Canadians are contributing less to TFSAs as monthly costs soar: survey – National


Canadians are contributing less to a tax-free savings account (TFSA) while basic monthly living expenses have increased, according to a new survey by BMO.

The online survey of over 1,500 adults was conducted Nov. 3-8, 2023, and found that basic monthly costs rose $397 year-over-year as 68 per cent of those surveyed say current economic conditions are negatively affecting their finances.

More than half of Canadians say they are spending less on discretionary items, including eating out (57 per cent), travelling (53 per cent) and clothing (53 per cent).

The survey found that fewer Canadians were using TFSAs in 2023 compared with 2022, at 62 per cent compared with 66 per cent.

The average balance of those using TFSAs did rise, though, going up nine per cent to $41,510 in 2023, according to BMO.

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Paying off debt was found to be the primary reason 24 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they are not investing this year, with millennials the generation most focused on paying off debt rather than investing.

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BMO Economics says though that improving economic conditions may pull Canada back from the brink of a recession or lessen its severity. Interest rates are expected to reduce in the near future as well, which may help ease the current economic situation.

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“The results from this survey are understandable given prevailing economic conditions,” said Robert Kavcic, a senior economist with BMO.

“Household debt is historically high, inflation has lifted day-to-day cost pressures, and high interest rates make paying down debt a compelling option that might be crowding out some new investment. But on a positive note, easing financial conditions into 2024 should support the economy, and expected rate cuts from the Bank of Canada starting in the summer would only help.”

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Recent polling done by Ipsos for Global News found that 66 per cent of Canadians are concerned they will have to delay future plans or life projects like buying a home, starting a family or travelling because of their financial situation.

Nearly 70 per cent were worried they won’t be able to absorb any unexpected costs worth $1,000 or more and over half (53 per cent) are concerned they might not have enough money to put food on the table for their family, according to the poll published Jan. 1.

Heading into 2024, over half (53 per cent) of Canadians said they plan to cut back on eating out, 48 per cent anticipate searching for sales on flyers, and 45 per cent said they would spend less on entertainment this year.

“It’s very worrying to see how on edge people are,” said Darrell Bricker, Global CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.

— with files from Global News’  Saba Aziz.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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