Take Control of Your Finances: Your Steps to Debt Consolidation

Date: March 25, 2024

At Westoba, we want to empower you to take control of your finances. Below, we’ll dive into the most important parts of being smart with your money and exploring how debt consolidation can be a game-changer for credit union members. We believe that getting a handle on these money management principles will set the stage for a financially fit future; one that’s not just secure but a little less stressful.

What is Financial Fitness?

Financial Fitness is the cornerstone of a balanced and fulfilling life. It encompasses various elements, including budgeting, saving, investing, and debt management. As members of a credit union, you’re a part of a community-focused financial institution dedicated to your financial well-being. Just as you visit your doctor or mechanic regularly for a checkup, so should you connect with your financial consultant yearly on your finances. Let’s delve into why Financial Fitness matters, particularly in the context of credit union membership.

What is Debt Consolidation?

Debt consolidation serves as a powerful tool in managing financial health. Simply put, it involves combining multiple debts into a single, manageable payment. This not only simplifies your financial landscape but also presents an opportunity for increased cash flow and potential savings. To embark on this journey effectively, it’s essential to understand the types of debts that are suitable for consolidation and the unique benefits it offers members like you.

How can a credit union help me?

Credit unions play a pivotal role in supporting their members’ financial goals and stand out as financial partners committed to your success. “As a credit union, we help our members achieve their financial goals by providing personalized guidance and financial solutions tailored to their needs at competitive rates,” says Morgan Pryor, Virtual Financial Consultant at Westoba. 

We’ll explore credit unions’ specific benefits for debt consolidation, highlighting the personalized guidance and community-oriented approach that sets them apart from traditional banking institutions.

Steps to Achieve Debt Consolidation Success

Embarking on the path of debt consolidation requires careful planning and execution. Let’s simplify this process into actionable steps:

1. Assess Your Financial Situation:

Start by conducting a comprehensive review of your financial standing. Utilize tools like credit reports and analyze your budget to identify areas for improvement. Here are some starters: 

  • Make a detailed list of your debts – This includes credit cards, loans, taxes you owe, and outstanding bills. 
  • Calculate your Debt-to-Income Ratio – Do this by dividing your total monthly debt payments by your monthly income. 
  • Review credit reports – Obtain your credit report from a major credit bureau. Look for errors and discrepancies that may impact your score. 
  • Identify unnecessary expenses – Take a hard look at your monthly expenses and note where you can cut back. 
  • Analyze your spending habits – Track your spending for a month and look for patterns and areas for improvement. Categorize needs vs wants.  

2. Create a Realistic Budget:

Craft a budget that not only accommodates debt repayment but also addresses essential living expenses. Learn tips for effective budgeting that align with your financial goals.

Read our Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting Your Life here.


3. Explore Debt Consolidation Options:

Understand the various debt consolidation options available to Canadian credit union members, including loans and lines of credit. Evaluate the pros and cons of each to make informed decisions based on your unique situation. 

Debt Consolidation Loans:
How it works: Apply for a loan to consolidate multiple debts into a single manageable monthly payment.


  • Fixed interest rates for predictable payments. 
  • Simplifies debt management with one monthly payment.

Mortgage Refinancing:
How it works: Refinance your mortgage to consolidate high-interest debts


  • Lower interest rates compared to unsecured debts. 
  • Potential tax benefits (consult your tax professional). 

Learn more about refinancing your mortgage here.

Credit Card Balance Transfer:
How it works: Transfer high-interest credit card balances to a card with a lower interest rate. Some credit card companies will offer an interest-free introductory period (often six to eighteen months) and waive any balance transfer fees, although this isn’t always the case. 


  • Potential for interest-free payments during the introductory period. 
  • Simplifies payments onto one credit card. 

Visit Westoba’s selection of credit card options.

Debt Consolidation Programs through Credit Counselling Agencies:
How it works: Work with a credit counselling agency to create a debt management plan (DMP) that consolidates and repays your debts


  • Professional guidance in creating a manageable repayment plan. 
  • Potential reductions in interest rates and fees. 

Read up on Credit Counsellors here.

Government Debt Consolidation Programs:
How it works: Some provinces in Canada offer government-backed debt consolidation programs or debt relief options. Check with your provincial government for specific programs available in your region.

Consumer Proposal:
How it works: Work with a licensed insolvency trustee to negotiate a settlement with your creditors


  • May allow you to pay back a portion of your debts. 
  • Provides legal protection against creditors. 

For a list of licensed insolvency trustees visit here.

*Before choosing a debt consolidation option, it’s crucial to assess your financial situation, understand the terms and conditions of each method, and consider seeking advice from our financial experts or credit counselling services. Make an informed decision that aligns with your goals and helps you achieve financial stability in the long run.


4. Secure a Debt Consolidation Loan:

Once you’ve decided on the best approach, dive into the steps involved in applying for and securing a debt consolidation loan from your credit union. Understand the documentation required for a smooth application process. Call us at 1-877-WESTOBA (937-8622) to get a handle on what documentation is needed.  

5. Monitor and Maintain Your Financial Fitness:

Successfully consolidating your debt is just the beginning. To ensure ongoing financial well-being, consider the following:

1. Set Financial Goals:
Define both short-term and long-term financial goals. Understand how debt consolidation is a crucial step toward achieving broader financial objectives.

2. Build an Emergency Fund:
Explore the importance of establishing and maintaining an emergency fund. Learn how credit unions can assist you in building a financial safety net.

3. Regular Financial Check-ins:
Cultivate a habit of regularly assessing your financial goals and tracking your debt repayment progress. Stay proactive in managing your finances and seek additional support from our experts when needed.

Congratulations on taking proactive steps toward your Financial Fitness! We’ve covered the essentials of managing your money, the benefits of debt consolidation, and how Westoba is a dedicated partner in your financial journey. Remember, Financial Fitness is a continuous journey, and you’re in control. Start today, implement these strategies, and witness the positive transformation of your financial future. 

If you have questions or want to book an appointment to speak to one of our experts, please call 1-877-WESTOBA (937-8622) or visit this page today

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