Debt Freedom 56

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Before rushing into my usual tirade about banks doing surveys and leaving the impression their findings are indisputable facts, I just loved the reference quote in the article in the Vancouver Sun  today about a boomer who lived through double-digit interest rates in the 1980s and over the years missed more than one naïve financial goal.

Yes. How many naïve financial goals are we still being subjected to?

I have recently researched the top selling personal finance books and suddenly realized that pretty much all of them make the roadway to wealth and retirement sound far too easy.

Dave Ramsey, for  example, a zealot and leading spokesperson for debt freedom bulldozes everything in life aside to achieve this one noble pursuit of debt freedom. After you get the mortgage paid off and all of the other debts you can then, relax and enjoy life.

The lightbulb went on when I realized this is kind of the same message as other get rich quick, 9 essential steps to follow or 10 must do steps have. You forget about life until you reach your financial goals. Then go party on your yacht.

I wonder about how many of these authors earn a minimum living wage or in some cases, even have children. I mean it costs around $200,000 to raise a child to the age of 18 (according to statistical studies from the Department of Agriculture) and that does not include post-secondary education.

So, this Vancouver Sun article that brings up the topic of naïve financial goals comes at a time when many pillars of financial wisdom have crumbled into fairy dust, like Freedom 55.

Unfortunately, not too many experts or journalists are pointing the finger at child poverty, the incredible discrepancy between the wealthy  15% of the population and middle and lower income families in terms of income and assets.

Many of the Freedom 55 financial plans from the past did the same thing as the financial freedom books – push all else aside – spousal entertainment – children’s extracurricular activities – vacations – and a few years later the fat RRSP’s were either cashed in early to meet basic living expenses and pay down worrisome debt levels, or used to pay family court lawyers to wind up broken relationships and families.

The figure cited in the Vancouver Sun of an average of $24,000 for non-mortgage debt for Vancouverites, really doesn’t tell us very much. We need to know a lot more –  who owes the debt,  the income groups, the family size, the age group, the assets or lack thereof, whether or not they have a student loan and on and on. Without these details, this figure of $24,000 is just a mathematical number upon which journalists and banks wildly editorialize about everything under the sun including who is optimistic, who worries and does not worry about debt and on and on.

I didn’t particularly like the comment that the troublesome non-mortgage debt figures are balanced by the finding that 29 per cent of Canadians don’t owe any money at all. Excuse me. Hello!!!

Nothing is balanced. This survey simply shines a little light on the probability that the wealthy don’t owe too much debt and the majority of working individuals and families do.

I find the rest of the hypothecating, philosophizing, opinion-izing or outright gossiping hard to take seriously as there are few demographic facts to back up the hot air.

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