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Photo by: Stopdown

Maclean’s latest cover story, “Living On Less” takes an optimistic stance on the troubled economy. The writers Colin Campbell and Jason Kirby suggest that a frugal life could very well be a healthier and happier life—especially for Generation Y.

For a younger generation, a shift of this kind may prove more painless. In fact, their values and attitudes toward money, work and the environment may be helping to drive the change. Eric Meerkamper is a partner at the youth research marketing firm Decode in Toronto. More than having a house and a nice car, he argues, young people value having balance in their lives. “They still want more but not in [terms of] accumulating things necessarily,” he says. Money is important, yes, but work is seen more as “an enabler to living a full life,” he says. Smead, the author of Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty, believes people in their 20s, have come to realize they won’t have the same standard of living as their parents, resulting in lower expectations. In short, he says, “they’ve got a more realistic view of the world economically.”

I found Meerkamper’s interesting since I’ve read more negative views of my generation. Those of us in our 20s are often described as materialistic, confident and although tech-savvy, we’re awfully ignorant of the world around us.

Earlier this month, The Guardian asked “The generation facing its first recession. How will they cope?” Writer Tracy McVeigh described 18 to 27-year-olds as “dream consumers” and writes:

The average Generation Y-er does not know the difference between a credit card and a debit card, according to a Bank of Scotland survey, and, while two thirds know the price of an Apple iPod Mini (£179), three quarters have no idea what a pint of milk costs. One in eight thinks that ‘in the red’ means being embarrassed. They each have 800 illegally downloaded songs, and one in 20 spends more than £100 a month on mobile phone bills. Many never read newspapers and two thirds do not vote.

If the credit crunch becomes a full-scale recession, no one will get a bigger shock to their aspirations than this pampered, techno-savvy generation.

Obviously, there are exceptions to every blanket statement. I think that despite some debts, most of my friends fit under Meerkamper’s description. We’re also folks who do our own grocery shopping, follow current events and we all voted in this month’s federal election. Unlike the young people interviewed for McVeigh’s article, we’ve all graduated from university and are employed full-time. We also have different views on money than we did five years ago. I like to think it’s just that we’re older and wiser, but is McVeigh right and we are the exception?

What do you think? Based on the 20-somethings in your life, do you think we’ve got a more realistic view of the world economy or are we about to get the biggest financial shock of our lives?

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Photo by: FreaksAnon

It’s easy to get off track with healthy eating and exercise goals, just like it’s easy to lose sight of personal finance goals. I’ve been feeling stressed out and unfocused lately, and it’s not just because of the looming recession. I haven’t made a healthy diet and regular exercise the priority I’d like it to be.

The result is that I’ve become a less productive employee and a generally less present partner and friend. I believe that everything is related: our relationships to our mental and physical health and money matters. This is especially true when looking at how an unstable economy can have a profound affect on our health.

On Tuesday, Dr. Brian Goldman, host of CBC Radio’s White Coat, Black Art was just on Here and Now discussing the relationship between a recession and mental health. He says the suicide rate is so much related to a recession that its peaks can be seen as a way to foresee a recession.

The Irish Times also asked if ill health in the economy can make us unwell. Its article said:

Several UK studies from the 1970s and 1980s show the unemployed tend to have much poorer health than those in work. The British Regional Heart Study reported high death rates among unemployed men, while the OPCS longitudinal study found especially high levels of lung cancer, suicide, accidents and heart disease among the unemployed.

USA Today columnist Mark Siegel urged readers “don’t let the economy kill you”:

Though stress in society at large is impossible to measure, we’re already seeing anecdotal evidence suggesting that angst is spreading. In New York, calls to the Hopeline network for people with depression or suicidal thoughts increased 75% in the 11 months ending in July. And according to United Health Group, the largest U.S. health insurer, hospital admissions for psychiatric services are up 10% this year over last year. Medical illness is sure to follow.

Harvey Brenner, professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, projects that an increase of 1 percentage point in the nation’s unemployment rate could cause as many as 47,000 more deaths —including 1,200 more suicides and 26,000 additional heart attacks —over the ensuing two years.

These articles just confirmed the need to live a healthier life to combat this nasty economic situation. My half an hour walks to and from work have been a good start, but I need more activity to help me with my focus and relaxation. I’m taking Seigel’s advice and start practicing yoga and meditation. In times like these, it’s easy to be bogged down by what we have less of, or don’t have at all. But to combat the stress and improve overall health, it’s best to nurture and appreciate the things we have: health, partners, friends and family.


Photo By: Thomas Hawk

Until very recently, I didn’t discussed money with my friends. But when I decided to start taking my personal finances seriously, I began asking friends as many questions as I could–without being too nosey–and the friends I happen to be discussing this with happen to be men.

It seems the gentlemen in my life are much more open to talking about money. They even like talking about it. Most of my guy friends have no student debt, invest and even own property. When I discuss money with my female friends, however, it’s more negative. They more often complain about money management and debt. Based on my small sample of friends in their 20’s and early 30’s, I’m led to believe that in general, men are better with money than women are.

I’m not convinced that this is entirely true, though. I wonder if men are just more comfortable talking about about their net worth and money, whereas women feel they play down their financial success. Could it be for the same reasons that young girls act dumber in school so as not to intimidate the boys? Or like my partner has suggested, do women value having things over having money, whereas men value money?

What do you think? How do men and women approach money differently? Are there any differences at all?

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Photo By: Ville Miettinen

“Why do otherwise normal women refuse to go Dutch?” asked Madame X of My Open Wallet. She was quoting an earlier article she read on Gawker, in which the writer (Emily Gould) reports that her friends were shocked when they learned she split the bill on a first date. Why the big fuss? Women have spent years arguing for equal treatment and salaries, why should the dinner tab be any different? Still, some of Madame X’s readers said it is different, guys should pay and I’m pretty sure they’re not the only ones who think that.

I don’t expect I have many regular readers at this time, but to the few of you who do read this, please tell me: How do you decide how much you pay on a date? Does it depend on who did the asking out? Does it depend on your income?