A Money Coach in Canada

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John entered his second marriage at 38, with a painful secret. He was $25,000 in credit card debt. He always meant to tell Susan, but could never find the courage. John was deeply ashamed both of the $25,000 debt itself (it was consumer debt) and even more that he hadn’t told Susan.

Five years into the marriage, he was pretty sure Susan suspected (after all, a few hundred dollars a month didn’t make it off his paycheque into the family budget, but mysteriously ‘disappeared’ each month), but still didn’t feel ready to discuss it.

John came to me wanting to get really organized with his spending, and make a plan to shed the debt. How would you suggest he deal with his secret?255723_6162.jpg

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Here’s some fun news: as of Wed. ATMs are 40 years old in Canada! Thanks to Canadian Financial Stuff

for drawing attention to the fact. In 2005, Cdns. paid $420 million all told in ATM fees. RBC reported net profits of $4.6 Billion the following year. TD made $4.4 billion. Banks in the UK don’t charge people for ATM usage. Wait! Wait! This is supposed to fun friday! Ok how ’bout this: ATMs will be obsolete by 2008, when Canadians will have access to iphones, which of course dispense cash among other features like playing music, giving us directions, can calling people.

I am won over to credit unions. Even if they don’t always meet their ideals, at least the ideals are explicit and a continual gentle standard to which, in my experience, most sincerely strive. I enjoy reading tinfoiling, by Gene, G.M. of Mt. Lehman Credit Union (near Mission, B.C.). Here’s a guest post from him on why small is beautiful for credit unions:

There are 10 good reasons on why ‘Small is Beautiful’ for credit unions.

  1. Relationships – smallness dictates that the number of relationships between members, staff and board is manageable for all parties. There is a quality, not quantity, in relationships.
  2. Communication is quick and inclusive.
  3. Transparency. There is always an understanding on why things are happening.
  4. Challenges that are healthy. Being small means you can’t take anything for granted.
  5. Agility in being able to move and respond quickly to any circumstance.
  6. Planning that is truly dynamic. You have a plan but you are constantly reviewing and upgrading it based on any and all communication received.
  7. Teamwork. Everyone can participate in the continuing sense of accomplishment.
  8. Managing your own destiny. There are market conditions and circumstances beyond anyone’s control but you can steer and manage quickly and precisely. You aren’t a 53 branch credit union so can manage in a much different direction.
  9. Technology is cheap. If you put the pillars you need in place to use technology as a strategic advantage, today’s hardware prices and work tools have never been cheaper or more powerful. You can build what you need.
  10. Politics don’t get in the way of accomplishing what needs to be done.
  11. Members, members, members. They always come first.

There’s tons of useful, quality stuff on the web. Tamas Revoczi did the legwork for us and gives us the best:

1. OpenSource free software: open office (same stuff as Microsoft, excel,word etc., almost always compatible, free), Mozilla for great applications like firefox browser, calendars (lightning), e-mail (thunderbird), and GIMP for photo management (resizing, touch-ups etc).

2. Google also provides e-mail, online calendars and address books etc. This is great if you travel. In addition, they provide fun toys like google earth and sketchup (a 3-d sketch drawing app) .

3. Free antivirus for windows courtesy of grisoft.

4. Craigslist – job postings, stuff for sale that’s very inexpensive, free stuff

5. Free dating site: plentyoffish

6. Communities (find an online home!): Facebook, MySpace, Virb, LinkedIn, YouTube

7. Freeware/Shareware (free is usually by donation; shareware usually lets you try something for a while, then pay a reasonable price)

8. VistaPrint – free business cards, stamps, stickies

OK, here’s a couple goodies in the Canadian Economy at large: 

  1.   Ever had a really great pie?  Chances are, the thick, fruity filling was from Canada’s E.D. Smith company.  Sometime back, they converted to an income fund, and which has now sold itself to an american company with the permission of the unitholders, of course.  Egads – Tim Hortons, then the Bay and now E.D. Smith.  What’s next, westjet?
  2.  Telus may stop pursuing Bell Canada.  I don’t know the full scoop yet – I think they both would have had to sell off their wireless components to satisfy competition regulations.

That’s the juice that I see in our Canadian Economy this Tuesday. 

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