More Canadians have joined the ranks of “debt-free” according to RBC’s most recent Debt Poll.
But for those still in the red – nearly 74 per cent of Canadians – carrying debt can be a significant source of anxiety.
One in three Canadians say their debt doesn’t sit well, while 40 per cent say they are comfortable with their current debt level. “Many Canadians have some level of comfort with their personal debt, but the very personal nature of carrying debt can often stir up mixed emotions,” says Richard Goyder, vice-president of personal lending at RBC. “It’s encouraging that the results show more Canadians have become debt-free over the past year and that those who still have debt want to do more to reduce it.”
One of the biggest takeaways form the survey is the idea that many Canadians struggle with the idea of debt despite it being an overtly personal matter. According to the poll, the average Canadian carries $13,141 in debt, up $84 from last year’s survey prepared for RBC by Ipsos Reid.
More Canadians Putting Their Wants On Hold
With a continuously unstable global economy, half of Canadians say they will set their sights on paying down debt as opposed to investing for the future and saving up for trips and big ticket items.
In a press release with the results, Goyder says it’s important to find a balance when it comes to decisions about finances.
“Whether you feel you’re in good financial shape or facing some challenges, it’s important to have a strategy for managing debt,” added Goyder. “Making informed financial decisions is part of an overall plan to achieve financial balance.”
While many are focused on debt, there’s still a great deal of Canadians (41 percent) looking to juggle their debt with savings by finding a balance between the two.
In fact, nearly a quarter of Canadians have cancelled a vacation to focus on paying down debt.
Still Living in Debt Denial
Despite being known as the archetypal “nice neighbor”, the poll shows 76 Canadians aren’t afraid to state they’re in better shape than others when it comes to their finances – however, each province has its own financial hang-ups.
Half of British Columbians are heavily focused on balancing paying down debt and garnering savings for the future while 10 per cent of Albertans have decided against buying a big ticket item, and 20 per cent have skipped a vacation. Prairie residents in Alberta and Manitoba with debt are nearly split down the middle when it comes to debt anxiety, with 34 per cent coexisting comfortably with it, and 32 per cent living with anxiety.
On the east end, just over three quarters of Ontarians feel they are in better shape then their neighbours, and both Atlantic Canada and Quebec are debt-focused with 64 per cent and 57 per cent, respectively, skipping savings an investing to pay down what they owe.