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Tackling debt remains Canadians’ number one financial priority: CIBC poll

Keeping up with bills and just getting by also top of mind as Canadians manage through the pandemic

January 4, 2021  by CM Staff

CIBC Poll: Financial Priorities Poll December 2020 (PHOTO: CIBC)

TORONTO — Despite a global pandemic and financial uncertainties, a new CIBC study finds that paying down debt remains the number one financial priority for Canadians heading into the new year (20%), followed closely by keeping up with bills/getting by at 18%. Optimism for the year ahead has declined, as fewer Canadians believe their financial situation will improve in 2021, significantly lower than a year ago (24% versus 32% in 2019).

Pessimism about the year ahead is driven by concerns about a possible economic downturn (78%, up from 55% in 2019). Top concerns for many over the next twelve months include inflation and the rising costs of goods (60%) and slow overall economic growth (34%). The uncertainty of the current environment is also making it difficult to plan ahead, say most survey respondents (71%).

“Canadians have faced so many challenges this year, it’s understandable they are concerned about the economy in 2021,” said Carissa Lucreziano, vice-president, CIBC Financial and Investment Advice, in a prepared statement. “If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t always know what’s coming next and the best buffer for the unexpected is to be prepared with a plan and be open to adjusting it when circumstances change.”

Close to half (43%) say their personal finances have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Of those impacted, half (52%) say they don’t have the advice and information they need to get their finances on track, and almost half (46%) believe it will take more than 12 months to get back on track. Almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents say they held back from borrowing more in 2020.

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“With the uncertainties we’ve experienced this year, over half of Canadians say they need to get a better handle on their finances next year and many say they could use expert planning advice. An advisor can act as a guide to help with priorities such as balancing debt with savings, creating a solid plan to weather difficult times and keeping you on track to meet your financial ambitions,” added Lucreziano.