2020, for all intents and purposes, was a dumpster fire. A horrible year for human health and wellbeing but on the positive side, a remarkable year in terms of our resilience as a society.
Companies around the globe migrated from the office to working from home, while still maintaining reasonable degrees of productivity. Many individuals were forced to save more than ever before in the absence of places to go and things to buy. Most interestingly, Canadian government stimulus combined with relief offers by the Big Five Banks actually caused debt repayment behaviours to improve.
From a personal perspective and if I’m being outright tone-deaf: I’ve also had a great year. Stock markets are at an all-time high. And I saved more than ever before by seeing costs drop across a huge range of categories, spanning:
- Commuting costs (gas, insurance, public transit)
- Takeout dining (coffees and lunches)
- Entertainment expenses (concerts, movies, restaurants)
- Celebration events (birthdays, weddings)
But these “savings” are all trivial in a global and national context. Charitable giving nationally is at all-time lows. Thousands of people have died alone this year. Social justice issues remain unsolved. Our mental health has taken a wallop. The pandemic’s 2nd wave appears to be taking its overdue reckoning on our healthcare system. And the most vulnerable are getting left further and further behind.
So for my annual post of 2020, I’m going to go anti-establishment here and give you a challenge for 2021: if you’ve materially benefitted from this pandemic financially, go ahead and spend more.
Worried that that cute local restaurant is going to shut down? Order all your favourite things and then some. Leftovers are delicious.
Want that PS5 that will rot your brain? Good. Find a Canadian business that retails it and buy it because the government needs your tax revenue. (Plus: you can rationalize the idea that it’s forcing you to stay at home!)
Sick to your stomach about the prejudice in our systems? Good. Research good charities and give back financially.
Desperately want to travel in 2021? Travel Canadian. It’s surprising how often we take our country’s beauty for granted.
I am not advocating for reckless and irresponsible spending behaviours here nor for these to form into habits. Obviously save and invest what you must. But for once, spend what you want. Our society needs us. And if this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that there is value in enjoying our precarious lives while we have them.