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Young Canadians saving less than their parents

Young Canadians are saving less than their parents and grandparents did at the same age, with young men being the worst at sticking to a budget, according to the results of a new survey.

The TD Canada Trust study released Wednesday suggests 80 per cent of Canadians found saving money "too hard" and that young people between the ages of 18 and 34 were more interested in saving for a house than for retirement.

Among survey responses, 19 per cent 18- to 34-year-olds said they were saving 10 to 25 per cent of their total monthly income. That compared to 29 per cent of people over age 55 who said they saved that amount when they were younger.

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Young adults blamed their lack of savings on not making enough money, while people 55 and older said the cost of living prevented them from saving more when they were young.

TD's Carrie Russell said the results were disappointing and prove that saving money is not something that comes naturally to most.

"It has to be practised," said Ms. Russell, a senior vice-president at the bank. "And the earlier you start the better off you will be."

The survey found 54 per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds respondents said they have a rainy day fund, compared to 55 per cent of 35- to 54-year-olds and 63 per cent of those 55 and older. However, 76 per cent of 18-to-34 year-olds considered themselves financially responsible, compared to 82 per cent of 35-to-54 year-olds and 86 per cent of those 55 plus.

Weighed down by debt

Debt was said to be the biggest roadblock for young people trying to save more, in particular for men. Twenty-eight per cent of male respondents cited debt as the reason why they can't save more, compared to 18 per cent of women.

Women were also better at sticking to a budget, the survey indicated.

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The gap was greatest in the 35- to 54-year-old range, in which 43 per cent of women said they stuck to a monthly budget, compared to 28 per cent of men.

Russell said women - often cited as being big spenders - are better at budgeting because they have practise doing it at home with family finances.

"They often deal with that tradeoff on what to spend money on, and what not. It's a daily decision," she said.

Vancouver resident Jarleen Clohan, 23, said she is good at saving money, in part because she grew up watching her parents sometimes struggle with making ends meet.

Ms. Clohan said she does shop, like most women, but that her spending is "controlled." She saves money because she likes the "reassurance" of having a savings account.

Armin Barekat, 32, said he doesn't feel the need to save too much money. Mr. Barekat, who lives in Vancouver, said he has a secure job and a good credit rating. He is also confident he can borrow money if needed, and pay it back. "Saving money is good, but I don't worry about it," he said.

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Saving for a home

Mr. Barekat is saving money for a down payment on a home, but hasn't started saving yet for retirement. "I am too young to think about that," he said.

The survey suggested 23 per cent of Canadians in Mr. Barekat's age group wanted to save for home. That figures rose to 25 per cent for those ages 35 to 54. Looking back to their younger years, 19 per cent of people age 55 and over said they had saved for a home, while 25 per cent said they saved for retirement.

Besides providing fresh data on Canadian attitudes, such surveys are a popular promotional tool for Canadian companies, who use public opinion polls to gauge consumer thinking and to promote specific brands to ordinary Canadians.

Banks and mutual fund companies have long used such surveys to make consumers aware of financial products and services and to learn more about the public's financial management habits.

The bank released the survey to help promote its Simply Save program, which allows customers to save a preset sum every time they use their debit card.

The survey of 1,000 men and women was conducted by Angus Reid Strategies in late July. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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About the Author

Brenda Bouw is a freelance writer and editor based in Vancouver. She has more than 20 years of experience as a business reporter, including at The Globe and Mail, The Canadian Press, the Financial Post and was executive producer at BNN (formerly ROBTv). Brenda was also part of the Globe and Mail reporting team that won the 2010 National Newspaper Award for business journalism. More


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