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Most opt to pay down debt, skip RRSP contribution this year

Fewer Canadians are planning to put money into a Registered Retirement Saving Plan this year simply because they can't afford it, say surveys by two big banks.
Fewer Canadians are planning to put money into a Registered Retirement Saving Plan this year simply because they can't afford it, say surveys by two big banks. File/The Canadian Press

January is upon us, and with that, the annual browbeating from banks, credit unions and perhaps your spouse about getting your act together to make a contribution toward your retirement savings plan.

Scotiabank released Monday its annual poll on the number of savers committed to the act this season, and the response rate looks markedly more dismal than sentiment in the same survey from a year ago.

Three in 10 say they plan to contribute. That number is down nearly 10 percentage points compared to the same period last year, when 39 percent said they’d contribute.

The reason for the fall: People are more strapped than they have been in past surveys, Mike Henry, Scotia’s senior vice president of retail banking and lending, said in an interview.

“People are saying they’ve got other bills, they can’t afford it,” Henry said.

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READ MORE: Household debt levels hit fresh high

With debt climbing to new highs among consumers who have splashed out on new cars and homes in recent years, servicing what they owe rather than saving for retirement appears to be a growing priority.

“The theme is one I think we’ve seen for awhile now,” Henry said. “It’s tough for people to balance their financial goals.”

The deadline to contribute to an registered retirement savings plan  is March 3. The Scotia survey was conducted with 1,029 Canadians from across the country between Nov. 12 to Nov. 27.

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