Canadians keeping finances in mind, but out of conversation

Surveys show despite COVID-19's financial impact, there remains continuing reluctance to seek help

Canadians keeping finances in mind, but out of conversation

Amid the ongoing complexities stirred up by COVID-19, Canadians are taking control of their financial destiny, but many still hesitate to take a crucial step.

In a recent survey, Scotiabank found that more Canadians are ramping up their savings while keeping a lid on their spending.

Nearly four fifths (79%) of Canadians polled said they’re being cautious with their spending, with one fourth (25%) saying changes in lifestyle have allowed them to cut back on expenses. Among Canadians who are saving more, 75% said they’re eating out less, 81% are indulging less on entertainment, 58% are not spending as much on clothes, and 41% are not commuting as much.

Among all respondents, just over half (53%) say they’ve prioritized emergency saving since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost six tenths (58%) said they’re putting extra money they’re not spending while in lockdown into their savings accounts, while more than a third (38%) said they’re adding to their investments.

Focusing on Canadians who have found themselves saving more money, 61% said they’re using the extra cash to build an emergency fund, 34% are investing the extra cash, 29% are putting it toward debt payments, and 26% are setting it aside for a big purchase.

Scotiabank also found that as Canadians change their money habits, they’re also feeling more equipped against pandemic uncertainty. The percentage of Canadians who reported feeling financially prepared to manage through the pandemic has risen from 35% six months ago to nearly 41% today.

While Scotia’s survey draws a picture of Canadian confidence and optimism, another poll conducted by TD suggests many are just keeping a stiff upper lip.

Among those surveyed by TD, 46% said their household financial situation was negatively impacted by COVID-19. Despite that hardship, a third of respondents (34%) expressed discomfort at the idea of discussing their finances.

Participants gave various reasons for their reticence. Many showed an aversion to confrontation, including a view that talking about money is not polite (37%), not wanting to seem like they’re bragging (13%), or not wanting to be judged (18%). Others said they aren’t comfortable because of their poor financial situation (28%), they’re struggling and don’t know who to turn to (12%), or are not confident managing their money and are embarrassed to talk about it (9%).

In terms of whom they would be willing to discuss their financial situations with, 58% said they’re willing to talk to family members, while just three in 10 said they’d talk to someone at their bank (31%) or their friends (28%).

A third (33%) of survey respondents stated they have no issues talking about money. However, the survey also uncovered a range of topics or actions that respondents would pursue before discussing their finances, including:

  • Visiting a doctor for a physical check-up (59%);
  • Cleaning their house from top to bottom (56%);
  • Discuss the weather (40%);
  • Talk politics (24%);
  • Get a root canal (13%); and
  • Talk about religion (8%)


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