It’s only 10 bucks

The thing about ten bucks is if you have it, it isn’t worth a whole lot. If you don’t have ten bucks and desperately need it, it feels like it might as well be ten thousand. 

Everything about money amounts to perspective.

Unfortunately, a rising number of Canadians find themselves in tighter financial circumstances amidst a growing disparity of haves and have nots. One wrong move, a dose of bad luck or an unexpected expense is enough to throw a household into panic mode.

Surveys conducted by Ipsos for insolvency firm MNP Ltd concluded almost half of Canadians are $200 from insolvency, as outlined in a recent Globe and Mail story. The tale of woe is different across the country, ranging from 39 per cent in BC to 55% in the Maritimes. Ontario however, the long heralded economic engine of the country, stands at 48% of residents basically treading water each month. 

These facts are hard to fathom considering the apparent wealth in a country such as Canada.

Every generation has their story – arguably their own reality when it comes to finances and outlook. That point was driven home in a conversation with a young worker at our shop. I often like to quiz people on what they are thinking and I proposed that young people have never had it better.

What came next in his response was enlightening on many levels when he suggested young people have nothing to compare with.

Though Depression-era people are few and far between now, many passed down a sense of thriftiness to their families having experienced life when money was tight. 

Subsequent generations, never having experienced Depression-era hunger, exorbitant interest costs or an absence of cash, are often less frugal and happy to consume without constraint. It remains a source of curiosity for us what would happen if consumers were forced by simple economics to make do with less or feel the inconvenience of rationing as was the case in war time.

The survey legitimizes a concern we have had for many years.

Far too often an emphasis is placed on programming to help people, with little regard for the ultimate cost of such services. 

Ten bucks here, another ten there, maybe 50 dollars for bigger ticket items; the cost of living seems to compound with little thought given to citizens already finding it a grind to keep up.

Perhaps if decisions were being made by those who wish they had ten bucks, rather than by those who consider a ten-spot a pittance, we’d have some different outcomes.