Half of Canadian homeowners say they’ll be in debt in retirement, says survey

TORONTO – About half of Canadian homeowners recently polled believe they’ll still be in debt by the time they retire.

A survey released Tuesday from Manulife Bank found that 49 per cent are confident they’ll still have some debt in retirement, including mortgages, compared with 51 per cent who say they anticipate being debt-free at that stage.

More than half (57 per cent) of those surveyed admitted that they were disappointed with the way they’ve managed their debt and day-to-day finances in the past year, even though more than three-quarters say being debt-free remains one of their top financial priorities.

The poll also found that the homeowners cite many strategies for tackling their debt.

Sixty-one per cent say they make extra payments on their debts, while two thirds say they always pay their credit card balance in full. Forty-three per cent say they have created a written budget to track their spending, while about a quarter don’t have any strategy at all but plan to come up with one in the new year.

The results from the semi-annual survey were from an online poll of 2,132 Canadian homeowners with a household income of more than $50,000, done between Sept. 10 to 20, 2013. The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

Doug Conick, president and chief executive of Manulife Bank of Canada, says those who are not confident that they’ll be able to pay off all their debts by the time they retire should put a plan in place sooner rather than later.

“Debt is a tool that Canadians can use to improve their standard of living and purchase assets over the long-term,” said Conick.

“Still, people need a strategy to manage debt. The key is to determine what your financial priorities are — and then put a plan in place to focus on your most important goals.