Canada’s biggest money mistakes

5 Dec 2018

Most of us are familiar with the experience of regret that we feel when scrolling through our banking history. With so many apps at our fingertips allowing easy access to online stores, food deliveries and other little luxuries, it’s easier to overspend – sometimes without even realising.

Finder recently surveyed 2,000 Canadian adults to discover what our biggest money mistakes are: from dropping out of college, to the blow-out wedding that cost way more than it was worth. According to the survey, a whopping 18.1 million of us, or 62.95%, have made a money mistake at some point in our lives.

What are Canadians blowing their loonies on?

Blowing too much on fun (for example, on vacations, shopping, or dining out), accounted for over half (53.1%) of Canada’s money mistakes. The next most common money mistakes were spending big on bad investments, such as on property or stocks (25.6%), as well as gambling (13.2%).

These were followed by letting their partner control their finances (12.7%), dropping out of college (9.8%), paying too much for a wedding (8.3%), having children (6.4%), and getting caught out in an online scam (5.8%).

Let’s break it down


More men than women have made money mistakes, with men having a slight lead at 63.2%, compared to 62.8% of women. For both genders, the biggest regret was blowing it on too much fun. However, a greater proportion of women said this was their biggest mistake, with 57.7% of women regretting spending too much on frivolity, compared to just 47.8% of men saying the same – a difference of ten points.

With investment choices, it seems men are happier to take bigger risks, with 36.7% of men saying they regret making a bad investment, compared to just 16.2% of women. Men were also more likely to gamble away their cash, with a whopping 17.5% of men saying this was their biggest money mistake, compared to just 9.5% of women.

However, women were more likely than men to regret letting their partner take too much control over their finances, with 14.7% of women giving this response, compared to just 10.4% of men. These results could speak to a wider gender divide for financial independence.

Surprisingly, women were more likely to say having children was a bad money decision, with 7.6% citing this as a money mistake, compared to just over 5% of men. This was also the least common reason men selected overall.


Millennials are notorious for spending too much on the little luxuries in life. Finder’s survey confirmed that reputation, with the vast majority of Canadian millennials surveyed (67.97%) saying their biggest money mistake was having too much fun – five points higher than the Canadian average. This is compared to over half of Gen Xers (56.4%) and 41.2% of baby boomers.

Millennials were also more likely to regret spending too much on a wedding, with 12.8% of Canadians aged 18-34 admitting to a blow-out wedding, compared to 9.1% of those from Gen X, and just 4.95% of baby boomers.

There was a surprising discrepancy when it came to the generational gap for online scams. Despite a common belief that millennials are the most tech-savvy generation, they were actually most likely to regret losing money on an online scam, with 8.2% of millennials confessing to this money mistake, compared to 5.7% of Gen Xers and just 4.5% of baby boomers admitting the same.


The Prairie Provinces are home to the most regretful shoppers of all, with a whopping 71% of people from this region admitting to making a money mistake – nearly ten points higher than the Canadian average at 62.95%. This was followed by Central Canada at 61.8%, the West Coast, at 61.4%, and the Atlantic Region at 60.8%.

A whopping 41.2% of people from the Prairie Provinces blew their loonies on having too much fun, while 27.8% blew their money on bad investments.

Top tips for avoiding loonie regret

Compare your options

Comparing your choices before you spend will give you peace of mind that you’ve found the best deal out there – and fend off any money regret in the process.

Shop the sales and promotions

With a majority of Canadians admitting their biggest money mistake is spending big on having too much fun, it seems we’re all too tempted to splurge on the finer things in life. But there are ways you can buy the dress, and wear it too. Sales are a great way to buy the little luxuries you want – at a price you can afford. Next time you’re tempted to hit the ground running with your credit card in hand, make sure you check out this list of all the deals currently running at some of your favourite stores, so you can be sure you’re getting the best price possible.

Get smart about online scams

Our best tips to avoid scams? Never wire money to someone you don’t know; be wary of unsolicited phone calls; pay by credit card (that way you have recourse if things go awry), Most importantly, use your common sense: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.


This data is from a survey of 2,000 Canadian adults commissioned by and conducted by OnePoll in June 2018. Due to not having enough respondents, the North region (Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory) was not included.
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