A Money Coach in Canada

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Disclaimer: I am not NDP. I am Green. But this was a great opportunity to meet some dedicated politicians in a small setting compared to whatever I’d experience “down south”. Besides, I really do believe that Loving My Neighbour As Myself is truly what all of us in my faith tradition are called to (and none of us do very well, esp. me) and NDP tries, more than other parties, to live into this.
There’s about 100 northerners here at the Tree of Peace.

7:08 pm
Couple local MLAs here (me: mildly dubious)

Prayer said by a dene man (I didn’t catch his name, sorry).

Jack, Dennis Bevington (MP), Olivia Chow here, introduced by Mark Hyack (sp?). Layton looking well – quite serene, frankly.

Jack now up. Referring to being at the top of the Nahanni falls (on my bucket list). Talking about the word Majesty. Segues into mention of Climate Change in the north.

Inuvialuit need to be part of process of northern development. Need to have a voice. Discussion must include them, not focus sole-ly on non-northern firms exploiting the vast resources in the north.

Now referring to courage and alluding to Tommy Douglas.

Layton questions Military as ways to prove Canada’s sovereignty. He says instead: support communities of the North. (OK, I totally agree on this one).

This means we must have a different relationship with the original inhabitants up here – nation to nation, eye to eye with First Nations. (again, I agree)

The recent apology needs to be accepted. At one point, the gov was not going to let the First Nations on the floor of the House to accept it. (pointed out by Bill Erasmus to Jack Layton at the time). Further, must put action.

Now moving on to affordable housing.

and moved swiftly to a call for a Pharmacare strategy.

He’s now pointing out Harper’s strategies and refuting them (eg. buying $16B of the world’s most advanced fighter jets. anyone know if that’s true?)

Now he’s asking for thoughts of the audience: What should the NDP be focussing on?

Q: drives man nuts how Ottawa has one-size-fits-all re: electricity rates. (CEO of dene first nation of yellowknife)
Q: local colour – man who previously had been on Jack Layton’s roof protesting or something – will die without seeing his children because of Bill C422. Will you go back to Ottawa and call for a revote (? missed that).
Q: Pembina Institute rep asking: unconventional energy – review of policies – how was it received by the Federal Gov’t?

Layton’s responses:

A to Q2 – we want all parents to have access to kids, but not sure what Bill C422 specifies. Will talk personally after. But we hear your pain while dealing with the system.
A to Q2 – one-size-fits-all = huge problem in Ottawa. 22ยข per kilowat/w in a cold place is indeed painful. We’ve said we should have nat’l strategy to retrofit homes to be more energy efficient.
Layton was the brunt of Rick Mercer about his own home – see below ๐Ÿ™‚

A to Q3 by Bevington: this resolution called for complete review of all policies re: unconventional oil and gas. Why? because it’s happening all around the world – recognizes regulations were inadequate. Shale gas – what happens to underground acquafirs (?) when compound forced underground to extract gas? What are the dangers to the underground eco-systems, like water? In the fall we will be pushing hard to get this resolution back on the table. (note: the deep water drilling is close to home in the north – arctic Delta – could it be the next Gulf?)

Bevington talks about the good initiatives going on re: green energy in Yellowknife (it’s true)

More Q’s:

Q1: I just asked Q tweeted to me by BigCajanMan:
@moneycoach how will they deal with the coming pension meltdown? CPP may be OK but others seem on thin ice, how do u protect the members?

Q2: could NDP cooperate with other parties for the”greater good” of ousting Conservatives? (readers: don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just repeating!)

A to 2: that’s exactly what we attempted, and I played a significant role in trying to make that happen. I did that because of the economic crisis we were in. I’m always ready to work with other parties. We worked with the Conservatives to put more $ into EI in exchange for not calling for an election. We worked with Liberals (I missed the example). Ultimately though it’s up to the Cdn people. They wouldn’t appreciate not running candidates in particular ridings. Our party will always try to get the best result we can.

