Most Middle-Income Canadians Feel They’re Not Making or Saving Enough

Survey reveals many have improved their financial situation, but others are still worried over financial goals

Leo Almazora, Wealth Professional Canada, May 12, 2021

Over the course of the pandemic, research has shown the emergence of a K-shaped recovery, with a lot of divergence happening along the income divide. But it seems that even within the middle-income segment, there are points of difference.

Primerica Canada has just released the results of a poll conducted in January, which looked at over 800 adults across Canada whose 2020 incomes were between $30,000 and $100,000.

Among the middle-income Canadians surveyed, 75% shared a feeling that their income is falling behind their costs of living. When it comes to savings, seven tenths (71%) expressed a belief that they’re not doing enough to retire comfortably.

When asked to evaluate their own financial situation, 48% rated their personal finances as either “excellent” or “good.” On the other hand, just 30% gave similarly positive ratings when it came to the economic health of their community.

“I am amazed by the resiliency of Canadians in the face of some tough economic conditions,” Primerica Canada CEO John A. Adams said in a statement.

“Our study finds that nearly one-in-three families improved their financial situation over the past year, and nearly half feel they will be better off a year from now than they are today. But we also see that many families are having a tough time financially.”

The struggles of many families are evident in the contours of statistics around financial improvement. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, for example, 40% reported that they were financially better off compared to the previous year. That number drops to 29% for those aged 35 to 49, 32% for 50- to 64-year-olds, and 28% of those aged 65 and up.

Looking at families’ financial resilience, the survey found that 42% can’t afford to pay $1,000 or more for an emergency expense. And a little over a third (36%) reported financial reserves amounting to a month or less in expenses, leaving them woefully exposed if a major breadwinner were to be laid off or pass away.

Looking at Canadian families’ savings behaviour, 69% of respondents said they have a savings account, and 19% have investments placed in non-retirement accounts.

And while most Canadians have access to retirement accounts, around one third (34%) said saving for retirement was their greatest worry. Making rent or mortgage payments (29%) and the state of their finances (28%) were also top worries.

When it comes to steps Canadian families have taken towards financial security over the past year, 26% said they’ve added to a savings account; 20% have approached financial professionals for advice; 19% drew up or stuck to a budget; and 18% added to an investment account.