The 49% Newsletter: ‘Tis the Season for Financial Anxiety

Money is both a divider and an equalizer

The 49% is a monthly newsletter produced by The Walrus, learn more about it here.

Finances are a stressful subject no matter how much money you have—whether you’re a frugal millennial or Gen Xer with pension envy

The specifics of our money issues may differ, but everyone—rich, poor, somewhere in the middle—feels financial stress. In January, Statistics Canada finished gathering data to help the government decide the definitions of low-income people and the poverty line in this country. In Ontario, a family or individual is defined as low income if their household earnings are less than half the national median—$22,133 for a single person or $38,335 for a family of three.

Meanwhile, the average cost of rent in Canada is $987 a month—leaving a single person with a low income, at the most, $10,289 for all other costs for the year, presuming they are, in fact, paying average rent (which many people in big cities are not). Change one thing about their circumstances and making ends meet only becomes harder. If a person has to care for members of their family or are supporting family abroad or has a disability, long term or short term, they can be left with even less. It’s not hard to see how people fall into debt or take on second jobs to fill the gaps.

Solutions like a guaranteed annual income and a national poverty reduction plan come and go, but they never seem to create the necessary momentum to make lasting change. It’s nearly a taboo subject to bring up just how stressed we are. Maybe we can talk about finances with the same level of openness that we do our politics, families, and sex lives, so we won’t feel so alone with our money problems.

Angela Misri
Angela Misri is an assistant professor at Toronto Metropolitan University’s school of journalism and a former digital director of The Walrus. She is also the author of the Portia Adams Adventures and Pickles vs. the Zombies series. She writes about digital journalism, technology, politics, and pop culture for many media outlets.