2020 Financial Stress Index
Canadians stressed about money, financial buffers can help: FP Canada’s Kelley KeehnSeptember 10, 2020
FP Canada recently released their annual 2020 Financial Stress Index. Save with SPP reached out to FP Canada’s consumer advocate Kelley Keehn, a noted financial author and educator, by email to find out about the survey’s results.
Q. Research shows money is number one worry, and that people worry about saving for retirement and debt. Is there a relationship between the two – like, if you are paying down debt you can’t save for retirement, and vice-versa? And maybe also did you find out what people think the consequences are of not having enough for retirement (working forever, a less exciting retirement, etc.)
Yes, money still is the #1 worry. FP Canada’s Financial Stress Index found yet again that people worry more about money than health, relationships or work.
The survey didn’t go into your exact questions, but I can anecdotally state that without a clear financial plan, it’s nearly impossible to figure out complex scenarios like paying down your debt vs. saving for an RRSP (or using the tax deduction to pay down on your debt), etc. And you’re correct, that the consequences for not having saved enough for retirement means either living with less or working longer.
Consistent with previous years, in 2020 money is the number one cause of stress for Canadians by a large margin. Money (38 per cent) outranks personal health (25 per cent), work (21 per cent) and relationships (16 per cent) as the top source of stress in Canadians’ lives. This is particularly significant given multitude of non-financial stresses related to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The 2020 Financial Stress Index also reveals that as Canadians age, they feel less stressed about money – with 44 per cent of 18-to-34-year-olds listing money as their leading concern compared to one-in-four (25 per cent) of those aged 65+.
Q. Putting money aside for an emergency fund is a great idea – we would like to hear a bit more about this, if possible. Are people basically realizing they need to create one for the first time? Or are they moving from having a sort of contingency credit line to having actual savings? We guess it’s because of the pandemic that this is being considered more?
Before the crisis, many stats revealed that 50 per cent of Canadians were just $200 away from insolvency. I don’t know the current numbers, but one could suggest that it’s much worse now. And, many people don’t realize that the time to get a line of credit is when you don’t need it (i.e. not after you’ve lost your job).
A recent Canadian Payroll Association survey revealed that it’s not the amount of income that you earn that reduces stress, it’s the financial buffer that you have. The problem for younger Canadians is that they haven’t been in their career long enough to save (i.e. student loan debt, getting into a home).
Q. The financial regrets part is fabulous. We wondered whether “having a better job” might refer to having a job with better benefits (or maybe just better money). We retirees sure wish we had had the brains to try and find a job with a good workplace pension earlier (this writer got such a job in his mid-30s). That sort of thing.
The survey didn’t dig deeper unfortunately. But people really should think of their career as their fourth asset class. If you’re in a high-risk career like an entrepreneur, your investments should perhaps be less risky. On the flip side, a professor with tenure likely takes less risk with their investments, but possibly should. It’s essential that your career is part of your financial plan (do you have a pension or not, benefits, etc.)
Q. The number one takeaway from the research – what results surprised you the most, and why?
That Canadians are still not reaching out for help and thus suffering sleepless nights. We wouldn’t self-diagnose when it comes to our health, nor would we go on a new road trip without the help of Google maps on our phone. Why do so many Canadians still not reach out to a financial pro like a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)?
We thank Kelley Keehn for taking the time to answer our questions, and her colleague Emma Ninham for setting things up.
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Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.