Financial Stress is keeping Canadians awake at night

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Personal finances are the greatest cause of stress to Canadians. This information was released last week by the Financial Planning Standards Council in conjunction with the sixth annual Financial Planning Week.

Affecting 42 per cent of us, money is the largest single cause of stress. Work- related matters were the second largest stressor at 23 per cent, followed by personal health at 19 per cent and finally, relationships at 17 per cent.

In round numbers close to half of all personal stress is financial. Surprisingly Canada is a relatively economically stable country. Given the economic activity and our standard of living, you would not have guessed that financial matters are our number one worry.

With feedback from 15,000 Canadians, the three year study found that 51 per cent of women lost sleep because of financial stress and 30 per cent had anxiety.

Men were less affected with these stressors measuring at 40 and 17 per cent respectively. While both men and women are affected by financial stress, gender reflects a slight difference.

It is a concern for us all. We can improve our lives if we pay greater attention to our personal financial matters.

One interesting aspect of the study is with Canadians who lie about their finances. Seventeen per cent lie to their friends and slightly less, 14 per cent to their family.

The children of baby boomers lie about twice as much as the national average. That age group, compared to their parents has had a much more difficult struggle getting financially established after completing their education.

Their parents’ benchmark for financial security is much higher than their own. Perhaps it is easier to hide their financial disappointment with a lie than be discouraged by the cruel reality of the financial struggles of their generation.

We all know that happiness in any relationship is enhanced with good communication. That is also true with finances.

Couples sharing details of their personal finances argue significantly less than other couples. That is important to understand because 61 per cent of us are in a personal relationship with shared finances.

However, 4 in 10 people in a relationship sharing their finances argue regularly about the matter. That is a lot of anguish caused by the almighty dollar.

This research showing the stress of finances makes me wonder if those of us in the financial services business should be more aware of the implication finance matters have on people’s happiness.   I know from past columns, my encouragement for readers was to improve their finances for practical purposes.

The end-game was always about a specific benefit such as assisting children and grandchildren with their post-secondary education, maintaining a desired retirement lifestyle and paying off debt, avoiding the likelihood of being hurt by rising interest rates.

Getting your financial house in order may be better for your life. Reduce the worry and stress so you can give yourself the opportunity to enjoy life.

Stress can cause health problems. We now see from the research how financial stress can affect your close personal relationship.

These negative effects can be magnified because the research also revealed that one-third of Canadians believe that their friends are in better financial shape than they are. Is the sense of failure magnified because you think others are more successful?

Most people want happiness. There is a popular expression that love makes the world go round.

Now we see the world will be a happier place if we get our personal finances into better shape. Reduce financial stress and live a happier life.