Navigating Financial Stress Alone

May 27, 2020


KEY TAKEAWAYS: 

✔ Financial stress impacts single people differently than couples  

✔ In addition to potential job loss, some Canadians are dealing with a loss or reduction in child support and/or spousal support payments 

✔ Not every Canadian will qualify for CERB, but there are ways to navigate financial stress due to COVID-19 


In times of stress or hardship, we often turn to a partner for emotional support. When that stress is related to finances, such as income loss due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we may lean on that partner in other ways. Oftentimes, when an individual who is married or in a common-law relationship loses income, there is still some money coming into the household. This can assure some financial security, even when there is a shortfall to deal with. Simply put: some household income is better than none, as there is still something to work with. However, when an individual who is single loses their job, they may find themselves dealing with both the practical and emotional fallout alone. 

Single individuals in Canada are more vulnerable to financial hardship, but being without a partner shouldn’t mean feeling extra financial stress or burden. Here are some ways to navigate financial stress if you’re single, separated or divorced. 

How singles are uniquely affected by income loss 

When a single person loses their income, it may create a state of immediate financial stress. The average Canadian has approximately $200 in savings and lives paycheque to paycheque. Without steady income, they will quickly run out of resources to pay their rent or mortgage along with other bills, such as groceries, phone and Internet bills, transportation costs and more. In fact, a single person facing income loss is even at a disadvantage when compared to a couple that has lost two incomes, as that couple may have access to twice as much federal support as a single person would.  

Over 7 million Canadians have applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) but at least a million others do not meet the qualifications to receive this federal relief measure. This includes many individuals who work in the gig economy and are still making over $1000 per month (though not enough to cover their expenses) as well as those who recently quit a job and cannot find work and those who are choosing not to work due to health and safety concerns.  That said, the government may introduce new measures as they strive to support those who don’t currently meet qualifications for federal relief measures. Please keep an eye on our COVID-19 resource centre for the latest and most accurate information. 


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Child and spousal support payments may cause financial stress for single parents 

While some single people only have themselves to look after, others have dependents such as children to consider. Single parents often rely on child support and/or spousal support payments to meet their expenses every month. As a result of many Canadians losing their jobs in recent months, a number of child and spousal support arrangements have been changed or defaulted on. For example, if the support-paying party has lost income, they may request a change in the child support arrangement or even stop making payments. It is within one’s rights in Canada to request a change in the arrangement if there has been a change of circumstance for either partner since the arrangement was put into action. Essentially, this means that if the individual making support payments has lost income, they have the right to request a new arrangement - even if it means taking much-needed funds away from the person receiving support. 

Women in particular are being affected by this situation, and many single parent families rely on child support payments to get by. The Canada Child Benefit was universally increased for the month of May, but as this was a one-time benefit, this higher rate will not continue into the summer.  

What to do if you are single and experiencing financial stress 

If you are a single, separated, divorced or widowed individual that has lost income due to COVID-19, it’s important to act quickly. If you’ve been laid off due to a temporary business closure, ask your employer about federal wage subsidies which could help you both during this challenging time. Look for new sources of income, such as a part-time job or freelance work in your field. Create a budget and eliminate all unnecessary spending.  

Talk to your landlord or mortgage lender about payment deferrals in order to protect your housing. Know your rights, as evictions have been temporarily banned in many provinces. If you are having trouble making car payments and/or paying auto insurance, reach out to both and ask what relief measures are in place. You may be able to delay payment or arrange for a temporary reduction. The same advice applies to utilities, credit card balances and more - there is never any harm in asking if any COVID-19 relief measures are in place. 

If you have an immediate need for money, consider applying for a personal loan with easyfinancial. We recommend creating a budget to outline your baseline needs, borrowing only as much as you need and creating a plan for debt repayment. This approach will minimize the long-term effect on COVID-19 on your finances as you can begin to rebuild and recover as soon as your income has been restored. 

We are here to help 

If you’ve lost income due to COVID-19 and do not qualify for CERB payments, don’t despair - there are other options to help you stay afloat. If you need financial guidance or want to access money to tide you over until you’ve secured new employment, please reach out to your local easyfinancial branch or easyhome branch, or give us a call at 1-888-502-3279. We understand the challenges you’re experiencing and we are here to help. 

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