House poor


I have a confession: a guilty pleasure of mine is Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s show, Til Debt Do Us Part, which I watch very regularly (even though I may claim it’s only because it’s on while I’m at the gym). On the show, Gail commandeers a family that is struggling with debt, running them through several (slightly silly) challenges and giving them up to $5,000.00 to pay down their debts, all while giving them life lessons on managing their finances. I was therefore intrigued when I read this article in the Globe and Mail a few weeks ago, in which Gail discusses her new show, Til Debt Do Us Part: Home Edition.

The premise of the show is that Gail will be helping people who are on the verge of losing their homes because of their debt and spending habits. In the article, she goes through what she sees as the main reasons people truly end up house poor: buying outside their means, renovating outside their means, and decorating outside their means. In particular, she discusses the high number of people who have high-ratio mortgages amortized over more than 30 years, because those are the people most likely to have dug out every penny in order to buy a house they really couldn’t afford. While amortizations longer than 30 years are no longer permitted in Canada, it is still important for buyers to be aware of how much they truly can afford while still having money for food and utilities. Home ownership is a great thing, but it takes a lot of planning by each person to ensure that it is an affordable decision.

I know I’ll be watching Gail’s new show – even though I’ll say it will only be at the gym.