Canada's top finance officials have repeatedly warned about the risks of having too much household debt if interest rates rise, but the real risk is a loss of wages due to layoffs, says one Canadian credit counselling service.

Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada points out that losing a job can be very dangerous to those carrying debt.

What to do?

Here's 8 ways to tame household debt, from getting books at the library instead of the store, to paying bills on time.

"A reduction in income or a loss of income, coupled with little to no savings, spells disaster for most people. How will they pay their bills?" said Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of the not-for-profit organization that counsels consumers on debt.

"This country is experiencing incredibly high debt levels right now. It is crucial Canadians begin paying back their debts today because tomorrow may be too late."

Consumers have taken advantage of ultra low interest rates since the recession to splurge on low-cost debt. The Bank of Canada decided earlier this week to keep its overnight lending rate — which affects prime rates at banks — at one per cent to stimulate a still fragile economy.

However, central bank governor Mark Carney has issued repeated warnings that the plan comes with a consequence that could spell economic trouble in times ahead. The most overstretched consumers could find themselves sunk if interest rates rise.

With household debt at an all-time high above 150 per cent of income, the Bank of Canada has declared it the No. 1 domestic risk to the economy.

Here are some warning signs from Consolidated Credit that you may be carrying too much debt:

  • You only pay the minimum monthly payments on your credit card bills.
  • You spend 15 per cent or more of your net income paying credit card debts.
  • Your income is already spoken for before you even get your paycheque.

If any of those signs apply to you, the credit counselling service says, it's time to take action.