Statistics show that “money worries are the greatest source of stress, more than work, personal health and relationships.” And in an unprecedented year like this, many of us are experiencing money worries more than ever before.
In our own backyard:
- Only 56% of British Columbians feel confident about their ability to cover their living expenses over the next year
- 43% say they are within $200 from financial insolvency at the end of the month.
These numbers are alarming to say the least. The pandemic will cause a lasting impact on the emotional and mental health of Canadians, particularly on those out of work (either temporarily or permanently) and learning to live without a steady paycheck.
On the other hand, some people have found unexpected saving opportunities during the pandemic. Typical day-to-day expenses such as commuting to work, take out lunches, and social outings with friends were no longer eating into their budgets, which allowed for a savings increase.
How long this is going to last is anyone’s guess. But one thing remains constant, in both good times and bad: Being in control of one’s financial path will build stability and confidence that carries over to other aspects of life.
Many employers are looking for guidance on how they can help employees with financial concerns. Here are some resources to get you and your employees on better financial footing:
Check with Your Retirement Savings Plan Service Provider
Perhaps I am biased by putting this one at the top of the list given my role with Montridge, but all retirement and savings plan service providers offer valuable tools and resources to help employees with their finances. For many employees, especially the younger generations fresh out of school, an employer sponsored retirement plan is their first exposure to saving money. All plan members receive information directly related to their accounts, and carriers go several steps further and offer other tools. Retirement and savings calculators; saving strategies based on specific goals; and even the chance to build your own personalized financial plan for members willing to put in the time and effort, are tools offered by carriers.
If you’re not part of a retirement program, Smart Path provides tools and information on how-to develop a saving strategy. It is an incredible resource and we recommend it frequently for new and experienced savers alike. Content is organized beginning with a ‘Getting Started’ section, moves to a ‘Getting Serious’ section, and then all the way through to ‘Getting Close’ and ‘Retired’. No matter where you are in your financial life cycle, there will be valuable information in an easily accessible hub with no conditions attached to use it. Smart Plan is powered by Canada Life, but does not require a Canada Life plan to access the tools.
Check With Your Bank
Have you ever gone beyond checking your account balances via online banking? If not, you should. All Canadian Banks (all of which offer online trading/brokerage accounts, advisor services, etc.) tend to provide decent advice and resources for all levels of investors. Many now provide Finance Trackers which allow clients to set budgets, monitor their income and expenses, and work towards any predetermined goal they have set.
The Credit Counselling Society
In the presence of overwhelming debt, saving money is simply not an option. The Credit Counselling Society is a non-profit providing consumer debt and credit counselling services, that can “help you explore all your options and find the right solution for your situation.” Work with professionally certified counsellors who can help create a plan by prioritizing finances, allowing individuals and families to be in a better position to manage cash flow.
Showcase Your Employee Assistance Programs
Having a plan in place helps, but that anxiety and worrying does not simply disappear the moment you create a budget and build a savings plan. And what happens if things change? Life changing events such as getting married, becoming parents, caring for a sick relative, etc. often create their own set of worries and have a financial impact. Most people access Employee Assistance Programs when struggling with mental health issues but , they assist with financial wellness programs as well. Offerings can include debt management, budgeting, will preparation, and the creation of a financial plan. Many people will benefit from the professional advice and guidance, which an EAP offers to plan members. Morneau Sheppell, “the leading provider of total well-being, mental health and digital mental health services in Canada” have expanded their industry leading programs to include AvaFinance to support Canadians' financial health during COVID-19.
Government of Canada Financial Resources
It is not the flashiest website, but this is a comprehensive resource put together by the Federal Government. Similar to Smart Path, there is a range of topics with supporting resources depending on your area of focus – Budgeting, Debt management, savings and investments, consumer protection, retirement planning, and even resources to create a financial wellness program for your company.
These are just some of the resources available to assist you and your employees during a very unsettling time. Any one of which is a great place to start. And of course, all of us here at Montridge will continue to be here to assist and help you through this challenging time in any way we can.