CIBC Poll Finds Getting Out of Debt Remains Canadians’ Top Financial Priority for 10th Straight Year

CIBC Poll Finds Getting Out of Debt Remains Canadians' Top Financial Priority for 10th Straight Year

Economic concerns weighing on the minds of many heading into the new year

TORONTO, Dec. 30, 2019 /CNW/ – A new CIBC poll finds debt repayment is the number one financial priority for Canadians in 2020, the tenth consecutive year it has topped this annual survey. With getting out of the red top-of-mind, over two-thirds (71 per cent) of respondents say they held back from borrowing more money in 2019.

The survey also found that 71 per cent are concerned about the rising costs of household goods next year. Half (55 per cent) of respondents agree they are worried about a potential recession in 2020.

“Whether it’s daily household items or unexpected events, expenses can fluctuate for reasons that are often outside of our control. The best way to buffer against uncertainties is to have a financial plan,” said Jamie Golombek, Managing Director, CIBC Financial Planning and Advice. “A financial expert can help prioritize your needs and prepare for potential economic changes to keep you on track to make your ambitions a reality.”

While 78 per cent of those surveyed feel it is better to pay down debt than build savings, 33 per cent worry they are forsaking building a nest egg by focusing too much on paying back money owed. Canadians are aware there is room for improvement, with 60 per cent agreeing there are likely better ways to manage their money to meet financial goals.

“Debt repayment doesn’t need to be worrisome; it needs to be managed. But, it shouldn’t come at the expense of savings. A strong financial plan incorporates debt management strategies, savings for financial goals, and a balanced portfolio with investments designed to make money in all market conditions,” added Mr. Golombek.

Mr. Golombek shares tips to better manage your finances in 2020:

  • Take a deep-dive into your income and expenses to gain a clear picture of your financial situation, where you can cut back, and where you can find extra cash. This will help in understanding how to adjust any monthly household costs, where your highest interest payments are, and make decisions about financial priorities.
  • Take control of your debt — meet with a financial advisor to understand what your options are when it comes to paying off your debt. This includes where you can save on interest costs, whether you can consolidate any payments, and if there are options to lower payments or ways to repay debt faster.
  • Plan for the expected and unexpected — treat savings for unexpected financial emergencies as an expense and consider setting up automatic savings withdrawals that come directly out of your account.

Key poll findings:

  • Paying down debt (21 per cent) is Canadians’ top financial priority in 2020, followed by keeping up with bills and getting by (18 per cent), growing investments or wealth (13 per cent), saving for a vacation (8 per cent), and saving for retirement (8 percent)
  • Top financial concerns for Canadians in 2020 are: the rising cost of goods/inflation (at 71 per cent, a 7 per cent increase from last year), the low Canadian dollar (30 per cent), low wages/lack of growth (29 per cent) and household debt (26 per cent)
  • Compared to last year, fewer respondents are feeling optimistic about their financial situation in 2020 (32 per cent in 2019 versus 41 per cent in 2018)
  • Of the 28 per cent of Canadians who say they did borrow more in the past 12 months, top reasons were: to cover day-to-day items (36 per cent), purchase a new vehicle (22 per cent), and for an unexpected financial emergency (15 per cent)

About CIBC

CIBC is a leading Canadian-based global financial institution with 10 million personal banking, business, public sector and institutional clients. Across Personal and Small Business Banking, Commercial Banking and Wealth Management, and Capital Markets businesses, CIBC offers a full range of advice, solutions and services through its leading digital banking network, and locations across Canada, in the United States and around the world. Ongoing news releases and more information about CIBC can be found at


From December 6th to December 8th 2019 an online survey of 1,515 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Maru Voice Canada panelists was executed by Maru/Blue. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been weighted by education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec, language) to match the population, according to Census data. This is to ensure the sample is representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.