As another Bank of Canada interest rate hike is to be announced Wednesday (26th), a recent poll conducted by Ipsos on behalf of MNP Ltd finds that six in ten Canadians (59%,+1pt) say they are concerned about the impact of rising interest rates on their financial situation, inching up from last quarter to reach the highest point on record since tracking began in 2017.
“After the repeated interest rate hikes this year, it is understandable that Canadians are more concerned than ever about what the impact will be on their finances,” says Grant Bazian, president of MNP Ltd., the country’s largest insolvency firm. “Our findings show that renters and lower-income households are more financially vulnerable to the impacts of rising interest rates and the cost of living. These groups will need to be particularly cautious with their spending in the coming months to keep themselves out of financial trouble.”
The survey results report that compared to homeowners, those who rent are significantly more likely to be concerned about the impact of rising interest rates on their financial situation (34% of renters vs. 29% of owners). Furthermore, as interest rates rise, renters are significantly more likely to be concerned with their ability to repay their debts (63% of renters vs. 48% of owners), to be afraid they will be in financial trouble (59% of renters vs. 41% of owners), and to say that rising rates could move them towards bankruptcy (45% of renters vs. 27% of owners). Canadians with a household income of less than $40K are the most likely to feel the effects of interest rate increases (62% of <$40K vs. 53% of $40K-<$60K vs. 57% of $60K-<$100K vs. 55% of $100K+), to be concerned with their ability to repay their debts (60% of <$40K vs. 51% of $40K-<$60K vs. 52% of $60K-<$100K vs. 52% of $100K+), to say that rising rates would cause them to face financial trouble (59% of <$40K vs. 46% of $40K-<$60K vs. 44% of $60K-<$100K vs. 44% of $100K+), and to fear that rising interest rates are moving them closer towards bankruptcy (44% of <$40K vs. 34% of $40K-<$60K vs. 32% of $60K-<$100K vs. 29% of $100K+).
Bazian says those who are financially vulnerable and struggling to make ends meet will likely not be able to cut back their budgets any further if interest rates continue to rise and make their debts more unaffordable.
“For households that have already slashed their budgets and shaved off as many expenses as they can, any future interest rate hikes could put them in a position where they are forced to take on additional debt to keep up with their bills. But the cost of servicing that debt is also ballooning as rates rise, making it far more difficult to pay off,” explains Bazian. “Individuals in that position should seek professional debt help from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee before their debt snowballs further.”
Bazian says even individuals who are not yet at their breaking point can be making small budget changes to give themselves some breathing room.
“Smaller expenses on your credit card can often go unnoticed but can really add up. Monthly subscriptions can be sneaky, including TV streaming subscriptions, app subscriptions, music subscriptions and cloud services, for example,” says Bazian. “Start cutting back by cancelling subscriptions you no longer use or use rarely, and checking to see if you have any overlapping services you can cut. Keep an eye on trial offers, and set reminders to cancel before you’re charged or the pricing goes up. Always look over your bills each month with a critical eye to keep those recurring monthly expenditures in check and cut down on costs where you can.”
Most Canadians (84%, +2pts) agree that with interest rates rising they will be more careful with how they spend their money. Women are the most likely to agree they will be more careful with their spending.
As Canadians tighten their budgets, one-quarter (25%, +4pts) say they are better equipped to absorb an interest rate increase of one percentage point than they used to be, while fewer (17%, -7pts) say their ability to deal with this increase has worsened. When asked about their ability to absorb an interest rate increase of an extra $130, one-fifth (21%, +2pts) say their ability to absorb this increase is much better, while a quarter (27%, -6pts) say it is much worse.
Yet while the majority of Canadians are being more conscious of their spending, more than half (57%, -2pts) say that they are already beginning to feel the effects of interest rate increases. At the same time, one in five (22%, -1pt) say they do not have a solid understanding of how interest rate increases impact their financial situation.
“Slightly more Canadians than last quarter believe they are better prepared for an interest rate increase, but these individuals are still in the minority. Canadians can be taking steps to improve their financial standing, in preparation for current and future interest rate hikes,” says Bazian. “That may include seeking out professional debt advice, making monthly budgeting a priority and taking the time to understand exactly how interest fluctuations will affect their monthly expenses and debt repayments.”
The proportion of Canadians who say that as interest rates rise, they are more concerned about their ability to pay their debts has remained relatively stable since last quarter, at fifty-five per cent (-1pt). Also remaining stable since last quarter, half (50%, unchanged) say that if interest rates go up much more, they will be in financial trouble. One-third (36%, -3pts) say that rising rates could drive them closer to bankruptcy, showing only a modest improvement since last quarter.