Make My Debt Disappear

2018-03-28   minute read

Grant Bazian

Debt Solutions

Each quarter, we partner with Ipsos to survey more than 2,000 Canadians, gauging their thoughts, feelings, concerns and opinions about debt. The MNP Consumer Debt Index measures everything from whether debt is becoming a greater or lesser concern for Canadians, to how confident they would be to respond to unexpected life events and expectations about future spending and credit use.

Person on a tablet holding a credit card

In our latest survey conducted in December 2017, we also investigated the lengths Canadians would go to make their debt disappear altogether. The responses reveal just how desperate people are and how severe the issue has become.

Perhaps most shocking, we discovered one in twenty (5%) Canadian debtors would be willing to sell an organ to put an end to their financial hardship. Representative of the broader population that indicates approximately 1.2 million people – or a city roughly the size of Calgary – likely share a similar sentiment. In the same vein of desperation, an additional 10% would be willing to take a year off their life expectancy if it meant they could enjoy the time they have left without the burden of debt weighing on their shoulders.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, almost half (45%) of Canadians would be willing to forego dining out for a year, while more than a quarter would be willing to work two hours of overtime every day for a year (27%) or give up three years’ worth of vacation time (26%). Nearly a quarter (24%) say they would cut up their credit cards and avoid getting a new one for five years. And more than one in five (21%) would give up their right to vote for two full election cycles.

Interestingly, only a minority seem willing to take meaningful steps that could take a significant bite out of their debt. Less than one in 10 would be willing to sell their house and rent (9%) and fewer would be willing to move in with their parents or adult children for a year (7%). Only about one in five (18%) would be willing to seek professional debt help from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee – perhaps owing to continued stigma surrounding Life-Changing Debt Solutions such as Consumer Proposals or personal bankruptcy, despite being viable and effective options for many people. The number increases only marginally to 22% for those imminently facing insolvency.

Another interesting discovery of note are the stark generational differences we uncovered. While Millennials are most willing to work 10 hours of overtime per week for a year (37%), responses indicate Generation X would prefer to eat at home every day for a year (48%). Baby Boomers, on the other hand, ranked highest in nearly every single category – indicating they’re willing to do just about anything to ensure they can become debt free before they reach their looming retirement.

Finally, we also noticed some interesting regional differences. Just over half of British Columbians (54%) and Saskatchewan residents (53%) willing to give up dining out, where only 42% of Ontarians feel the same. One in 10 Albertans are willing to sell an organ – double the national average and seven points higher than Quebecers (3%). And Atlantic Canadians are the least likely to be willing to do any option provided (22%) compared to 15% of respondents as a whole.

These responses confirm what many have been warning for some time: the level of consumer debt in Canada is not sustainable. With the average household owing more than $20,000 (not including their mortgage) and continued uncertainty around interest rates and how that impacts people’s ability to pay their bills, people need to get serious about their debt and savings.

It only takes one unexpected event – a job loss, major car repair, sudden illness, etc. – to send a manageable situation spiraling out of control. Even if we can’t sell an organ or aren’t willing to give up coffee or mobile phones, small steps can add up to make a significant impact. Whether that means cutting back on eating out or booking a Free Confidential Consultation with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, it’s time to start thinking about what you want your financial fresh start to look like and how you’re going to get there.

About the MNP Consumer Debt Index

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between December 8 and December 13, 2017, on behalf of MNP Debt. For this survey, a sample of 2,001 Canadians aged 18+ from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. This represents the third wave of the MNP Consumer Debt Index.

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