Nearly half Canadians aren’t staying on top of their debt

A new report from CIBC says about half of Canadians aren’t taking sufficient steps

TORONTO — A new report from CIBC says about half of Canadians aren’t taking sufficient steps to stay on top of their financial priorities in the coming year.

A poll conducted this month for the Toronto-based bank found that 48 per cent of respondents didn’t plan to cut back spending on non-essential items in order to meet goals that include eliminating debt, keeping up with bills and growing their investments.

Coming in at 28 per cent, debt repayment was the top financial priority of those surveyed — with the vast majority saying their biggest concerns were credit cards and lines of credit.

Among those who incurred new debt over the past 12 months, almost one-third of those surveyed said the primary reason for overspending was day-to-day expenses beyond their monthly income.

Yet, the poll also found that only 26 per cent of the respondents said they will actually set a household budget to help them stay on track with a financial plan.

The CIBC survey was conducted online in early December among 1,507 Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists.

Other key findings from the poll showed that keeping up with bills was the No. 2 priority among 16 per cent of those surveyed, followed by growing investments for 11 per cent.

Putting aside money for a vacation was a key financial priority for eight per cent of respondents, while establishing an emergency fund was a top goal for three per cent.

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.

According to the latest data from Statistics Canada, the ratio of household credit market debt to adjusted disposable income crept up to 166.9 per cent in the third quarter, up from 166.4 per cent in the second quarter.

That means, on average, Canadians owed $1.67 in credit market debt—mortgages, other loans and consumer credit—for every dollar of disposable income.

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