First National Financial LP

Residential Market Commentary - Unconscious spending

  • First National Financial LP

With inflation running at generational highs and interest rates on the rise many debt-strapped Canadians are struggling to reorganize their finances.

A recent survey sponsored by FP Canada (an organization that represents and promotes professional financial planners) suggests “unconscious spending” can be an obstacle to a sound, workable household budget.

Unconscious spending involves purchases that are made out of convenience or habit rather than with a view to budgets and long-term financial plans.  The use of credit cards is a central part of the issue.

The online poll indicates 28% of Canadians are using their credit cards more frequently.  Depending on their payment habits, credit card interest can be a significant expense.  It also shows 21% have increased their use of credit cards to pay for subscription services such as video streaming or cellphones.  Many also use credit cards to pay utility bills like electricity and gas.  This practice often means consumers aren’t aware of price increases, or new or extra charges.

Other forms of unconscious spending include:

  • Buying more than intended in order to take advantage of a perk, like free shipping
  • Buying more than intended because it is “on sale”
  • Greater use of buy now, pay later schemes

Advice for curbing unconscious spending:

  • Develop a budget, stick to it and review it regularly
  • Use good, old fashion cash to make purchases
  • Limit the use of credit cards for on-going, routine payments