Financial expert discusses why 63% of Canadians are not planning to return to pre-pandemic spending

Jan 13 2022, 7:27 pm

Almost two years into the pandemic, Canadians have had to change almost every aspect of their lives, including how they work, celebrate important occasions, exercise, and how they approach their finances.

Canadians are now rethinking how they spend. The latest Money Habits Survey conducted by Scotiabank revealed that 63% of Canadians are not planning to return to pre-pandemic spending levels.

“We wanted to find out how Canadians are feeling about their finances and their level of confidence moving forward,” D’Arcy McDonald, senior vice president of Day to Day Banking at Scotiabank, tells Daily Hive. “Almost half of Canadians (42%) are feeling anxious about their finances, and they fear their ability to save will decrease as opportunities to spend increase.”

At the same time, Canadians are “increasingly worried about the rising cost of living, as well as the rapidly rising levels of inflation,” says McDonald.

“Earlier this year, we saw Canadians curb their spending, keep a closer watch on their finances, and refine some of their money habits because of the pandemic. Months later, Canadians are keen on keeping up with the positive habits they developed.”

For those who could continue to work, McDonald says they also reconsidered their daily spending, and he shared an example of a regular workday commute that could be relatable to countless Canadians. 

“Pre-pandemic, your morning bagel, coffee, and train tickets could set you back $20 even before you have stepped into the office. Seeing those tangible pennies back in your pocket can make you rethink how you spend, both in the short and long-term.” 

Over the past months, many Canadians from coast to coast saw their spending decrease and savings increase, says McDonald. Now, Canadians are choosing to “save more” and “hold onto the money habits they picked up, such as baking and cooking at home, participating in virtual fitness classes, and ordering in takeout or grocery kits.”

Scotiabank’s Money Habits Survey revealed that of the 42% of Canadian respondents who reported feeling anxious about their personal finances, most (84%) indicated feeling the same or more anxious today than they did at the start of the pandemic.

The survey also indicated a regional and generational divide. Younger Canadians reported feeling heightened financial anxiety, and those from provinces including Ontario, Alberta, and the Maritimes reported feeling more financial anxiety than those in Quebec.

“Interestingly, our survey also found that Canadians between the ages of 18 [to] 34 were most anxious about their personal finances (51%), while only 31% of respondents who were 55+ indicated they were anxious about their finances.”

However, McDonald notes the importance of remembering that each situation is different. Canadians of all ages who wish to secure their financial future and make smart decisions about their spending and saving can turn to Scotiabank’s advisors to help them find solutions.

For customers concerned about navigating their financial plans, McDonald suggests a useful service. “Advice+ offers an online hub called the Scotia Advice Centre, which provides a comprehensive self-help approach to financial planning and the option to book an in-person appointment with a Scotiabank financial advisor for more personalized, tailored advice.”

Should you or anyone you know be anxious about your finances, Scotiabank has three tips that could help: don’t go at it alone, always be prepared for what might come next, and double-check those reoccurring subscriptions.

“If the pandemic [has] taught us anything, it’s that we should always have a backup plan if things don’t go according to plan. Start by creating an emergency savings account and putting aside some money each month,” says McDonald. “This way, you can ensure you have a backup cash reserve in case of an emergency.” 

A habit many Canadians picked up earlier in the pandemic was switching to automated services for streaming and other needs. However, it’s easy to forget about accounts we created while still getting billed for them. Scotiabank recommends checking your credit card statements at the end of each month to catch those reoccurring services you may have forgotten you added. 

To get the support you need for your financial health, book a consultation with a Scotiabank advisor online, over the phone, or in-branch; it’s free for all Scotiabank customers. “Even that initial conversation can be a huge first step to an anxiety-free, financial future,” adds McDonald.

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