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Ontario cities have the worst credit card debt in Canada, study finds

When it comes to credit card debt, Ontario cities are dominating the list for the highest debit in the country.

The latest data from money.ca shows that seven of the country’s top 10 worst cities for credit card debt are from Ontario, with Barrie, Ont. taking the number one spot.

The report examined the top 10 cities in the county for credit card debt and found that those households had, on average, an excess of anywhere from $3,264.93 to $3,521.54 in outstanding credit card debt each month.

To get their findings the company compared the total outstanding credit card debt in each Census Metropolitan Area was compared against the population, to reveal the average credit card debt per capita.

According to the report, households in Barrie have the highest average credit card debt, with the average resident owing $3,521.54 in outstanding credit card debt.

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Barrie is not alone, with Toronto coming closely behind in third place, then Peterborough in fourth, Branford in sixth, Kingston in seventh, Thunder Bay in ninth, and Hamilton in tenth.

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Financial experts point to the high cost of living as one reason households may feel strapped for cash.

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“We know that there has been inflation in recent years, and even though it’s calming down now, it was going up really, really fast for a while,” says Natasha Knox, the owner of Alaphia Finial Wellness. “So if people’s wages haven’t quite kept up with how quickly the price of things have gone up, and if they were feeling pretty snug before, what I’ve noticed is that sometimes people fail to adjust.”

Knox says if people are trying to maintain the same lifestyle they had before the cost of living started to go up, they could be struggling to keep up.

“One of the areas that I see people acquiring debts is these expenses of $3000 or $4000 that were not sort of accounted for ahead of time, but then end up on the credit card and tend to become kind of sticky,” she says. “Then, when coupled with a couple of extra hundred dollars here and there every month, that really starts to snowball in a bad way.”

She says increases in housing prices and interest rates have led to some people not having the extra money to cover emergencies.

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“Depending on how close they were cutting it before, they’re definitely feeling it now, and for some families, that has meant needing to make radical adjustments,” Knox says.

Romana King, senior editor at Money.ca, says while a credit card can be integral to helping people achieve certain financial milestones, it also has a downside.

“Digital transactions and the interest charged on borrowed money can add up, sometimes very quickly,” she says. “People can get stuck in a cycle where they never pay down what they owe and barely pay the interest. This can lead to a cycle of debt.”

For what can be done to tackle the debt, Knox says the solution is unique for each person but that the first step is securing a lower interest rate.

Knox says everyone struggling needs to think about ways they can cut back on expenses. For some, she says, that could be moving in with a roommate, or for others, possibly renting out a spare room in their home or dropping down to one car for a household.

She says in some cases, people may need to contact a licensed insolvency trustee.

“It’s really going to vary from situation to situation.”

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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