Younger Canadians feel most anxious about debt
and are most likely to delay plans
TORONTO, Sept. 14, 2011 /CNW/ - Three-quarters of Canadians (75 per
cent) feel they are in better shape with their non-mortgage debt than
their friends and neighbours and more than half (58 per cent) say they
are happy with their current total debt situation, according to a new
RBC Debt Poll.
When asked to rate how they feel about their personal debt situation, 67
per cent of Canadians are either comfortable (45 per cent) or have no
personal debt at all (22 per cent). An overwhelming majority (93 per
cent) see paying down debt as more or just as important as saving for
"The majority of Canadians feel confident that they are in a better debt
position than everyone else but the reality is that effectively
managing credit takes discipline and proper planning," said Richard
Goyder, vice-president, Personal Lending, RBC. "Taking a realistic look
at your financial situation, along with planning ahead, spending within
your means and getting the right type of financial advice are the keys
to managing debt."
Some Canadians are also cautious about adding to their debt loads, with
four-in-ten (39 per cent) saying that they have cancelled or delayed
plans of some kind because of concern about their financial situation.
Nearly a quarter of Canadians have postponed a vacation (24 per cent)
and 20 per cent are holding off on big-ticket purchases or an expensive
item for their home.
The poll reveals that age and anxiety levels are closely-linked when it
comes to Canadian opinions on debt, as differences emerge depending on
age and whether or not people had children. Across all age groups,
"paying down debt now" was seen as very important, with anxiety about
debt highest (39 per cent) among Canadians aged 18-34. This level drops
drastically to 21 per cent among older Canadians who are 55 and over.
"Younger Canadians are more worried about debt, as they are earning less
and may have accumulated debt either due to student loans, the purchase
of their first home or car, or starting a family," Goyder added.
"Setting short and long-term financial goals based on your personal
circumstances can help you stay on track to pay off debt and start
Family composition is also a key factor affecting attitudes on debt, as
Canadians with children were more likely to change vacation plans (30
per cent compared to the national average of 24 per cent), avoid buying
an expensive item (26 per cent compared to the national average of 20
per cent) and delaying the purchase of a home (12 per cent versus the
national average of eight per cent).
Canadian parents are far less happy about their debt situation than
other Canadians (47 per cent compared to 61 per cent) and are far more
likely to switch their spending intentions due to debt concerns (48 per
cent compared to 37 per cent).
Highlights from across Canada:
British Columbia: Half of B.C. survey respondents (50 per cent compared to the national
average of 44 per cent) say saving and investing for the future is as
important as paying down debt, the highest rate in the country. Almost
two-fifths of B.C. residents (37 per cent) feel they are in "much
better" shape, when thinking about their non-mortgage debt, compared to
their friends and neighbours (compared to the national average of 34
Alberta: Alberta leads the country in feeling anxious about debt (36 per cent
versus the national average of 32 per cent). Albertans are also the
most likely to change their plans due to concerns about their debt
situation and are more likely to delay or cancel plans to take vacation
(28 per cent versus 24 per cent) and buy a new home (12 per cent versus
eight per cent).
Prairies: Saskatchewan and Manitoba are the most comfortable and happy with
their personal debt situations when compared to other provinces (50 per
cent and 62 per cent respectively compared to 45 per cent and 58 per
cent nationally). Prairie residents also lead the country on not
changing their plans due to debt concerns, well above the national
average (66 per cent versus 61 per cent).
Ontario: Responses from Ontario were similar to the national average across
most measures. Ontarians were more comfortable than anxious about their
current debt situation (43 per cent versus 33 per cent, respectively
compared to 45 per cent feeling comfortable versus 32 per cent anxious
nationally). Almost one-quarter (24 per cent) said they have no
personal debt as compared to the national average of 22 per cent.
Quebec: Quebecers are most likely to be concerned with paying down debt now
rather than saving for the future (54 per cent versus the national
average of 49 per cent). Over one-quarter of Quebecers (27 per cent)
believe that they are in worse shape than their friends and neighbours
for non-mortgage debt, tied with Alberta for the highest rate in the
country (compared to the national average of 25 per cent).
Atlantic Canada: Thinking about non-mortgage debt, Atlantic Canadians are the most
optimistic about their debt situations compared to their friends and
neighbours (82 per cent versus the national average of 75 per cent).
Age group highlights:
18-34: Younger Canadians feel the most anxious about their personal debt
situation (39 per cent) and unhappy (52 per cent). They are also more
likely to change their plans due to concerns about debt levels (50 per
cent) well above the national average, including taking a vacation (30
per cent), buying a big-ticket item (25 per cent), buying a new home
(16 per cent) and having children (12 per cent).
35-54: The middle bracket, particularly those with children, also showed a
substantial level of anxiety about debt (37 per cent) and just under
half (48 per cent) are unhappy about their debt situation (slightly
lower than younger Canadians but much higher than older Canadians).
55+: This group was the most comfortable with their debt situation (45 per
cent) and more than a third said they have no personal debt (34 per
cent). The majority (83 per cent) feel they are in better shape than
their friends and neighbours and three-quarters (75 per cent) are happy
about their debt levels.
All Canadians can visit the RBC Advice Centre www.rbcadvicecentre.com for guidance on how to handle their debt. Interactive tools and
calculators provide customized information covering all facets of
saving and using credit. For RBC personal banking clients, a new online
financial management tool, myFinanceTracker, is available at no cost to create a set budget and track their
The RBC Debt Omnibus Study was conducted by Ipsos Reid. Data was
collected from August 18 to 23, 2011. The online survey is based on a
randomly selected representative sample of 2,011 adult Canadians that
was statistically weighted by region, age and gender composition
according to the Census data. The results are considered accurate to
within ±2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would
have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled. The
margin of error will be larger within regions and for other
sub-groupings of the survey population.
For further information:
Ka Yan Ng, RBC Communications, (416) 974-1794
Matt Gierasimczuk, RBC Communications, (416) 974-2124