Money makes four-peat as Canadians’ top stressor

FP Canada's latest Financial Stress Index survey finds one in three respondents experiencing health issues due to money

Money makes four-peat as Canadians’ top stressor

Given the continuing impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Canadians, the face that a significant number are reporting heightened stress because of it shouldn’t be surprising. But when asked to name the top cause of stress in their life, another factor came out on top.

In its 2021 Financial Stress Index survey, FP Canada found nearly two in five Canadians (38%) said money is their number one source of stress in life. That marked the fourth consecutive that money was cited as the biggest stressor in the survey, outranking personal health (26%), work (20%), or relationships (15%).

Diving deeper into the impact of financial stress, 51% of survey respondents said they lost sleep because of it, compared to only 18% of respondents last year. Other detrimental effects cited were health issues (31%), marriage/relationship problems and family disputes (15% each), losing focus at work (14%), and substance abuse or mental health challenges (7%).

While Canadians on the whole have been under significant levels of financial stress, the survey showed that having a professional financial planner made a significant difference in preserving their well-being.

Compared to their counterparts who didn’t work with a financial planner, those who had one were less likely to cite money as their top source of stress (23% vs. 39%), and more likely to say their finances didn’t cause them stress at all (37% vs. 19%). They were also less prone to succumb to the reported impacts of financial stress, such as lost sleep (40% compared to 52% of Canadians without a financial planner) and health issues (20% vs. 31%).

Among Canadian respondents who work with a financial planner, almost three quarters (73%) said they feel more hopeful about their money situation and financial future than they did a year ago, compared to just 56% of those without a planner who said the same.

Nearly four fifths of Canadians (77%) pointed to at least one specific financial causes of stress. The two biggest areas of concern were having a big-enough nest egg for retirement (35%) and keeping up with bills and expenses (35%).

Encouragingly, slightly more respondents, eight in 10, said they’ve taken at least one step to alleviate their financial stress. The most-cited course of action, shared by 39%, was paying down their debt, while 34% said they’ve taken to tracking their expenses and saving more.

Demographically speaking, nearly three quarters of Canadians under 35 identified money (44%) and work (30%) as their top sources of stress. They were also twice as likely as Canadians 35 years old and above to say having a financial plan would help reduce their financial stress (36% vs. 18%).

Two thirds of Canadians raising children at home said financial stress for them has led to health issues, difficulties in their marriage or relationships, family disputes, or reduced work productivity, as opposed to just 47% of those who had no children in the home.

Looking through a gender lens, the survey found female participants were also slightly more likely than men to report losing sleep over financial worries (54% of women vs. 47% of men).


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