VIDEO: Money No. 1 Source of Stress for Canadians

Mario Toneguzzi‘s guest on Business Insider: Kevin Cork, a Certified Financial Planner with Calgary-based Absolute Group, talks about FP Canada’s latest Financial Stress Index.

FP Canada News Release

Even amid the biggest public health crisis in a century, personal health isn’t the top source of stress for most Canadians—money is. According to the newly released 2021 FP Canada Financial Stress Index, nearly two-in-five (38%) Canadians say money is their No. 1 source of stress in life—more so than personal health (26%), work (20%) or relationships (15%).

This marks the fourth time in a row that money has been cited as the biggest cause of stress for Canadians, dating back to the first Financial Stress Index conducted in 2014. The 2021 survey reveals that financial stress has not only caused more than half (51%) of respondents to lose sleep, but one-in-three (31%) say it has also led to health issues—a significant increase from the 18% who reported money-related health problems last year. Nearly half (45%) say the COVID-19 pandemic has directly impacted their financial stress level.

“We are living through the biggest health crisis of our lifetime and yet it’s money that’s stressing people out more than anything else,” says Gillian Lee, CFP®, Partner and Managing Director, Crowe MacKay LLP. “People losing sleep and facing health issues because of their finances is a real concern and should not be ignored. When we can’t make ends meet or we’re worried about where our next paycheque is coming from, it’s no wonder money becomes our No. 1 source of stress. Putting a financial plan in place can help people take control and stop feeling overwhelmed by their personal finances.”

Financial planning can stave off stress

This year’s Financial Stress Index findings clearly show the impact that financial planning can have on alleviating financial stress. Those who work with a professional financial planner say they feel much more positive about their economic wellbeing. Of particular note:

–  Canadians who work with a financial planner (23%) are significantly less likely to say money is their top source of stress than those who do not (39%) and are twice as likely to say that their finances do not cause them any stress than those who don’t use a financial planner (37% versus 19%).

–  They are also less likely to say they lost sleep because of financial worries (40% compared to 52%) and a third less likely to say that financial stress has led to health issues (20% compared to 31%)

–  Looking ahead, nearly three-quarters of Canadians who work with a financial planner (73%) say they feel more hopeful about their money situation and financial future than they did a year ago, compared with those who don’t (56%).

“Financial planning is not just an exercise in household budgeting – it’s a comprehensive look at your entire life, from family goals to career progressions all the way into and throughout retirement,” says Stacy Whytewood, CFP, Division Director, IG Wealth Management. “A sound financial plan takes a holistic approach to your life goals and is reviewed regularly so that changes can be incorporated along the way. It’s evident from the 2021 Financial Stress Index that when working with a professional financial planner, people are less intimidated by money matters because they have a clear blueprint for how they manage their finances. As a result, the dollars and cents are less stressful.”

Seventy-seven per cent of Canadians identified one or more financial causes of stress—the top two areas of concern are saving enough for retirement (35%) and bill payments and expenses (35%). Canadians who work with a financial planner professional, however, were significantly less likely to say that financial stress has led to health issues (20%) than those who do not use a planner (31%).

The survey also found that four-in-ten Canadians believe they could ease their financial stress if they saved more money or paid down debt. Eight-in-ten Canadians say they’ve taken at least one step to reduce their financial stress—39% say they’ve paid down debt (the No. 1 step) and 34% say they’ve tracked expenses and saved more (second on the list of measures made to ease their financial stress).

Health and wealth go hand in hand

The 2021 Financial Stress Index found personal health is the No. 2 cause of life stress for Canadians. British Columbia is the only region in Canada where personal health, and not money, was the No. 1 cause of stress.

The survey reveals a direct correlation between money and physical health in terms of how financial stress is impacting other areas of people’s lives—health is No.1 at 31%, up a significant 13% from last year. Canadians also say money has led to marriage/relationship problems and family disputes (15% each), distraction at work (14%) and substance abuse or mental health challenges (7%).

“These findings are illuminating how important it is for Canadians to keep their fiscal houses in order,” says Peter Ficek, CFP, Terra Firma Financial. “It’s clear that when money isn’t being managed properly, it can impact every other aspect of our lives – especially our health. “Now more than ever, people need to safeguard their physical and mental well-being and take the necessary steps to ensure money is not the source of health problems.”

This year’s Financial Stress Index also revealed some interesting demographic trends, including:

–  Almost three-quarters of Canadians under 35 cite money (44%) or work (30%) as their top source of stress.

–  Women (54%) are more likely than men (47%) to say they’ve lost sleep because of financial worries.

–  Two-thirds (65%) of Canadians with children in the home say financial stress has led to things like health issues, marriage/relationship problems and family disputes or reduced productivity at work—significantly more than those without children in the home (47%).

–  Canadians under 35 (36%) are twice as likely as Canadians 35+ (18%) to say that building a financial plan would help them reduce their financial stress.

–   Atlantic Canadians (45%) were the most likely to cite money as their top source of stress, while British Columbians (27%) were the least. However, nearly 40% of British Columbians say financial stress has led to health issues — the highest rate in the country.

Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works as a freelance writer and editor as well as a consultant in communications and media relations/training.

He is VP of Content & Strategy for MegaPixx Media, which owns and operates YYC Business, and owner of Mario Toneguzzi Communications Inc. 

Mario is a regular contributor to various national and local publications including Retail Insider, RENX, Globe and Mail, The Star, National Post, Real Estate Magazine, Troy Media, YYC Business, Grocery Business Magazine and many others. He’s also a host for Calgary and Edmonton on Canada’s Podcast network. And he’s a regular contributor of content for companies and organizations to populate their websites.

Frequent commentator on television and radio on business news, issues and trends.

Named in 2021 as one of the Top 10 Business Journalists in the World by PR News – the only Canadian to make the list.

Part of the Herald’s National Newspaper Award winning newsroom for coverage of the June 2013 floods in Calgary.

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