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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Pattie Lovett-Reid: The great financial divide

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No one knows for certain what post-pandemic life will actually look like. However, throughout the pandemic it has become abundantly clear that the rich have gotten richer and poor have gotten poorer. 

This is evident in the industries hit the hardest, including the retail and service sectors. The January employment data highlighted 167,600 jobs were lost in the retail sector alone, concentrated primarily in Ontario and Quebec.

In many ways the pandemic has become the tipping point for those living paycheque to paycheque, and change has to happen for these hard-hit industries and the families who rely on them.

There is hope that this year will still feel better than 2020 as the Canadian economy fires up, even if it may be an uneven economic recovery. If all goes according to plan, we will have vaccine-driven herd immunity and fewer health worries by the end of 2021. Lockdowns and restrictions will be lifted, consumers will want to spend, and businesses will look to pick up their investment and growth strategies. 

It all sounds like great relief for the economy, but will it also be that for the families who have been hit the hardest?

It could. Here’s how you can be prepared for it.

  • Take control of your situation and know that you aren’t alone. There are many Canadians living paycheque to paycheque, who now want to change their financial trajectory. Begin by being proactive. Reach out to family and friends, and use social networking platforms to let people know you are willing and able to work. Demonstrate flexibility and highlight your strengths and passions. Be very clear on what you love to do and who you might be able to work for, and know that it may take time to get hired on – but be persistent. 
  • When the economy opens up, focus your spending on keeping a roof over your head, food on the table and utilities paid up. For now, all else is considered a luxury expense.
  • Look for industries that have been beaten down for potential job opportunities. For example, the shift to online shopping will likely stick, and people will continue to focus on their homes and gardens. There is clearly pent-up demand to once again enjoy restaurant dining, arts and entertainment, and even air travel.  There will be jobs, and now is the time to explore. Once the economy gets a green light, you want to be ready to hit the ground running.

As confidence in the economy mounts, confidence on a personal level should improve as well. 

Making 2021 the focus of new financial beginnings means sourcing out a job — any job for now — knowing where you need to spend and ignoring everything else, and believing that if you want to work and can work, you will find work. 

Make this the year of financial possibilities.

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