move onto connectors, people that you know that might be able to refer you to a job. And then the third target is the scary list, those people who have the opportunity, or are in a position that might be able to give you a job, senior people at companies, those are the hardest ones to approach, that’s why it’s called a scary list.

Point number three is to join the library. I mean this is the first thing I would suggest people that aren’t a member of the library. There’s tons of free information, librarians are often very good at helping people with various different things. It gets you out of the home into a more business environment with other people that are studying. And many of the libraries have free online learning resources like for instance [, gale courses] and learning express. So, you may be able to take free courses to upgrade your skills.

Doug Hoyes: That’s good. And the library kind of fits into the whole psychological thing too, so it’s a tip that covers both of them. Like you said it gets you out of the house, but there’s also some great resources there.

So, okay I’m going to go through this process, I’m out there banging on doors and I totally agree with what you’re saying that most jobs are not advertised. So, if all you’re doing is looking in the newspaper, I don’t even know if that’s a thing anymore, I don’t even know if newspapers –

David Trahair: Or online.

Doug Hoyes: Yeah, online or wherever, but if that’s what you’re doing then you’re going to miss a whole lot of opportunities. So, let’s say with the networking you actually hit on something and you find an employer who is looking to hire. You get called in for an interview. So, let’s keep it practical again, give me your best tips for nailing an interview.

David Trahair: Okay. Tip number one is make sure you’ve developed and practiced your elevator pitch. Your elevator pitch is a two or three sentence summary of who you are, what your experiences are, that you memorize so it comes right off the top of your head. In a lot of cases where you sit down for a job interview, the interviewer perhaps hasn’t even had time to look at your resume or your cover letter or can’t remember who you are. So, you’re elevator pitch will immediately tell them exactly what it is that you do.

Doug Hoyes: And so when you’re talking about an elevator pitch, my definition well, if I was on an elevator with you going up so we’re talking 30 seconds, 20 seconds, 10 seconds, something really short?

David Trahair: Yeah, probably about 30 seconds, I think 10’s a bit too short. But not two or three minutes, it’s got to be something, yeah. Say floors one to 10, that’s all the time you’ve got.

Doug Hoyes: And so in a typical elevator pitch, I would say what kind of stuff? You know, here’s my name and what would be the key – I mean obviously every job is different I guess so it’s going to apply totally different in every case.

David Trahair: Yeah. Well, I think the first part would summarize your historical background. I’ve been in this industry for this many years. I have this professional designation or that kind of experience. And the reason I’d be good for your organization is here are my positive attributes, get into the softer skills, good with people, you know, great networker or whatever your skills are.

Doug Hoyes: And obviously the pitch will be different depending on who you’re pitching. So, if it’s a –

David Trahair: To some degree, yeah.

Doug Hoyes: Well, if it’s a small company, you know, a start up type operation, you don’t want to say well I worked for IBM, a hundred thousand people and I was part of a hundred thousand team.

David Trahair: The key is to think about it beforehand and practice it so you’re not stumbling for words when you’re in there. Because you don’t have a lot of time to make a first impression. A lot of people decide whether they like somebody, which probably means whether they’re going to hire them or not, within the first few minutes of the interview or meeting the person.

Doug Hoyes: So it’s got to be a reflex, boom I go into my pitch. So, okay so job interview tip number one have an elevator pitch ready, what would be tip number two?

David Trahair: Tip number two would be to personalize your stories. Instead of using generic terms like hard worker, blah, blah, blah, tell the person a story that illustrates that you are a hard worker. You’re trying basically to paint a picture in their head of who it is that you are and why you might be good for this position. People love to hear stories, they’re more likely to remember a story than a generic list of attributes that everybody lists.

The last point for interview tips is to connect your skills to the job. In other words think about how your historical skill tie to this current job. You’re going to be looking at the job application form, look for the attributes that they actually use in that job application form so that you can tell a story about something that illustrates that you have those attributes.

Now most people don’t bother to do this. They just go in and say the same thing at every interview. Because this is hard to do and a little bit time consuming, many people don’t do it. And so here’s your opportunity, if you do it you’re more likely to stand out from all the other people that are interviewing for the same job. So, think about researching the company that you’re applying for, follow them in the news, you know, take the time to go to their website, look perhaps at their annual report. Go in a little bit armed with information so you get a productive conversation.

