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Debt reduction top priority

Canadians are keen to lighten their debt loads in 2018, according to an annual opinion survey conducted for CIBC.

The bank says debt reduction or elimination was the top priority for 25 per cent of the poll respondents.

Paying bills or just getting by were the top goals for about 15 per cent of respondents. By comparison, 13 per cent said their top priority was growing wealth or investments.

Lower on the list of financial goals were saving for a vacation (eight per cent), retirement (seven per cent), or for a house or renovation (six per cent).

The high level of Canadian household debt has been cited by the Bank of Canada for years as one of its top concerns. But the level of household debt continues to rise, hitting 171.1 per cent of disposable income in the third quarter.

That means that for every dollar of household disposable income there was $1.71 in credit market debt, which includes consumer credit and mortgage and non-mortgage loans.

Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said in a speech two weeks ago that high debt levels are one of the things that keeps him awake at night because they make the economy as a whole more sensitive to higher interest rates.

According to the CIBC, debt reduction has also been the top priority in its annual poll for eight consecutive years. But only 16 per cent of the respondents in this year's poll said they actually achieved their top financial goal in 2017.



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