Thunder Bay is worried about money.

Local individuals share their greatest financial woes through Thunder Bay Counselling survey.

Thunder Bay, ON, Thursday, November 16, 2023 – It’s Financial Literacy Month, and the citizens of Thunder Bay are worried about money. In a survey conducted by Thunder Bay Counselling, over 71% of respondents shared that they’re worried about money, nearly 40% of them claim they worry daily.

When asked whether she was surprised by this response, Thunder Bay Counselling Financial Counsellor, Karen Shalley, said; “Not at all. Money is one of the greatest stressors in life, and a lot of people are struggling right now. With cost of living at an all-time high, not to mention the price of crucial purchases like groceries and gas, people are feeling tight when it comes to money.”

Survey respondents shared some of their greatest financial woes, with the top five stressors being:

  1. Groceries
  2. Rent/mortgage
  3. Vehicles
  4. Gas
  5. Utilities

And the issues they’re most concerned about?

  1. Cost of living
  2. Interest rates
  3. Managing debt
  4. Paying bills
  5. Preparing for financial emergencies

These responses are relatively unsurprising; according to Statistics Canada, as of September 2023, Consumer Price Index (CPI) in Canada rose 3.8% on a year-over-year basis, and as of October 2023, Bank of Canada reported the national interest rate at 5%, the highest it’s been since 2001.

What does this all mean? Essentially, life is just more expensive, and despite 68% of survey respondents being employed full-time, with over 32% bringing in an annual household income of $100,000 or more, people are just generally stressed about money.

One contributor to financial stress is the prevalence of unexpected financial emergencies. Over 73% of individuals who completed the survey said they faced this reality in the past year, most of which were due to car repairs or expenses.

Others simply shared their exasperation about the cost of living. One respondent explained; “Everything costs so much. I work so hard […] why can’t I make it paycheck to paycheck?! I have a good job and can’t afford the basics of living for myself and my child, yet years ago someone on my salary could own a home and support a family of 5.”

This general feeling of exasperation and exhaustion about finances was pervasive throughout survey responses. When asked to rate their confidence about their financial future on a scale of 1 to 10, the average number was 5.

Respondents were also asked where they typically go for financial advice, and the majority of people claimed they seek out financial institutions, research online, or ask family members. However, nearly 90% shared that they have never actually received formal advice or assistance about financial literacy.

So, how do we move forward?

Laurel King, Financial Counsellor at Thunder Bay Counselling, offered her advice; “We’re all frustrated with the cost of living right now, but there are small ways to help yourself and your family feel more financially confident. Create a budget and stick to it, track your expenses, and make sure you treat yourself every once in a while.”

Other topics that survey respondents showed interest in learning more about were budgeting and saving, investing, and retirement planning, and feel as though they would benefit mainly from one-on-one financial counselling and online tools and resources.

To help provide additional advice, Thunder Bay Counselling is offering free drop-in Financial Counselling sessions at Brodie St. Library. Individuals can ask for advice, access resources, and gain a little more peace of mind when it comes to financial wellness.

There are two more drop-in sessions scheduled for the following dates:

Thunder Bay Counselling also offers Financial Counselling year-round. To learn more, visit our financial counselling page.