By Sheryl Smolkin
Have you ever had that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize the sum total of everything you owe each month is more than your take home pay? You are not alone.
According to the latest Manulife Financial Wellness Index, two in five Canadians say they are financially unwell. Study respondents are concerned by debt (82%), not saving for retirement (60%), stressed due to their financial situation (67%) and 83% said they are not financially prepared to protect their loved ones in the event of death, serious illness or disability.
“We want to help Canadians live better and healthier lives. Looking at people’s wellness has traditionally included physical aspects, and in recent years focused more on emotional health,” said Sue Reibel, Executive Vice-President and General Manager Institutional Markets, Manulife. “Our findings show that the role of financial wellness, whether good or bad, affects overall well being and is an important contributor to helping Canadians reach positive emotional health.”
Financial wellness is based on the way an individual manages their overall financial situation, including budgeting, retirement planning, investing, debt management, financial protection and financial stress. Manulife’s research shows that money continues to be the greatest source of stress and it impacts an individual’s mental health leading to absenteeism rates and lost productivity.
Canadians who consider themselves financially unwell revealed that dealing with money is a factor of stress (81%, often/sometimes) and they are eight times more likely to have bad stress levels and may be distracted at work (49%, often/sometimes).
Healthy finances and a healthy lifestyle go hand in hand. Canadians who are financially well are more likely to be successful at managing their health according to the Financial Wellness Index. Those with low levels of financial wellness are almost five times more likely not to engage in any healthy activity.
Canadians who say they are financially well are more likely to say that their physical health is excellent (25%) or good (45%), they eat more fruits and vegetables (79%), get more exercise (68%), get regular health checkups (61%) and educate themselves on being healthier (46%).
In addition, if your employer offers group benefit plans, they have an impact on your financial wellness and health. Those who are financially well are more likely to have a group retirement (65%) and group benefits plan (79%) compared to those who are financially unwell (42% and 58%, respectively). Also, those who have group benefits plans are more likely to score better on the stress index (56%) than those who do not have any plans (48%).
“Employers have an important role to play in their employees’ wellness, physically, mentally and financially. Their actions can positively impact the level of engagement and productivity of their teams, which in the long-term can impact their bottom line,” added Reibel.
About the Manulife Financial Wellness study
Environics Research Group surveyed 2,024 Canadians, 18 and over, between August 31 and September 7, 2016, asking them about budgeting, retirement, investments, debt, protection and stress. Respondents were equally split along gender lines, average age was 47, and quotas and weighting were used to ensure that results reflected the Canadian reality in terms of age, gender and region.