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Debt, savings, and stress: A study of economic experiences and attitudes in Canada

For every dollar of disposable income in Canada, Canadians owe roughly $1.78 to creditors. Collectively, Canadians hold more than $2 trillion in debt, and a new public opinion poll from the Angus Reid Institute suggests this debt is causing notable financial strain for more than four-in-ten people in this country.

The study, conducted in partnership with The Globe and Mail, finds one-in-three Canadians (32%) have put off saving for retirement because of the debt they’re carrying. Millions more – especially those under the age of 40 – have put off buying a home (18%), getting married (8%), having children (7%) or moving out of their parents’ homes (5%).

On the savings side of the ledger, just 12 per cent of Canadians say they have an amount in the bank that meets or exceeds their personal goal.

Against this backdrop, most Canadians say they feel stressed about money, while younger Canadians voice concerns about their ability to find and keep good jobs.

That said, members of Canada’s Millennial generation are much less pessimistic when looking toward retirement. On average, the youngest Canadians expect to retire earlier and live better in retirement than their elders do. This, despite relatively few young Canadians reporting significant current savings.

More Key Findings:

  • Almost nine-in-ten Canadians (89%) agree with the statement, “It’s stupid to go into debt if you don’t need to”
  • That said, more than three-quarters of Canadians (76%) are carrying debt themselves – presumably as a result of perceived necessity, stupid decisions, or both
  • Canadians who have debt generally find it “manageable.” Just one-in-six Canadians (16%) say their debt is “difficult to manage,” compared to 39 per cent who say it is “significant, but manageable,” and 22 per cent who say it is “easy to manage” (24% have no debt at all)

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