Debt seen as obstacle to achieving goals

A new poll from CIBC conducted by Harris-Decima shows that while Canadians are taking steps towards reducing their debt in 2011, many still see their debt as an obstacle to achieving their financial goals, and may not be using all available options to help them become debt-free sooner.

A new poll from CIBC conducted by Harris-Decima shows that while Canadians are taking steps towards reducing their debt in 2011, many still see their debt as an obstacle to achieving their financial goals, and may not be using all available options to help them become debt-free sooner.

Nationally, 72 per cent of Canadians report holding some form of debt, while 28 per cent say they are debt-free.

Highlights:• 72 per cent of Canadians report holding some form of debt• 61 per cent say they are making good progress towards paying down their debt so far in 2011• Only 21 per cent of Canadians have talked with an advisor in the last year about how to better manage their debt• 42 per cent of Canadians see their current level of debt as an obstacle to reaching their future financial goals• The 35-44 age group is the most likely to hold various forms of debt, with 89 per cent of this age group reporting that they hold at least some debt.• Canadians aged 18-24 (49 per cent) and those 65 and up (44 per cent) were least likely to hold debt according to the poll.Among Canadians who reported holding some debt as part of the poll, 61 per cent say they are making good progress towards paying down their debt so far in 2011. The steps these Canadians have taken this year include:• 46 per cent have made at least one lump sum payment towards their debt• 44 per cent have instituted a household budget• 46 per cent see themselves as making sacrifices in order to better manage their debt

According to past CIBC research released in January 2011, paying down debt was named the top financial priority for Canadians this year.

Percentage of respondents by region who report being debt-free: B.C., 37 per cent; Alberta, 23 per cent; Man./Sask. 30 per cent; Ontario, 26 per cent; Quebec 29 per cent; Atlantic, 29 per cent.

In addition to being the most likely age group to hold debt, Canadians aged 35-44 were also most likely to believe their level of debt is an obstacle to achieving their future financial goals at 48 per cent vs the national average of 42 per cent.

Canadians looking to reduce their debt should consider the following tips and advice.Meet with an advisor and build a strategy to identify opportunities to reduce interest costs and structure a repayment plan and savings plan. Pay higher interest debt first. Manage and track spending. Stay on top of your chequing account.

Each week, Harris/Decima interviews just over 1000 Canadians through teleVox, the company’s national telephone omnibus survey.

These data were gathered in a sample of 2,008 Canadians between June 30, 2011 and July 10, 2011. A sample of this size has a margin of error of +/-2.2%, 19 times out of 20.