Half of Canadians failing to pay down debt poll finds

Half of Canadians with debt say their debt level is the same or higher than it was a year ago, according to a new poll.The survey for CIBC which revealed that 71% of Canadians carry some for of debt, showed that 21% say their debts have increased in the last 12 months; another 28% say their debt level has stayed the same, despite a prior CIBC poll where respondents indicated that debt repayment was a priority in 2013.The number one reason cited for not paying down debt was not having the money to do so (29%).“I think that has to do with the low interest rates that we have right now. The temptation to borrow is so easy to get the bigger house, to get the bigger mortgage or just to borrow from their lines of credit,” said Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning with CIBC.“Debt that improves your financial situation over the long term is a good thing. For example, if you borrow money for education, hopefully that education will last you your whole life and may ultimately get you towards [greater] financial earning power. Similarly, if you are buying a home, hopefully over time the value of the home will appreciate. Bad debt is consumer debt — if you borrow money to buy a depreciating vehicle or you’re borrowing money to go on a vacation.”The average consumer debt (excluding mortgage) according to TransUnion’s quarterly analysis of Canadian credit trends is $26,935.Mr. Golombek advises that people have a plan to tackle their debt. “People need to have a plan to pay down that debt. People should be getting advice from a financial advisor or an expert to have a real concrete goal as to when that debt is going to be paid off,” he said. “The worse thing is you’re in debt and you see no way out because your current budget doesn’t include anything other than the minimum payments on the credit card. Those situations can become catastrophic.”• Email: mleong@nationalpost.com | Twitter: lisleong read more