Sufficiency Friday: Why Isn't It Cool to Save?

September 28, 2012

Why isn’t it cool to save?
I asked myself this question again recently when I flicked on the radio. Two cultural indicators reached me by sound-wave which got me thinking (and should probably have you thinking too!):
1. A new poll found that 92% of Canadians are comfortable taking on debt if they were faced with the decision to borrow a quick $2,000.
Followed by…
2. Rapper Kanye West’s new jam “Clique”  in which he raps about his preference to buy 80 gold chains and carelessly splurge rather than save or invest his money.
Looking beyond some cool word-smithing and the inflammatory nature of his lyrics, do Kanye’s rhymes somehow affirm Canadian’s willingness to go into debt for seemingly arbitrary purchases? Maybe it was the hypnotic nature of his repeated ‘clique, clique, clique…’, but hearing Kanye West’s lyrics together with the poll soundbite made something ‘click’ in a way that has nothing to do with Yeezy.
So again: Why isn’t it cool to save?
Debt and saving has quickly become a favorite topic in the news. I’ve been noticing it more and more as of late. Since the beginning of the month weekly reports and surveys have been released about the debt levels of Canadians and our attitudes towards spending, debt and saving. Oh, you weren’t paying attention? Don’t worry, I was…

These headlines are meant to grab our attention, and sometimes they do. But as with climate change, it still remains hard to really care – at least socially and in a meaningful way.
We live in a consumer society fueled by consumption: that’s no secret. As a mortgage broker, I’m often privileged with a glimpse at the real assets behind that flashy ride and St Kitts vacations. All too often, I find that the emperor has no clothes as most people are buying purely on credit and the promise of tomorrow. We humans are such optimists! Then again, maybe the satisfaction we receive from ‘fitting in’ or ‘showing off’ is enough to justify possible financial ruin in the not-so-distant future. We know, too, that for some purchasers, spending money becomes a habit…or worse: an addiction.
Perhaps this brings us closer to understanding why it isn’t cool to save.
But why should we care? Despite all the recent polls cited above and the continued ‘reign’ (or terror, depending on your musical sensibilities) of Kanye, I’ve noticed something is starting to change in people’s attitudes and the type of dialogue and language being used. As a quick example of this trend, take a quick browse through our country’s two most popular newspapers: both The Globe & Mail and The Star have personal finance sites loaded with tons of thrifty ideas and tips on how to be financially responsible.
On this Sufficiency Friday, I can’t help but feel we are slowly moving towards a new era of financial responsibility. But we aren’t there yet: when Kanye starts rhyming about setting aside 1/3 of his tour revenue for future savings, then we’ve made it.


Christopher Molder

Mortgage Broker

Christopher is a mortgage broker based in Toronto, Canada. And a son of a broker too. He’s a second generation mortgage broker. Following in his father’s steps he joined the family mortgage business straight out of university.