A money expert recommends a no-shame, no-blame approach to organizing finances and working towards being debt-free in 2019.

Investment manager Shannon Lee Simmons advises those who owe money on credit cards or loans to re-frame the debt by not being too self-critical about how it was accrued.

“Most times people take on debt because of normal things, job loss, kid in hockey, a reno gone wrong,” Simmons told CTV’s Your Morning.

“It’s not because of Gucci purses.”

Simmons’ new book, Living Debt Free, advises paying down debt as the first step to financial recovery.

“That whole shame and blame mentality has got to go because if we don’t look at our stuff, make a plan and feel motivated and hopeful that we can actually see it through to the end, then why would we bother?” Simmons said.

She also recommends taking some ‘emotional wins’, like paying off money owed to parents to relieve guilt, rather than paying off the debt with the highest interest.

“It’s OK that we attack that one first, even though you might be leaving some of the higher interest debt till later, as long as you recognize what the extra interest is that you’re going to pay,” Simmons said.

“Is that extra $150 in interest worth it to me to get this emotional monkey off my back? And a lot of times, people will get further in their plan because of that.”

Simmons warned against financial tripwires including mindless spending as a result of boredom or bad habits.

The amount Canadians owe relative to their income ticked higher in the third quarter of 2018 even as the pace of borrowing continued to slow.

Statistics Canada said Friday that household credit market debt as a proportion of disposable income was 177.5 per cent in the third quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis. That compared with 177.4 per cent in the second quarter.

In other words, Canadians owed nearly $1.78 in credit market debt, which includes consumer credit, mortgage and non-mortgage loans, for every dollar of household disposable income in the third quarter.

Household debt has been a key concern for the Canadian economy.

The Bank of Canada has been watching to see how well households have been adapting to higher borrowing costs as it has been raising its key interest rate target.

The central bank has hiked its trend-setting rate five times since the summer of 2017, moves that have pushed the prime lending rates at Canada's big banks higher.