As holiday bills come due, resolutions to save more are forgotten and Blue Monday — touted as the most depressing day of the year — arrives, new research has found financial wellness among working Canadians is about more than just the size of their paycheque.

The survey, by the Canadian Payroll Association and the Western-Laurier Financial Data Analytics Laboratory, found 20 per cent of those with a household income of at least $150,000 said they’re financially stressed. By comparison, about 50 per cent of those with household incomes below $50,000 said they’re financially stressed.

Read: Majority of Canadians want financial education in the workplace: survey

To conduct the research, the Western-Laurier Lab used 11 years of CPA’s national payroll week survey data, with more than 35,000 responses. The data was analyzed using an algorithm-based methodology known as cluster analysis, which arranges respondents into distinct groups based on their similarity to one another and differences from all other groups.

The research found working Canadians belong to one of three groups: those who are financially stressed, financially coping or financially comfortable. About a third of all respondents fell into each cluster.

“What makes cluster analysis particularly compelling is the fact that it removes any preconceived ideas or unconscious biases that might impact results and, instead, takes only the similarity of respondent answers to the survey into account,” said Adam Metzler, associate professor of mathematics at Wilfrid Laurier University and co-author of the study, in a press release. “Because of its longevity, the consistency of questions asked each year and the number of unique respondents the Canadian Payroll Association data was particularly well suited for cluster analysis.”

Read: Employers have role in mitigating impact of financial stress: report

The research also noted that just over half (55 per cent) of Canadian employers offer pay-yourself-first programs, which allow payroll to work with employees to arrange for a portion of their pay to be automatically directed into a savings account, such as a retirement plan.

“This research shows that Blue Monday is much more than a marketing gimmick,” said Peter Tzanetakis, president of the Canadian Payroll Association. “Whether it’s in the spirit of the season or not, when we spend beyond our means, financial stress follows. Payroll can help. Not only by ensuring every employee is paid accurately and on time, but by leading the implementation of pay-yourself-first programs to help employees put aside what they can every time they are paid.”

Read: Canadians worry about outliving retirement savings: surveys

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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