With inflation at its highest level in almost 40 years, Canadians are feeling the financial strain. In a six-part series this summer, The Canadian Press is reaching out to people at different stages of their lives to see where they’re hit hardest. This story details the experiences of mid-career adults and their families.
Myron Genyk didn’t think much about the price of food a year ago.
But now the 43-year-old father of three is suffering sticker shock as his family’s grocery bill swells.
“No. 1 is the increase in food,” said Genyk, an entrepreneur from Mississauga, Ont. “My kids are getting older, so they’re eating more, but food prices have also gone up.”
With inflation rising at its fastest pace in nearly 40 years, the cost of everything from food to gasoline has skyrocketed.
Canadians across the country are feeling stuck, but large families with multiple children sometimes bear much of the higher costs – and changing demographics and spending habits have left some of them more exposed to inflation than previous generations.
Some face skyrocketing grocery bills to feed insatiable teenagers or help older children pay for college or buy their first home.
Others face rising costs related to supporting aging parents.
Then there are those who do both – the so-called sandwich generation.
“Some still have children at home and they are also helping their aging parents,” said Elena Jara, community engagement partner at insolvency firm Bromwich and Smith.
“Inflation only makes it harder.”
Middle-aged adults have traditionally had the advantage of entering their prime earning years, which has relieved some of the inflation. But as many Canadians reach milestones later in life, this trend is changing.
First-time buyers age, for example, with an average age of around 36 years.
This means that mid-career Canadians are more likely to have large mortgages, which makes them vulnerable to higher interest rates.
Canadians also have children later in life. Over the past five decades, the average age of a first mother has steadily increased, from 22.6 in 1969 to 29.4 in 2019.
Adult children are also living longer at home. New census data revealed that nearly half of young adults in Ontario cities like Toronto, Oshawa, Windsor and Hamilton lived in the same household as at least one parent.
This leaves parents in the age bracket of around 40 to 60 potentially covering more day-to-day costs or unable to downsize.
“Having a larger household with many mouths to feed would definitely increase your food expenditures and make you more susceptible to food inflation,” said Rebekah Young, vice president, head of inclusive economics and resilience at Scotiabank.
Higher costs could also push Canadians in their prime earning years to cut savings, which could delay retirement later to pay the bills, she said.
But inflation is even worse for low-income Canadians because they spend more of their disposable income on essentials, Young said.
The situation has left Canadians feeling increasingly gloomy about their finances, according to a series of recent polls.
More than half of Canadians aged 55 and over said they had delayed their retirement due to rising inflation this year alone, according to respondents to a recent poll by Bromwich and Smith and Advisorsavvy.
Another TransUnion Canada poll found that 60% of Canadians surveyed lack optimism about their household finances over the next 12 months, and nearly a third fear they won’t be able to pay all of their bills in the next 12 months. of the next few months.
For Genyk, who runs his own asset management firm on Bay Street, he hopes high inflation will be a “temporary anomaly” in his financial trajectory.
Yet he feels pressured by rising prices.
“I’m definitely spending more money this year than last year on commodities,” said Genyk, CEO and co-founder of Evermore Capital Inc., a Canadian asset management firm that focuses on accessible investment for retirement.
“It has a direct impact on how much I can save for retirement.”
Inflation also shapes his spending habits and even alters his vacation plans.
For example, the Genyk family is planning a trip to the Rockies with their three children, ages 7, 11, and 13.
A few years ago the family traveled to Calgary and rented a van for two weeks for $1,900.
This summer, the van rental quote was $8,000.
“We got creative and found that if we flew to Edmonton, we could rent a five-seat SUV there for a much more reasonable price,” he said.
“With a growing family, you also need more space. When you get a hotel room, the days of a room with a pull-down crib are over.
“All of these things add up.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 10, 2022.
Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press