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The Globe and Mail

Are you drowning in debt? See how you compare to other Canadians

This is part of a Globe series that explores our growing dependence on credit — from the average household to massive institutions — and the looming risks for a nation addicted to cheap money. Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #DebtBinge

Debt levels keep hitting new highs in Canada. To find out what the impact is on household finances, we created a debt diagnostic tool that looks at nine aspects of your financial and personal life. Answer the questions and you'll find out how big an issue your debts are, and how your situation compares to other Globe readers.


If you're saving...

  • 10%+ of gross income
  • Close to 10%
  • A little better than 5%
  • 1 to 5%
  • Nada

Canada’s household saving rate eased to a near five-year low of 3.6 per cent of disposable income in the fourth quarter of 2014, the third straight quarterly decline. Canadians are spending more and saving less.

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If your chequing account is overdrawn…

  • Never
  • Maybe once or twice a year
  • Every couple of months
  • Monthly
  • Weekly

Budgeting is the most effective way to exert control over your spending. It can help you eliminate wasteful spending, reduce debt and save more. There are lots of free budgeting tools available online.

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Bill Paying

If you...

  • Pay all your monthly bills in full and on time without fail
  • Pay in full and on time, but feel a pinch
  • Perform a juggling act each month to pay on time
  • Sometimes pay late
  • Miss paying now and then

Late fees on utility bills can be 1.25 to 3 per cent monthly.

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Cash set aside as an emergency fund

If you have...

  • A few months' salary set aside
  • A couple of thousand dollars
  • Up to $1,000
  • Little or nothing set aside, but I could access my line of credit
  • Nada

Personal finance hardliners say you should have the equivalent of three to six months' salary set aside

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Your housing

If you feel your rent or mortgage is…

  • No great burden
  • A modest but quite reasonable burden
  • Heavy but manageable
  • Barely manageable
  • Killing you slowly

Mortgage lenders think it's okay to have your monthly mortgage, property taxes amd heating costs, plus monthly payments on other debt, account for as much as 40 per cent of your gross pay. You'll probably find that tight, though.

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Credit cards

If the phrase that best describes your use of credit cards is …

  • I pay what I owe in full without fail every month and it's no sweat
  • There's some sweating, but I pay in full
  • I carry a balance, but pay more than the minimum
  • I pay the minimum
  • My cards are maxed out and I pay the minimum

A January, 2015, poll commissioned by Bank of Montreal found that 46 per cent of Canadian credit card holders were carrying card debt.

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Line of credit

If the phrase that best describes your line of credit is …

  • I don’t have a line of credit, or I rarely use it
  • Used now and again, but paid off within a year or two
  • Well used, but I do get back to a zero balance eventually
  • Well used and I certainly intend to get to zero at some point
  • Pretty much a supplement to my paycheque - getting to zero is a dream

The Canadian Bankers Association says 20 per cent of debt in Canada comes from lines of credit; residential mortgages account for 70 per cent, credit cards 5 per cent.

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If your financial situation makes you feel…

  • Great
  • More or less fine
  • I worry now and again
  • I worry when I pay my bills every month
  • Come to think of it, I worry a lot

A Global News/Ipsos Reid poll found that paying bills on time is a source of stress for one in three people.

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If your attitude toward retirement is…

  • I'm golden
  • I expect to be secure
  • Some loose ends, but I'll make it work
  • I know I'm not saving enough
  • Freedom 85

Contributions to registered retirement savings plans totalled $37.4-billion in 2013, up 4.8 per cent from 2012. However, the percentage of taxfilers who contributed to an RRSP slipped a bit to 23.4 per cent from 23.7 per cent in 2012. The median contribution was $3,000 in 2013.

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Please answer all questions to see your final score.
How am I doing?

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