In the publishing industry, there is a phenomenon known as “The Oprah Effect.” If Oprah Winfrey recommended a book for her book club, publishers could expect sales to increase dramatically. Oprah’s talk show may be a thing of the past, but she’s still able to influence culture.
Take The Debt Diet as one example of Oprah’s magic in action. Millions of people are using it to try to get a handle on their debt. But can something as simple as the steps laid out in the debt diet really work?
What is Involved in a Debt Diet?
The principles of the debt diet are sound from a financial perspective. It includes an introductory phase of assessing how much debt one has, and outlines simple strategies to stop the slide into more debt. These tips include tracking spending to find more money to put towards debt, spending less, and adding just $10 per month to the monthly minimum payment on credit cards.
It’s Not Always That Simple
On their surface, the steps of a program like the debt diet seem like simple things that anyone can do. However, in our experience, people rarely decide just to stop paying their bills. Usually, the cause of a high debt load is unforeseeable circumstances like a health crisis, a job loss, or the death of one of the income earners in a household.
The trouble with programs like the debt diet is that it’s a bit of an oversimplification. If you address the debt but not the underlying circumstances that led to it, once you go “off” the diet, debt can creep back up over time. Relationships with money can be complicated, and it can often take more than an easy online system to get your household finances under control.
The Bottom Line
A so-called “debt diet” can be an acceptable way for someone with a small amount of household debt to get back on track. However, if you have been struggling with your relationship with money for a long time, your best bet is to work with a licenced insolvency trustee who can help you with debt relief services like consumer proposals, credit counselling and bankruptcy filings.
If you are located in Kelowna, Kamloops, or Interior BC help is just a phone call away. Contact our offices for a confidential consultation to help you develop debt management strategies that are tailored to your income, debt load and personal circumstances.