If you feel like you’re drowning in household debt, you’re not alone. A growing number of Canadians are becoming less confident in their ability to repay debts.
A recent survey by insolvency firm MNP Ltd., found that confidence in coping with debt fell by four points since last quarter, “signalling growing concern and deteriorating financial stability for many.”
These negative feelings towards personal finances correlate with the survey's other findings. Nearly half of Canadians (48 per cent) reported being $200 away from bankruptcy, which is up from 46 per cent in December.
Additionally, 26 per cent said they had zero wiggle room at the end of the month because their income isn’t enough to cover their bills or pay off their debt.
“Canadians appear to be maxed out with no real plan for paying back what they have borrowed,” MNP president Grant Bazian said in a statement. “This raises many alarming questions about how and if consumer debt will be repaid, particularly if conditions deteriorate or interest rates rise.”
While the growth of Canadian household debt has slowed to its lowest levels in 36 years, it is still on the rise. This financial burden means more millennials than ever are filing for bankruptcy, and one in five Canadians will have to liquidate assets in order to clear their debts this year.
Interest rates are a particularly big concern among Canadians. The Bank of Canada has raised rates five times between the summer of 2017 and the fall of 2018, HuffPost Canada reports. In that time period, the lending rate climbed from 0.5 per cent to 1.75 per cent.
The rise in interest rates has diminished Canadians’ outlook on their finances. Only five per cent are confident they can handle a one per cent increase in rates —a record low number, according to MNP’s tracking.
Nearly half of Canadians (47 per cent) believe another increase in interest rates could push them into financial crisis, and more than half (54 per cent) are now more worried about their ability to pay off debts.
“Credit has become inextricably woven into Canadian household budgets. A whole industry has grown up around making that happen, from payday lenders to credit card companies, to buy-now-pay-later retail offers,” MNP president Bazian said.
However, “getting out of debt is possible — even if you have no income or assets,” he added. “But it requires action. The first step is to ask for help from a licensed professional.”