The Average Canadian Is Broke and Miserable, So Be Different

First, the facts. Studies show that in Canada:

  • 4 out of 10 first marriages will end in divorce (source)
  • 3 out of 10 children are born out of wedlock, a figure that is rising quickly (source)
  • The average monthly car payment is $570 for at least 48 months (source)
  • The average student graduates with $25,000 in student loan debt (source)
  • 77% of grads have regrets over their student loans (source)
  • About 25% of college grads are working in a field they didn’t go to school for (source)
  • The average adult has $22,000 in consumer debts (source)
  • By age 40, 40-50% of the population will have struggled with a mental health problem (source)

In other words, many young Canadians are up to their eyeballs in debt, unlikely to be able to pay off that debt anytime soon, unhappily employed, in unstable family situations (possibly with a child to support), stressed out and struggling with anxiety or depression.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the way we are doing things isn’t working. If you want to have a different outcome for your life, it means you are going to have to be weird compared to your peers. It means you will need to make different life choices than most everyone else is making to get better results.

One example of what this might look like is known as “The Success Sequence“. Studies have shown that if you live out the following formula in order, you will have only a 3% chance of being poor. You must, in sequential order:

  1. Graduate from high school
  2. Get a job
  3. Get married
  4. Have children

Those who follow this simple formula are more likely to beat the odds and have successful, happy lives. I’m not judging anyone—these are just the facts.

This comes as no surprise to me, since these basic concepts align perfectly with what the Bible says about having an abundant life. Right from the beginning, God laid out his plan for mankind:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

In other words, a man grows up, establishes his independence (personally and financially), gets married, and enjoy sexual intercourse with his wife, usually leading to the creation of a family (“be fruitful and multiply”). It turns out that God’s way still works all these years later, yet we can’t help ourselves but fight against it.

Those who have found themselves outside of God’s plan are not destined to misery, but they will likely have a harder struggle to face. It is not easy to build a stable life in a sequence that is out of order, but through God’s grace and a lot of determination it can be done.

My point is not to bash the culture or look down on those who make different life choices. I could not care less about doing those things. My point is to encourage young people, especially those still in their teen years, to look at the data, look at the Word of God, and see if it makes sense. God loves you and knows what is best for you. Following his path for your life is the most likely way to lead you into the best life possible. Wisdom shows us that if we are going to find better outcomes, we are going to have to take a different way of getting there. Normal isn’t working.

Financially, God has warned us against the dangers of debt.

The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)

When you borrow money from someone, you become their slave. They own you until you pay them back. The average Canadian is well over $50,000 in debt (minus a mortgage) and is struggling to find a good job to pay it off. When they get a paycheck, $1,000 immediately goes out the door for the car, the student loan, and the credit card…and that’s before taking care of rent, food, and other basic necessities. Ouch. They are also in the middle of trying to navigate raising a child out of wedlock. At any moment, add a crisis to this mix—an aging parent who needs care, losing a job, a health crisis, or a relational strain—and you have a recipe for disaster. No wonder everyone is so stressed out.

But imagine a different scenario. You are 26 years old, graduated with a 4 year degree from a local school, married, with a child on the way. Your schooling is paid off, your cheapo car has no payments, and your Visa has a balance of $0. Now, things might not be perfect. You could be having a hard time in the early stages of marriage, or there still could be trouble finding ideal employment. But throw some kind of trial on this scenario and you are far more likely to survive it than the first. No guarantees, but there is a more stable foundation to work from.

Life is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it harder through unwise decision making. While none of these things will necessarily cripple you for life, they will make it harder than it has to be. Pray for wisdom, ask God to help you along the way, and do your best to make good decisions as you follow God’s plan for your life. He loves you enough to have shown you the way. You will do well to follow it.

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