B.C. consumers fearful of not being able to pay bills as interest rates expected to rise, says poll
About 40 per cent of respondents say they are within $200 of financial crisis
One-quarter of British Columbians expect to go further into debt in 2018 as they struggle to cover monthly bills, according to a recent poll conducted by Ipsos for MNP, a national accounting and business consulting firm.
More than 40 per cent of respondents to the same poll said they are within $200 of not being able to meet their monthly financial obligations.
According to MNP, the increasing pressure of rising interest rates are leaving British Columbians with significantly less disposable income and consumers need to make adjustments to avoid insolvency.
"What consumers really need to do is be clear about what they're spending their money on," said Lana Gilbertson a senior vice-president with MNP's Insolvency group in Vancouver.
"They really have to put pen to paper and keep track of their expenses over a three-month period at the very least."
Fear of bankruptcy
Since the Bank of Canada raised interest rates in July, consumers have been struggling with keeping up with household costs, according to MNP.
The key interest rate rose from 0.5 per cent to 0.75 in July and then 1.0 per cent in September.
Now, analysts say it could hit 1.25 per cent in the first quarter of 2018, with another increase predicted for Wednesday.
Ever wonder how the Bank of Canada makes its interest rate decisions? Learn about the process here. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cdnecon?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#cdnecon</a> <a href="https://t.co/UQ0HwXWkUu">https://t.co/UQ0HwXWkUu</a> <a href="https://t.co/Udmhj5PLh1">pic.twitter.com/Udmhj5PLh1</a>—@bankofcanada
"A quarter of [British Columbians] agree that raising interest rates could move them toward bankruptcy, so that's a big concern," Gilbertson told Stephen Quinn, host of The Early Edition.
Also of concern is the 60 per cent of respondents who said they don't believe they will be debt free before they retire.
"This is actually an alarming statistic," said Gilbertson. "This is a big concern."
Consumers who find themselves falling behind should seek help earlier rather than later, Gilbertson said, because it gives them more options.
She suggested setting up a free, confidential consultation with an accredited, non-profit credit counselling society as soon as possible, regardless of any embarrassment associated with financial struggles.
Even more important, however, is managing the bottom line.
"I find in the work I do in the insolvency practice, working daily with consumers and looking at their household finances, there's always room to make cuts," said Gilbertson.
With files from CBC Radio One's The Early Edition