Personal Finance

Vancouver council moves on after parking fee rejected

After a contentious parking fee plan marketed as addressing the climate crisis was narrowly voted down, Vancouver city councillors are looking for other avenues to address the problem.

Transportation will continue to be a major focus, according to some councillors.

Coun. Lisa Dominato — who voted against the parking plan — says one area the proposal didn’t address was expanding public transit to underserved areas of the city.

That’s something she’s hoping to focus on moving forward.

The 6-5 vote at city hall Wednesday is a hard pill to swallow for Coun. Adriane Carr, who spoke passionately about doing everything possible to fight climate change…read more.

Canadians can’t shake their thirst for debt: Poll

It’s been roughly 20 months since borrowing costs were slashed drastically at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but a newly released poll is providing fresh evidence that Canadians are still binging on cheap money.

According to the latest MNP Consumer Debt Index, 58 per cent of Canadians are likely to take on more consumer debt before the end of the year. And the insolvency firm is concerned about the “riskier ways” consumers may pile it on.

Among survey respondents who intend to increase their debt load, 37 per cent said their credit card is already carrying a balance. Twenty-two per cent are planning to use Buy Now Pay Later options, which, according to MNP, have increased in popularity during the pandemic. Another 22 per cent of respondents are looking at purchase finance options. Fifteen per cent said they are likely to apply for a new credit card, while nine per cent said they are considering a pay day loan…read more.

Affirm’s ‘super-app’ ambitions win praise as company plots debit, crypto moves

Affirm Holdings Inc. is joining the ranks of fintech companies vying for “super-app” status as the company plans a series of feature introductions that will broaden its platform beyond buy-now pay-later capabilities.

Fintech companies in the U.S. are increasingly trying to follow in the footsteps of Chinese players like Alipay, combining payments with a host of other financial features in so-called super-apps. PayPal Holdings Inc. has been vocal about its super-app ambitions, and Square Inc. has also been looking to beef up its Cash App mobile wallet with a deal for Affirm-rival Afterpay Ltd.

Through an investor presentation late Tuesday, Affirm AFRM outlined similar aims as it rolled through a series of feature enhancements in the works. Chief Executive Max Levchin said Affirm has nearly 1 million people on the waitlist for its debit card that will make it easier for people to split in-store payments into installments, and the company sees opportunity to add other functions to the card over time.

The company is also piloting a cash-back program that will offer rewards to customers, and it’s planning a crypto product that will let people own digital assets in Affirm savings account. The Affirm super-app will combine the “best of Affirm’s commerce, payments and financial services,” Levchin said in the presentation…read more.

Canadian food inflation nearly double what official data suggests: Study

Climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are causing food prices in Canada to rise, but a new study suggests the official data is underestimating the increase.

According to Statistics Canada, food prices are up 2.7 per cent over the past 12 months. But, new research from Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab published Wednesday shows the food inflation rate in Canada is closer to five per cent.

Meat products have seen the largest price spike, with Statistics Canada data noting those products have become 10 per cent more expensive over the past six months.

In partnership with consumer insights startup Caddle, the Dalhousie lab surveyed 10,000 Canadians over the summer to determine how consumers are responding to rising grocery bills.

Nearly half of Canadians (49 per cent) said they have reduced their purchases of meat products over the past six months due to higher prices. In Alberta, widely known as the steak capital of Canada, a majority of consumers (57 per cent) acknowledged cutting back on meat since the start of this year…read more.

Financial stress is taking a physical toll on young Canadians, survey finds

For the past several years, the strain of financial stress has left Safiya Mayers with depression, anxiety, fatigue, aching muscles, weight fluctuations and chest pains.

The 25-year-old facilities coordinator in Toronto said she experienced considerable stress paying for tuition and rent as a university student in her early 20s, while also taking on student debt. She’s no longer in school, but a significant portion of her income goes towards paying rent, leaving it difficult to repay loans or build sizable savings.

“I have to move in December and I’m mostly likely going to have to sacrifice either a social life or renting my own place. When I think about my future, I have a lot of anxiety because I don’t have a cushion. I don’t have that proper foundation to know that I’m OK if the ground were to shake,” she said.

“I feel like my early 20s have been taken from me because I was always worried about my finances, which in turn has affected my health.”

Mayers isn’t alone. According to FP Canada’s Financial Stress Index, published in June 2021, 39 per cent of Canadians polled under 35 say that financial stress has led to health issues and 11 per cent of respondents under 35 say that financial stress has led to mental health challenges or substance abuse. Comparatively, 28 per cent of those over 35 say financial stress has impacted their health and 5 per cent say it’s led to mental health challenges and substance abuse…read more.