Financial problems don't seem to discriminate against whom they decide to trouble. Worries about money are sited as the number one source of stress for Canadians. After the economic downturn and lessons post 2008, financial education has a long journey ahead given more than 68 percent of Canadians report worrying a lot about their financial situation. It causes us to lose sleep, become distracted at work, as well as lie to ourselves and others regarding the degree of our worries, spending habits and state of our financial situation.
Who's stressed about money?
According to a survey conducted by the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC), women worry more than men about financial stress. Contributing factors that influence their stress are attributed to women living longer, earning more and becoming more involved as the primary manager of household finances.
Regrets, we have a few.
This same FPSC survey revealed that 87 percent of Canadians wish they had made better financial decisions. Top money regrets listed are wishing we'd:
- saved more or started saving earlier;
- invested more, earlier or wiser;
- spent less;
- bought a house, condo or property; and
- acquired a better education.
Who lies about money?
Now that Millennials represent the largest demographic in the Canadian and US labour force, this powerhouse cohort finally overshadows Baby Boomers who were the primary workplace influencers for the previous few decades. As per the FPSC survey, Millennials are more likely than any other generation to lie about personal finances with 33 percent admitting dishonesty with friends, 25 percent to family and 15 per cent to coworkers. The national average reports 17 percent as being dishonest about money to friends, 14 percent to family and 9 percent to coworkers.
Who has a financial plan?
The results of an FPSC international board global study of 19,000 adults in 19 countries, including Canada reveal that young people (at 37 percent) are more likely to have a financial plan than those over age 50 (at 27 percent).
Why do Millennials plan more? With frequent job changes more the norm and less likelihood of being part of a defined benefit pension plan, this cohort might feel more pressure to plan and save.
Stepping stones to financial health
Increasingly, there is a need to educate and inform Canadians about the value in taking greater accountability for their financial future. While it might be tedious to put together a financial plan or stick to a budget and pay down debt, these priorities can become more top of mind if information, tools and support is made readily available.
....At work, you say?
Where better to provide and share financial literacy tools and resources to help employees understand the importance of addressing financial priorities such as building emergency funds, being credit-card and/or line of credit debt free than where they spend the majority of their daily waking hours -- at work.
While some employers stick to providing resources to inform about education savings or inheritance planning, stepping stones to financial health start with the basics, an area of financial literacy that many Canadians have yet to embrace and champion.
Start with money management.
According to a survey by Interac Association, Canadians have a list of financials goals, but have difficulty with money management preventing them for reaching these goals. While they'd like to repay loans, purchase a vehicle, pay off a mortgage and save for their children's education, many don't have as little as $2000 available in their emergency or rainy day fund.
Keep in simple and stick to the basics
1) Offer resources, online or otherwise to help employees examine their spending habits monthly and create a budget they can get behind and stick to.
2) Consider credit free challenges and best ways to save money. Help make talking about finances safe and stigma-free.
3) Offer access to a certified financial planner who will work with employees to create a financial plan that's tailored to their financial situation, needs and goals.
4) Remind employees about how to use their benefit plan wisely and regularly share information in tangible, plain language. Explain in easy to understand ways why saving for their retirement while paying down consumer debt can and should happen simultaneously.
Increasing pension plan participation rates and topping up employer matching might be the overarching goal from a corporate perspective, but often, and especially when it comes to finances, we benefit most from remembering to walk before we run. This means keeping the basics of financial planning and developing skills to deal with conflicting financial priorities at the strategic and communication forefront.
Building the stepping stones for success is something we'd love to explore with you as we tailor a plan to meet your specific needs. We invite you to contact us today. Whether it involves your human resources strategy, benefits plan or retirement savings program, we're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.