Struggling on 100k salary in Canada - Financial Wellness

Take proactive steps towards transforming your financial well-being on a $100k salary in Canada. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness!
Bruce Hodges
October 12, 2023
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Struggling on 100k salary in Canada

In a country as prosperous as Canada, one would assume that earning a six-figure salary would equate to financial security and peace of mind. However, for many individuals across the nation, this is not the reality. As surprising as it may seem, there are countless Canadians struggling to make ends meet even with an income exceeding $100,000 annually. In this article on financial wellness, we delve into the reasons why individuals earning such high wages find themselves in precarious situations and offer compassionate advice and solutions to alleviate their hardships. Whether you fall into this category or simply seek a better understanding of the challenges faced by those on seemingly comfortable incomes, this article aims to shed light on the issue while providing actionable steps towards achieving true financial well-being in Canada.

The Cost of Living in Canada: A Closer Look at Expenses

Living expenses can vary greatly depending on the city and region in Canada. Housing, transportation, and groceries are some of the major expenses that individuals or families need to consider when budgeting their finances.

  • Housing: Rent prices in metropolitan areas like Vancouver and Toronto can be quite high compared to other cities. Buying a house also comes with additional costs such as property taxes and maintenance fees. It is essential to carefully evaluate housing options within your budget.
  • Transportation: Owning a car can be expensive due to insurance costs, fuel prices, parking fees, and regular maintenance expenses. Public transportation offers alternatives but might not always be convenient or readily available outside major urban centers.
  • Groceries: Food costs in Canadian cities have been steadily rising over the years. Shopping for groceries wisely by comparing prices between stores, opting for generic brands instead of name brands if quality permits may help save money.

Keeping an eye on these three main areas will go a long way towards maintaining financial wellness while living in Canada. However, it's crucial not to forget about other expenses such as healthcare premiums or daycare services which also add up quickly over time

Understanding the Impact of Taxes on a 100k Salary

High taxes can significantly affect your financial wellness when earning a six-figure salary in Canada. On a $100,000 income, you must pay both federal and provincial taxes. The nuances of tax brackets mean that you won't be taxed at the same rate for every dollar earned.

  • Federal taxes: You will face higher tax rates as your income increases due to progressive taxation.
  • Provincial taxes: Each province has its own set of tax rates. For instance, Ontario and Alberta have different rates from British Columbia.

To calculate your exact tax liability, consider consulting with a certified accountant or using online resources provided by the Canadian government. This way, you can budget effectively and avoid any surprises come tax season.

Hidden Financial Pressures: Debunking the Myth of High Income = High Savings

Rising living costs in Canada can put a strain on even a $100k salary. Here's why:

  1. Increased expenses: While a six-figure income may seem substantial, high housing costs and soaring prices for essentials like groceries, utilities, and transportation can eat into your budget.
  2. Debt burden: Many Canadians carry significant debt loads, which can erode their ability to save despite a higher income. From student loans to credit card balances and mortgages, these financial obligations can take up a large portion of monthly earnings.
  3. Lifestyle expectations: As incomes rise, so do lifestyle expectations. Trying to keep up with colleagues or friends may lead to excessive spending on vacations, restaurants, entertainment, and luxury goods – leaving little room for savings.

It is crucial not to underestimate the hidden financial pressures that come with earning a high income in Canada. By understanding these challenges and finding ways to cut expenses or increase savings through sensible budgeting strategies and financial planning techniques such as automatic savings transfers from each paycheck toward an emergency fund or retirement account could help alleviate some of the strain felt by many individuals struggling on higher incomes but still living paycheck-to-paycheck.

The Role of Lifestyle Inflation: How Spending More Leads to More Financial Stress

Lifestyle inflation occurs when individuals increase their spending as their income rises. While it may seem natural to indulge in luxuries with a higher salary, this behavior can lead to financial stress.

  1. Escalating expectations: When people earn more, they often start desiring more expensive possessions and experiences. This desire for better things becomes a never-ending cycle, making it difficult to achieve financial stability.
  2. Debt accumulation: Increased spending without proper financial planning can lead to significant debt. Credit cards are often maxed out while mortgages and car loans become burdensome due to high monthly payments.
  3. Inadequate savings: Overspending leaves little room for saving money or building an emergency fund. Without sufficient savings, unexpected expenses such as medical bills or job loss can quickly spiral into overwhelming stress.

By succumbing to lifestyle inflation, individuals may find themselves living paycheck-to-paycheck despite a substantial salary. It is important to strike a balance between enjoying the benefits of increased income and maintaining fiscal responsibility for long-term financial wellness.

