Years ago, when Mint launched in Canada, they decided to run a poll to see how Canadians handle their finances. It’s interesting to get an idea of the personal finance trends that dominate our culture, especially since you can compare your missteps with the prevailing attitudes.
Overall, I think didn’t think we came out so badly, but there is room for improvement… just like your personal finances probably aren’t in too bad of shape, but you might have room for improvement. I know that looking at the results has helped me get a better idea of where I stand, and has drawn my attention to some areas that need more attention in my own financial plan.
Some of the Findings of the Mint Canadian Personal Finance Survey
First of all, I found it interesting that the majority of us are dissatisfied with the current state of our finances. While it’s too bad that few of us are content, the reality is that it’s really not a bad thing to want to improve our finances. Who among us doesn’t want to make at least a little more money?
One of the most encouraging findings from this survey is the fact that most Canadians have some form of budget. This is definitely a positive development. It shows that Canadians are interested in planning their finances, and in trying to make sure that they don’t overspend.
Another thing that I noticed is that Canadians talk about trying to pay off debt as quickly as possible. This is also positive, since being in debt is one of the things most damaging to financial freedom. Unfortunately, the grim reality is that, even though Canadians say they want to pay off debt as quickly as possible, our household debt is growing. We’re actually in line with the Americans to the south in terms of per capita debt! This is an area in which we, as a country, could stand to improve.
I’d also like to see Canadians pay better attention to what they are paying in service fees. Fees can be one of those “silent killers” of your finances, since they reduce what you end up with overall. Service fees include such items as banking fees, investment fees, and fund fees. While there is no way to completely avoid fees when you are dealing with your finances, there are ways to reduce them. Free bank accounts still exist, and you can save money on investment fees by investing in low-cost funds and by choosing brokerages that charge less.
One of the biggest things you can do to improve your finances is to pay attention to financial details. From understanding how much you are paying in interest each month, to realizing how often the little expenditures add up over time, being aware can have enormous positive consequences. Take the time to pay attention, and then craft a financial plan that makes sense for you, and your entire outlook on your situation might change for the better.
Check out the infographic from Mint.com below to get a closer look at the results from their survey. What do you think about the results?