September 21, 2009

59% of Canadians live payday to payday

Nearly 60 per cent of Canadians would have trouble paying the bills if their paycheque were delayed by one week, a nationwide survey suggests.

The Canadian Payroll Association survey released Monday found that not only were 59 per cent of respondents living paycheque to paycheque, but they had little ability to put money away for their retirement.

"We were shocked by that number," CPA chairman Janice MacLellan said. "So many Canadians are now living so close to the line that if they miss a single paycheque, the majority will find themselves in financial difficulty."

Financial experts recommend that people should have emergency funds to cover about three months of expenses, such as rent, mortgage, utilities, other bill payments and groceries.

Of those surveyed, the younger workforce said they felt the greatest pinch. Forty-five per cent of people aged 18 to 34 said it would be difficult or very difficult to make ends meet if a paycheque were delayed, with a further 21 per cent saying it would be somewhat difficult.

Single parents were in the most precarious situation, with 72 per cent saying they would have some trouble making ends meet.

The survey also found that 50 per cent of workers couldn't save more than five per cent of their net pay for retirement — half the amount financial experts generally recommend.

About one-third of respondents said they've been trying to save more money than a year ago because of the economic uncertainty, but have been unable to do so. Another 42 per cent said they weren't trying to save more.

When it comes to remuneration, 65 per cent of employees said higher wages were most important to them, while 25 per cent cited better health benefits and 10 per cent preferred education funding.

Asked what they would do with a $1 million lottery win, 70 per cent of people said their top priority would be to pay off debt, while 35 per cent would put as much as possible toward retirement.

Surprisingly, not many people would have a celebration. Just three per cent of Canadians said they would use some of their winnings to throw a party, with Quebecers — at seven per cent — a bit more likely to do so.

And if you're a relative of a lottery winner, don't count too heavily on getting a share. Just 26 per cent of Canadians said they would give some of their winnings to family members.

The CPA survey involved more than 2,800 employees across Canada. The results are considered to have a margin of error of 2.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Source: CBC News