2020 Survey Results

See our findings on the financial health of Canadians.

Consumer Debt Report

After helping thousands of Canadians weather the financial storm brought on by the pandemic this year, we’ve heard time and again that 2020 has been a wake up call for many. With this in mind, we wanted to get a deeper understanding of how people are doing when it comes to managing their finances. This survey of almost 2000 Canadians provides important insights into the debt, perceptions, feelings, financial management skills, and future outlook for people across the country.

Key Findings 

  • More Canadians feel anxious about their personal finances than believe they need help with them.
  • Most Canadians carry non-mortgage debt and have emergency savings because they believe it’s smart financial planning.
  • Many Canadians got government financial support during COVID-19, but few have sought help from non-profit credit counsellors.
  • Half of Canadians don’t feel they need financial help, but most think they can improve their own planning and 19% would turn to a non-profit credit counsellor first for debt relief advice.

State of Personal Finances

Canadians may have inflated perceptions of their financial management skills, with 17% saying they need help with their finances, but 27% saying their personal finances make them feel anxious.

Factors outside their control are the biggest concerns on Canadians’ minds, suggesting preparing for uncertainty may be a blind spot in many Canadians’ financial plans.

Credit Counselling Couple
  • 27% feel anxious about their current financial situation. 27% 27%
  • 17% say they need help managing half of their finances or more. 17% 17%
  • 51% are most concerned about increasing cost of living expenses. 51% 51%
  • 21% feel pessimistic about their personal finances heading into 2021. 21% 21%
Credit Counselling Couple

Debt and Savings

Most Canadians are carrying non-mortgage debt, with half of those feeling anxiety and frustration as a result. While most debt-holders are managing their debt, three in ten have difficulties paying it down, making only the minimum payments or less.

Emergency savings are a reality for most, but not all Canadians. Those who have emergency savings point to simple prudent financial planning as their main motivation.

  • 64% are carrying non-mortgage debt. 64% 64%
  • 31% are having difficulty paying down their debt (making minimum payments or less). 31% 31%
  • 44% have only 1 month of emergency savings or less. 44% 44%
  • 84% of those with emergency savings have it because “It’s simply good financial planning.” 84% 84%

Personal Finances During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has made its mark in Canadians’ minds when it comes to financial planning—half say cutting back on non-essentials and keeping emergency savings are more important due to the pandemic. While indebted Canadians have leveraged a number of sources of aid during the pandemic, few have sought help from non-profit credit counsellors.

Credit Counselling Couple
  • 53% think that cutting back on non-essential spending is more important now due to COVID-19. 53% 53%
  • 48% think that having emergency savings is more important now due to COVID-19. 48% 48%
  • 27% have used government financial supports during COVID-19. 27% 27%
  • 3% have gotten the help of a non-profit credit counsellor during COVID-19. 3% 3%
Credit Counselling Couple

Financial Assistance

Some Canadians may lack awareness of different options they have to manage debt, with half of debt-carrying Canadians who haven’t reached out to a financial advisor saying they do not need financial help.

Nevertheless, almost all Canadians say they could improve on at least one aspect of financial management, including building retirement and emergency savings, tracking expenses, and investing.

  • 51% don’t feel they need financial help. 51% 51%
  • 36% will reach out for professional financial advice if their debt reaches uncomfortable levels. 36% 36%
  • 86% see room to improve their financial planning in at least one way. 86% 86%
  • 19% would turn to a non-profit credit counsellor first for debt relief advice. 19% 19%
Credit Counselling Society 2019 annual report.

Find Your Path Forward

As you review these findings, remember that it’s never too early to start dealing with your debts. No matter your level of debt, there are resources and experts available at the Credit Counselling Society who can help you chart a path forward.

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