Dealing with Debt: Strategies for Overcoming Financial Obligations and Debt Consolidation

Strategies for Overcoming Financial Obligations and Debt Consolidation

Create a Budget:

  • Start by assessing your income and expenses.
  • Determine what expenses can be reduced or eliminated.
  • Allocate a portion of your salary towards debt repayment.
  • Track your spending to ensure you stay within budget.

Prioritize Debt Repayment:

  • Identify the debts with the highest interest rates and focus on paying them off first.
  • Consider contacting creditors to negotiate lower interest rates or payment plans.
  • Explore debt consolidation options, such as personal loans or balance transfers, to simplify payments and potentially lower interest rates.

Seek Professional Help:

  • Consult with a credit counseling agency or financial advisor to create a personalized plan for managing your debt.
  • They can provide guidance on budgeting, negotiating with creditors, and evaluating debt consolidation strategies.

Navigating Housing Challenges: Renting vs Buying in Expensive Canadian Cities


  • Renting can be a more affordable option for people struggling with high living costs on a 100k salary in Canada's expensive cities.
  • With renting, you are not responsible for property taxes or maintenance costs, which can save you money.
  • Flexibility is another advantage of renting; it allows you to easily relocate if needed without the hassle of selling a house.


  • Despite the challenges, buying a home can have its benefits as well.
  • Building equity and potential appreciation over time could lead to long-term financial stability.
  • Owning your own property gives you greater control and freedom to make renovations or modifications according to your preferences.

In summary, both options have their pros and cons. Renting provides flexibility and avoids additional expenses like property taxes, while buying offers the potential for long-term financial stability through equity building. It ultimately depends on individual circumstances and priorities when deciding between renting versus buying in expensive Canadian cities while struggling with finances.

Building an Emergency Fund: Why It's Crucial Even with a 100k Salary

Financial security is important, no matter how much you earn. Even if you have a comfortable salary of $100,000 in Canada, building an emergency fund is crucial for your overall financial wellness. Here’s why:

  1. Unexpected Expenses: Life has a way of throwing surprises at us when we least expect it. Whether it's car repairs, medical bills, or job loss, having an emergency fund can provide a safety net to help cover these unexpected expenses without going into debt.
  2. Peace of Mind: Knowing that you have money set aside specifically for emergencies can bring peace of mind and reduce stress levels. You won't need to worry about struggling to make ends meet if something unexpected happens because you'll be prepared.
  3. Long-Term Financial Goals: Building an emergency fund is not just about handling immediate crises; it also helps protect your long-term financial goals such as buying a house or saving for retirement. By having funds readily available for emergencies, you can avoid dipping into savings meant for other purposes and stay on track towards achieving your financial aspirations.

Remember that building an emergency fund takes time and discipline but starting small and gradually increasing contributions will pay off in the long run by providing financial stability during unforeseen circumstances.

Seeking Professional Help: Exploring Financial Advisors and Resources for Long-Term Stability

When facing financial difficulties, it is essential to consider reaching out to a professional financial advisor. These experts can provide guidance tailored to your unique situation, helping you make informed decisions about budgeting, investing, and planning for the future. They have extensive knowledge of the Canadian financial landscape and can help you navigate through complex topics such as taxes, retirement planning, and debt management.

Financial advisors offer personalized advice that aligns with your goals and risk tolerance. They can assess your current income and expenses to help identify areas where adjustments can be made. By developing a comprehensive plan together, these professionals can assist in creating a roadmap for achieving long-term stability.

In addition to seeking guidance from financial advisors, there are other resources available that may support your journey towards better financial wellness:

  • Government Assistance Programs: Explore government programs designed to alleviate some of the burdens associated with housing costs or education.
  • Online Budgeting Tools: Take advantage of free online tools that track spending habits and suggest ways to save money.
  • Community Workshops: Attend local workshops on personal finance initiatives offered by community centers or libraries.

By utilizing these resources alongside professional advice, you're taking proactive steps towards transforming your financial well-being on a $100k salary in Canada. Remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness but rather an opportunity for growth and stability.

Bruce Hodges
Bruce, Founder and CEO of Parachute, worked for several of Canada’s top Banks, published research for the Canadian Bankers Association, and taught E-commerce Strategy in Wilfrid Laurier University’s MBA program. His first start-up built credit solutions for the likes of National Bank, Fair Isaac, and Ford Credit globally. Prior to starting Parachute, Bruce was COO of Foresters Financial, and EVP Transformation at CIBC, one of Canada’s top 5 banks. Bruce founded Parachute to disrupt the financial wellness space taking on payday, and high interest predatory lenders, with the intent to bring at risk Canadians back from the brink to good financial health.
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