Published on January 1st, 2015 | by Rick Ziemski0
Fallout From 2008
By Rick Ziemski
“The only difference between rut and grave is their dimension.”
~ Ellen Glasgow
Prior to 2008 many in North America practiced the “ostrich” method (head in sand) of personal financial management. It had become widely accepted. Then came 2008 and the “ostrich rut” crowd realized they were one step from a financial grave. It is sad that it takes neardisaster to convince people of the need for change. And so today we hear an enthused populace shouting a new national rally cry, “financial literacy for all”.
But awareness is only the beginning. Without commitment and action nothing changes. The usual reasons for staying in the rut prevail; apathy, laziness and fear. The innate power in humans to manifest their own reality goes unutilized and we continue to wallow in life as “financial victims”. Without a strong desire for change this pattern continues with no chance of abating. It breeds unhappiness and becomes damaging to individual and state. Change leadership becomes critically necessary.
On a national level credit is due to our Federal leaders who have launched a Canadian literacy program and earlier this year appointed Jane Rooney as financial literacy leader, mandated to “champion financial literacy on behalf of all Canadians”. Rooney’s plan is three pronged giving recognition to the element of urgency by prioritizing seniors and retirement issues as the first prong, followed by focus on other priority groups like low-income, Aboriginal Peoples and the Disabled. Young adults and youth comprise the third prong. The focus is not only internal as the mandate also includes international collaboration with other nations that also grapple with the fallout from 2008.
However, government cannot do it all for you. On a personal level, each Canadian should heed the warning bells with a commitment to do better at personal money management. The start comes with the will to learn. The heated concern about financial literacy has created many sources of information and tools to assist. Our Federal government sponsors the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca). Another organization that has taken a leadership role in strengthening Canadians’ financial acumen is the professional body of Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada. Most recently CPA Canada received international recognition for its financial literacy program by winning the Excellence in Financial Literacy Award from the Instituted for Financial Literacy in the USA. The CPA program is aimed at Canadians willing to learn and is comprised of “Community Connect”, various publications and a consumer website (www.financialdecisionsmatter.ca).
If you chose to believe that you can manifest a positive financial reality by embracing change then, yes, you are wise to follow a program to improve financial literacy and learn the application of financial tools to your finances. There is however one proviso. All of this effort may produce only limited results in turning around your finances. The stopper is usually the inability to change those behaviors that impact personal finances negatively. For example no amount of literacy can stop shopping compulsions, impulse buying or unwarranted feelings of entitlement. At this juncture a financial advisor is of little use since the required help needs to be in the form of behaviour modification therapy. A good financial advisor should tell you so. Too often I have faced clients who directly say that they want help to improve their finances but really mean, “help me but don’t expect me to change my behavior”.
The truth is it just doesn’t work that way!