Last January, author and columnist Claudia Larochelle was fed up with seeing people showing off luxury on social media, whether it was a freshly renovated kitchen or a trip to Sicily like in The White Lotus. This indignation inspired him to write the text “The indecency of the rich” 1, published on the Avenues.ca website.
“It’s my most widely read column,” she told us, seated in a pub in Rosemont. I received a lot of comments. The topic really touched people. »
“If we can raise awareness!” “, she says.
In a context of inflation, Claudia Larochelle calls for more financial humanity. “We have to calm our nerves with the demonstration of our assets. There is too much economic suffering around us. Just finding accommodation in Montreal has become an issue. »
Recently separated, Claudia Larochelle is a freelancer. She works in the world of literature, where many people struggle.
Just after the publication of her column, Claudia Larochelle learned of the imminent publication of the essay La société de provocation, in which sociologist Dahlia Namian also denounces the obscenity of the rich.
And almost at the same time, an Oxfam report revealed that the wealthiest 1% of people on the planet have been consuming two-thirds of new wealth since 2020. “While people make daily sacrifices on basic products like food, the ultra-rich are getting richer at a rate that exceeds their wildest dreams”, laments the NGO2.
“I belong to this middle class who is lucky enough to be a homeowner, but who pulls the devil by the tail until I sell my condo, says Claudia Larochelle. I’m privileged and I find it difficult economically, so I constantly ask myself: but how do people do it? »
As a consumer, Claudia Larochelle has changed her habits a lot: the one who loves clothes now often buys them second-hand. His outings to restaurants have also become rare. “Now we have access to other people’s wealth on social media and we are not impervious to everything we see,” she confesses.
His environmental conscience is a source of guilt. The same feeling assails her when she has to resign herself to refusing a summer camp to her daughter, because it is too expensive.
In such a context, how do we talk about consumption, or money?
“No shaming. This is what Béatrice Bernard-Poulin pleads, who is behind a blog which today bears her first name, but which was previously called Eille la cheap! 3
Her goal: “Help Quebec women live better for less”, according to their values and their budget.
The young woman advocates respect for everyone’s financial reality, starting with ours. How ? By limiting our expenses to what is really important to us. The author of the book It’s Expensive to Be an Adult! agrees that it may be increasingly difficult to have a healthy or moderate relationship with consumption. On the one hand, we are bombarded with promo codes on TikTok. On the other, there are those who advocate frugality, zero waste or early financial freedom (the FIRE movement).
For what ? Because we underestimate how stressful money can be.
If it goes without saying not to talk about the performance of your TFSA with a loved one in debt, it is perhaps a sensitivity to develop to give a recently separated parent the choice of having dinner at home rather than at a restaurant.
“You have to assert yourself,” adds the one who describes herself as “a repentant former over-consumer”. “A lot of times we’re ashamed and think people are going to judge us, but the opposite is happening. »
“Everyone has their financial reality, and that’s okay. »
In his TED Talk titled “Financial Empathy: Understanding the Story Beneath the Numbers” 4, Michael G. Thomas, a professor at the University of Georgia and a financial advisor by training, cites the example of a single mother who tells her accountant that she plans to buy a large flat-screen TV with her tax refund.
From the outset, many might judge her, but it is otherwise when we learn that the woman wants to keep her two teenagers inside her apartment, away from the drug dealers of her disadvantaged neighborhood.
“We all have a story about money that affects our financial decisions,” argues Michael G. Thomas, who we chatted with on Zoom.
To do this, however, it is necessary to practice a precise form of empathy which is compassion, underlines Michael G. Thomas.
“It’s not fair to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, but it’s to care about the other person and acknowledge their emotions. »
Through this process, which he teaches in particular to financial advisers, people end up learning more about themselves than about others, observes Michael G. Thomas “It is even sometimes confrontational. »
Michael G. Thomas, for example, says he has a thrifty temperament because he suffered too much from seeing his mother discouraged by the columns of numbers she constantly added on a sheet of paper.
“You often hear people say, ‘I’m not good with money.’ In that time, I ask them to tell me about an event where they did not make the right decision. »
“Money does not define us,” says the man who will publish a book on April 13 called Black Financial Culture: Building Wealth from the Inside Out.
Also keep in mind that marketing and social media create what he calls “emotional deficits.”
“There will always be someone with a bigger car and a bigger house. When you get to know yourself better financially, you feel less caught up in a system. »
“You have to orient yourself with your own compass,” concludes Michael G. Thomas.
To use the image of the financial compass, why is it so easy to lose direction?
Since 2018, economist François Delorme has been teaching a course on behavioral economics at the University of Sherbrooke, which can certainly help us to have more “introspection” on how we consume and what drives us to buy two products. which we didn’t know existed until we saw a “two-for-one” promotion.
