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Average debt in Canada by age: how do you compare?

Posted on 8 February 2023

Written by Ashvin Sharma

There’s no denying that Canada can be an expensive place to live, especially if you are living in a city like Toronto or Ottawa, where you may be wondering ‘how much should I spend on rent?‘ Aside from rent being extremely expensive, a rising cost of living and interest rate hikes can quickly escalate when it comes to bills and money that you owe. For these reasons, unfortunately it is far too easy for debt to rack up. Inflation can cause Canadians to build up credit card debt and live on borrowed money, causing debt to grow across all age groups. You may be looking at your bank account and wondering what a ‘normal’ amount of debt looks like. In this article, we share the average debt in Canada by age group so that you can see how you compare. We also share some simple ways for you to gain debt relief, so that you can begin a fresh financial future, free from the stresses of debt.

Why is the average debt in Canada by age increasing?

According to a report by Equifax, one of Canada’s primary credit bureaus, total consumer debt in Canada has climbed to a total of $2.36 trillion as consumers lean on credit cards. This is an increase of 7.3% in 2022 compared to 2021. This is likely due to higher prices for everything due to a rising cost of living – from gas to groceries – as well as an increased demand from a couple of years in lockdown whereby Canadians were restricted when it came to spending and travel. Subsequently, this has led to increased credit card spending, and more cards being taken out. While debt is being further distributed in Canada geographically, so too is it changing the average debt in Canada by age group.

What is the average debt in Canada by age group?

Below, we have shared the average debt in Canada by age group for 2022.

Age groupAverage debt per person
18-25$8,129
26-35$16,832
36-45$25,084
46-55$31,442
56-65$26,165
65+$14,386

It may come as no surprise that the youngest credit card holders carry the least debt – although they are the age group most likely to default on payments. For 26-35 year old Canadians, the average debt is up 2.83% year on year, while for 36-45 year olds, there is an average increase in debt of 3.57%. Equally, there is an increase in the debt owed by 46-55 year olds of 2.82%, and 1.12% respectively for 56-65 year old Canadians. Finally, for 65+ year olds, there is a minimal increase in average debt of 0.35%, although all age groups show an increase year on year. Overall, this is an average of $20,744 owed in debt for a Canadian, outside of mortgage debt. This is an average increase in debt of 1.54% versus 2021.

How can I get debt relief?

If your debt is becoming overwhelming, be it credit card debt, payday loans, or tax debt, you may well want to investigate your debt relief options. Increasing interest rates are likely only going to make paying off your debts even more difficult. As well as reducing or even eliminating your debts, finding a debt relief solution can simplify your debts and in some cases can offer full protection from your creditors. It can offer peace of mind, and enable you to begin a fresh financial future too. If credit card debt is a problem for you, you may also want to read our tips on how to pay off credit card debt. Here are some of the most popular forms of debt relief in Canada:

Debt consolidation loan

A debt consolidation loan is a new loan that is taken out to condense multiple other debts into a single monthly payment. As well as simplifying your debts, often you can also secure a lower interest rate to make your payments more affordable. You can also spread out your payments across a longer period of time, enabling you to reduce your payments each month. In order to secure a debt consolidation loan, you need a steady source of income and be able to commit to paying off your payments each month including any interest where relevant.

Consumer proposal

A consumer proposal is the only legal form of debt settlement in Canada. Filed with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, a consumer proposal is a formal deal put in place with your creditors that can reduce your debt by up to 80%. A popular bankruptcy alternative, consumer proposals enable you to keep your assets. You will work with your Licensed Insolvency Trustee to establish an affordable monthly repayment figure. Your trustee will then work to negotiate with your creditors on your behalf. If accepted, your debt will be reduced – all you need to pay is your monthly payments for a period of a maximum of five years. Consumer proposals offer protection from creditors via a stay of proceedings, meaning no more collection calls or threats of legal action like a wage garnishment. At Spergel, we have a 99% acceptance rate on any consumer proposals we file. Read our client reviews.

Bankruptcy

If none of the other forms of debt relief is quite right for your circumstances, you may want to consider filing bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a way to gain a fresh financial future by completely clearing your unsecured debts. Bankruptcy is the process of assigning any non-exempt assets over to your Licensed Insolvency Trustee in exchange for the elimination of your unsecured debts. Filing bankruptcy also offers protection from creditors via a stay of proceedings. Although many Canadians think that bankruptcy means you will lose everything, including your assets, this is not the case. In fact, each province has its own list of bankruptcy exemptions which includes things like clothes and a vehicle up to a certain value. See Ontario bankruptcy exemptions, for example. At Spergel, unlike other bankruptcy firms, you will be assigned your very own Licensed Insolvency Trustee to walk you through the entire debt relief process, instead of being passed from person to person.

Got any more questions about the average debt in Canada by age? Book a free consultation with Spergel if you are concerned about the amount of debt that you owe. We have over thirty years’ experience of helping Canadians begin a fresh financial future, free from the stresses of overwhelming debt. Reach out today – you owe it to yourself.

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Ashvin Sharma

Ashvin Sharma is a Chartered Insolvency and Restructuring Professional and LIT (Licensed Insolvency Trustee) overseeing all of Spergel's offices in the Greater Vancouver Area and British Columbia. He is also our resident expert on homeownership debt and health debt. In his spare time, Ashvin loves to play sports, spend time with family and friends, and serves as a volunteer coordinator for "Free-Them", a Canadian organization committed to raising awareness about human trafficking.

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