A to 1: this was the first and most important thing we needed to work on re: budget. (I don’t know if I heard that correctly). Give the banks a little bit less, and help seniors be at or above poverty live. CPP is quite solid. Guess what it is: It’s all of us coming together and creating something we can all benefit from. We’d like ultimately to see CPP doubled (me: even I am taken aback. doubled??) Wants to put some kind of insurance in place for retirees who learn their companies never put appropriate money into their pensions, and now they are left stranded.

A to Q3: tarsands – foreign temporary workers now in Alberta to provide labour. They and their money go home. We now bring in more foreign temp workers than immigrants. That’s not right.

Bevington pointing out (in my words) that changing extraction practices to be green means more attractive to market. Alberta’s brand is now Dirty Oil Alberta because they didn’t do things right. Ppl feel guilty about what they’re creating instead of good about it.

Olivia Chow now up.

Q 1: Suzette Monteuil: What is NDPs national childcare strategy?
Q2: I used to be a citizens of France where workers have rights. On paper I have rights, but my employer’s work practices resulted in an injury and employer bullied me against raising the issue. What is your stance?
Q3: Lyda Fuller (YWCA) Has the report on the long-gun registry changed people’s minds about the long-gun registry? I have a letter signed from every single shelter across the country asking the gov’t not to reconsider the Registry.

A to Q3: this is a controversial topic. It’s really about public security. We’ve ended up with a black or white vote in Sept. (I think he tried to lay down arms and work together)
[interesting sidebar – the NDP apparently does not Whip its members into voting a particular way on an issue in the House] First time he’s heard of such a letter. Lyda doesn’t sound satisfied with answer.

A to Q2: introduced her to head of local Labour who’s also here of course.

A to Q1 by Olivia Chow – why can’t we provide non-profit, affordable care for our kids? It should not be only for-profit (profiting off caring for children = weird?). To have national strategy we would need an Act, just like we have a Health Act. The childcare options would have to be local, flexible, but the financing and standards should be enshrined in law. We know a child’s brain grows the most during the first six years of their life. There is no reason why, if we have an education system, we could not extend it slightly younger. That forms the basis of the NDP national childcare plan.

(NWT MP) Bevingon: I’m very much in favour of gun control. I grew up in the north and saw the results of poor licensing, lack of training, poor training. Those things killed a lot of people. The long-gun registry has saved lives. Spontaneous shooting not as easy.

Q1: Lydia Bardack, John Howard Society – if gov’ts had to undergo the same scrutiny and accountability the NGOs do, they wouldn’t still exist. What are we doing to promote safety for gov’t? How are we supporting victims of crime?
A1: Layton: I want to connect you with our public critic on safety, Don Davies. The conservative approach is on the american style of justice, which is moving away from typical Canadian approaches. NDP has supported minimum sentences for 3 gun crimes. Conservatives were going to cover all kinds of offences -> minimum sentences. When you’ve been in jail crammed in with 4 people (double bunking), and the likelihood of getting out of jail and becoming a taxpayer again are minimal. In some cases, this is possible. How do we support them? What if they have FAS? What if they have an addition? A mental illness? Do additional jails help? And are people who want more jail times willing to pay more taxes?

It’s 8:30pm, my battery’s at 10%, twitter is on FailWhale, and i think it’s time to close.

but — last comments by Bevington: It’s time to acknowledge the War on Drugs is an abject failure. Another option needed. Look at Mexico (ie. what’s happened there due to War on Drugs)

PS – you know what was interesting? Truly and for real, there was “civilized discourse”.

oops – maybe not – woman claiming Treaty Rights to speak despite — oh wow — she states she’s hear from Ft. Smith, standing in front of Layton (who quietly stood) and talking about her experience with crack. I think I’m gonna cry.

I’m seeing red.

Few things get under my skin like companies making mistakes and treating you like an anonymous non-entity even as they screw you.

