Recently the papers reported average personal debt in Maidstone was close to £10k (excluding mortgages) - a figure that I find hard to comprehend. Yesterday Mervyn King gave a very bleak forecast for the economy talking about the rising oil and food prices colliding with the credit crunch. House prices are beginning to fall, petrol has risen 18% in the past year and butter 32%. Half a dozen organic free range eggs in Sainsburys costs over £2.00. It is all looking a bit scary...
A couple of years ago I attended a lecture by Paul Mobbs who was discussing the likely exponential rise in oil. He didn't predict food rises, or the credit crunch, but his main advice was to get out of debt asap.
Sound advice, but hard work and it needs sacrifice and time. Most people would baulk at the idea of paying mortgages off over a couple of years - there was a reality TV show a while back showing people trying to do this and it is tough going. Yet, more worrying is the rest of personal debt - how can this be repaid?
With our addition to affluenza we have some form of inbuilt reticence to living within our means and planning for the future. We continue to buy big cars, jet around the world on 3 or 4 holidays and so on. It seems to be changing though... friends are reporting they they are starting to trade their cars in for smaller models and to drive more efficiently, they are starting to turn their thermostats down and so on, but there is a long way to go.
Happy times - not.
But it can be different. Living more lightly, getting to know more about the community, spending more time with family and friends relaxing in the garden, needs to replace endless shopping and weekend breaks in the Med. If you want the Med, try the banks of the Medway - there are some beautiful spots!