Too many boomers retire with debt

By Stephanie Holmes-Winton | May 27, 2013 | Last updated on September 21, 2023
2 min read

In July 2012, a CIBC poll revealed a startling 59% of Canadian retirees are in debt.

What’s most concerning is that only two years ago, that number was closer to 40%.

Does this mean retirees are accumulating debt at a rapid pace? I don’t think so, actually. While I’m sure a portion of those who’ve retired since 2010 are accruing debt, this finding actually points to something far more insidious.

Read: Avoid the rich man’s payday loan

What we are actually seeing is the leading edge of the boomer retirement wave; their debt-laden reality is having a disproportionate effect on the stats. It’s likely the percentage of new retirees in debt is even higher than 59%.

What advisors need to know

  • Over the last two years, debt in retirement increased by 19%
  • Most retirees’ debts were due to credit cards and lines of credit. Clients rarely disclose these debts for fear of judgment
  • Retired Canadians owe less on average, but are far more likely to let their debt stagnate, causing them to pay far more interest over time
  • Those with a household income of at least $100,000 account for 56% of all debt

Still telling yourself this doesn’t apply to your clients? Consider this. If your clients have mortgages, you should be talking to them about debt.

If you don’t know whether your clients have mortgages, ask. If you have clients who are nearing or in retirement, debt needs to become part of your discovery process.

Read: Rookie mistakes of homebuyers

Statistics continue to come out about clients in debt. This is not a fad or a fluke. The debt issue will not fade away quietly on its own.

It’s time to tackle this ticking debt bomb before retirement goes boom for your clients or your business.

Stephanie Holmes-Winton

Stephanie Holmes-Winton is a Halifax based financial services educator/speaker who helps advisors find the money to help their clients fund their financial plans. She is the author of Defusing The Debt Bomb & $pent. Stephanie is also the founder and board chair of the Certified Cash Flow Specialist™ designation program. You can reach Stephanie at or