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June 04, 2021

Yes, Virginia, even financial planners can get in over their heads

One time Montreal financial planner Tahnya Kristina has a confession. While working for a bank after graduating from university, she managed to rack up $50,000 in debt in just a few years.

In other words, she was a financial mess, something she had to hide from just about everybody. After all, no one wants to take financial advice from someone who can’t even manage their own money.

"I couldn’t talk about my debt with my co-workers and family because I was ashamed that especially given my career choice — I couldn’t manage my money responsibly," she says.

And things got worse before they got better.

Some people may say she accumulated so much debt in such a short period of time because she was young and didn’t know any better — except she did, Kristina admits.

"The truth is, I did know better. I had a university degree, and every single day I saw the damage that using credit irresponsibly can do to a person’s life, yet I still spent money uncontrollably."

"I was a recent graduate with a good job and a wallet full of credit cards to prove my independence, but, in the end, that freedom didn’t make me responsible, it almost ruined my life, she confesses.

After deciding bankruptcy wasn't an option, she sold her car, got a second job working in retail sales at a women’s clothing store, and slowly worked things off by cutting her expenses to the bone. Now, five years later, she's almost debt-free.

And, no, she's no longer an advisor.

Have you survived a personal debt crisis? How did you turn things around?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...