On March 27, 2010 the world observed Earth Hour. At 8:30 pm local time everyone was encouraged to turn off their lights as a statement against climate change. So what does Earth Hour have to do with bankruptcy in Canada? The answer depends on how you perceive the value of Earth Hour.


Many people will tell you that it’s a great event. It forces us to think about the environment, and actually do something. Many people organize parties with their friends, so they can observe together.

Personally, I’m not convinced. Getting in my car and driving to a party, and burning candles made from petroleum products, and eating food that was shipped in from around the world probably doesn’t really do much to save the environment. Why? Because what I do for one hour per year is irrelevant compared to what I do the other 8,759 hours per year. Change can’t be for one hour; real change is permanent.

If you really believe that humans are causing climate change, and you really want to do something about, do something more than turning off your lights for one hour. Sell your car, and move to a place where you can walk to work, or ride your bicycle. Only eat locally grown foods. Get rid of electronics in your home that draw power when they are in standby mode, like your television (or at least put them on a power bar and shut the power when they are not in use).

Real change is very difficult, which is why we resist real change. It’s easy to shut my lights off for one hour. It’s more of a challenge to give up my car.

It’s easy to write a letter to government and tell them to pass laws to make everyone else conserve energy. It’s much more difficult to actual take responsibility for my own actions and make changes in my life.

And that’s the point: change is hard.

As a bankruptcy trustee in Canada I meet with and talk to dozens of Canadians every week who are in financial trouble. Many of them lost their jobs, or went through a costly divorce, or perhaps had a medical problem that caused them to lose time at work. When your income is reduced, to stay financially afloat you have to cut your expenses.

But cutting expenses is hard.

It’s hard to move to a smaller house when you can no longer afford a bigger house.

It’s hard to give up your second car, or to go from a newer leased car to a less expensive used car.

It’s even hard to give up channels on your TV, or go to the coffee shop less to save money.

But if you want real change in your life, you must make the tough decisions.

There is no “Money Hour”. You can’t just stay home and not spend money for one hour and assume that all of your money problems will be solved. You must make real, lasting change, over a long period of time. It will be difficult. It will be a challenge. But it will be worth it, because you will transform your life from the problem of spending more than you make, to actually having money in your savings account.

Imagine how great it would be to not have any debt payments, and to not get any telephone calls from collection agents. It is possible, but only if you take real action now. So here’s my advice:

Start by making a personal budget. Write down everything you will spend money on in the next six months. Then, start cutting. Start making your own coffee. Cancel your expensive telephone and cable service, or at least cut back to the basic essentials.

Always look for ways to save money.

If you have too much debt, make a plan today to eliminate that debt. If you can cut expenses, than you can repay your debts on your own. If not, you may need to file a consumer proposal, or even consider personal bankruptcy.

For more information, consult a licensed consumer proposal administrator or contact a licensed bankruptcy trustee for a free initial consultation to determine your options, and start making changes today. It’s not a one hour solution, but it is a permanent solution, if you are willing to make the necessary changes.