The type of debt you carry can say a lot about your overall finances.

There’s a big difference between those with mortgages and those with only non-mortgage debt, according to a recent survey from DUCA Impact Lab and Angus Reid.

“Borrowers who have a mortgage are more likely to be wealthy and older, report a good credit score and a better ability to manage their personal finances,” the survey found.

Some of its findings back that up:

Homeowners with mortgages are more likely…

  • To be wealthier: 48% have a household income of $100k+ (vs. 21% of renters)
  • To be “gen-Xers”: 49% (vs. 29% of renters)
    • Millennials, in contrast, represent a larger percentage of the rental market: 23% of mortgagors are millennials (vs. 38% of renters)
  • To say they have “good” personal finances: 76% (vs. 64% of renters)
  • To have a good credit score: 80% (vs. 62% of renters)
  • To have good personal financial management: 86% (vs. 76% of renters)

Of course, it’s not that a mortgage makes you better off. More people likely have a mortgage because they’re better off.

Not All Debt is Equally Stressful

Different kinds of debt also tend to cause borrowers varying degrees of stress, according to the survey results.

While nearly half of all borrowers admit to feeling stressed out over their personal debts, 15% are “very stressed.” But the level of stress depends heavily on the type of debt they are carrying.

The effects of that debt-induced stress are also wide-ranging.

Of those who are stressed out about personal debt, more than half (54%) say they don’t sleep well, 43% spend more time alone, 43% buy less healthy food, 34% exercise less, 27% skip meals and 7% use food banks.

Worrisomely, 89% of those with payday loans and 60% of those with student loans say they skip meals because of debt-related stress.

The impacts are also likely to be felt many years in the future, as debt loads negatively impact the ability of more than half of borrowers to save and build wealth. That consequence affects both homeowners and renters equally (52% vs. 51%, respectively).

"The findings of this study bring to light some important gaps in the current banking system, which fail to serve the best interest of the average Canadian," Doug Conick, President & CEO of DUCA Credit Union and Chair of the DUCA Impact Lab, said in a release.

Other Key Debt Stats

The survey provides a wealth of insight into the size and types of debt weighing Canadians down. Here are some additional findings:

  • 67% of respondents say they are paying off their HELOCs and it is decreasing over time
    • The number is 62% for unsecured lines of credit
  • Household debt over the past 12 months is comprised of the following categories:
    • 59% Ongoing credit card balance
    • 52% Mortgage
    • 46% Debt on a line of credit
    • 18% Student Loan
    • 3% Payday Loan
    • 18% Another form of credit
  • 20% of borrowers have used debt restructuring and debt counselling services
  • 70% of borrowers believe their personal finances are in good shape
  • 81% rate their ability to manage their finances highly.
    • “This assessment puts them at odds with lenders who view many borrowers as not understanding the products or services they are being offered,” the survey reads.
    • 42% of lenders believe borrowers don’t fully understand what they’re signing up for.
  • 22% of borrowers have pursued financial products at alternative lenders “because they didn’t want to speak with their primary financial institution first,” the survey found.
    • This is more prevalent among those without mortgage debt (24%) vs. 9% who do have a mortgage

The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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