Household Debt

Debt repayment was cited as the No. 1 financial goal for Canadians next year in a poll commissioned by CIBC. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Paying down debt will be a New Year’s resolution for a growing number of Canadians, according to an annual poll by CIBC.

Twenty-two per cent of respondents said paying off what they owe is their top priority for 2015, up from 16 per cent last year. Debt repayment has been cited as the top financial priority in CIBC’s annual survey for five years in a row.

After paying down debt, 12 per cent of respondents said building savings will be their top priority for 2015. Ten per cent said paying bills or getting by will be at the top of their to-do list, while budgeting or managing day-to-day spending was most important to 9 per cent of those polled.

Canadians’ daily financial concerns take precedence over planning for the future, according to the poll. Retirement planning was a top priority for just 5 per cent of respondents, down 2 per cent from last year’s poll. CIBC says that’s a worrying trend.

"While it is encouraging that paying down debt is important to Canadians, it is also important not to lose sight of longer term goals like retirement planning," warns Christina Kramer, CIBC’s executive vice president of retail and business banking.

The poll found that debt repayment is becoming more of a priority for those getting close to retirement. Twenty-five per cent of respondents aged 55 to 64 said debt repayment was their top goal in the coming year, up from 14 per cent in 2014.

CIBC recommends that Canadians focus on achieving more than one financial goal at the same time, for example using extra funds from reduced debt to boost their retirement savings.

The poll was conducted via telephone by Nielson, between November 13 and 17. It surveyed 1,014 Canadians, and has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.