A study by TransUnion found that non-mortgage debt levels are at an eight-year high in Canada to the tune of $26, 221 in the second quarter.
Anecdote #1: Obligatory waitressing story
I recently had a table that was a young couple about my age. They were slightly odd and when the bill came and the total was about $47, the young man asked if he could put $43 on his card and the young woman would cover the rest plus tip. I found it incredibly strange that one of them wasn’t picking up the whopping $47 and I found it even stranger that he chose to pay 91.4% of the bill. I found it even STRANGER that his card declined.
…I found it even stranger still that he asked to put $40 on his card and that that amount went through. Awesome, you have $40 credit to your name and you are kind enough to treat your girlfriend to 91.4% of a meal. Such a charmer you are!
Why you don’t have money: You eat out at restaurants on money that isn’t yours. So much so that you’ve got $40 of credit left.
Delicious, but not free.
Anecdote #2: Friends with kids
I have a friend who has two kids and about $25,000 of debt. She doesn’t seem to be in a huge rush to work and I can understand it. After all, daycare costs are incredibly high and could very possibly amount to the wages of an entry-level position. She is currently off traveling and eating lobsters or something.
Why you don’t have money: You travel when you should be paying off debt.
Paradise, but not free.
Anecdote #3: A certain ‘friend’ of mine
My ‘friend’ decided she was entitled to tons of vacations after graduating from university, regardless of the fact that she hadn’t secured full time employment and had a mound of debt. My ‘friend’ looked for work for eight months after graduating and racked up a pile of credit card debt to add to the pile of student loan debt. She was convinced her dream job was just around the corner so she didn’t bother working part time while looking.
Confessions of a former-debtee
If you didn’t guess, my ‘friend’ = me. I’m not perfect either (as much as I like to think so!). I’ve been there and I’ve done that and I’ve lived to blog the story. I’ve been through the muddy trenches of debt and somehow pulled myself through. So although this post was meant to yell at everyone in debt, I get it. I get it but it isn’t right. Why do we feel like we deserve things that we haven’t earned through hard work and saving? Why do we continue to spend money as if we’re working when we’re out of work?
I think my anecdotes illustrate the answer perfectly: we think we deserve things whether we earn them or not. We want nice trips, nice meals, nice clothes, and just about everything else we can’t afford. We don’t want to wait until we have the money; we want it now.
…Of course we aren’t the only ones at fault. Banks and other lenders are moneymaking entities. Over the past few years, some banks have gotten better at educating people about money, but at the end of the day they aren’t in it for you. If they were, they wouldn’t be handing out mortgages to those that clearly can’t afford them or doling out credit cards with several thousand dollar limits to those with little to no income.
That being said, you can’t blame the big bad bank. Educate yourself. Here are some examples of websites that advocate financial literacy:
Practical money skills
Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
Get Smart About Money
Last but not least, consult the personal finance community! They’re a nice bunch and there is absolutely no shortage of great people and posts related to financial literacy. I’ve included some of my favourites over in my blog roll to the right.
I can tell everyone firsthand that getting out of debt isn’t fun. You’ll have to go on a travel ban. You probably can’t buy a new dress for that wedding coming up. You’ll definitely have to skip out on that weekend road trip. I’ve done it all. But I can tell you that it isn’t permanent.
And in the end, it’s absolutely worth it.