Canadians Drowning In Debt

Hearing recently on the news yet another repeat of the headline,"Canadians drowning in debt", I began wondering about what has led us here?
I know this is supposed to be a food blog but today from a decidedly unqualified point of view (other than a few years experience), I am going to offer an  opinion and some unsolicited advice.
Sometimes disaster strikes and we are obliged to go into debt to survive but that is not usually the case. Most often we get into debt carelessly by not living within our means. Once a person gets mired in credit card debt at astronomical rates, you become a true prisoner. That struggle can continue for a lifetime and causes untold stress and damage to our health.
My parents are one generation removed from the Great Depression of the 1930s and they managed their finances carefully, having inherited their habits from the people who actually lived through that dark financial time. Sometimes my folks were ridiculously cheap but they lived within their humble means and did not get into debt. I, in turn, inherited some attitude from them and was just getting my feet wet in adulthood, when Canada was raked by a significant recession in the early 1980s. I was on the bottom of the employment food chain and spent the better part of two years, un or under employed. A little brush with financial disaster does a lot to shape one's attitudes. Does not mean that none of my generation are stupid with their money or that people who have not experienced those years are frivolous? No, it means that people who are aware of the unfortunately up and down nature of the economy may be more likely to live by the rule, "Save for what you want but borrow for what you need". A house and a car are necessary and most often, we need to borrow to acquire them. If you can save and pay cash for a car, good on you!
Other than for transportation and shelter, for what reason would anyone not live by that rule? Its because we think that stuff will make us happy and we want that stuff now! Instant gratification! That is an unfortunate mistaken idea. I know there is nothing like the rush of buying a new car or shoes or a bag but we as humans, habituate remarkably well to our circumstances and before long, that BMW is just transportation, those Manolo Blhniks just keep our feet from getting wet and the Louis Vuitton just carries stuff. Chances are, what we had previously would have sufficed until we could save money for replacements and those replacements,even if they took the form of a slightly used Mazda and more humble shoes and bags would fill their necessary roles just as well, without the financial stress.
There is the joy of anticipation to be considered as well. Sometimes looking forward to a vacation is as much fun as the actual vacation. If you save for it, it continues to be something to look forward to but if you go today, it is quickly over with nothing but the bills to remind you (well, you should at least take some nice pictures).
Do you need the deep debt expensive items to impress your friends and family? Then you need to trade those people in for less shallow versions (family included). Nothing is as stupid as status symbol possessions and the advertising industry knows it and exploits it. Don't be a rube!
Advertisers try to get us into this charge it now and pay later cycle and they create new 'needs', new ways for us to spend. One hundred years ago Christmas might have actually been a pseudo religious celebration and not the gift fest we see today. Chocolate at Easter and Valentines day? And don't get me started on three months salary for an engagement ring! Where do you think those ideas came from?
If you are mired in debt, get some financial help. Build a budget and live by it. Realize that the joy and meaning in life does not come from stuff. It comes from good friends, good food (I have to say that to keep my food blogger status) and meaningful experiences. Read and learn things. I love taking courses at edx.org and revel in the joy of continuing my education even into future retirement. And volunteer! Helping someone else is one of the most rewarding things that you can do!
Warren Buffet is my favourite filthy rich guy. The tenth of his ten rules for wealth is, "Once you have made it, give it away". I was reminded of this and inspired by a recent Google doodle of George Peabody. He was another rich guy who lived simply but practically invented philanthropy.
If we change our attitudes big business will not be happy but we will live well and be more contented.
Sorry to be so serious. Here are a couple of picture of my cat Smokey to cheer you up!
"She thinks she's rabbit!"
Smokey is not a vegetarian but if I don't have grass for her she will eat my house plants!



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Are you guys eating again? At some point Marie and I became the kind of people who take pictures of everything we eat, whether in a restaura...