4.1.2 Personal factors and attitudes toward credit

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

How you feel about credit, and how much debt you take on, is linked to how you define your needs and wants. Take these two examples:

  • Joan feels that everything she wants is a "must-have." Not only that, but she wants it now. Joan knows that she doesn't really need all these things, but she gets caught up in the desire to have and the pleasure of buying. She doesn't fully understand the implications of spending and borrowing. Unfortunately, Joan may be more likely to get into trouble with debt.
  • Jeanne understands the difference between the things she wants and the things she really needs. She knows that the things she wants are "nice-to-haves," not necessities. Even though she sometimes splurges on an impulse purchase, she usually is willing to wait until she can save up to buy the item. She knows that spending and borrowing have consequences. Jeanne may be more likely to handle debt well.

Are you more like Joan or Jeanne?

Joan sees everything as a must-have.
Jeanne sees a difference between necessities and nice to have.


Your emotions, habits and values also influence how you feel about credit. For example:

  • If you have seen or experienced problems with debt in the past, you may be uncomfortable with the idea of borrowing.
  • If you want to have what your friends and relatives have, but you don't have the money to do so, you may get into debt trying to keep up with them.
  • If you have formed the habit of buying whatever you want, whenever you want, you may find the habit hard to break, even if your financial position changes.
  • If you tend to make impulsive decisions, you may find yourself getting into debt without thinking much about it.
  • If you are swayed by advertising, offers to get more credit, or "buy now pay later" offers, you may end up with more debt than you intended to. 

It's important to be aware of the emotional factors that influence how you handle credit. That way, you can control your behaviour and avoid running into problems with debt.

Take a moment to think about the factors that apply to you and how they affect your ability to handle credit.

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