Canadians’ No. 1 priority for 2023 is repaying their debt (18 per cent), which slightly beats keeping up with their bills (17 per cent) and growing their investments (14 per cent), according to Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce’s annual financial priorities poll.
Their secondary financial goals include saving as much as possible (25 per cent), avoiding more debt (24 per cent), saving for a vacation (21 per cent) and reducing discretionary spending (18 per cent).
“The current economic environment has, understandably, prompted Canadians to re-assess their financial priorities for 2023,” Carissa Lucreziano, CIBC’s vice-president of financial and investment advice, said in a press release. “When things feel uncertain, it’s important for people to focus on what is in their sphere of control.”
The poll also showed our financial confidence weakened last year, with 55 per cent saying they need to get a better handle on their money this year. Their top concerns include inflation (65 per cent), rising interest rates (30 per cent) and recessionary fears (24 per cent).
A quarter of Canadians indicated that they took on more debt in 2022, with the top reasons being increased cost of living (47 per cent), day-to-day expenses beyond monthly income (34 per cent), unexpected financial emergencies (16 per cent), the higher cost of borrowing (16 per cent) and home repairs (14 per cent).
The poll also found that 73 per cent of Canadians are worried about the possibility of a recession this year. More than two-thirds of respondents said the uncertainty of the current economic environment has made it difficult to plan. A possible recession has also added an extra level of uncertainty among working Canadians, with 40 per cent of those who are currently employed being concerned about their job security.
Canada was more than $500 billion poorer in the third quarter of last year and most economists are expecting the country to enter a recession in the first half of this year. But not all Canadians are stressed by the current environment, as 62 per cent feel financially prepared for the unexpected and 59 per cent believe their financial situation is secure enough to withstand a recession.
CIBC also said 80 per cent of Canadians did not have a goal-planning discussion with their financial adviser last year, which could be part of their financial problem, Lucreziano said.
“A financial professional can help Canadians plan for the unexpected and feel confident when faced with challenges in the year ahead,” she said. “Whether you’re on track to meet your financial goals in 2023 or you’re worried about what the future may hold, we recommend seeking the guidance of a financial expert who can help implement a plan to help you achieve your ambitions this year.”
The poll interviewed 1,523 Canadian adults.