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Nearly a third of Canadians have one month or less in emergency savings: survey

A growing number of Canadians have enough savings to only cover one month or less in a financial emergency, according to a new survey.

The percentage of Canadians with enough rainy day money to cover a job loss, change in financial status, or unexpected medical expenses, home and car repairs, has climbed to 27 per cent since 2012, up 8 percentage points, the annual BMO Rainy Day report said.

For those with one month or less in savings, the average fund is only $2,051, the data in the report released Monday indicate.

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Overall, Canadians have an average of $35,237 in rainy day savings, up $1,080 from last year.

Three in ten Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque or spending more than they earn, the survey also found.

A general rule is for people to have enough money saved to cover living expenses for three to six months.

Forty-seven per cent of Canadians polled by BMO said they have enough to cover three months or less, up 7 per cent.

The majority of Canadians – 52 per cent – have less than $10,000 in an emergency fund, and 41 per cent hold less than $5,000, according to the survey.

One in five – 19 per cent – have less than $1,000.

Nineteen per cent have over $50,000 and 29 per cent have between $10,000 and $49,999.

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Quebeckers are the ones with the highest percentage – 40 per cent – of those with a savings fund of between $10,000 and $49,999, while Ontario has the lowest score: 22 per cent.

"Two-thirds of Canadians have relied on their savings to help deal with unpredictable financial emergencies. In order to avoid taking on an unmanageable amount of debt, the ideal emergency savings fund should be equal to three to six months of your income," Christine Canning, head of everyday banking products at BMO Bank of Montreal said.

The poll was conducted by Pollara between Aug. 5 and Aug. 7, based on an online sample of 1,001 adult Canadians. A probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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