CIBC Poll: Nearly half of Canadians had an emergency last year with most not having enough emergency funds to cover unexpected costs

Oct 30, 2014, 04:00 ET from CIBC

House, car repairs and medical costs were among the leading causes for unplanned spending

TORONTO, Oct. 30, 2014 /CNW/ - Nearly half of Canadians (46 per cent) dealt with a major unexpected event or emergency during the past year that required most of them either to borrow money or dip into their savings to cover the unplanned costs, finds a new CIBC (TSX: CM) (NYSE: CM) poll.

Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of those who experienced the unexpected did not have enough dedicated emergency savings and were forced to find other sources of money to cover the expense. Almost one-third (29 per cent) borrowed money from family, friends or a financial institution, or tapped their line of credit or credit cards. If they couldn't access new funds, they either adjusted their household budget (18 per cent), or used savings earmarked for other purposes (14 per cent).

Key findings of the poll include:

  • 46 per cent of Canadians had emergencies or unexpected events that required unplanned spending in the past year
    • Most of them (74 per cent) either did not have an emergency savings/rainy day fund, or did not have sufficient emergency savings
  • Among the most common emergencies were:
    • Major household repairs or purchases (27 per cent)
    • Major auto repairs or purchases (23 per cent)
    • Illnesses or medical bills (16 per cent)
  • 41 per cent of all Canadians have no emergency savings/rainy day funds

"This is the time of year when we prepare for winter, and it's also the perfect time to take stock of just how well we can weather a financial emergency," says Veni Iozzo, Senior Vice-President, Deposits & Client Solutions at CIBC. "The reality is, with winter coming, Canadians can't put off fixing a hole in the roof, replacing a broken down furnace or repairing a car that just won't start. Many of us are likely to be hit with an emergency in the coming year and not having the money readily available to handle the unexpected makes it all the worse."

Longer-term impacts

Having separate accounts for emergency funds provides peace of mind and also ensures that you don't derail from longer-term financial goals.

"The last thing you want to do is cash in your retirement savings to pay for unexpected events," says Ms. Iozzo. "It's much harder to replace savings earmarked for debt repayment or retirement than creating a rainy day fund and regularly setting aside some of your income for emergencies."

Balancing against other goals

The CIBC poll found that those aged 35-54 were more likely than the average Canadian not to have a rainy day fund (46 vs 41 per cent), yet they were also more likely to have experienced an emergency in the past year (51 vs 46 per cent).

"It is not surprising that so many people in this age bracket lack an emergency savings fund, given that many are likely to be juggling a number of financial priorities, such as mortgages, dependent children, and saving for the future," says Ms. Iozzo. "But, they were also more likely than the average Canadian to suffer a financial emergency, which underscores the need to find a balance in their priorities and the importance of creating a rainy day fund. Financial advisors suggest you should have at least three months' worth of income saved for emergencies."

Tips for building emergency savings

  • Get advice - Talking to a financial advisor can help you fit an emergency savings fund in with all of your other financial priorities, to ensure it is there when you need it.
  • Set up automatic withdrawals - Set up a regular savings plan to withdraw smaller amounts automatically from your chequing account, to help you build your emergency fund over time.
  • Keep a separate account - Your emergency savings should be easily accessible, while kept separate from your everyday account, to help you avoid the temptation to use that money to pay bills or other day-to-day expenses.
  • Three months' salary - Financial advisors suggest that you have at least three months' worth of income saved for emergencies; however, an advisor can look at your household finances and help you come up with a plan that best fits your needs.

KEY POLL FINDINGS

Percentage of Canadians who do not have an emergency savings or rainy day fund, by age:

National 41%
18-34 42%
35-54   46%
55+  35%

Percentage of Canadians who had an unexpected event or emergency in the past year that required unplanned spending, by age:

National 46%
18-34 45%
35-54   51%
55+  42%

From October 9th to October 10th 2014, an online survey was conducted among 1,500 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.53%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec language) Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

About CIBC

CIBC is a leading Canadian-based global financial institution with nearly 11 million personal banking and business clients. Through our three major business units - Retail and Business Banking, Wealth Management and Wholesale Banking - CIBC offers a full range of products and services through its comprehensive electronic banking network, branches and offices across Canada with offices in the United States and around the world. You can find other news releases and information about CIBC in our Media Centre on our corporate website at www.cibc.com.

SOURCE CIBC