Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Canadians in Hock

Tip of the hat to reader '/dev/null' for forwarding this news story. Credit card debt is obviously a major problem for many Canadians. It is hard for me to comprehend how much revolving debt many people have and they don't even realize that they are enslaving themselves to the cheap crap they bought on the card.

Growing credit debt is crushing Canadians: study
Updated Tue. Nov. 13 2007 8:46 AM ET CTV.ca News Staff

A new study of Canadians' credit debt finds that a whopping 25 per cent owe between $10,000 and $40,000, and 28 per cent don't even know the interest rate they pay on their main credit card.

The report by Credit Canada and Capitol One was timed for release during their Credit Education Week, and is designed to raise awareness of good financial management.

Laurie Campbell, of Credit Canada, said the numbers -- which don't factor in mortgage debt -- were surprisingly high.

"The numbers are quite startling, even I was quite surprised, but nevertheless, this is truly what we're seeing," Campbell told CTV's Canada AM.

"Savings rates at an all-time low and debt rates at an all-time high so this financial literacy week in my opinion is long overdue."

The study, which questioned 4,000 respondents about their personal credit debt practices, found a disconnect between Canadians' debt levels and retirement plans.

When asked about their total outstanding debt from credit sources and loans, respondents said the following (figures don't include mortgage debt):

$0 -- 16 per cent
$10,001 to $20,000 -- 13 per cent
$20,001 to $40,000 -- 12 per cent
$100,001 to $200,000 -- 9 per cent
$300,001 to $500,000 -- 1 per cent

Two per cent of Canadians said they had six credit cards; while six per cent had five credit cards; 12 per cent had four cards; while the majority, 25 per cent, had two credit cards.

Twenty-two per cent of Canadians said they had only one credit card.

When it came to the average balances people said they carried on their credit cards, 36 per cent said their monthly balance was $0 because they paid off their credit card each month.

Eleven per cent said their monthly balance was between $1,001 and $2,500, 9 per cent had a balance of between $2,501 and $5,000 while 1 per cent had the highest monthly balance of between $20,001 and $30,000.

When asked how their credit card habits could be best described:

50 per cent said they pay their credit card off in full every month.
37 per cent said they pay the minimum requirement each month
10 per cent said they do not have a credit card.
3 per cent said they sometimes/often miss the minimum required payment.

"Certainly what happens with a lot of people is they look at their statement, they see a minimum payment, and say that's what I have to pay and unfortunately they don't look further to find out what the implications of only paying the minimum payment are," Campbell said.

When it came to budgeting, 53 per cent said they have no budget. Another 31 per cent said they have a budget and stick to it, and 16 per cent said they have a budget but rarely stick to it.

When asked when they thought they would be able to retire, respondents said the following:

13 per cent -- never
3 per cent -- between 71 and 76
24 per cent -- between 56 and 60
29 per cent -- between 61 and 65
14 per cent -- between 66 and 70

"The majority of people expect to be able to retire at 60 or 65," Campbell said.

"I don't know how they expect to retire if they're not saving, so there's a real dichotomy between the way people see their future and the way they're handling their money."

When asked what their top concern was regarding credit and debt management, 26 per cent said they worried about not being able to deal with unexpected emergencies.

Campbell said the goal of Credit Education Week is to raise awareness among Canadians about credit debt and how to deal with it, through providing free advice and online resources.

While a strong Canadian dollar has lulled many Canadians into a sense of financial security, people must be cautious, she said.

"People are very optimistic which is a very wonderful thing but you also have to plan for your future and think about where you're spending your money and put your goals in place, that's the most important thing."


jesse said...

The quoted percentages don't add up to 100% and there's no explanation why. How ironic.

Patiently Waiting said...

"36 per cent said their monthly balance was $0 because they paid off their credit card each month."

"50 per cent said they pay their credit card off in full every month."

So which is it?

patriotz said...

I don't know how they expect to retire if they're not saving

Well by selling their house of course.

The impact of this is left as an exercise for the reader.

J.Son said...

I wonder how many times this conversation has come up:

husband: Hey honey, let's stretch ourselves so we can afford this big house we really can't afford. We can take out a 40 year mortgage and put all our earnings in it so we can pay it off in 30, then have maybe 5-10 years to save for retirement.

wife: You're right, this is a much better idea than renting and putting the thousands we save in an RRSP and buying a place when we can actually afford one, since that might never happen if we're priced out forever!


Mango said...

husband: yes indeedy! We will surely make more money by putting it into an investment that loses money every month than by putting it into companies that have to work and produce things and services of value! Thus screw equities, it's all about real estate!

Wife: Straight up! Look at those dumb Americans with most of their wealth in equities, and their diverse economy. They'll never survive that housing downturn, whereas up here we don't need anything BUT housing to drive our bulletproof economy. We'll all just need our houses for retirement, and our incomes will be provided by commodities, which we all know are not cyclical in price any more.