Comment 74950

By Borrelli (registered) | Posted March 02, 2012 at 09:20:30

Great piece, Jeff. A lot of the same questions roil in my brain too.

I've started to firmly believe that the greenest way a middle-class family can live in this country is for them to plan to retire in their 40s. If you don't waste too much time in school and earn a healthy enough income to sustain it, life-planning this way (voluntarily) forces only essential consumption and living well below means.

It immediately raises the relative cost of conspicuous consumption on non-productive toys and gadgets: every purchase has to either be a necessity or greatly contribute to enhanced standard of living. It means workers only "buy a car to go to work/go to work to pay for a car" for a limited time, and gives people many years to concentrate on socially beneficial (but economically discounted) activities like raising children, community service, and living a healthful lifestyle.

And with the relatively low cost of living in here, it's something that's actually attainable in Hamilton since a dual-income family peaking at $100k/yr could wipe out their $200k mortgage in a decade if they do it right, and still have enough to live a decent life (i.e. a modest one more reminiscent to that of the world's majority, not our elite North American one).

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