A new BC Consumer Debt Study recently released by Sands & Associates, the province’s largest firm of Licensed Insolvency Trustees focused exclusively on debt help for consumers and small businesses revealed startling findings, digging deep beyond the numbers to highlight the impact that carrying too much debt is having on BC residents.
Licensed Insolvency Trustee and Senior Vice-President of Sands & Associates Blair Mantin joined Global News to share some of the key insights from the latest study. Past client and study participant Debbie also joined Global News to share her personal experience in struggling to manage debt and its emotional toll.
Watch the clip here, and read more below:
“Behind the Debt” | Highlights from the 2019 BC Consumer Debt Study
Emotional, Physical and Psychological Impacts of Debt
Although BC consumers surveyed in the 2019 BC Consumer Debt Study did report experiencing “transactional” signs that their debts were problematic, such as only making minimum payments, the top-most reported sign that debts were becoming a problem was overwhelming stress, cited by 67.4% of participants.
From our professional perspective as Licensed Insolvency Trustees, the impact of financial distress is very observable for most clients we assist. The effects that debts reportedly caused study recipients reflect a dire reality for those who are facing a financial crisis, with often devastating emotional, psychological and even physical impacts.
Nearly 90% of participants stated that they experienced a constant (64.5%) or daily (24.8%) worry about their debts or general finances, along with a host of serious debt-stress impacts including anxiety or depression, alienating themselves from family or friends, suffering self-esteem and health, and even thoughts of suicide.
Nearly 1 in 5 respondents said the stress of their debt resulted in them experiencing thoughts of suicide.
Delaying Professional Debt Help
The 2019 BC Consumer Debt Study also revealed some insight into barriers that caused consumers to delay in seeking professional help with their debts.
70% of consumers reported that they delayed professional assistance because they were trying to manage on their own, as well as feeling ashamed of being unable to handle debts incurred (49.7%) and worried about being judged or feeling embarrassed (44.1%).
These findings are deeply troubling, and point to the continued need for better – and more empathetic – financial literacy education and conversation around debt management, professional support available, and the realities of struggling with debts.