Poll finds Canadians still facing high debt levels, average reaches nearly $16,000

With record-low interest rates, easy access to credit and the consuming beast still within all of us, it is understandable that the debt problem is still prevalent for millions of households in the Great White North.

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) published the results of a new poll that found debt levels are rising across Canada and the number of Canadians reporting being debt-free has fallen from a year ago. These are troubling findings for a country that has been consistently warned to tackle their debt issues.

According to the poll, the average personal, non-mortgage debt reached $15,920 this year, up from $13,141 a year ago – compared to $15,519 in the United States.

Here are some of the polling figures: 24 percent of Canadians are debt-free, down from 26 percent in 2012; 38 percent are anxious about their immense debt levels, up from 34 percent last year; and 38 percent are comfortable with their debt.

Although it may not appear to be the case, Canadian respondents reported that they have attempted to reduce personal debt and practice financial fitness by spending less on big-ticket items, such as vacations and vehicles.

“Despite the rising debt figure, there is a noticeable trend to responsible debt behaviour over the past year,” said Kim Taylor, director of Personal Lending at RBC, in a statement. “We are also seeing that others need to take a step back to better manage the debt they are carrying. Before you start on any new routine, it is always best to set goals and have a plan in place. Marathon training often begins with a 5k race, and a financial plan with a path to debt repayment is key to your financial fitness success.”

The financial institution provided a series of tips to become financially prudent and wise:

–          Understand your debt levels for all forms of debt: credit cards, loans, line of credit, etc.

–          Being to utilize the features of online calculators

–          Analyze the options available to tackle the debt

–          Establish a plan to reduce the debt levels

–          Stick to the plan to see any results

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