canadians debt

Photo: Jason Rojas/Flickr

According to a new poll from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and Nielsen, Canadians have one key financial priority in the year ahead: paying down their debt. This is the fifth year in a row that debt repayment has come out on top, beating out other money-based goals such as building savings, paying bills/getting by, managing spending/budgeting and retirement planning.

It’s also become more of a priority for Canadians in the past few years. For the year ahead, 22 per cent of those surveyed named it as a goal, compared to 14 per cent in 2011.

Retirement planning has taken a backseat to debt concerns as only five per cent of those recently polled named it as a top financial priority, compared to 13 per cent in 2011.

Strikingly, Canadians nearing their retirement years are more likely to focus on debt repayment. For the 45 to 54-year old demographic, 31 per cent indicated debt repayment was their top financial priority for the year ahead, a big jump from 16 per cent in last year’s poll.

For those aged 55 to 64 year olds, 25 per cent polled said debt repayment was their number one financial priority, up from 14 per cent the year before.

“We’ve seen debt repayment close to doubling in importance for age groups that would typically be in their peak retirement savings years, but it is important that they don’t put off retirement planning indefinitely,” said Christina Kramer, Executive Vice President, Retail and Business Banking, CIBC.

Canadian debt levels appear to be going up and up. In the third quarter of 2014, Statistics Canada reported the average debt-to-income ratio to be the highest on record and Equifax Canada tallied the amount of consumer debt owed by Canadians at $1.513 trillion in Q3-2014, a new benchmark.

If you’re still cooking up some personal finance-related resolutions, check out this story from our friends at Consolidated Credit for some advice.

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