A Money Coach in Canada

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C’mon. I know I’m not the only one who buys Christmas presents for herself. This was my big treat this year.
READERS: ‘fess up. What did you buy yourself?


If things go according to plan, we’ll be seeing more Second Cup coffee stores around. I’m pleased about this because it’s a good coffee shop and Canadian, and I don’t think we Canadians need to give all our business to US Behemoth Starbucks, do we? (although for the record, I bought SBUX stock in the late 90s and its stratospheric rise enabled me to buy my condo. No joke).

Here’s the CEO’s 4-point plan to jump-start Second Cup:

1. Revert to a corporate structure
It was doing reasonably well, then in 2004 was structured as an Income Fund. If you don’t know what an Income Fund is, the name says the most important thing: it’s supposed to generate income for the shareholders. This means that the profits did not get reinvested in the company, but were distributed to shareholders.

As of January 2011, that changes. It’s converting back to a Corporation which means the company can do with its profits as it sees fit.

2. Set up more shops
In this case, it’s planning to ad 30% more stores.

3. Focus our attention more on its coffee instead of image
Look for more explicit information about their coffee. Personally, I don’t know how much that would draw me, but the next one will:

4. Go fair trade and eco-friendly
This one would draw me. I always buy Level Ground coffee for use at home because it’s fair trade. It’s one teeny way I hope to help the world be a better place. Similarly, if I knew there were shops that gave me fair-trade lattes, I’d most definitely pay (a bit of) a premium, and go (a bit) out of my way to find it.

I don’t think I’ll be investing in Second Cup just yet, but I’ll be keeping my eye on it.

Friendly reminder about Apple’s 12 Days of Christmas give-aways.

It’s for real – each day they give away something from their iTunes store. Each gift is available for download only in that particular day. So far I’ve downloaded a great Christmas sampler (Sheryl Crowe, Straight No Chaser et alia), a sweet indie (I think) movie Bandslam and today’s gift is The Book of Negroes.

Get get ’em!

Waiting for the Return of Light

I used to call them my demon nights. Sleep patterns and the hours between 3 – 4:30 am can really mess with our heads. Our insecurities and vulnerabilities are magnified and it’s hard to find our inner core. I frequently experienced insomnia at this hour and went through a silent hell. I felt utterly alone in the universe. Anguish.

I don’t experience those torments anymore, Thank God. Somewhere between then and now I have, over the years, become at ease in my own skin. Between long-lasting and robust friendships, discovering my own unique strengths I bring to the world, and a particular romance which, though it didn’t end in marriage (a sadness I will always carry with me) nevertheless dropped tender love into my heart, between all these, I’ve become (generally) at ease and secure. Also rooting myself into a faith and belief in an all-loving and tender and compassionate God has been foundational.

There’s a proverb that says: Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it.

So on this Christmas Day, I encourage us all to hold lightly to the gifts we received (or maybe didn’t) – delight in them, yes. But mostly hold them lightly because mostly what we all need – by definition of being human – is love and belonging. What love and belonging we each have in our lives, be it little glimpses or in spades, let’s soak it up. If we need more, let’s set our intentions to build and deepen our community. If we have some to spare, let’s open our hearts more widely to others.

And for those who are inclined toward religion, let’s open our hearts all the more to the God of Love, and spill that love as indiscriminately wide and far as possible — Peace, on earth, good will to all.

Hang on to your hats, folks. We’re about to enter a crazy time of the year.

Your shopping is probably mostly done (right? RIGHT??) but there’s plenty of in-the-moment wallet busters in store (sic) for the next 10 days. Here are 5 last minute tips to spend smart between now and New Years.

1. Run, don’t walk, run to your nearest dollar store to pick up gift cards, wrapping paper and bows. You don’t want to spend a fortune on this at the Brand Name store on Christmas Eve! If you have 90 minutes of time, an even better idea: make your own bows from leftover wrapping paper like Karen does.

Happy New Year!
2. New Years Eve. Going out? Leave your keys and your plastic at home. Decide how much you’re doing to spend and use cash. Save yourself from yourself! No oops-overspending hangovers this January 1st on my watch! 😉

3. Create your “standard-polite-decline” in advance to excuse yourself from potentially pricey on-the-spot invites you receive (we’re going out for lunch, join us!). Your line can be whatever works for you. Ideas: a gracious and classic, “Thanks so much but I have other plans” or “another time”; if suitable, ask if you can check your calendar first; have a standby excuse “I need to take the dogs for their walk”.

4. Travelling? Call your cel phone service provider today to be clear about extra charges. Avoid nasty surprises when you get your January bill! I usually purchase about $10 from Bell so I can make extra calls while in Vancouver.

5. Don’t apologize for not spending. I’m not saying cheap-out. But controlling your spending over the next 10 days should be a badge of honour. Settle that within yourself, and then let your actions and your words flow from that place.

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