Pattie Lovett-Reid: Don't give in to the urge to splurge as COVID-19 lockdowns ease
HUNTSVILLE, ONT. -- Do you want financial "revenge"?
I think I might have a little pent up revenge spending in me.
Typically when we talk about revenge it can be very petty and done simply to tick someone else off. This revenge is a little different. The target is COVID-19, and after the many months of public health measures and lockdowns, we are ready to unleash that revenge with a vengeance.
Pent up demand is very real and exactly what the economy needs.
As restrictions continue to ease, people are ready to splurge, especially on items and experiences that were unavailable during lockdowns.
The belief is we are aggressively going to be looking for ways to feel good and make up for lost time.
According to Craig Alexander, Chief Economist at Deliotte, in his latest Economic Outlook, he expects growth to accelerate sharply during the summer months and continue at a fast pace into early 2022, as Canadians resume previously limited social activities.
He suggests GDP is expected to expand by a blistering 6.7 per cent this year, with another strong gain of 4.1 per cent anticipated in 2022.
With businesses opening up, according to Andrew Graham, CEO and Co-founder of Borrowell:
"Some Canadians are excited to socialize and gather with friends at restaurants, bars, and dinner parties, while others are looking forward to shopping in-person or making big ticket purchases after only browsing online. Many Canadians are making travel plans after being cooped up inside. Canadians are looking forward to these types of out-of-home activities to gain a new sense of normal. They want to satisfy themselves with pre-pandemic experiences, and they may be willing to spend more to do so."
To be fair, I understand this mentality. When the U.S. opened up back in April, there was clearly an uptick in designer items ranging from handbags, accessories and even footwear.
The fear I have is going overboard. If you can afford it, great. We need to you spend, support beaten down areas such as the hospitality industry, and help prop up the Canadian economy.
What we don't need is Canadians taking on more debt out of revenge against the pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic, Canadians carried a high level of debt and that was problem. It wasn't sustainable and it took a deadly virus to force us to change our ways.
Canadians have been saving more, distinguishing between a want and a need when it comes to spending, and enjoying in many cases a little financial flexibility for the first time. We don't want to blow it now.
The reality is, debt levels are still stubbornly high, especially for those hurt most by the pandemic.
So if you plan on splurging and need to borrow to do so, proceed with caution. Here are some guidelines to maintain a good credit standing.
Borrowell, a Canadian fintech company, suggests using 30% or less of your credit limit as a recommendation for maintaining a good credit score.
The average credit utilization rate in Canada was 43.5% and that is too high. By the way, the average revolving credit balance is $10,361, meaning the average person's credit limit is $23,818.
In others words, revenge may feel good in the moment, but better revenge would be to reduce your average revolving balance by $3,215 and come out of a pandemic with a better credit standing than when you went into it.
However, I'm not naive and it won't only be those flush with large amounts of cash doing a little spending. Since March 2020, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on our lives and it is fair to say regardless of your financial situation, we have all earned the right to spend time with family and friends.
But we also all know revenge can be bittersweet. Pleasant in the moment, followed by regret.
My hope is that we don't revert back to our old ways of spending as if there is no tomorrow.