Market Rebound: Real or Really Far Away? What Canadians Need to Be Doing Now

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Banks say the worst is over, economists are not so sure. Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada Inc., a non profit agency, offers tips on taking small but crucial steps to ensure a safe financial future.

The Canadian economy is taking steps in the right direction, but the reality is that unemployment is over 8%, more than 500,000 Canadians are behind on credit card payments, and bankruptcies are sky-high.

A recent survey of leading business executives at the Bank of Canada said they will start hiring within the next 12 months. The Toronto Real Estate Board reported a strong June, with 10,955 in sales, leading many Canadians to believe the economy is taking a turn for the better. Economists are still skeptical of the speed of rebound, "When it comes, it will be sluggish," suggests Douglas Porter, Deputy Chief Economist with BMO Capital Markets. A similar poll by Harris-Decima considers Canadians' perceptions on these economic issues. The survey indicated that there is less concern about job loss among Canadians and 23% feel that the economy has stopped contracting.

Canadians should not lose sight of reality. "Canadians should not go on a spending spree because the worst is over. They still have to live within their means," according to Jeffrey Schwartz, Executive Director at Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada Inc. Overspending has been a big problem for Canadians, with $1.3 trillion in household debt alone, according to a recent Certified General Accountants report.

Although positive and promising, the numbers are still predictions, and must not be mistaken, according to Pedro Antunes, a Conference Board economist, who still sees the Canadian economy "underperforming for years to come." His expectations include a rise in the unemployment rate, peaking about 9.3 percent as more Canadians enter the labor pool.

The market makes no guarantees or promises; Canadians should be cautious, yet optimistic with regards to the market and any drastic changes. "Canadians need to be aware and in control of their finances, so they can determine their own financial future; this is the key to living debt free," according to Schwartz. To help, Consolidated Credit offers Canadians advice to managing their personal finances:

BUDGET - Asses personal and financial situation. Create a budget that is true to your income and expenses.
TRACK - your expenses. This exercise will help you discover where you can cut back or reduce costs.
PLAN - set personal and financial goals for both short and long term that are attainable; work to achieve those goals.
SAVE - Pay yourself first; put aside money for retirement, a rainy day or a large ticket item purchase.

Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada Inc.'s mission is to help people end financial crisis and solve money problems through debt management, education and professional counseling. For more information and resources on budgeting your personal finances

For interviews with Jeffrey Schwartz or inquiries about Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada please contact Galit Osadtsuk, Director of Community and Public Relations.
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