Some time ago I decided I wanted 2010 to be my year of Health and Wellness. Prevention Magazine has great articles and tips on eating well, and good exercises. So in the spring of 2009, someone bought me a subscription as a birthday present. I have loved it (hat tip, editorial staff).

The same individual offered to renew it for me this past spring. Naturally, instead of opening those Imperative RENEW NOW!!! SAVE 30%!!! letters, thinking it was being taken care of, I just chucked the envelopes unopened.

Until today. I don’t know what prompted me, other than it was weird to be receiving them still, to open it. I did. And discovered a nasty note saying I was overdue in payment and “my account” would be sent to collections.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Dear Rodale Press: if you aren’t organized enough to track who is receiving gift subscriptions and handle your accounts accordingly, why the hell are you attempting to offer gift subscriptions?

a. You have my name and with a bit of checking into my blog, you can find out where I live. That is enough information for you to fix this. Please do.

b. While I’m on a rant: some time back I ordered an excellent book from you. But in the order I *very clearly specified* that I did not want to receive further promotional material from you. I HATE JUNK MAIL. Nevertheless, you send me your junk mail. I don’t get it. I am was a potential future customer. All you had to do is back off and let me choose. Why did you diss me in this matter?
Your brand is so done for me now.

Love and wealth Photo credit: Selva

A story.
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There was an executive who was financially set – he was textbook Financial Planning 101. His employer provided a great pension (defined benefits, even), his financial advisor had multiplied his RRSP investments, and he owned his penthouse condo in Coal Harbour outright. Then the company wanted to replace him with someone younger who was more in touch with the online market, so they gave him a kick-ass buy-out plan. The golden handshake. As in $1M if he signed the Non Disclosure Agreement and would go away quietly anywhere but to a direct competitor.

After the initial shock passed, and some C-suite-level outplacement appointments, it was time to deal with reality. He thought to himself, “What shall I do with the $1M? My RRSPs are maxed out. I have my pension. What to do now with my life, and what to do with this $1M, what to do…” Finally he came up with a plan. “I know. I’ll buy the condo on the floor below and renovate so I have double the space, and I’ll finally buy that place in Bali I’ve been dreaming about.” Plus, his financial advisor helped him find some legitimate off-shore investments so he could save on taxes.

This made him happy. He said to himself, “Look at how well I’ve done for myself. I put myself through university, I’ve worked hard, I was disciplined with my savings and investing since day 1, and now it’s time to enjoy the good life. I sooooo deserve it after such a stressful career. I won’t return to work; I’m set for life at this point. Now, it’s time to eat, drink and have a great time.” And immediately he went out to buy the best golf clubs he could find and headed for the greens.

But just as he reached the 9th hole God said to him: You Fool!!!! Tonight you’re going to die of an aneurism and then who is going to get all that you have (so thoroughly) prepared for yourself?
************

So much for the protestant work ethic, eh?

You may recall I’ve started a series, somewhat lite and somewhat maybe not, about the “7 deadly sins” and the “7 virtues”. The story above was originally told by Jesus (who had a lot to say about folks and their money) and my hunch is that it gets at the deadliness of pride. Not as in healthy pride over a job well done, or an appropriate inner sense of confidence, but this kind of pride:

As I mulled over the story above, here’s what I noticed. The man’s not being condemned for having been successful. The investments and the condo are not the issue. He’s being called a fool because he focused solely on his own good life without acknowledging that he’s part of a larger context. In fact, nobody else at all factors into his thinking.

  • It doesn’t occur to him that he was wealthy because he was born in Canada instead of Rwanda.
  • It doesn’t occur to him that his shrewd intelligence was a sheer gift, further enhanced by an affordable (in his day!) university education.
  • It doesn’t occur to him that his inner drive to work hard and succeed was due in part to a whole set of experiences in his youth which led him to believe, deeply, that success was achievable.

And ultimately, it doesn’t occur to him that he and his money had and should have any kind of connection to anyone besides himself. His pride led ultimately to a fundamental isolation. Scrooge, redux (or vice versa more accurately).