Mainstream economics rests on an assumption of perfect rationality, says the former chief economist at Industry Canada. But in reality, consumers are not cold, calculating beings able to control their impulses and see the longer-term effect of their decisions today.
If that were the case, people wouldn’t buy gas-powered Range Rover SUVs, the economist quips.
“Behavioral economics is saying that it’s not true that we’re rational all the time… It assumes that we have cognitive biases.” There are psychological barriers to doing what we need to do, but are not doing. »
“Buying a bag of chips feels good for 10 minutes and then you say to yourself, ‘I shouldn’t have'”, illustrates François Delorme.
Delorme also cites a 2010 study by economists Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton, which found that above an annual income threshold of US$75,000, an individual’s happiness relative to money stops growing.
The solution ? Limit publicity around you. It should even be banned, according to François Delorme.
“Advertising leads us to consume things that are not necessary and leads us to position ourselves in relation to the other, explains the one who appears in the recent documentary by Isabelle Maréchal The means of the middle class. I buy something because the neighbor has it. There is an emulation, especially for the middle class who aspires to the same lifestyle as the wealthiest […] There is a social status that comes with that. »
“It takes introspection”, sums up the economist, who co-authored with Gérald Fillion the book The hour of choices: facing the climate and social emergency and who pleads for the adoption of laws which limit individual carbon emissions. .
Our child needs new pants. Our budget is tight. Pick up pants for $10 at a fast fashion chain like H
“Twenty years ago, there were trade forces that weren’t there,” recalls historian Catherine Tourangeau. My mother, who comes from Lanaudière, if she wanted clothes, she had to go to Joliette and there were three stores. »
“The massive use of credit cards is something relatively new”, adds the one that can be heard on the airwaves of Pénélope, at ICI Première.
Fast fashion, planned obsolescence and online commerce have also changed the way we consume.
Certainly, there is more and more talk of slower and more sustainable consumption. “But it remains confidential […] We are still much more in quantity than quality, and social networks do not help. We always have the reflection of others who have more in the face than us, ”argues Catherine Tourangeau.
The historian therefore advocates for more financial education, both in terms of personal and public finances. Budgeting is important, but also understanding how taxes redistribute wealth.
“In Quebec, you can live well on an average salary. In the United States, there is another level of concern, “said the historian who studied in the State of Connecticut, and who returned to live in Quebec for its social safety net. It is a chance to have parental leave, a universal health system and access to inexpensive higher education, she recalls.
More and more women are starting the conversation about money. What if their initiatives help dispel the unease and guilt that comes with it?
Two weeks ago, Isabelle Racicot hosted a virtual conference for women entitled “Dare to invest” on behalf of the National Bank.
“We know how taboo money can be,” she said in the introduction. It is a sensitive, delicate subject […] which often comes with a feeling of shame. Shame for not making enough money. Ashamed of not taking care of your business enough. Ashamed of getting into debt […] In contrast, shame of making money, especially among women. »
Like the conference that brought together three female executives from the National Bank, we are currently witnessing a movement of women – and communities on the web – who are democratizing the discourse on money by focusing on the notion of financial health.
For example, Karman Kong has just published the book Elle invests (Editions du Journal). She is one of the many bloggers and speakers who explain how to take care of your finances and who show that investing is within everyone’s reach. Among them, Catherine Poirier (The smart frugalist), Véronique Gagnon (Manage your bacon) and Véronique Joanis (Let’s talk about money).
Rosie Delorme also takes an inclusive approach with her blog and podcast Nantie.ca. The trigger for his interest in personal finance was an unpaid bill from a client for $10,000. Instead of being angry, she felt guilty. “What is typically feminine,” says the one who has just had a baby.
Recently, Rosie Delorme reported on her stock dividends in a post on her blog1. “I sound on top of my business saying I want to be prosperous, but I’m like Mr. and Mrs. Everybody. »
Talking about money isn’t just for “men with ties” anymore, she says. “And it’s wrong to think that the benefit of taking care of money comes with having a lot of it. »
What a paradox that women have long been excluded from the conversation about finances, while managing the family budget, underlines Béatrice Bernard-Poulin, another prominent blogger, author of the books It costs a lot to be an adult! and Live better for less.
Two weeks ago, the latter took part in the conference organized by Youcef Ghellache, professor of finance at Collège Montmorency, founder of the Éducfinance site and creator of the Facebook group Money never sleeps2.
“The majority of participants were women,” she points out. There really is something going on. »
Historian Catherine Tourangeau believes women are humanizing conversations about money. A change that could benefit everyone. “We are moving away from the discourse of the self-made man. she notes. Because we talked about privileges and who benefits from certain structures, I think there is a realization that wealth is no longer just a matter of hard work and merit. »
Especially in Quebec, where “social circles are more diverse.” “The fact that more women are making money changes the dynamic,” she adds. I have the impression that we are moving towards more transparency and more honesty in relation to our means. »