September 23, 2009

The surprising truth about what's really in Canadians' wallets

Those who want to know how they financially stack up against others should check out MoneySense magazine's All-Canadian Wealth Test.

Despite a growing chorus of voices that say the recession is over, many Canadians are feeling downright poor these days. But MoneySense magazine's All-Canadian Wealth Test reveals that many of us are actually a lot better off than we think.

Available on newsstands across the country starting today, the Wealth Test lets Canadians determine how they stack up against other Canadians on all the key indicators of household prosperity. MoneySense research reveals whether we're earning more or less than our peers, if we're wealthier or poorer than others, and if our track record in the stock market is better or worse than most investors. Canadians can also visit where they can calculate their own net worth and compare it to people like themselves.

The good and bad news on how we stack up:

  • The good news - yes, good news - is that the average household is better off today than it was nine years ago at the peak of the dot-com boom. In fact, we're 7 per cent richer in real terms in grim 2009 than we were in bubbly 2000.
  • But there are warning signs. While the rich are getting richer, it's not clear that middle- and working-class Canadians are any wealthier.
  • Another problem? The way we're getting rich. Rather than make moneyon the stock market or accumulate savings in the bank, a significant portion of our wealth is tied up in the rising value of our homes. Real estate now makes up an unprecedented share of our personal balance sheets. That may be fine now. But if house prices crash, look out below.
The All-Canadian Wealth Test also reveals that:
  • The average unattached Canadian has an annual income of $37,800. The average family earns $91,500.
  • The path to higher income starts with being a guy. Women make, on average, about two-thirds of what men do.
  • The richest 20 per cent of Canadian households control about 69 per cent of the wealth in Canada. Meanwhile, the poorest 20 per cent controls no wealth at all. It's actually in debt.
Source: MoneySense