Canadians put paying down debt ahead of retirement saving

TORONTO — Canadians appear less concerned about retirement planning than in years past as they continue to focus on debt reduction as their main financial priority, according to a new study released Wednesday by CIBC.Overall, the poll done for the bank by Harris/Decima showed 17% of respondents selected debt reduction as their main priority in 2013, unchanged from 2012 and the third year in a row that it has topped the list. Fourteen percent chose debt reduction in 2011.But while paying down debt topped the list, it remains to be seen how much progress Canadians will make in accomplishing that goal.Despite having the same priority last year, Statistics Canada says the household debt to income ratio actually rose to a record high 164.6% in 2012.Meanwhile, the poll involving more than 2,000 adults 18 years of age and over found that retirement planning was no longer among the top three on the list of priorities among Canadians surveyed.It was selected by only seven% of respondents overall, down from 11% last year and 13% in 2011.Second on the list — chosen by 10% overall and unchanged from last year — was building savings. Managing day-to-day spending/budgeting came in third, selected by eight% of respondents and down from 14% last year.“A key finding of the poll is that age groups where retirement planning was traditionally a top priority have now shifted to a focus on debt reduction,” CIBC said.Two years ago, 24% of respondents aged 45-64 named retirement planning as their top financial priority, which fell to just 12% among that age group in this year’s survey.At the same time, debt management increased as a priority for that age group to 18% from 14%.“While it is important to address immediate financial needs such as debt reduction, it is equally important to keep long-term goals such as retirement in sight,” bank spokeswoman Christina Kramer said in a comment accompanying the results.“Even small contributions today can make it easier in future years to reach your retirement savings goals,” said Kramer, executive vice-president, retail distribution and channel strategy.Still, Kramer said the survey results highlight that Canadians are “well aware of the importance of good debt management.”“Having been named the top priority three years in a row, there is an opportunity for more Canadians to turn awareness of debt management into action and outline some clear steps towards paying down their debt in 2013,” she said.Kramer said that while it can be challenging to keep multiple financial goals top of mind “it is possible to make debt repayment a priority while still keeping up regular investments into your retirement plan.”Among other things, she said people should recognize that their finances are all connected and that making progress on one aspect of a person’s financial goals can lead to an opportunity to improve in others as well.The Harris/Decima telephone survey, conducted between Oct. 25 and Nov. 4, involved 2,009 adults 18 years of age and over and is considered to have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points 19 times out of 20.Follow FP Personal Finance on Facebook read more

On Nelson Mandela Day UN urges action that inspires change for a

Jerry Matthews Matjila, Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Africa to the UN, addresses the General Assembly’s informal meeting in observance of Nelson Mandela International Day. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine ‹ › Mr. Eliasson said that the UN joined the Mandela Foundation in inviting people around the world to devote at least 67 minutes today to community service activity, because at the heart of the Day is volunteer work for people and the planet. “There is so much we can do. Tutor a child. Feed the hungry. Clean up a site or care for your environment. Volunteer to serve at a hospital or community centre. Help a refugee family. Be part of the Mandela movement to make the world a better place. Nobody can do everything but everybody can do something,” he said, noting that the theme of this year’s Day – Take action! Inspire change – is meant to mobilize the human family to do more to build a peaceful, sustainable and equitable world. “This is the best tribute we can give to an extraordinary man who, with his steadfast belief in justice and equality, showed how one person can make a difference,” the Deputy Secretary-General said. “Let us all continue being inspired by Nelson Mandela’s lifelong example and his call to never cease working to build a better world for all,” he added. In other remarks today, General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft noted that the Day represents an opportunity for the Assembly to celebrate and promote the values and extraordinary vision of one of the greatest men in modern history. “President Mandela’s contribution to humanity extends across the three pillars of the UN and both the Nelson Mandela Prize and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners – also known as Nelson Mandela Rules – are a testament to his global impact,” Mr. Lykketoft said. “But an even greater testament to Mandela’s influence, would be for all world leaders to follow his example,” he said, encouraging Member States to write a new chapter of history by dedicating their time and talent to improving the lives of billions of people everywhere. The keynote address at the UN’s festivities in New York were given by Mr. Wonder, who began with a moment of silence for those who lost their lives as a result of gun violence and terrorism.Keynote speech by Stevie Wonder, singer and UN Messenger of Peace, at the Informal Meeting of the General Assembly on the occasion of the Annual Observance of the Nelson Mandela International Day. Credit: UNTV The UN Messenger of Peace said he was overwhelmed with joy to be part of the festivities for Mr. Mandela, whose struggle for democracy, human rights and social justice was only possible because he conducted himself with the highest standard of courage, integrity and grace. Mr. Mandela “set forth a model of behaviour and sense of being, that is so very desperately needed today. He has given the world a road map to follow in order to advance peace and social justice more effectively. We must follow it,” Mr. Wonder said. The singer and song writer also pledged to continue his longstanding work and advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities. He renewed an appeal that opportunity should be equally made available for all, calling on countries to strengthen efforts to promote access to technology and create adequate public infrastructure and transportation services, in order to have a more inclusive, accessible society for all. “Be not afraid! Be the bridge! Not the wall to peace and understanding. Be the man or woman that Nelson Mandala would be proud to call his brother or sister in the struggle for peace and love,” Mr. Wonder said. Mr. Wonder finished his address with a new song he wrote a couple of weeks ago, asking “where is our song of love, not a song for you and me but a song for humanity.” In honour of Mr. Mandela, a clothing donation public service activity was held at the Secretariat Circle at UN Headquarters – one of several events today around the world in which the UN took part. As the world marks Nelson Mandela International Day, United Nations officials and UN Peace Ambassador Stevie Wonder today paid tribute to the South African activist and peacemaker’s tireless efforts to end intolerance and injustice, calling on the international community to follow his guiding example in efforts to build a better world for all. “Nelson Mandela International Day is an opportunity to reflect on the life and work of a legend who embodied the highest values of the United Nations,” said UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson at a meeting of the General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York to mark the Day, which is observed annually on 18 July. “Today, we remember a man of quiet dignity and towering achievement who worked tirelessly for peace and human dignity,” he added, delivering the message on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is currently in South Africa for the International AIDS Conference and will be marking the Day in Durban. The Deputy Secretary-General emphasized that as the UN sets out to implement the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Member States should seek to continue building on Mr. Mandela’s legacy of selflessness and deep sense of shared purpose. “Nelson Mandela gave 67 years of his life to bring change to the people of South Africa. His accomplishments came at great personal cost to himself and his family. His sacrifice not only served the people of his nation, but all people around the world, giving them hope to fulfil their dreams and aspirations,” the Deputy Secretary-General said, adding that “Nelson Mandela continues to show us the way.” Singer, song writer and UN Messenger of Peace Stevie Wonder, at the General’s Assembly’s informal meeting in observance of Nelson Mandela International Day. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine A wide view of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber as Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson (shown on screen) addresses the General Assembly’s informal meeting in observance of Nelson Mandela International Day. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine Mogens Lykketoft (right), President of the seventieth session of the General Assembly, with Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, at the General’s Assembly’s informal meeting inobservance of Nelson Mandela International Day. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine read more