It’s a startling revelation. Almost 70 percent of the wealth in Canada is in the accounts of the people making the most money, which is about 20 percent of the income earners in the country. Most of us find ourselves in the middle somewhere, making under $56,000 as individuals or under $125,000 as a family of two or more (as noted by MoneySense via Macleans in a 2015 article).
Stats Canada shows that the number of people making between $35,000 and $50,000 a year has increased from just fewer than eleven million in 2010 to over twelve and a half million in 2014. The number of people earning from $25000 to $35,000 in the same period has increased from fourteen million to almost sixteen million.
Do the math. The number of people making a middle to lower-middle income has increased by three and a half million individuals, which is about 10 percent of the population. Oh, yes, and the rich are getting richer. But, although the number of people earning more income at higher levels has also increased in the same timeframe, this growth does not come close to the pace of the ever expanding statistics we see in the middle and lower middle income segments.
Unfortunately, there is one last painful bullet. The Canadian Cost of Living has gone up by over 10 percent (2010 – 2014).
So, how’s your wallet doing? Is there anything in it after payday? Do you feel the angst and pressure in the weeks before Christmas, or the days before a birthday or anniversary when you wish you could get that someone special that something special? Somehow, you rise to the occasion while squeezing your credit into that unforgiving vice of debt.
It’s no wonder gift cards are booming. In the US alone, gift card transactions blew up to over $130 billion in 2015 with growth pushing close to 30 percent a year. Ok … ok … stop with the statistics. I hear you.
Here’s the thing. My point is that many of us —most of us — are swimming in an economic reality we may not have anticipated. We get stuck in our old school habits of wanting to do the best for our families, friends and loved ones when it comes to showing them our appreciation — on a birthday, anniversary, or during a seasonal celebration. The give and take thing. Get over it.
In fact, get into it; I mean, giving people less and taking less. We have to remind ourselves that giving at any level is still giving. We could, in fact, be more creative in how we give without wearing out the chips on our cards. More importantly, give yourself something by keeping it. Keep your money. Give it to your budget and take the sanity that comes with it.
This Christmas, everyone I care about is getting a gift card, period, end of purchase. Total seasonal cost for everyone? $200, plus hand-written messages of how much I love and appreciate them. Am I disappointed deep down in that part of me that likes to go overboard? Yes. Well, no! I’m damn proud, actually. The stress I forego is the greatest gift in the world. Now I get to ignore every seasonal commercial, which sings and chimes with irritation, itching our purchasing behavior to buy many things and buy many more things to accessorize the first things.
I give … and, yes, I take — less. The take is my gift. In fact, it’s everyone’s gift because I’m a happier, less stressed out person. It puts me right in the — middle (get it?)— of a saner place. I deserve it. So do you. So does everyone.
And so, we carry on …
Michael Kryton is the author of “A Brilliant Idea Every 60 Seconds“, an account and how-to of his ideation methodology, published by Glidan Media New York and available at Amazon.com.