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Canadians have less money to play with this summer, survey says

Concern brews over debt and budgeting, according to new CPA Canada poll

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Young lady with shopping bags on her arm, looking worried that her wallet is emptyCPA Canada’s Summer Spending survey found existing debt among the factors causing the most financial angst for Canadians (Shutterstock/DeepMeaning)

Canadians are wary about the toll summer spending will take on their wallets, but it won’t halt their vacation plans, according to a new CPA Canada survey. 

The 2019 Summer Spending Survey shows that 31 per cent of respondents are stressed over what they will spend this summer, while 47 per cent say they have less money to play with than they did a year ago after paying for household essentials. 

TOP CONCERNS

Earlier this year, a National Bank of Canada report predicted consumer spending this year would hit its lowest point in a decade due to the slowing economy, a cooling real estate market, higher interest rates and rising household debt. 

It’s no surprise then that CPA Canada’s Summer Spending survey found existing debt among the factors causing the most financial angst for Canadians, at 21 per cent. Other factors include unexpected expenses (39 per cent), large expenses (22 per cent) and budgeting (19 per cent). However, 43 per cent of respondents felt their spending this summer would remain consistent with what they spent last year.

“While about a third of respondents report no summer-spending stress, many feel they will have less money this year than last,” says Doretta Thompson, CPA Canada’s financial literacy leader. “A significant number of Canadians are worried about how they will cover summer expenses. Curbing spending now can help alleviate a lot of stress.”

BUDGET BREAKER

According to the survey, more than half of those polled (57 per cent) believe they will be hit hardest by rising gas prices, which the GasBuddy’s Fuel Price Outlook 2019 predicted would climb upwards of 15 cents per litre over the summer. This is in addition to the federal carbon tax—which came into effect April 1 in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick—adding about 4.4 cents per litre. 

Although Canada’s Food Price Report 2019 says food prices will increase again this year, 45 per cent of survey respondents feel their spending will remain the same. This sentiment also applies to expenditures for home maintenance (44 per cent), home energy (44 per cent) and entertainment (57 per cent). 

TRAVEL PLANS

Most survey respondents plan to take a vacation this summer, with just 18 per cent without vacation plans. 

Expedia’s 2019 Travel Trend report predicted international travel for Canadians would increase this year. In line with this report, of those taking vacations 20 per cent of those surveyed by CPA Canada plan to travel to the U.S. and 14 per cent elsewhere abroad. For others, 35 per cent plan to travel within their province while 27 per cent will take a staycation. Twenty-three per cent say they will travel to another part of Canada. 

With the average cost of a vacation pegged at about $3,200 in the survey, most respondents plan to dip into their savings to pay for their summer holiday, with 59 per cent using their overall savings, and 30 per cent opting to use their vacation fund. Of the 16 per cent who say they will borrow money to pay for their vacation, the majority (79 per cent) will use credit cards, while 28 per cent will use a line of credit. 

“You might feel you need that vacation, but if you are planning to borrow for travel, will a more modest close-to-home trip or even a staycation do the trick?” asks Thompson. “Remember: being debt-free is a great stress reducer. It also allows you to start setting money aside now for unexpected costs and to start saving for next year’s vacation.” 

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SUMMER SPENDING SURVEY

Read the CPA Canada 2019 Summer Spending Survey to find out more about Canadian spending habits and overall financial outlook this season.

The CPA Canada Summer Spending Survey was conducted by Nielsen via an online questionnaire from April 17 to 26, 2019 with 2,001 randomly selected Canadian adults.