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Debt is hanging over the heads of a growing number of Canadians, with two in five saying they don’t expect to get out of debt in their lifetime. But mortgagestypically the largest debt of allare the least of their worries.

A new survey from Manulife Bank confirms concerns over the growing non-mortgage debt loads of Canadians.

Most concerning, perhaps, is the fact that 45% of Canadians say their spending is increasing faster than their incomes. This is up from 33% since Manulife’s spring survey.

Gen-Xers, those aged roughly 40 to 54, are the most likely to be in this financial spiral downward. More than half (54%) of them say their spending is rising faster than their income.

“There is a financial wellness crisis, and it’s affecting Canadians of all demographics,” said Rick Lunny, President and CEO, Manulife Bank.

Millennials too are struggling, given that they are experiencing the most difficulty in entering the workforce (14% vs. 9% for those ages 41-69).

The positive for millennials, however, is that they are the most likely to report their income is rising faster than spending (14% vs. 10% for those aged 41-69).

This precarious debt situation isn’t news to most Canadians. In fact, 94% of them say they think the average household is carrying too much debt.

Mortgage Stats

When it comes to mortgage debt, Canadians actually feel most comfortable with that obligation compared to their other forms of debt, even if it is the biggest debt they’ll see in their lifetime.

  • Young couple looking at their new house73% feel “somewhat or very” comfortable with the amount they owe on their mortgage
    • 22% said they feel “very” comfortable
  • 82% feel “somewhat or very” comfortable with their mortgage payments
    • 28% feel “very” comfortable
  • 72% feel “somewhat or very” comfortable with their home equity line of credit (HELOC)
  • Other forms of debt, on the other hand, are causing Canadians a great deal of anxiety:
    • Just 42% are comfortable with their student loan (21% say they are “not comfortable at all”)
    • 42% are comfortable with their credit cards that carry a balance (21% say they are “not comfortable at all”)

Millennials Want Advice Through Tech

Another key finding is that younger Canadians are increasingly seeking financial advice through non-traditional means. Take a look:

millennials prefer mobile apps as financial advisors

  • More than half of millennials (53%) want their financial advisor to be a mobile app
    • By comparison, only a third (31%) of those aged 41 to 69 share that desire
  • Of the nearly one third (31%) of millennials who say they use a financial advisor, 7% admit they use a Robo Advisor
    • Just 1% of those among the older generations do so
  • Six out of 10 millennials (60%) are focused on building their credit scores, compared to 40% of those between the ages of 41 and 69.

Types of Debt

Credit cards are the fastest-growing form of debt, according to the Manulife survey.

  • 60% of Canadians have credit cards that carry a balance, up sharply from 48% in the spring
  • pay down debt using home equity48% of Canadians have mortgage debt
    • 62% for gen-Xers, 48% for millennials and 38% for baby boomers
  • 39% have an auto loan
  • 36% have a line of credit
  • 22% have a personal loan
  • 16% have a home equity line of credit (HELOC)
  • 11% have a student loan

Other Findings

The Manulife survey, which surveyed 2,001 Canadians with a household income of $40,000+, also found that:

  • On average, Canadians save 14% of their after-tax income (down from 14.7% in the spring survey)
  • 19% of Canadians say they are saving nothing, up from 4% in the spring
  • 42% own a house or condo and are paying a mortgage
    • 58% for gen-Xers, 46% for millennials and 30% for boomers
  • 67% of those in debt assume everyone else is as well
  • 60% are carrying balances on their credit cards (up from 48% in the spring survey)
  • 55% say they have “considerable” non-mortgage debt (up from 46% since the spring)
  • 66% of Canadians in a relationship say they combine their finances
    • Of those who don’t, 15% say it would cause tension in their relationship, while 11% say they don’t because their spouse is a spender while they’re a saver
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