Canadians are about to head into the high spending season, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner. But are they ready for it?
The unsurprising answer is no, a recent CIBC poll suggests. But here’s the eye-opener: most Canadians could have easily walked into this year’s holiday period with a bank account stashed with saved-up money for Christmas gifts and trips.
Over 80 per cent of those who took the survey, in fact, said they have scope to trim back their monthly spending “without feeling the pinch.” And the average amount of that cutback was $360 across the country.
Save up $360 a month starting in January and you end up with $4,320 by December, over twice the $1,500 Canadians are planning to spend this holiday season according to an analysis by PwC.
But few Canadians made saving a priority this year, the CIBC poll shows. That spells trouble for 2018, said David Nicholson, vice-president, Imperial Service at the bank.
“This is the time of year when many of us make room in our budget for spending on gifts, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and holiday parties, but don’t think twice about how little we’ve saved until regret kicks in with our New Year’s resolutions.”
WATCH: How much you should spend on Christmas gifts based on your income
The amount that Canadians said they could easily shave off their monthly budget without too much pain varied across the country, with Albertans and residents of Atlantic Canada reporting the highest and lowest potential savings, respectively. Here’s the regional breakdown:
Canada: $360/month average potential savings
In addition, several survey respondents also said they have considerable extra cash, in addition to their regular income, which could also beef up their savings.
Here are the average amounts reported by Canadians who received each of the following sources of surplus money:
Canadians who receive:
Reported on average:
Bonus from employer
A tax refund
Cash for birthdays, holidays or special occasions
But much of that money isn’t making it into a savings account either in most cases, the research shows. Over 65 per cent of respondents said they use some if it for bills and to pay down debt, or for indulgences. Forty-four per cent said part of it goes to short-term savings for things such as vacations, a new vehicle or a home renovation. And only 41 per cent said they channel at least some of the funds toward long-term savings such as retirement, an emergency fund or their children’s education.
Easy ways to start saving
The CIBC report urges Canadians to put some of their extra money aside before the big shopping weekend of the holiday season.
“Think twice and put yourself at the top of the gift-giving list,” said Nicholson.
While the report doesn’t offer a magic savings bullet, it does say that starting with a savings goal and then setting up automatic transfers to a savings accounts to meet that goal is the easiest way to pull the trigger on reducing your spending.
Having a budget helps you figure out how much you can afford to save toward short-term and long-term goals. After that, setting up automatic transfers from your chequing to your savings accounts makes savings virtually painless, by removing the temptation to spend your lingering extra dollars, the report said.
The online survey was conducted for CIBC by Angus Reid between Oct. 20 and Oct. 21, 2017 among 1,523 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error is +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.