Doug Hoyes: Yeah and I’m not an expert in finding a job because I think I’ve had three jobs in my entire life. Not entirely employable obviously. But I do remember, and I’m sure had exactly the same history that I did, because we’re both CPAs, what used to be called Chartered Accountants. And I remember you graduate from university and there’s, you know, a bunch of jobs you can go interview for.

And so, I did exactly that, I pulled out the Financial Post top list of accounting firms or whatever because that’s where we were applying for. And I looked at the different, you know, what’s the ratio of revenue to staff, revenue to partners whatever, and whichever firm was a little bit, when I was going to that firm, whatever was a little bit different about them than everyone else, that would be the question I would ask them. So, I would say so, why is it here at ABC company that your partner to staff ratio is so high or so low or so average or so whatever?

And it usually took the interviewer a little bit off guard going on I didn’t really realize that because of course they’re not looking at how they compare to everyone else. It kind of made them okay this guy’s really researched it and really thinking it through. And I guess that’s not what you’re not talking about, connecting skills to the job, but it is showing obvious interest in the company.

David Trahair: Exactly. I mean you’re much more likely to be remembered if you’re the person that did what you did or somebody who didn’t mention it.

Doug Hoyes: Or if you wear sandals and socks to the interview I guess that would help them remember you too.

Okay and those are fantastic tips. Now obviously this show is called Debt Free in 30 and as the voice over guy says at the beginning of the show we are here to give practical advice, which we’ve done a huge amount already but specifically for dealing with debt. So, after losing a job, how do I avoid the pitfalls of adding to my debts? because that’s something I see in our business all the time. Someone comes in, they’ve been out of work for six months and they’ve been using their credit cards, their line of credit. They had good credit when they were working so that good credit is still there, they are drawing on that.

So, by the time they come to see me they now have 30, 40, 50 thousand dollars worth of debts. And I say how did this happen? Well, I’ve been unemployed for six months or a year. When I started I had virtually no debt but I’ve had to use debt to survive. So, how can you avoid that trap of racking up your debts while you’re looking for that next job?

David Trahair: Yeah, that’s a really good question. Unfortunately there isn’t a sweet little answer about how to solve that. You know, people when they run out it’s the only option that many people have. So, it’s really just I think a point of trying to optimize the use of debt and trying to go into a situation where it isn’t being financed mostly by high interest rate credit cards, you’ve set yourself up so that perhaps you’ve got a line of credit to finance your life.

But when people start I think the things that they should go through is well think about if they go into this situation with an emergency fund. That’s why everyone is recommended to have an emergency fund for these instances where people lose their jobs. Most people never, to be honest, develop an emergency fund, so most people don’t have that. So, at least think about where your others savings are before immediately jumping into debt. Maybe you do have some savings in a bank account, some people have started tax-free savings accounts. Obviously that’s what these saving vehicles are for, are situations like this.

RSPs is an option, I would say that’s a last option. Obviously the ideal situation with RSPs is to leave them so that they can fund your retirement. But in this situation I mean literally if you run out of all other savings and you’re really reluctant to get into more debt, you might have to start depleting your RSP.

The key with RSPs is the timing of the withdrawal. RSPs are taxed on a calendar year basis. So, for example if you lose your job in October you know you’ve got 10 months of income coming that’s going to be showing on your tax return for that year. You withdraw money from your RSP in November and December, that’s going to be added to your 10 months worth of income. It’s more beneficial to wait till at least January first of the next year to withdraw that money from the RSP and use something temporarily, maybe a line of credit etc in November or December to finance your life.

Doug Hoyes: And this is something people don’t grasp. Because you go to the bank and you take out four thousand dollars from your RSP and they’re going to withhold 10%?

David Trahair: Yeah.

Doug Hoyes: But what you’re describing is that money that they’re taking out, that you’ve taken out of your RSP, the $5,000, gets added to your income. So, if you had $50,000 of income in the ten months leading up to when you lost your job, now your income for the year is $55,000. Well, the tax bracket for $55,000 is more than 10%. I have no idea what it is, it’s 20 or 30% or whatever it is. So, now when you file your taxes, uh oh they withheld $10,000, or they withheld $1,000 but they really should have withheld $2,000 or whatever it was.

