Phoebe, Isaac and Hannah Smith understand that young people are often the target of advertisers and that resisting the temptation to purchase unnecessary items is very difficult. “It is a bit of a slippery slope,” says Isaac. “You start by having a lifestyle and trying to maintain it. It costs you a lot of money. You go into debt.”
Feeling lost and in debt after finishing her undergraduate degree, Phoebe took a financial workshop developed by FCAC in partnership with Investor Education Fund, George Brown College and the Toronto Star personal finance columnist Ellen Roseman. “I made the decision to take the course at George Brown because I was really scared about what my finances were looking like. The course was excellent, because it extended over things such as consumerism, investments, debt, all sorts of things,” she says. “I learned payment schedules to pay it off faster, so I am hoping that I can live and enjoy life more while paying some of my debt off by reducing some of my consumer expenses and investing more wisely.”
Isaac and Hannah have both learned from Phoebe's experiences to make budgets and live within their financial limits. “I don't know if there is necessarily an easy balance,” says Hannah. “But I do think it is just a case of trying to save as much as you can while still having some sort of a social life; it is a balance.”
Hannah: I would say we all have our weaknesses.
Phoebe: Isaac lives the cheapest.
Hannah: He does.
Isaac: It's a humble lifestyle.
Hannah: I'm Hannah Smith.
Isaac: I'm Isaac Smith.
Phoebe: I'm Phoebe Smith.
Hannah: The expectations can be quite high as to what kind of lifestyle people are expected to lead. In magazines especially for women, they advertise clothes that are $1,000 for a sweater or an expensive purse as though young women should be able to afford it.
Phoebe: There is a lot of cell-phone marketing, a lot of device marketing, clothing marketing for younger people. They market it so that if you don't have this particular medium, like text messaging or even e-mail over your phone, you are not part of the young social crowd and you are missing out.
Isaac: It is a bit of a slippery slope. You start by having a lifestyle and trying to maintain it. It costs you a lot of money. You go into debt. You know, everything from car loans, car payments, insurance, all those things. Phoebe went through that, so I know that if I get in that position where I need a car, then I can go to Phoebe and I will avoid some of the mistakes she made. You know it is nice for Phoebe to make the mistakes for all of us.
Phoebe: I made the decision to take the course at George Brown because I was really scared about what my finances were looking like. The course was excellent, because it extended over things such as consumerism, investments, debt, all sorts of things. Right away I started calling my cell phone company to try and get a lower bill. And I very successfully did that. They took about $100 off my bill a month. I am also looking to switch banks: my loan is not being paid off fast enough, so I found a bank with a lower interest rate that can pay bi-weekly. I learned payment schedules to pay it off faster, so I am hoping that I can live and enjoy life more while paying some of my debt off by reducing some of my consumer expenses and investing more wisely.
Hannah: I don't know if there is necessarily an easy balance, but I do think it is just a case of trying to save as much as you can but still having some sort of a social life, but it is a balance.
Phoebe: I think knowing your weaknesses, too. And budgeting for those weaknesses. So I like getting a new pair of boots or shoes every season. Which isn't exactly the wisest but making sacrifices to be able to do that.
Isaac: I think you're right, with your shoes, though, like setting goals, saying “Okay, this is something I want. It is not a need. It is a want, but if I set goals and work towards it ― you know you know $20 a paycheque or whatever ― I don't think that's unhealthy.
Phoebe: Financial tools that are accessible for everyone are so important, because there is such a wide range of issues that people can run into.
Hannah: Just being more aware of contracts, I think, is a tremendous bit of knowledge to know, and I like the fact it is accessible to a broad spectrum of people. I think that is really important.
Isaac: It is part of being an adult, learning these skills, and it is nice to have some guidance for young people, you know, because I suppose we are vulnerable. So, yeah, it is nice to have someone on your team.