56% of Sask. residents have $20K or more consumer debt, says accounting firm

According to a BDO Canada Affordability Index study released this week, people in Saskatchewan carry the highest amount of consumer debt in the country.

Budgeting is the best tool for managing money and debt

A household budget is very important for managing money and debt, according to BDO, an accounting firm. (WAYHOME studio/Shutterstock)

Fifty-six per cent of people in Saskatchewan carry $20,000 worth of non-mortgage debt, the highest amount of consumer debt per capita in Canada, according to the accounting firm BDO Canada.

Consumer debt includes things like car loans, lines of credit and credit cards or other kinds of debt.

"The idea is there's stagnant incomes. Incomes are not increasing as fast as the cost of living," said Jasmin Brown, senior vice president for BDO in Saskatoon.

Forty per cent of people have $20,000 or more worth of consumer debt at the national level of the BDO Canada Affordability Index, which looks at the cost of living.

"When people become extended on debt, their disposable income is not there." 

Brown also said that one third of Saskatchewan people report being overwhelmed by their debt.

Paying it off

Brown said one of the most common mistakes she sees in debt repayment is the lack of a budget and income planning.

Starting with fixed costs like rent or mortgage, property tax or vehicle payment is the easiest way. It gets more difficult to budget when a person's income is not fixed, she said.

People also often forget or ignore costs and expenses on things like grabbing a coffee on the way to work or getting a snack at the convenience store. 

"Those are the types of things that repeatedly my clients come back and tell me 'Oh, I had no idea how much I was spending there.'"

If things have gotten out of hand, Brown recommends doing lots of research and finding a professional to help, such as a licensed insolvency trustee. 

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning


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