Canadian household debt at a record $1.5 trillion

Majority of debt going to food, housing and transportation



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The Certified General Accountants Association of Canada (CGA) reports that household debt is at an all-time high with single parents, retirees and those households making less than $50,000 a year in the most debt.

“For these individuals, there is little hope for improved financial condition,” says Anthony Ariganello, President and CEO of CGA-Canada in the report.

One-third of retired households have an average debt of $60,000 while 17% have over $100,000 in debt.

The CGA also reported that 27% of non-retired Canadians do not save at all, even for retirement.

Thirty-eight per cent of those surveyed said they are not confident about their finances in retirement, and 52% said that they had a clear idea of how much personal savings they would need to be satisfied financially in retirement. That means just under half of Canadians do not have a solid financial plan for retirement.

According to the report, the main causes of debt are due to day-to-day living expenses, not mortgages or education. In other words, Canadians are spending to consume instead of spending in the hope to create more wealth in the future.

4 comments on “Canadian household debt at a record $1.5 trillion

  1. Before the financial crisis began in 2008 , many of my friends told me that saving is old fashion and investing in real estate is the best way to have future wealth. They told me buy at least one property and rent it out which would cover the mortgage,property taxes and other expenses. In 25 years the property would be mortgage free and you could live off the rent or sell it at a much higher price. I have been saving $1,500 a month for the last 25 years some in rrsps and non-rrsps.We paid off our mortgage in 14 years and now have just over $655,000 in investments and $28,000 in an savings and gics. The house is worth about $375,000 free and clear. My family has no debt. we have no credit cards, line of credits, mortgages,car loans etc. It is a good thing I did not take my friends advice. I do not want to be the typical debt-ridden Canadian.Our family is sensible in our money decision making and if we can't afford it we do not buy it.It is that simple.In my opinion, 90% of the people are in debt because they do not make common sense decisions with their money. Our household income is $60,000 so we are not rich. People wake up and take control of your financial lives. Make a plan and she stick to it.Wealth is created slowly and not by a financial illusion like the stock market or real estate. One last thing, we would not put our money in the stock market or real estate.Risky investing is for the big financial institutions and not the small investor.We put all our investments in government bonds. We want some of our tax money paid back. You can't always get what you want.


  2. Going back to the old fashioned way of a personal budget and sticking to it would keep many people out of financial trouble and debt. I've been able to cut back on day-to-day living expenses, as well and asking myself if I really 'need' this particular thing or things or just 'want' it or them. It comes down to thinking of the future instead of self-gratification of today. I found this helpful article about budgeting that reminds myself the purpose of personal budgeting is to ensure I spend less than I earn.


  3. Paying off debt is a gift anyone can give to themselves. Being debt free means being able to make choices about where one's money goes, instead of being obligated to give that money to a creditor. After living more than 6 years without a mortgage, I can assure anyone reading this comment that the freedom of choice which comes with a mortgage-free life is sweeter than ice-cream!


  4. I just turned 50. At 49 my house was paid for and I am completely debt free. We are able to pay for my daugher's University education + expenses in cash.

    I have friends with much bigger houses, nicer cars, cottages etc but the math simply doesn't add up. Many of the problems are compounded (and will get worse I fear) when home "owners" use established lines of credit against the equity in their homes to invest or go on vacation.

    My mother budgeted our finances from my dad's weekly paycheck and could stretch a dime into a quarter. This same pricinple has rubbed off on me (and not at the expense of being a tight wad). I hope to pass the same "live within your means" message along to my children.


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