A Money Coach in Canada

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Quick casting call:  cbc radio 1 (morning edition) wants to do a week-long series, pairing me with a canadian in debt.  I’ll help shape a get-out-of-debt plan, no charge.   If you or anyone you know is interested, ping me at nancy at your money by design (all one word) dot com.


Photo Credit: Michael Blanchard 

I’ve been  having a few conversations with clients/prospective clients on how to save yourself from yourself vis a vis your money. 

Here are 3 of my fave quick-and-dirty tricks:

  1. Set up a high interest savings account anywhere other than your primary bank/credit union.  Set up an automatic savings plan, even if only $10/paycheque (start small if you have to, but start!)  Do not get an atm card – repeat – do not get an atm card.  You can even go extreme – bury your online codes to make it a real hassle for yourself to withdraw the funds.  That way your true savings goals will stand a fighting change of being realized instead of subject to impulse buying.
  2. Lower your credit card limits unless you pay it off in full every month.   Most people don’t pay them off (that’s how visa/mastercard/amex make their money) and you know who you are:  Save yourself from yourself by shaving off your balance, then calling and reducing your limit.   Lather. Rinse.  Repeat.
  3. Do a quick, daily check-in with your bank accounts.  In the ideal world, we’d be so organized that we wouldn’t need this.  But who lives in the ideal world?  3 minutes to keep right up-to-date with account activity may save you a small disaster some day.

Readers:  any other crime-prevention measures you can add?

2573957186_147bb0cae8_o1.jpgA guest post by Dawn Bowles, Founder and CEO of DreamBank.
Photo Credit: Techvibes


A tremendous amount of waste is incurred during the holiday season. Garbage from festivities, unwanted or disposable gifts, packaging and wrapping, in addition to the vast over-consumption, threatens to reduce the enjoyment–and usurp the true intention and meaning–of the season. As we approach the holidays, many of us are keen to reduce our yuletide impact on the environmental. Many of the proposed changes won’t reduce the enjoyment of your festivities – or the pleasure of spending valuable time with those you cherish:
1. Send E-cards Rather Than Paper Cards. Sending online invitations (such as evites or MyPunchBowl’s swank new eCards) not only reduces waste but also makes it easier to plan and keep track of invitees and attendees. It may also be preferable to send greeting e-cards, rather than a physical cards which often promptly wind up as trash. (While, we all have that one parent/sibling/friend who actually saves every single card, they are the exception rather than the rule). If you think an e-card isn’t exciting, consider sending from a site that has amusing ones. One of my favourites is someecards (whose slogan is “when you care enough to press send”). They have an amazing selection of snarky messages sure to get a good laugh.
2. Choose a Virtual Gift Registry. One of someecards cards reads, “Thanks for getting me a gift I don’t actually have to return”. I understand that sentiment well. I founded DreamBank.org, so you could do just that–no waste involved. DreamBank is a kind of virtual gift registry which enables you to give and get the perfect gift. How? We’ve created an “everything registry” where you can start a fund for yourself or for someone you care about. Then you invite friends, family and fans to the “dream”. It could be a musical instrument, sports equipment, even a trip. The waste involved with discarded gifts and shipping and wrapping is reduced, as is the hassle of shopping for and returning gifts. Plus, we give 10 % of all net transaction revenue to charities. So your holiday gift results in someone else’s gift as well.
Of course, if you’re feeling particularly charitable, there are plenty of great sites that can help you organize a giving campaign or send a laptop to a needy child in the developing world.
3. Reconsider Plastic. Bring cloth bags to stores to avoid getting plastic ones and eschew disposable dishes. While plastic plates and utensils may seem more convenient, these disposable items can last 10,000 years in a landfill. No one enjoys washing dishes, but perhaps you can organize the cleanup with your guests. After all, guests frequently offer to help–why not take them up on the offer? In fact, if you like the person (and we hope you do) it could give you more time to chat. Or you could plan the cleanup ahead, asking for assistance before the party, so everyone knows what they’ll be doing. Plus, you’ll gain some peace-of-mind.
4. Be Mindful of Food. Remember that your eating habits affect the planet’s health so try to purchase ingredients locally and be aware of how and where your food is produced. The gift of food doesn’t have to be limited to your guests. There are those whose holidays could be made more festive by your donation to a local foodbank or by organizing a food drive to support a soup kitchen.
5. Think About Meaning. Is the holiday about the myriads of gifts, or about connecting with your family? Does your house really need to have the most lights? What’s really important to you? Connect with nature by talking a nature walk or by putting extra effort into making environments hospitable for local birds. Make some gifts rather than purchasing them (edible gifts are a good bet–who doesn’t love cookies?). You can even volunteer with family to help those in need, and create an experience that might be more memorable than the gift of new Ugg boots. Vancouver and Toronto both have volunteer sites for their city and “Do-it!” offers online information on opportunities in the UK. Many other areas have similar sites.
It doesn’t take all that much effort to make a difference. And making these changes will probably reduce your stress level and the holiday energy drain as well. So you’ll be free to enjoy the festivities knowing that you’ve embraced the true sentiment of the season.

 We all know my plan for the economy.

Here’s what the men with the power are doing:

 Obama’s rescue plan is taking shape and it’s bigger than anticipated:   $500Billion in new-jobs spending and tax cuts.   Injecting money is one of the only options left to stimulate consumers into spending, since interest rates are already at near zero.

We can only hope that this ear-marked money can indeed go to job creation (think: green infrastructure projects) and not to yet more bail-outs.

And in Canada, Harper is also considering a deficit budget, the first in seventeen years. His take on the economic outlook? “We are talking here about the development of economic conditions around the world and in the industrialized world that we have not seen in over 70 years,”  Mr. Harper said.

Hold on tight folks.  And make friends fast.  We may need all the community and support we can get for a while.

2522609853_a8e786fc86_m.jpgJust a short thot.   I’m utterly fatigued of words like Abundance.   ProsperityWealth.

They have the odour, for me, of negligent obliviousness to the fact that we are not paying, and have not paid for a long, long time, the true cost of our acquisitions that constitute this so-called wealth.  We’ve been naively content to let people (women and children especially) in developing countries pay the price, and of course, the planet.   See:  The Story of Stuff among many other indictments.  (note: I include myself in this paragraph!)

Furthermore striving for abundance (etc.) is based on a false premise:  That we do not currently have enough, and that we will feel better if we somehow attain a threshold we can call abundance, prosperity, ad nauseum.   Problem is, that threshold rarely is defined and we never arrive there.

I have a secret hope that as the false-ness built into our economies, esp. those of us in North America, continues to be exposed for its vacuousness (like flying on private jets to ask for massive taxpayers’ handouts) and deception (like Bhopal),  that we will insist, absolutely insist, that we rebuild a better way of doing economics.  It may mean pared down wardrobes, fewer shoes and even (gasp!) an end to dog fashion.   Really, I just don’t care about those things so much anymore – do you?

Might we be willing to exchange our abundance for an abundance of clean air and clean water?

Might we be willing to exchange our prosperity for basic nutrition for children around the world?

Might we be willing to exchange our wealth for creating an economy where the genius and creativity of individuals have a fighting chance to actualize regardless of country of birth?

I’d do it in a heartbeat.

PS:  So – if anyone’s looking for a money coach who’s going to cheerlead enroute to further excess , I guess I’m not your gal.   But if you, like me, want to wisely and thoughtfully manage your money so that our presence on earth is a net benefit to the global community and planet, not a net loss, let’s talk.

PPS:  I haven’t got it all figured out yet either.  But I’m sure trying.

PPPS: photo credit: Leeziet

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