Let’s face it, my fellow canucks, we love not being American, eh?
There’s a lot of prejudice out there, whether we like to admit it to our tolerant selves or not. We especially like to look down on American lifestyle choices. Sprawling Wal-Mart Supercenters, an insatiable thirst for gas-guzzling vehicles, and the land of Coke and McDonald’s. …wait, we have those, too!
You may have been aware that in these last few years the “American housing crisis” – skyrocketing debt and people buying houses they couldn’t afford – did a number on the American economy. But our houses are happily increasing in value, albeit slowly, and last year was the second-best year ever for condo sales in Toronto .
Canadians think they’re immune from a real estate-led economic downturn because our banks are superior to US banks. Because we’re more prudent borrowers with more cautious lenders. Because everybody wants to move here. Because the government will look after things…. Because it’s different here. – Garth
I want to introduce you to a badass of Canadian finance. His name is Garth Turner* and he has a sassy blog. Here’s an excerpt from a series he did called “It’s Different Here”:
Canada is not the USA. But people are people. Americans got house horny a few years before we did. They inflated real estate, dropped lending standards and borrowed too much. So have we.
Garth’s blog is a bit deep if you’re new to economics, but it is definitely one to check out if you want a counter-cultural perspective. And I mean counter to Canadian culture. The incessant message that you need more and bigger and nicer and now has produced a behemoth of Canadian house porn. You know what I’m talking about; the likes of HGTV (a Canadian channel), with Property Virgins, and House Hunters, and Divine Design. I love it as much as the next person. But it also can give us… well, desires. As Garth would call it, “house horny.” (Thanks, Garth!)
Pride comes before a fall. – The Bible
Confession time. I failed a course in university. I honestly thought by the time I was in 3rd year that I couldn’t fail. My grades suffered as I took a demanding position on a leadership team for the Christian club on campus, and took five english courses in one semester. “But I’d scrape by.” I thought, “I always do!”
Then I got 45% in Shakespearean Comedies. I wasn’t laughing.
But I deserved it. I made a mistake and took on too much. I didn’t attend classes or do readings or attend seminars. Duh, of course I failed.
One of the biggest mistakes we can make is thinking we can’t make mistakes. As long as we can pay the bills, we’re doing alright, right? As long as we give to charity, we can spend whatever we want on ourselves, right? Our spouses can look after the money and we can be content to be ignorant, right? We’ll figure out our finances when we’re older, right? As long as we’re not American, we can’t possibly repeat America’s mistakes, right?
Confession time, again. That last paragraph is basically me. Until recently, I felt that because I wasn’t in debt I was good with my money.
I’m not good with my money. I’m just not bad with my money. And honestly, I’m not even sure if that’s true.
This is what this blog is for: Taking a real look at how we (I) spend money and getting it in line with what God wants. Right now, I don’t check my spending and I don’t think about what Jesus would say about it. I’m like the guy who didn’t have much talent for looking after money so just dug a hole in the ground and hid it. That didn’t really impress the boss when he came back. But Jesus is gracious, and generous, and patient, and so my prayer is that he’d help me out as I figure this stuff out.
Please help me to identify pride in my life that is keeping me from making wise choices about how I manage my money. Give me the courage and humility to address the problems and seek out wisdom from You. Thank you for promising to give us wisdom when we ask.
Do you think you’re better than others when it comes to how you manage your money? What do you think you still need to learn?
*Garth Turner: You may have heard of him – he used to be on CTV news. A few months ago my husband emailed him a question and his response included the phrase, “you’re delusional,” which tickled us pink and made us love him even more. But that’s for another post.