According to a new poll from RBC, when it comes to debt, most Canadians are not just keeping up with the Joneses; they feel that they are setting the standard for them.
“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 gauge their level of comfort with their debt, 67 % of respondents indicate that they are comfortable (45%) or have no personal debt at all (22%). In another telling figure, a staggering majority (93 %) see paying down debt “as more than or just as important as saving for the future.”
“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.”
Despite data released this week from Statistics Canada that suggests that Canadians are increasingly saddling themselves with debt, the poll shows otherwise. 39% of respondents indicated that they are cautious when taking on debt, including having taken actions like cancelling a vacation or postponing purchase of a big ticket item because of debt concerns.
Furthermore, this poll suggests that there is an inextricable link between debt, age and anxiety. All age groups indentify the paying down of debt as a very important goal, but the most anxiety in taking on debt was expressed in the 18-34 age category. This level of expressed anxiety decreased as people get older, according to respondents.
“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 saving.”
Family situation factors in to attitude towards debt, as those with children indicating that they were far more likely to delay purchases or vacations due to debt concerns, perhaps because they have more at stake, financially.
Looking at some regional highlights, Atlantic Canadians are the most optimistic when it comes to managing their debt loads, whereas Albertans were among the most anxious. Half of respondents in B.C. indicated that saving and planning for the future is as important as reducing current debt load. Those in the Prairies were most comfortable with their current debt situation, and respondents from Ontario were much in line with those from other provinces. People in Quebec valued paying down current debt more than saving for the future.