Latest edition of long-running survey reveals extra layer of stress amid COVID-19 pandemic
Despite the overwhelming variety of stressors that have beset Canadians amid the coronavirus pandemic, money remains the number one cause of anxiety.
That’s according to the newly released 2020 Financial Stress Index from FP Canada, which builds on previous research conducted in 2014 and in 2018.
Based on a survey of around 1,500 Canadians, it found that money was the top-cited source of stress (38%), followed by concerns around personal health (25%), work (21%), and relationships (16%).
Worries about money appear to be less prevalent among older age groups. While 44% of 18-to-34-year-olds said money was their biggest concern, only 25% of those 65 and older said the same.
Looking across income categories, just over a third of participants earning $40,000 to $79,000 annually (35%) and those earning $80,000 and above (34%) said money causes the most stress in their life. Money anxieties appeared to spike below the $40,000 income level, as 49% of those in that segment reported it as their biggest stressor.
Among all participants, four in 10 said that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their financial stress levels, and one in 10 said it has had a significant impact.
On the other hand, 38% said financial stress has no impact on their lives; that percentage rises to 53% among respondents who work with a financial planner.
“This pandemic has added an extra layer of financial uncertainty for Canadians," said Kelley Keehn, author, personal finance educator and Consumer Advocate for FP Canada. “As millions grapple with the repercussions of job loss, reduced hours and market volatility, it's more important than ever to seek out expert assistance.”
Financial stress causes ripple effects in other areas of people’s lives. Around half of all respondents (49%) said they’ve lost sleep over financial worries, with younger Canadians under 35 being much more likely than those over 35 to suffer such side effects (55% to 46%). Disparities were also observed between women and men (54% vs. 43%) and those without a financial planner vs. those who have one (50% to 38%).
The ones whose finances were hit by the COVID-19 crisis were twice as likely to report they’ve lost sleep. The percentage of Canadians overall that are losing sleep in 2020 because of financial worries were the same as in 2018 (48%) and slightly less than in 2014 (53%). Encouragingly, just 16% said answered “strongly agree” when asked if money troubles were keeping them up at night, compared to 28% in 2014.
When asked to indicate how financial stress has impacted their lives, half of Canadians reported at least one negative effect. The impacts cited include
- Health issues (18%);
- Marriage/relationship problems (15%);
- Reduced productivity at work (14%);
- Family disputes (13%); and
- Mental health/substance abuse challenges (10%)
Among Canadians under 35, 88% said at least one aspect of their finances is making them stressed, in comparison to 75% of those over 35.
“Money, health, relationships and work are deeply interconnected; stress in any one of those domains can compound problems in the others," said Dr. Moira Somers, a clinical neuropsychologist specializing in mental and financial well-being. “The COVID-19 pandemic has increased financial strain in many households - especially for those who have lost their job in a sector that may not fully recover. … Taking proactive measures is a big step towards creating financial stability and confidence in the future.”