Worried about paying off debt in 2014? You’re not alone

Over the past three years, more Canadians have started worrying about paying down the debts they have now, rather than their plans for retirement much later.

At the beginning of 2011, an annual poll by banking and investment firm CIBC found that 14 percent of Canadians declared “paying down debt” was their top financial priority for the year. Close behind were 13 percent who said “retirement planning” was most important.

But at the beginning of 2014, paying down debt has grown to 16 percent, while retirement planning is almost half at only 7 percent.

So what happened?

One theory, says Consolidated Credit founder Jeffrey Schwartz, is that Canadians have realized they can’t save for retirement if they have no savings while they’re working.

“While retirement planning is certainly important, if you’re in debt today, you’ll be in debt years from now,” Schwartz says. “So getting your finances in order as fast as possible should always be the top priority.”

That theory is backed up by another comparison in the CIBC survey: In 2011, zero percent said “paying bills” was their top priority. This year? It’s 8 percent.

Interestingly, different parts of the country had slightly different priorities. More residents of Alberta (20 percent) made “paying down debt” their priority than in Quebec and British Columbia (both 12 percent).

Wherever you live, if you need help paying off your credit card debt and setting your own financial priorities, call Consolidated Credit today for a free debt analysis. You can also consult the free Personal Finance section, which includes interactive calculators and budget worksheets.

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