July 31, 2014

By Margaret H. Johnson

It’s hard to resist the temptation to lay back in the sun and forget about our money issues. And maybe that is one of the benefits of summer – we go on a vacation from our money troubles.

How we do we do it? We close our eyes, and whip out the credit cards and relax. The family budget gets buried in the sand of bliss and willful negligence. Part of the reason for this temporary amnesia with money is the underlying reality that there is no money to pay for the annual vacation, or the many children's camps and activities. And, rather than face the cold breeze from winter and back to school expenses, we run away to the beach or the campgrounds to hide and forget – even if only, for a few weeks.

Another reason for this passionate attempt to escape from the budgetary prison of constraint is the reality of inflation and how things like the current price of gas, even food – bacon, chicken, beef, pork - rob the family of the ability to plan. Incomes have not risen at the same rate as these price increases which leaves an unasked question hovering over the heads of the middle and lower income groups: How can they pay for these essential things? They don’t have the money.

Some families are cutting back. Driving less. Trying to ride bicycles and travelling less. However, the parents only have a week or two off during summer. The kids are out for two months. The family expenses tend to be greater when children are out of school because they need activities.

So, the great escape of summer holidays, funded by credit and debt, is unavoidable for many.

My advice: do the best you can. Childhood only comes once. There is something harsh about cutting down the fun side of summer because of a shortage of money. But don’t go overboard. Explore all of the free activities. Visit museums and hang out at the libraries. There is nothing like reading a good book.

Speaking of which, a friend of mine, the former director of Debt Collection and Debtor Assistance in British Columbia, Douglas P. Welbanks, is releasing a new non-fiction book on August 5th 2014 at the Vancouver Public Library. It’s a story about overcoming many obstacles – racial discrimination, financial shortages and even death threats to rise to the very top of our political system. It’s called: Unbreakable: The Ujjal Dosanjh Story.

For your information the Honourable Ujjal Dosanjh while the British Columbia attorney general, introduced legislation that brought BC out of the dark ages with respect to debtors and the property they could keep if their debt problems ended in a bankruptcy or legal action by creditors attempting to seize personal property.

It’s a great read about courage, family and, as summarized by the author:

  •          It’s a story about a man that begins with the story of a woman.
  •          It’s a story about equality and freedom of choice for women and the peaceful pursuit of social justice that overcomes repeated threats of violence.
  •          It’s a story about immigrants who become extraordinary Canadians.
  •          It’s a story that includes a criminal attack meant to silence an outspoken critic of sectarian violence—violence that led to the Air India bombing, the largest mass murder in Canadian history.
  •          It’sa story about liberals who were not so liberal.
  •          It’sa story about politics—constituency, provincial and federal.
  •          It’s a story about winning and losing - and never giving up.
  •          It’s a story about the power of individuals to overcome adversity and make a difference in society.

For further details you may contact the Vancouver Public Library. The book will be available in book stores after August 5th