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Jacques Nantel is very concerned about Canadian consumers. In his eyes, Canadians are buying into the spending-spree known as the Christmas shopping season. And he’s worried that the most vulnerable of us – those who really cannot afford all the flashy clothes and shiny iPhones – will not be able to resist the lure of these “must have” new products.

Professor Nantel gave a talk last week at the Universite de Montreal about his concerns. During his presentation, he warned Canadian consumers that we are all on the verge of serious financial trouble.

It’s okay (for retailers) to ask the consumer to spend more and more, as long as they can afford it,” said the Professor when interviewed by the Montreal Gazette prior to his speech. “But when you are about to bankrupt that consumer, it’s not all right,

According to Professor Nantel, as many as 40 percent of Canadian families are just two paycheques away from bankruptcy, if they lose their primary source of income. And low interest rates are as much a part of the problem as our out-of-control spending habits. The solution? Budgeting carefully and cutting back on buying all that stuff we may not even really need. Professor Nantel recommends aiming for a reasonable savings goal of around seven (7) percent of net income.

I had a baliff come up to me at a conference,” the Professor recounted. “He told me that people who go bankrupt are not like characters out of a Dickens novel; they’re the surgeon and his high-flying lawyer wife who are earning $400,000 a year and spending $500,000.

According to the learned Professor (who seems to know the score when it comes to our spendthrift habits), children today have no way to learn about properly-managing money. That’s because their parents have never learned how to budget and wouldn’t dare deny themselves any luxury they desire, from trips and the latest clothing, to fancy watches and other “must-have” gadgets.

The best way to help people, Professor Nantel believes, is for the government to provide citizens with a Personal Finance 101 type of course. He feels that if there was a program offered like that, there would be a line-up for it due to high demand.

People want to get their financial houses in order and cure their money problems – they just don’t have to proper tools to accomplish such a goal on their own.

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