Helen Martin: Happiness is key for the crash generation

A MONTHLY hike in mortgage or rent costs of just £50 would leave 40 per cent of Scottish householders seriously struggling according to a Shelter survey.

Monday, 9th January 2017, 9:00 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 11:41 am
Whats the point of saving when the money in the piggy bank earns you nothing? Picture: Phil Wilkinson

That’s one of many “jigsaw” pieces of information that build up a picture showing the collapse and recession of 2008 is not, despite Tory soundbites, over.

UK debt is now rising at its highest rate in 12 years with families borrowing so much on credit cards, overdrafts and loans that the total now stands at £192.2 billion, or an average of £7400 per household.

We face a rise in council tax, more costs resulting from government or local authority cutbacks, and a growing wealth gap.

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Could chickens be more intelligent than they look? Picture: Ian Rutherford

With some companies closing, others struggling, subsequent potential job losses and the added complication and uncertainty of Brexit, not to mention Trump’s election and the growth of international terrorism, it’s not scaremongering to say that the world could be headed for yet another catastrophic financial dip.

It’s easy for older folk to lecture the young that scrimping and saving to keep debt down, increase mortgage payments beyond the minimum or start the long process of saving for a deposit is the way to go. I once believed that myself. But we belonged to a different era, when life was simpler and saving made sense.

For young folk today, experiences and possessions that would once have been considered luxuries, are now essentials, part of an everyday lifestyle.

Holidays abroad, ever-evolving gadgets and smartphones, computers and laptops, eating out and maintaining a social life are just the start. The cost of raising children and providing them with 21st century clothes, gadgets and toys; it’s all more expensive than 30 years ago.

Could chickens be more intelligent than they look? Picture: Ian Rutherford

And the only way to look at how 20 to 30-year-olds can manage, is to see life through their eyes understanding that most or all of their working lives came after the global crash. That’s all they’ve known.

There is no certainty that the economy will improve and life will become easier for them.

Unless they are in a secure, professional career with substantial annual rises guaranteed, what is the point of scrimping and saving now? And what would savings earn them? Nothing.

Career planning? Well that may be possible for doctors, lawyers and certain other professionals. But for many young families there’s an acceptance that jobs for life no longer exist.

Costs are going up, and faster than wages. So if they don’t have a holiday now, how do they know they will be able to afford one in future?

Adaptability and making the most of life, however much or little one has, and the ability to do that without constantly worrying about the future, are essential skills for their generation.

These are skills that my generation never had to learn and most probably don’t value or appreciate, maintaining the naïve belief that things can only get better for those who keep a tight purse.

Debt is never a good thing, but the old penny-pinching ways wouldn’t work today either.

Hats off to the younger generation who face tougher challenges than we ever did, still dream of financial stability, but have the courage and wisdom to recognise enjoying life and being happy is more important than worrying themselves to death over a global, financial mess not of their making.

Tough cluck if you like roast chicken

IF you love omelettes and chicken burgers, this may turn your stomach. Scientists have discovered that chickens can be as clever as monkeys and have complicated social interactions similar to humans. Despite their little brains, they deceive one another, learn from watching other hens and hatch plots amongst themselves – no pun intended.

Even newly-hatched chicks can do simple maths and display “reason by deduction” not seen in humans until the age of seven.

It’s possible that further research into the intelligence and psyche of other stock animals could follow which could leave many of us feeling rather queasy, have a major impact on animal welfare and food costs, and turn us all vegan. After all, if chickens are that smart, what about pigs who are more closely related to humans? There goes my bacon buttie.

Why did the chicken cross the road? The answer could be more complex than we thought!

It really is that ‘time of the month’ again

FOR years patronising male bosses considered it a lame excuse for female absence, and used it to dismiss the views of angry or disgruntled women, blaming “that time of the month”.

So I don’t know whether to be happy or not that pre-menstrual tension has now been defined as a genetic disorder in which hormone levels disrupt brain function and mood and has been proven to exist in up to five per cent of women.

On the plus side, women who suffer most might be glad their monthly anguish is not all in the mind and is a genuine biological “illness”. On the other hand it does affect the mind and regrettably could be argued by some to justify those chauvinist put-downs.

Most importantly, it opens the door to a cure.

I’m not going to miss train again

I’M hoping T2, based on the Porno novel, will introduce me to Trainspotting which I never saw. Didn’t fancy watching guys shooting up heroin. Not quite sure what that says about me but if it gets me into Irvine Welsh’s Edinburgh, that’s fine.