David Trahair: Exactly, which compounds the problem.

Doug Hoyes: Which makes it even worse, and again, I see that all the time, I’m meeting with people how do you have tax debt? Most people only have tax debt if they were self employed or didn’t pay their taxes on their business. But in a lot of cases, well I cashed in my RSP, didn’t have enough taxes withholding. So, now explain to me the specific case of a LIRA? What’s a LIRA and what’s the thought process there?

David Trahair: LIRA, a Locked In Retirement Account is usually when somebody leaves a company and they’re a member of a pension plan. And the commuted value of that pension plan gets rolled out into a locked retirement account. With locked in retirement account, then there are rules, complicated rules on minimum withdrawals and maximum withdrawals. So you can’t simply just take all the money out of a LIRA to finance your life.

What makes it even more complicated is that it depends on whether it’s a federal plan or a provincial plan. So, federal employees, there are a number of different provisions whereby they can access their funds in a locked in account. For example if somebody has a small balance in their LIRA and federally that’s 50% of the CPP year’s maximum pensionable earnings, which is $27,450, if you’ve got a balance in LIRA of that amount or less you can take that out.

There’s a onetime 50% withdrawal for people who are 55 years or older. And there’s also a provision for financial hardship that depends on your income level according to your tax return. And there’s also provisions about those with very high medical costs. And again the book details that out. There’s also a provision for a shortened life expectancy so if people can get a note from the doctor, the doctor saying that they’re unlikely to live a long healthy life, that is another option for getting money out of a locked in account.

The problem is if you’re a member of a provincial plan they have a whole different set of rules depending on which province or which territory you’re in and again there’s a link to those regulators in the book.

Doug Hoyes: Yeah, in my experience the hardship provisions are difficult to make use of because they are very specific. So, it’s pretty common exactly what you’re describing that okay, I’ve lost my job, I’m now getting behind on some of my bills, I’ve got all this money sitting in my LIRA, why not take some of it out to keep me going? But of course the reason it’s there is to fund your retirement, not to fund the next six months.

And so, the fact that I can’t keep up with my credit card payments is not hardship in the eyes of the law, they will not allow you to take money out from that. Now if you’re about to get evicted from your house, then yes being that far behind on your rent, that far behind on your mortgage may allow you to withdraw some of it or maybe not. It goes to I guess it’s the pension commission or whatever it is that makes the decision. So, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get it out. And again, you’ve got the same tax problem, right?

David Trahair: Yes, exactly. When you take it out of a tax deferred account, like an RSP or a LIRA or a RIF, it goes on your tax return, so the timing is important.

Doug Hoyes: You’re paying tax so if you take out $1,000 it doesn’t mean you get to keep the full $1,000, you’re going to pay tax.

So, one final kind of tying up this section before we get more into talking about debt, are there any other pieces of advice that you have about financing my life while I’m not receiving a paycheque, keeping the bills paid? I mean I guess when I think of that I guess the most obvious thing is well, when you stop working you’ve got to reduce your expenses as well. I mean, you know, you’re obviously not going to be buying lunch at the coffee truck if you’re not working. I mean you already talked about that. Are there any other things you can be doing while you’re not working to keep your expenses as low as possible?

David Trahair: Well, the key recommendation there that I have is the same recommendation that I have when talking to people about trying to get their finances in order to save for retirement. And that is to track your spending.

I like to say that people’s personal financial situations are as individual as their finger prints. Everybody’s different. And your fingerprint is where the money has gone in the past from your family accounts. Tracking that is I think step number one to improving it. Whatever you track tends to improve in my opinion. Because if you track your spending you’re going to see in black and white where all that money went. You’re much more likely to be able to do something positive with respect to cutting out wasteful money or excessive discretionary spending if you see actually what the numbers are. Most people don’t bother to do it because it’s not requirement of the government.

