Paying down debt a top financial priority?

Contrary to TransUnion’s forecast discussed in our post of Dec 23, 2013 Record Consumer Debt Levels Expected for 2014 a recent poll conducted for CIBC by Harris/Decima found that 16% of respondents said lowering debt was their number one priority for 2014.  Although down one percentage point for the 17 percent in 2012 and 2013 it was still 5 percentage points higher than the 11 percent who said they were focusing on savings which is up slightly from the 10 percent over the last several years.

Next in importance by 8 percent was managing day-to day spending and getting current bills paid while retirement planning was fourth with 7 percent of respondents indicating that preparing for their retirement years was their top priority.  Surprisingly those with retirement planning as their top priority is down by almost 40% over 2012.  I guess this can be attributed to the general societal shift of focusing  on surviving today while hoping that ‘big brother’ will be there to look after us tomorrow.  More social unrest appears imminent in our futures should this trend continue.

In particular interest to our firm was that although debt reduction was uppermost in the minds of most respondents, the poll disclosed wide discrepancies on a regional basis.

For example, debt reduction was the priority for 20 per cent of Albertans and for 19 per cent of Ontarians, but that fell to 14 per cent in Atlantic Canada and to 12 per cent in both Quebec and British Columbia, the only province where it was not the top pick. In British Columbia, 14 per cent of respondents said building savings was their main goal. In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, debt reduction was selected as the most important goal by 16 per cent of respondents, matching the national average.