Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Week 35: Cash or Credit?

 

Week 35:

Cash or Credit?

Dr. Seuss had it right when he wrote The Lorax. Read as an adult, it’s a chilling account of what happens when consumer demand drives the economy, and pushes corporations into biggering and biggering. The Lorax is the voice of reason (I Speak for the Trees!) who in the end, just bails on the whole mess and leaves the Onceler in his devastated landscape. Devoid of all things, Old Onceler realizes that he’s just put himself out of business by hacking down all the trees, and destroying all the habitats. He lives the rest of his life in desolate guilt over what he’s done. Sound familiar? Hopefully we wake up before the last truffula tree falls, because we can’t lift ourselves by the seat of our pants and fly to some new land. This is it folks!

We’re the ones driving the Onceler, I’m sad to say. Advertising is the main culprit, building fantasy lives of what we could be, do, have, if we only bought the latest thneed.

This week, we’ll reconnect ourselves with our wallets, and remember that a penny saved is a penny earned. What’s a penny? Precisely why we need to have this conversation.

Challenge 35: Use cash instead of credit or debit.

Use cash instead of interac or credit if you shop for holiday gifts this week - you’ll spend less and consume less.

The pitfalls are apparent. Numbers on a screen don’t really register the same way as reaching into your pocket and forking over a mittful of twenties. And, conveniently, interac doesn’t tell you what’s left in your bank account - only that it approves of your purchase. Thanks Interac for the permission! This is the added insidiousness of consumerism. They’ve made it mindlessly easy to separate you from your hard-earned money. Just tap your way into the poor house. We’re deep in the heart of the consumerism rabbit hole now. 

Even when not buying online, we’ve become an almost cashless society, amongst the pandemic phobia about touching anything someone else has touched. But, using debit cards and credit cards disconnects you from how much you’re spending. Add to that the ease of online shopping, and soon you’ve purchased a truckload of merchandise without really registering that you’ve spent a dime. 

Yes, we’re encouraged to use cards during this uncertain time. And if that makes you more comfortable, then consider only using your interac card, and setting yourself a daily budget for how much you’ll spend. Otherwise, the sky’s the limit, as long as interac gods continue their thumbs up.

Buying with a credit card really means you’re willing to mortgage your future earnings, at a hefty interest rate, for the immediate satisfaction of getting it NOW. There have been many studies done, which indicate that people spend more when using credit than they would with cash. In some cases, people are willing to pay up to 100% more when paying by credit card than by cash. Wow!

 How plastic fuel consumerism? Because if you’re paying by cash, you’re going to watch what you spend. You’re not going to overspend because you can’t. It stops the impulse buy, and the upsell. It doesn’t even really require willpower, because you don’t have the means to go bigger. But with credit, there’s always room for more.  Even if you don’t need more, you may buy it simply because you can. It’s easy. It’s that ease which makes us one of the most consumer debt laden countries in the world. Did you know the Canadian household debt burden is 177% of our disposable income? That’s astronomical. Do we really need all that stuff?

So, this week, heed the words of the Lorax. Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better; it’s not. Consumption is one of the biggest fuels for climate change. We have to change our habits. Leave your credit card at home, and leave that thneed in the window. Thanks Dr. Seuss for the lesson.
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Yours in Sustainability,
Sherri Jackson & Laurel Hood

52 Weeks of Climate Action was created by Sherri Jackson and Laurel Hood. Sherri is a writer, speaker and musician. She is the candidate of record and communications coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Laurel Hood, is a retired secondary teacher, transportation lead for the Collingwood Climate Action Team, and volunteer coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Visit our blog or sign up at www.52weeksofclimateaction.com.

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