So, how might you do that? Well, if you’re proficient with computers you can download your banking information to a spreadsheet. But to automate it is the best idea. There’s several websites for example is one free website that links to your bank account and credit cards. But some of the banks are getting into this and offering products. For example TD has a My Spend app, RBC has My Finance Track and BMO, Bank of Montreal has Money Logic. So, if all your bank accounts and your credit cards are at one of those financial institutions you can probably track your finances automatically using your own bank. So, that’s the ideal situation.

Doug Hoyes: And that’s great advice. And just so everyone knows we are not sponsored by any of those banks. David is giving us the advice based on what he’s been able to research and I think if you go back to the previous podcast we did, I think even the first podcast we did, we talked a little bit in more detail about those points. So, those are very good ones.

And I totally agree with you, what we monitor, what we inspect is what we then change. And that applies I guess in all areas of life, right? If you want to – I mean that’s what counting calories is if you want to lose weight. That’s what watching the gas mileage gauge on your car is if you want to cut your gas mileage. So, paying attention to it makes total sense.

So, okay so now let’s get into the meat of it. You’ve got two full chapters in the book dealing with debt. Chapter six, as you already said, is called Dealing with Debt, Initial Steps. So, walk me through the process of tracking and analysing your spending and assessing where you stand. I guess that’s really what you just talked about, that’s kind of the key point. Is there anything else on that point that we need to hit or is that –

David Trahair: No, I think that’s it. But the thing is most people listening to this aren’t going to do it. Many people aren’t proficient with computers. Many people don’t have time to do it, just never get around to doing it. I strongly suggest, even if it’s just for a month, just track your family’s spending for a month. You know, it doesn’t have to be full tracking, using one of these banks or, it can be just manually done, just get your bank account or your credit card just for one month and see where all the money went. People are amazingly consistent with how they spend money.

Doug Hoyes: Yeah, save every receipt for a month, put them all on the table and add them up at the end. Whatever you can do.

David Trahair: Whatever works.

Doug Hoyes: And you’re right, I think the automating is key because if you can use the app that your bank has and one of these other apps then you don’t have to remember to write everything down, it’s all there. You can then take a look at it. And you don’t have to be a computer genius to figure it out. All you need to do is get some 15 year old kid to show you how it works and then you’re probably good.

David Trahair: Right on.

Doug Hoyes: You have a child who you don’t mind sharing your banking information with. And frankly that might not be a bad idea too, if you’re in financial difficulty.

Okay so the final chapter that we want to talk about, chapter seven is Dealing with Debt, More Drastic Options. And you talk about consumer proposals and bankruptcy. Obviously I happen to be an expert in both of these options and we’ve talked about them many times on this show. So, instead of spending a lot of time discussing the options, maybe you can give me your thoughts on when a person should be considering one of those more drastic options.

David Trahair: Okay. Well the previous chapter basically starts with if you’re trying to get out of a situation or get out of a situation, try doing it yourself is obviously the cheapest and simplest option. The next option is to consider going to see a legitimate credit counselling service, credit counselling agency. And credit counselling agencies often will have an online presence, they’ll have a website where you can punch in your information to see if their main product, which is called a debt management plan is suitable for you. Alternatively most of them will offer a first half hour free interview.

So, I think that probably makes sense to just go and talk to them. It’s free, you don’t have anything to lose. And if you are eligible for their service, which basically requires you to pay back 100% of your debt over usually a four year period, that’s what a debt management plan or program is. If you can afford to do that then that might be an option. If it’s clear to the credit counsellor that you simply are in too bad a position to pay back 100% of your debt, then they are probably more likely to refer you to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee and that’s where chapter and seven and you come in.

Doug Hoyes: Right. You’re absolutely right. And you made the point very specifically a legitimate credit counselling agency and that’s very difficult for the average person to figure out. It’s like wait a minute, they say they’re a credit counsellor, well a credit counsellor isn’t an actual license. It’s not like a CPA where there’s all these exams and takes many years to get. Anybody can say they’re a credit counsellor, now of course there are credit counsellors that are accredited by the government to actually provide credit counselling services in a bankruptcy or a consumer proposal situation.

So, there are qualifications to actually really become one. But it’s kind of like saying well, I’m an accountant. Okay, well that’s not an actual designation, that’s a description. I’m a bookkeeper, you don’t have to have any specific –

David Trahair: Or a financial advisor.

