Act 337

Mentor and Tutor

I watched the Bottom Line Panel last night on The National discuss what they ¬†called “Generation Screwed” about young people, the generation after mine, who are in a much worst position than my generation (Generation X) or my parents generation (the boom).

Everything I learned, I learned from the generation ahead of me – my parents, my relatives, my friend’s parents, my teachers, my employers, our leaders. And much of what they are learning they will learn from us as we assume most of those roles now.

I think it’s important to mentor and tutor whenever possible. Either in your paid work or your volunteer work or your hobbies. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a teacher to help someone else learn something new.

I worry that we’ve commodified education to the point that it’s something you can only have if you pay for it (and, as a result, go into debt for it). Young people are graduating with record debt levels into an economy with record youth unemployment. If they don’t pay, they don’t learn. If they don’t learn, we don’t pay. Or worst, they learn and we don’t pay (internships). It’s a bizarre way to progress, isn’t it?

I always welcome the opportunity to have a young person in my field job shadow, work on a project (with pay!) or just come to the office for a visit. We need young people to know that we need young people. And the best way to do that is to invite them in. Mentor, tutor, teach. Share that which was shared with you, a trade, a profession, a craft, whatever it happens to be.

It’s worth all our while. One day, they’ll take care of us.


Act 292

Take turns

Yes, I know. This is one of those things you learn in kindergarten but it still applies to us as adults.

As the end of the year approaches, both my husband and I have some very big projects to finish up and some fairly ambitious financial targets to hit. So our weekend time is becoming ever more scarce. Our compromise was for each of us to work one day and keep one day to be with the kids and deal with the house. He worked Saturday, while I had my pyjama day. I worked today while he hung out with the boys and did fun boy stuff including grocery shopping (which our kids do oddly enjoy). Worked out well.

There’s no “i” in debt, or team for that matter – so find an approach that makes the best of the time and the team that you have.

Act 290

Hand off some of the responsibility

It’s okay to share the chore. In fact, it’s important to.

This time of year we always have the expense of our ski pass. Now while you might think that’s a luxury, it’s actually a great deal. For $100/weekend, we all get to ski together every weekend. It’s great family time, good fitness and good fun. Much cheaper than hockey for one kid, truth be told. You just have to pay it up front. So I asked my husband to make the necessary arrangements and he found a way. I don’t have all the solutions. I just think that I do. But I don’t.

Lately I’ve been asking my kids for more help too. With dishes and laundry – it helps keep us on top of housework.

Even if we feel like the debt is all our fault. And I must admit that I do, it doesn’t mean that I have all the solutions.

It’s a relief to to share the work and share the solutions.

Act 12

Share well with others.

Our neighbours plough our driveway in winter. ¬†We help with the leaves in fall. They mow our lawn sometimes too. We pet sit when they’re away. We share tools, and services and ideas and even ketchup, coffee and dish tabs when required.

As human beings we have this thing called “reciprocity” built into our DNA – no really, it’s true. And it’s in the nature of a community to look out for one another.

I think part of the reason so many of us find ourselves in difficult debt is because as an economy, we’ve tried to commodify and commercialize everything. Every tree, every stream, ever piece of land and many a human kindness.

To benefit from a sharing community, we must adopt the idea of a sharing economy (and it’s coming – just google it). So if you can foster a kind relationship with a neighbour, you can help each other out and save money too. But the money’s the least of the benefit here. Feeling connected and helping each other out is the greater gain on all accounts.