What a contrast to the joyful and life-giving generosity of the likes of Warren Buffet who is giving his fortune to charity as he himself lives on a salary of $100,000.

The point for you and me is: We too are also in the process of building up our wealth. To get quite personal, as I’m in the highest earning bracket I’ve ever been in, and as my own portfolio has plumped rather nicely, I’ve noticed just the subtlest creep of pride, as if somehow I deserve my current (operative word) blessings, rather than, well, happened to seize a few good opportunities that presented themselves. So the question is, will I, will you and I, take care to tilt in the direction of integration with our larger contexts, perhaps even a Higher Power, in happy generosity? or will we congratulate ourselves as our nest eggs grow even as we imperceptibly detach from the global, human, world we inhabit?

IMG_0299
I had a gentle thought today.

So often we try something, try again, and try yet again because we know we *should* do it, and it’s the right thing to do … but we just don’t pull it off. Or maybe we do for a brief, exhilarating time, but it doesn’t take. We fall back into our old ways and end up back where we started. Or worse.

In our financial lives, it might be going deeper into debt after nearly paying it all off. Or it might be another spending binge that leave us really, really strapped for cash after having been so.very.careful for months. Perhaps it’s overspending on someone (a lover? a child?) who we know, in our heart of hearts, won’t appreciate the sacrifice it meant.

When I had my financial turnaround all those years ago, I was lucky. My path was reasonably straight forward. I started tracking my spending, took control of my debt, learned how to invest and although I’ve had some lean and wobbly times, generally I’ve moved forward financially without too much tumult.

But my health – getting exercise, and managing my weight – is another story. I don’t look particularly overweight, but I can assure you I am not where I want to be nor where my doctor emphatically told me I should be. Since his blunt words 15 years ago, I have tried multiple times (Weight Watchers. Jenny Craig. Not eating after 7pm. Training for the Sun Run) to trim down, only to hit an all time weight high this past January. I was 20 pounds heavier than when he’d said I needed to lose at least 15 pounds.

I guess I felt how some of my money-coaching clients felt when they’d hit a debt threshold, or had a particularly bitter argument with their partner over money. I was discouraged and frustrated as hell.

For the umpteenth time I decided to TRY AGAIN. Since January I’ve been tracking my calories on a little app called LoseIt. And I made exercise a priority. A bit of Nia, Spin, Snow-shoeing and now the Couch25K. My goal was an easy 1 pound a week.
9 months later, I’m 9 pounds lighter. Merely 1 pound per freaking month after more hardcore exercise on a consistent basis than I’ve had in my LIFE, and often requiring miserable walks in extreme cold to the gym. And many’s the week when I’ve been meticulous with my food, except for one evening – one! – when I was invited out for beer and nachos, and then shot up by 2 pounds.

1 pound per freaking month after all that effort.

And yet.

I’m 9 pounds lighter.

I AM 9 POUNDS LIGHTER.

And I can now run 5 K in 30 minutes straight and – no bullshit – I’m enjoying it.

And I’m starting to enjoy meal planning and trying new recipes.

And I do believe this is becoming a lifestyle change.

And it’s starting to seem probable that I will keep this up and wear size 10 dresses yet again.

If it takes another year before I get there, that’s cool. This isn’t about looking good in a bikini for a trip to Mexico. This is about me wanting to be as fully alive and energetic as possible both now and way into the future.

So, if you, like me, have tried or are trying or have had it with trying to change a habit, change a lifestyle (and of course I have a particular soft spot for those of you who grapple with your money habits) I fist bump you from Yellowknife and encourage you to continue on with me. It may be 1 pound a month instead of a week, or it may be saving $10 instead of $100. So be it. We’re getting there.

Oh my. What a day I’ve had.

First I learned that the Economist is on Tumblr. I mean, I’m not even on tumblr yet.

Barely had I picked up my jaw from the floor when I heard via Darren Barefoot that Freakonomics is being made into a movie and the trailer’s already out on Youtube:

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