“Debt-Free” Part of Definition of Successful Retirement

May 14, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Nearly nine in 10 Canadian homeowners (87%) indicate that "being debt-free" is very important to their definition of a successful retirement.

According to a recent debt and retirement survey conducted by Manulife Bank of Canada, this is second only to “having good health” (94%) and slightly higher than “having sufficient income to maintain my current lifestyle” (85%).   

The survey found that half of Canadians – more women (54%) than men (46%) – would find it extremely stressful to reach retirement age with debt still outstanding. Many non-financial factors such as “living near family” (62%), “keeping busy with a hobby or volunteer work” (64%), and “having a broad group of friends” (43%) were deemed much less important to a successful retirement than being debt-free.  

Most Canadian homeowners in their 30s (73%) who reported having debt expect to be debt-free before they turn 60. That number decreases to two-thirds for homeowners in their 40s.  Just one-third of homeowners in their 50s expect to be debt-free before they turn 60, with one in five indicating they either don’t know when they’ll be debt-free (14%) or don’t expect to ever be debt-free (7%). Overall, just over half of the survey respondents are confident they will be free from debt when they reach their planned retirement age.  

More than half of those surveyed indicate that, should they reach their planned retirement age and still have debt, they will continue to work until their debt is gone.  Four in 10 state they will retire even if they still have debt outstanding.  

The Manulife Bank of Canada poll surveyed 2,003 Canadian homeowners between ages 30 to 59 with household income of more than $50,000.