A whopping 71 per cent of British Columbians are carrying debt, according to a national poll, but a money expert says not all debt is bad.
Vancouver money coach Melanie Buffel, a financial literacy trainer at the Canadian Centre for Financial Literacy, said it’s people in the habit of packing plastic who need to curb their risky spending.
“I think there are good reasons to carry some debt for sure, and a mortgage is still one of those, but it’s really the consumer debt that we need to really drill down and take a closer look,” she said. “It’s the large loans for cars that depreciate in value, it’s the credit card debt that seems to never go away.”
According to the Harris/Decima poll commissioned by CIBC, 37 per cent of people in B.C. have a mortgage, while 41 per cent carry credit card debt. Thirty-six per cent have a balance on their line of credit, while five per cent are paying down a student loan, and 17 per cent are paying off some other kind of loan.
“If it’s student debt, that’s an investment in their future,” Buffel said. “Try to work part-time to cover the cost of your lifestyle. If you’re taking a student loan that covers all of your costs for the duration of your studies, that’s when you’re looking at, you know, $50,000 of debt, and that’s really difficult to pay back.”
The poll finds the age group most likely to be in debt is adults ages 25 to 44, with about 82 per cent in that demographic reporting indebtedness. After age 45 the likelihood of being in debt begins to decline.
Only 26 per cent of British Columbians interviewed reported being completely debt-free, while three per cent declined to answer or didn’t know.
The margin of error for the 250 B.C. residents polled between March 22 and April 2 is plus or minus 6.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.