Young Canadians are losing sleep thanks to financial worries, according to Scotiabank -- and the country’s red-hot housing market doesn’t exactly help. 

In a climate of pandemic-inspired uncertainty and rising costs of living, financial worry eats up a lot of precious time, says the bank. This is especially true for young people with a lot of living left to do. 

Scotiabank’s newly released Worry Poll reveals notable generational differences amongst Canadians in time spent worrying about their finances. The poll found that Gen Z and Millennials spend six hours more worrying about their finances (12 hours) compared to older Canadians 55+ (six hours).

The poll -- which involved an online survey of 1,521 randomly-selected Canadian adults in October -- found that 41% of Canadians aged 18-34 ranked finances as their second-highest stress point, behind only the rising cost of living (50%); this means higher than not only their own physical health (30%), but the physical health of their loved ones as well (36%).

That’s not to say that the middle-aged and older set isn’t free of financial woes. In fact, the poll revealed that 75% of Canadians are worried about their finances. On average, Canadians are worrying about their finances 10 hours a week, or the equivalent of three weeks a year, up 25% from 2020. A third of Canadians, or 32%, say worrying about their finances literally keeps them awake at night. 

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"More Canadians are being kept up at night with questions like, how they're going to own a home, will they have enough to pay for their children's education, and if they'll have enough for retirement," said D'Arcy McDonald, Senior Vice President, Deposits, Investments & Payments at Scotiabank. 

According to the poll, Canadians’ top financial concerns involve growing or protecting their investments (19%), being able to pay for day-to-day expenses (15%), and paying off debt (13%). 

Contributing to their retirement is also an increasing source of concern for Canadians, with 12% now worried about planning for their retirement -- up from 8% in 2020. Personal finance ranks fourth (33%) on Canadians' list of items they are most stressed about, only behind the rising cost of living (52%) and the respondents' own physical health (45%).

Not surprisingly, the survey results show that Canadians with lower household incomes spend significantly more time worrying about their finances. According to results, households with an income of less than $50,000 spend an average of 14 hours a week worrying about their finances, compared to households with incomes of $100,000 or more, who "only" spend an average of six hours a week worrying about finances.

The poll also found discrepancies between provinces. Those living in Western Canada reported spending around an average of 12 hours a week worrying about their finances. This is a stark contrast to those in Quebec who spend an average of just seven hours, and those in Ontario who spend an average of nine.

Residents in Alberta (60%) and the Atlantic (62%) were the most likely to say they are particularly stressed about the rising cost of living, while those in Manitoba and Saskatchewan were less likely (43%). Almost half of Albertans surveyed (45%) ranked their finances among the top three concerns causing them the most stress.

Despite the significant amount of time spent worrying about finances, 63% say they have not worked with a financial advisor in the last 12 months. In January, however, Scotiabank will be unveiling new tools to help Canadians better manage their finances (and get a better night’s sleep).

At the end of the day, whether it’s six or fourteen hours spent consumed with financial worry each week, that’s precious time one can't get back. 

Personal Finance