Make this a local Christmas

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The Bank of Canada increased interest rates, again, Dec. 7, this time by 50 basis points, to 4.25 per cent. In other words, if you’ve got a variable rate mortgage, the ‘ouch’ continues. The rate started the year at 0.25 per cent and was 3.75 per cent prior to Wednesday. 

Some say there are signs the economy and inflation is slowing, however, the labour market remains stubbornly strong. We’ve also been told that Canadians should brace for further ballooning of their grocery bills next year. The most recent edition of Canada’s Food Price Report predicts another five to seven per cent price jump. 

That means a family of four can expect to pay $16,222.80 in 2023 for groceries – an increase of $1,065.60 from 2022 prices – according to the report. Energy prices are also expected to soar. The federal government is unlikely to dole out much of a helping hand. 

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation claims Canada’s federal debt is growing by $878 per second, which is $52,701 per minute, $3.1 million per hour, or $75.9 million every single day. The debt clock is currently over $713 billion and Canada’s federal debt continues to grow daily. At the provincial level, the Government of Ontario’s debt is $348.9 billion and growing. 

As Minden Hills mayor Bob Carter said during his council’s inaugural council meeting, no white knight, no Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and no Marvel Comics character is going to bail out Haliburton County residents. We have to do it ourselves. 

Let’s start with Christmas. 

Statista, a retail and trade website, states the average Canadian household spends about $2,375 on Christmas. That includes $451 on food, $616 on decorations and $1,308 on presents. Faced with rising interest rates, inflation, government and personal debt, why in the world would we do that again this year? 

The Globe and Mail reported this week that consumer debt in Canada topped $2.36 trillion in the third quarter, up 7.3 per cent from last year It’s time we collectively lowered our holiday expectations. It may seem trite but why not buy fewer, less expensive, gifts?

 There have been plenty of Christmas craft markets featuring locally-made items at reasonable prices, where you can eyeball the very person you are giving your money to. 

As always this time of year, we also implore you to shop at local businesses, and not online. 

When you purchase at locally-owned businesses rather than nationally-owned, more money is kept in the community because local businesses often purchase from other area businesses, and service providers. Purchasing local helps grow other businesses, as well as the local tax base. 

While out for my daily walk, I ran into a chap who has had a good financial year. He told me he practices the ancient art of tithing. In olden days, people would give one tenth of their crops to the landlord. Others have given to their churches. 

Today, tithes are voluntary and often paid out to charities. If you can pay it forward, we urge you to do so. Many in our community cannot give onetenth of their net earnings.