Canadian families take on largest levels of debt
(TORONTO, ON) — Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and there is no shortage of reasons to respect moms everywhere. From diapers to diplomas, it’s a 24/7 job that they handle with grace. But raising kids is not just hard work – it’s also very expensive.
So expensive in fact, families with children under the age of 18 saw their median debt levels more than double between 1999 and 2012, according to Statistics Canada’s most recent family debt study.
According to the report:
- Ninety percent of Canadian families with children under 18 have some debt (up from 87% in 1999);
- The median debt level for those with children under 18 is $170,000 (more than double 1999 amounts);
- The average debt-to-income ratio for all Canadian families sits at an astonishing 163.3%; and
- The largest increase in debt levels was attributed to families taking on more mortgage debt.
Jeff Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, says the study is just another example of why Canadians need to get their finances in order before starting a family.
“Children can put a big strain on family finances,” says Schwartz. “From their most basic needs, such as food, clothing and shelter, to the high costs of extracurricular activities and post-secondary education; children become a major line item in the household budget.”
While Schwartz warns that a growing family can cause financial stress, he also adds that being financially prepared can greatly ease the budget burden.
“Children are wonderful and bring a lifetime of joy,” adds Schwartz. “Planning ahead and getting your financial house in order before starting a family can go a long way towards having a fulfilling family life.”
To help those looking to build a strong family in the future, Schwartz and the team at Consolidated Credit offer these tips to ease the family debt load:
Get out of debt – now! Don’t wait until your kids are walking off to pre-school to get serious about your debt. Start tackling it today, so when those expected and unexpected costs arise, you are prepared. Take the time you have before you start a family to make a dent in those nagging bills. Be creative with your budget and throw every bit of extra income towards paying off your debts.
Start saving today. This might sound like a no brainer, but you would be surprised at how many people don’t set up an emergency fund or savings account before having kids. Even if you are only saving a little bit each pay, it’s ideal to have a safety net. Especially once you realize how expensive a growing family can be.
Get your house in order. Literally! Many couples think they need a bigger home when they have children, but trading up to a larger, more expensive home may be a huge strain on the finances. Before taking the plunge into parenthood, it’s wise to sort out your housing situation and get comfortable with your rent or mortgage payments.
Make education savings a priority. The childhood years go by quickly. One moment you will just be getting over the high cost of diapers and formula, and the next you’ll be writing a cheque for Junior’s tuition. By making education savings a priority from the start, you can and your children can avoid the high debt levels associated with post-secondary education.
Budget! Budget! Budget! When all is said and done, the best way for families to avoid high levels of debt is to budget – and budget well. It takes time and commitment, but setting and sticking to a budget allows families to gain control of their household finances and build a healthy future – no matter how many rug rats you have running around!
About Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc.:
Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada is a national non-profit credit counselling organization that teaches consumers about personal finance.
For more information or to request an interview with Jeffrey Schwartz, please contact: