A Money Coach in Canada

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Last November, PF Blogger “Clawing our way to financial health” and I issued an eat-at-home-month challenge. A number of us committed to eating at home for the month, thus resurrecting long lost skills (in my case), rediscovering our kitchens and saving money. Each week we would post about it.

This month of Feb 08, it’s a new, wonderful, “Share the Love” challenge!

The idea is for bloggers, particularly PF bloggers, to donate above and beyond what we regularly give to charity, during February. Westcoast Willie’s charity of choice is sos-children’s villages. You can go to her site, read her comments about the charity and donate via the button.

What am I going to do? Two things.

Next week I’m going to forego Starbucks, and give the $25 savings to sos-children’s village per above.

But I’m also going to do something more. It sounds kinda dumb, but I’m doing it.

I’m going to ensure I have spare change on me, and make a point, every day, of giving away at least a loonie, to someone who asks for my spare change. And I’m going to try (operative word) to discipline myself to do it with an entirely open mind and heart. No judgment. In fact, ideally, an openness to what the other person has to offer. To the Christ within them, to use incarnational-theology language. Who knows who I’ll meet.

I love living well and I love finding great deals with which to do it.

My fave online sources of great-deals intel are:

1. Smart Canucks – quick! check out the today-only 70% off danier leather deal (if you’re ok with leather)

2. redflagdealsRedFlagDeals – 50% off duvets at the Bay, til Jan 31

3. Bargainista – much more personalized than the other two, by a mom of 2

4. 10onwednesday – my buddy Neill goes garage-sale-ing then each wed posts his finds. I got the perfect gift for a friend from him (brand new, really) and my two favourite purses. I’d say I’ve saved $150 easily on these items from him.

and of course there’s always, always Craigslist!craigslist

Over to you – do you have any great stories about money saved by using online resources? Are you comfortable using online coupons to purchase (I’m not – don’t know why – don’t quite believe they’re ‘real’, I guess)?

Many readers will know that being part of an investment club turned my finances – and my sense of competence – around.

One of the members, Clare Hodge, has recently produced a film which is opening this weekend in Vancouver and Toronto (I’m going Sat night, if anyone wants to join me. Bloggerbuddies: Netchick? Miss604? Monica? Isabella? David? ) Note – her post below doesn’t say that several CornerGas actors are in her film. I’ve seen the preview and it’s a fun, must see, imho.

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Love and Other Dilemmas, my first feature film as a producer is opening in theatres in Vancouver and Toronto on February 1, 2008. It’s a great romantic comedy about a cursed and pregnant bride on her wedding day. Little did I know that when I fell in love with the character of Ginger Shapiro, the bride, and vowed to bring her to life that it would be a 6 year journey.

I also didn’t know that my personal choices along the way would determine if the film would ever get made. Producing a film is an incredibly complex – and sometimes very boring – process in which the development or scriptwriting, financing or looking for money, and the exploitation or theatrical release takes far longer than the fun part of filming the movie with the actors in front of a camera.

I worked very closely with the writer Deborah Peraya and the director Larry Di Stefano, and we consider ourselves very lucky to have made a feature film in Canada. I like to think that I’m a storyteller but, as a producer, when I say “made a feature film” I don’t immediately think of the characters or the setting; I think of money, risk, negotiations, contracts, clearances, legal haggling and the items we ultimately delivered to our distributor. We made the film in the usual way with the usual suspects: Canadian government soft money, distribution advance, support from broadcasters and, yes, deferrals or investments. What I didn’t expect was that the biggest personal decision I’ve ever made – to buy a condo in Vancouver – would be one of the best advantages in getting this film made.

If you’re a film fan, you’ve heard that Robert Rodriguez financed his first film “El Mariachi” by charging the costs to his credit cards. But what was the interest rate he paid? Instead, I think that having a good credit rating is one of the most important assets a producer can have. That, and an audience – come to see our film! www.LoveandOtherDilemmas.com

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I’ll be there, Clare! Best wishes!

ps: here’s another public invitation – I’m part of a bloggers’ virtual ‘progressive dinner’ this Wednesday. Crash the party!

Spare some Change?

“So what’s it like, living with all the bums?” a colleague asked me, upon discovering I live in gastown/downtown eastside, Vancouver (Canada’s poorest postal code). Caught off guard, I didn’t know how to reply.

One thing for sure:  rare is the day when I am not subject to multiple requests for my ‘spare change’.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned a few things that influence my response.

Consider this.  Do you ever experience a /Feed Me Now! / sugar low? Or live with someone who does?  If so, you will know that getting something, anything to eat, fast, is imperative.  Nothing else matters and god help the person who suggests otherwise.

Now, throw this in the mix:  Have you ever had a hair-pulling, frustrating experience with some system – a bank, say, or one of those phone loops from hell? The kind of frustration that leaves you helpless and enraged?   Now imagine those together: you’re in a /Feed Me Now!/ mode while trying to reach a live human being at the CRA.

The ‘bums’ experience this as a lifestyle – and often fly off the handle with those who maybe, just maybe could help.  If they could be reached.

Here’s an experiment.  Take off your watch for a week.  Discover what it is never to know exactly what the time is.  Really.  Try it.  Imagine no reliable clocks in your home or computer.  Yet if you want supper, you must be at the food line at the exact right hour, or you miss it.  So let’s hope you wake up in time for breakfast.

Water.  Most of the ‘bums’ are dehydrated.  Where would you get water throughout the day, as you panhandle?

Speaking of water, you know that grim, squishy feeling you get when your shoes are sopping wet?  And for that matter your socks?  Imagine that as a lifestyle, day in, day out.

Oh, and teeth.  I bet a few readers have known the misery of a toothache, or the ragged edges of a broken filling.  How long would you be polite?

Spare change.

Spare change?

Do I have some spare change?

I’m a money coach.  Most of my thinking and commentary about money is on an different scale and sifting through entirely different matters.

But sometimes, it comes down to the simple question:

Do I have any spare change?

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