Doug Hoyes: Exactly. Or frankly even financial planner. I mean yes there are certainly certain designations to get that. So, I think they key there is to be very careful with who you’re dealing with. And you hit on the key point, which is if you’re dealing with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, many of whom are chartered professional accountants such as yourself and myself. You know what you’re getting. They’re only about 1,000 of us in Canada that have that specific designation and it takes many years to get it. So, at least you know you’re dealing with someone reputable who has code of ethics to follow and a bunch of rules. So, I strongly recommend that.

So, okay well that’s fantastic advice and there’s tons and tons of practical advice I’ve made a ton of notes here. Hopefully you can read my writing when we write this all up but it will be in the show notes over at

So, two final questions for you, the first one is there any final advice you want to give our listeners that we haven’t hit on? And you’ve given probably 30 different individual pieces of advice but is there anything else that you would wrap it up with?

David Trahair: Yeah, I would want to mention the last chapter of the book, which is going back to school and retraining. A lot of people get laid off from their position and just figure well, I’m just going to go into some other area and go back to school or a year or two, possibly full-time.

I think that requires a lot of thought before committing to that because you may end up just adding more and more possibly student loan debt to finance that. And out of or come out of that without being able to find a job. So, strongly, you know, suggest people give some serious thought to whether it makes sense or not.

It also depends on your age, you know, sadly I’m hearing more and more stories about people I know late 50’s, early 60’s, getting laid off from work, can’t find another job. So, if you’re only going to be working for two or three or five more years, does it make sense to go back to school for two years? Not so much. Maybe if you’re 30 it’s a totally different question.

Doug Hoyes: Yeah and the cost of that is obviously something too. And I totally agree, research is a critical component, you mentioned that easier as well. So, final question for you and I think you’ve written 5,000 books so I assume you’ve got another one on the go. What are you working on now?

David Trahair: Yeah, I’m actually working on another book for the same publisher as this book, CPA Canada. It’s for millennials. It’s going to be a guide for millennials, a money guide for millennials. And I’m just in the research stage right now, the first draft is not due until the end of July 2016 so I’m –

Doug Hoyes: 2017.

David Trahair: Sorry, 2017. So, I’m looking for people who are either millennials themselves or people who deal with millennials in terms of what kinds of things they would like to know about money and just as importantly, how to get the information to them. We’ve had some initial focus groups and we find a lot of millennials don’t like to read books. You know, they’re on the phone all the time. So, we’re looking at does this need to be an app? Or I actually just talked to somebody at Apple who was suggesting interactive iBook that anybody can create for free.

So, if anybody is interested in giving me feedback for that book my website’s my last name, Send me an email through there and I’d appreciate it.

Doug Hoyes: Fantastic and I’ll put all those links in our show notes as well, that’s tra and then the word hair, so pretty easy to spell. So, David that’s all great advice, thanks very much for being here today.

David Trahair: Thanks for having me Doug.

Doug Hoyes: Thanks very much. So, let me close by saying that I agree with David’s advice. No one keeps the same job for 50 years any more. So, it’s likely that you’ll be changing jobs at some point in the future so it’s prudent to keep your debt low and to keep your resume up to date just in case. If you can save money, great, that’s a great buffer during periods of unemployment.

If you find yourself unemployed and in debt, take stock of your situation, if you expect to find a job quickly, you can probably cut your expenses, defer some payments and get back on track when you’re back to work.

If you have more debt than you can handle, as David says you should talk to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. We can walk you through your options and determine the best course of action for you. I can tell you that it’s very likely that we will not recommend that you rush out and file a bankruptcy or consumer proposal immediately if you aren’t working. If you don’t have a job at the moment you have no wages to garnishee, we likely have time to work out the best plan for you.

As David says in his book, there are options so take the time to explore them in full. Do your research and devote most of your time to getting back to work.

That’s our show for today. Full show notes, including a transcript of today’s show and a link for you to download a free copy of David’s book, can be found at that’s h-o-y-e-s-dot-com. Thanks for listening. Until next week, I’m Doug Hoyes. That was Debt Free in 30.


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