A new study by the Vanier Institute of the Family shows that the average total debt load per Canadian household has increased to $90,700 across the country. That's up 71% since 1990, a time during which debt has grown at a rate of six times higher than income.

The study also urges families to save rather than attempt to boost the economy by spending. Jeff Schwartz of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada Inc., couldn't agree more.

"In a shrinking job market, this is not the time to be carrying a heavy debt load," says Schwartz. "We're well into the New Year and most 2008 bills are still waiting to be paid. We are saying to the public that everyone should take some very aggressive steps towards paying off their credit card."

1. Stop charging your credit cards! This can be very difficult at first, but it's the first step to pay back your debt. Use cash or debit instead.

2. Add up all your debt. Many people don't want to admit how far in the hole they are. It's important to get hit with a dose of reality, It's crucial to find out exactly how much you owe in order to work out a payment plan. Remember, for the most part, people tend to underestimate than overestimate their debt.

3. Commit to paying it off. Pay off the highest interest debt first, which is not necessarily the highest debt. Once you are done, go to the next one and continue until you've paid off all the cards.

4. Ask for help. Don't be afraid to contact experts. Consolidated Credit has trained credit counsellors that can help find manageable payment plans, and also offer financial education.

5. Save, Save, Save! In uncertain times putting away for a rainy day offers peace of mind, and lowers family stress. While some experts will ask you to continue spending to boost the economy, Consolidated Credit says saving is right for most people at this time.

Author's Bio: 

Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada Inc. is a non-profit, registered charity with a mission to help people end financial crisis and solve money problems through education and professional counselling. Consolidated Credit is an industry leader that provides credit counselling and debt management services throughout Canada.