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Sands & Associates, BC’s largest firm of Licensed Insolvency Trustees, released the results of their fifth annual BC Consumer Debt Study today.  The 2017 BC Consumer Debt Study provides an in-depth look at consumers’ debt levels, the factors causing individuals’ financial difficulties, with additional insights into the psychological and physical impacts of debt on consumers.

To view the complete study and detailed report, please click here.

The 2017 BC Consumer Debt Study highlighted several findings, including:

  • The largest proportion of survey respondents carried between $25,000 and $49,999 worth of unsecured debt (excluding vehicle loans and mortgages) at the time they sought assistance for their debts.
  • Only making minimum payments, and/or accumulating more debt were the top two warning signs that made respondents realize their debts were becoming a problem.
  • More than half of participants (53%) stated that they cut expenses as a measure to deal with their debts; one in four individuals attempted to reduce their housing costs or rent.
  • When asked how often they found themselves worrying about debts or general finances, 63% of those surveyed said “the worry was constant”.
  • Virtually all participants (97%) reported that their debts caused them to experience some type of ill-effect symptom, including general sadness, discouragement, fear, panic, anxiety.
  • Over one-quarter (28%) of overall survey participants said that they suffered from diagnosed depression, contributed to by being in debt.
  • More than 1 in 6 respondents (18%) said their financial difficulties caused them to experience feelings of suicide, or contemplate suicide as a solution. This was the highest amongst the “Youth Generation”, with more than 20% of respondents aged 30 or younger experiencing these sentiments.

Licensed Insolvency Trustee and Vice-President of Sands & Associates, Blair Mantin, notes: “One of the starkest findings of this study is the real cost of debt to a person’s well-being.  To have one-fifth of our youngest demographic having feelings of suicide as a solution to their financial situation is truly alarming.  We need to stop pointing fingers and shaming people about their debts – it’s time for a real conversation about debt, its impact, and the solutions that exist”.

Mantin adds, “People are often more comfortable discussing nearly any other personal topic besides their finances, consequently there is a sort of myth that having debt is a sign of failure, when it is often a fact of life in the world we live in.  We need to continue to expand dialogues surrounding consumer debt issues and their direct impact on mental health.”

The 2017 BC Consumer Debt Study by Sands & Associates is the only BC-specific study to gather and analyze responses from over 1,300 individuals throughout the province, to take a closer look at the financial challenges faced, strategies adopted, and consequential symptoms experienced by indebted British Columbians.

Consumer Debt Study 2017 - Sands & Associates

Sands & Associates 2017 BC Consumer Debt Study Infographic (Click to enlarge)

Click here to read the full report in PDF format.

About Sands & Associates:

With over 30 years of experience helping BC residents with debt solutions, Sands & Associates is British Columbia’s largest firm of Licensed Insolvency Trustees, focused exclusively on helping individuals and small businesses solve their financial problems.  A multi-year Consumer Choice Award winner now operating from a network of local offices throughout the province, Sands & Associates uses an empathetic, non-judgmental approach to help consumers resolve financial difficulties.