Credit cards are displayed in Montreal, Wednesday, December 12, 2012. Canadians are keen to lighten their debt loads in 2018, according to an annual opinion survey conducted for CIBC. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Debt reduction remains high priority, ahead of investments and savings: CIBC

TORONTO — Canadians are keen to lighten their debt loads in 2018, according to an annual opinion survey conducted for CIBC.

The Toronto-based bank says debt reduction or elimination was the top priority for 25 per cent of the poll respondents.

Paying bills or just getting by were the top goals for about 15 per cent of respondents.

By comparison, 13 per cent said their top priority was growing wealth or investments.

Lower on the list of financial goals were saving for a vacation (eight per cent), retirement (seven per cent), or for a house or renovation (six per cent).

The online survey was conducted Dec. 11 and 12 by Angus Reid Forum, using a statistically weighted sample of 1,524 adults in Canada.

The high level of Canadian household debt has been cited by the Bank of Canada for years as one of its top concerns.

But the level of household debt continues to rise, hitting 171.1 per cent of disposable income in the third quarter.

That means that for every dollar of household disposable income there was $1.71 in credit market debt, which includes consumer credit and mortgage and non-mortgage loans.

Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said in a speech two weeks ago that high debt levels are one of the things that keeps him awake at night because they make the economy as a whole more sensitive to higher interest rates.

According to the CIBC, debt reduction has also been the top priority in its annual poll for eight consecutive years.

But only 16 per cent of the respondents in this year’s poll said they actually achieved their top financial goal in 2017.

And 26 per cent said they took on new debt this year, with the top two reasons being the need to manage day-to-day expenses and unexpected financial emergencies.

Jennifer Hubbard, CIBC’s managing director of financial planning and advice, said everybody knows how hard it is to keep New Year’s resolutions.

“That’s why when it comes to your finances you want to set smart goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, time-bound, and most importantly, realistic.”

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

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