Nearly 60% of Albertans say $200 could push them over the financial edge
From Calgary Herald
Published on: September 28, 2016 | Last Updated: September 28, 2016 8:22 AM MDT

A $200 change in their financial fortunes could leave more than half of Albertans unable to cover their bills and debt payments, according to a new survey.

Fifty-eight per cent of respondents to the MNP Ltd. survey said they were $200 or less away from financial strife — an 18 point increase from February.

That included 35 per cent who say they already don’t make enough money to cover bills and debts, “technically making them financially insolvent,” MNP said in a release. That number was up 14 points from February.

The survey found 53 per cent of Albertans are concerned about their current debt levels (up 11 points), with more than half saying they regret the amount of debt they’ve taken on (up seven points).

“Given the downturn in Alberta, it’s not surprising that Albertans are concerned about their finances. What is surprising is the number who say they are living on the edge of financial crisis,” said Donna Carson, a Calgary-based insolvency trustee with MNP, in the release. “With so many feeling unable to cover their bills and debts, there is tremendous vulnerability to any kind of economic shock; the loss of a job, an emergency, a divorce, even things like a reduction in overtime pay or bonuses or an increase in interest rates.”

According to the survey, 39 per cent of Albertans say they’re worried an increase in interest rates could push them towards bankruptcy, up nine points from February.

Despite those concerns, MNP said overspending “remains a reality” in the province. It noted that 43 per cent of Alberta parents said they spent more on back-to-school shopping than budgeted, while 33 per cent say they spent more than they intended on summer recreation or vacations.

​“Albertans have come to rely on cheap credit to fund their lifestyles and a significant number are now adding even more debt obligations as a result of job losses,” Carson said in the release. “But interest rates will eventually rise. Those who already feel overwhelmed by their debt should seek professional help now. One of the biggest mistakes people make is waiting until the point of devastation before getting help.”

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