TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Earl Oxford School student Deanna Lockie poses for a photo with Elvis impersonator Kevin LaFlamme during Manitoba Ag Days, which kicked off on Tuesday.
Canadians who don’t live within their means are affecting their overall financial success and happiness David Chilton told audience members during his free seminar at Manitoba Ag Days on Tuesday.
A visitor to Manitoba Ag Days checks out the Versatile display on Tuesday. The event runs through Thursday. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
The highly anticipated keynote speaker, who is also the newest "Dragon" to appear on the hit CBC series "Dragon’s Den," kept a large crowd at the Keystone Centre engaged by inflicting just the right amount of humour into financial advice.
The financial expert, with more than 30 years experience, discussed what it’s like being a "Dragon," successful business tips and personal finances.
"People who live within their means are happier," he said. "They’re not stressed and caught up in consumption."
It’s a simple message that Chilton hopes Canadians will learn to understand as Canada’s debt level continues to rise.
"Personal debt in Canada is huge," he said. "We have lived beyond our means for a very, very long time."
Consumers are continuously borrowing money to buy things that they already can’t afford, a way of spending that just isn’t sustainable anymore, Chilton said.
"Way too many Canadians are living beyond their means. Even the middle class who could be saving doesn’t, because they’ve fallen in love with stuff."
An obsession with having the latest of everything and measuring happiness by the amount of pricey items one owns is a way of life that Chilton himself refuses to buy into.
"Since when do we define ourselves by our countertops?" Chilton jokingly asked the audience. "People are starting to think that if they don’t have granite countertops in their homes they’re losers."
Although Chilton is considered financially successful, he continues to live within his means, a way of life that he strongly encourages others to start catching on to.
After years of travelling across the country, Chilton unveiled what he believes to be Canada’s favourite pastime.
"The national pastime in Canada isn’t hockey, it’s complaining," he said. "People no longer understand what the difference between a large problem and a small problem is anymore."
Besides shooting down some of Canada’s spending habits and personal debt loads, he also gave audience members some thoughtful advice when it comes to registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs). He suggested that although TFSAs come with flexibility, easy access to a savings account without a tax dollar penalty worries him.
"If people can get at their money, they will," he said. "With an RRSP you’re less likely to go after it."
But the man, who has become a success by staying positive and keeping a close eye on his own finances, had one last message for audience members before wrapping up.
"If I could tell Canadians one thing, it would be cheer up."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 16, 2013