Margaret Johnson is in the business of helping Canadians tackle their debt, deal with credit issues, and regain control of their finances. With over four decades of experience in the credit industry, Margaret is a debt expert and a leading member of the credit counselling industry. We spoke with her about when consumers should ask for professional help and why it’s so important for women to take charge of their money.
As an accredited Insolvency Counsellor you help Canadians who are dealing with credit and debt issues see the light at the end of the tunnel. What made you go into this field?
I met so many consumers who were deep in debt and had no idea who to speak with or where to go for help. So, I decided I wanted them to come to me so I could share what I know about credit and debt in the hope that it would help Canadians.
How long have you been working in this industry?
Over four decades. I love it.
What is your favourite part about helping consumers get back on track?
I am very proud of my clients. They work hard to learn and watching them get their power back when they discover how easy it is to get out of debt! It becomes their aha moment and money then becomes fun!
When and why did you start running “debtcanada.ca” and “creditsolutions.ca”?
I started creditsolutions.ca website in 2000 and debtcanada.ca in 2006. There was a definite void on the internet for trustworthy and accurate information. I wanted my sites to be the solution to do that. I wanted to help Canadians turn debt fear into credit knowledge, I believe we have accomplished that goal.
What’s the goal of your websites?
To educate consumers about credit, debt, their rights and responsibilities and to provide a free place to get answers to those simple questions.
What’s the difference between the two? Solutions Credit Counselling is a Government licensed debt repayment agency. Our website Creditsolutions.ca is about Debt Repayment and Credit Counseling. DebtCanada.ca is a library of articles I have written where people can go to read and get reliable and accurate information for their credit and debt questions.
Your websites both have a section that heavily focuses on educating the readers about a number of debt and credit topics. Do you believe financial literacy has a big impact on Canadians management of debt?
Absolutely! Financial literacy and money know-how are the “keys” to making your life simpler and reducing stress. Money problems are the destruction of many relationships. Families are torn apart because of money. If you don’t understand at least the basics, your life will be much more difficult.
Why should people use your credit counselling and debt help services?
We are an independent credit counselling agency, we work for consumers, not creditors. We believe we are one of the best agencies in Canada when it comes to services provided for debt and credit management.
Are your services offered throughout Canada?
Some services are not provided in all provinces. However, we can refer consumers to trusted partners all across Canada.
Who is best suited for these services?
Anyone who is worried about their finances and their future.
As an accredited Insolvency Counsellor, what advice would you give Canadians in need of help with credit and debt issues?
Don’t wait. Reach out now and get advice which is appropriate information for your unique financial situation. You will be glad you did.
Is there one financial misstep that you see the majority of consumers taking?
Overspending. The number one cause of Insolvency in Canada is financial mismanagement. Which speaks to a lack of financial knowledge, we must do better. By providing quality credit education in the school system just for starters.
What do you think are the main causes of insolvency in Canada?
Instant gratification, overspending, family breakdown, online shopping, keeping up with the “Jones’s,” lack of money-smarts, to name a few. No plan for their money.
You’re also the CEO of Women and Money, a site devoted to helping women understand personal and business finance. As a woman yourself, why do you think it’s so important for women to empower other women to understand and take control of their finances?
I want women to say, “I LOVE MONEY” and “MONEY IS FUN” and mean it because they understand their money. How to make a plan and use money to make their lives and their families’ lives easier. A man is not a financial plan! Times have changed, many women have not. Gone are the days of “don’t worry your pretty little head”; someone else will take care of you. If you aren’t in charge of your finances, then no one is. Women are also starting businesses in record numbers these days. However, many of these women use their own money and credit to start these businesses. The failure rate is very high, and then they are stuck with all the debt, so women are also becoming insolvent in numbers we have never seen before. I believe it is because they do not have a solid financial plan and know enough about how to use money. Women are still emotional when it comes to money. We hope to change that. My favourite saying for years is, “It’s not about the money. “It’s, ALL about the money”.