A Money Coach in Canada

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This is so weird. Twice now this year, I’ve gone to a church as a visitor and the topic was … being wise with money.

Anyway, when I was recently in Vancouver, I went to my radical and wonderful home parish in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and the priest on deck for the homily, Jessica (yes, a woman priest, YAY and because it’s a High Anglican church it’s “Mother” Jessica), gave the homily, and I have to say it challenged this money coach.

It challenged me to make tithing a central aspect of my finances rather than a one-more-aspect. By that, I mean I want it to become my new barometer of my financial health. This is part of my re-invigorated money-coach-heal-thyself programme to which I committed.

Previous barometers were:

  • ability to meet my monthly obligations
  • building up a nest egg
  • buying a home
  • able to live a more luxurious lifestyle
  • having savings for nice things

But I want a new barometer.   I want my new barometer of financial success to be:  Am I managing my finances in such a way that I can give 10% of it away?  To organizations that feed the hungry?  To organizations that advocate for structural change, social justice, so that folks aren’t hungry in the first place?  To initiatives that will help the planet?  And of course, to my parish which has been such a rich blessing to me over the years?

I don’t do that right now.  I give a certain amount on a regular basis, and beyond that, on one-offs throughout the year.  But I can, and desire to, make it a central aspect of my money management to give 10% away on a regular basis.   If you want to listen to the homily – it’s about 6 minutes – it’s below.  If you want just the key points, here they are:

1. Tithing is in response to a great vision, not a commandment

2. Occam’s Razor – the simplest model is probably the best one  (10%)

3. Tithing can offer freedom from anxiety

4. It can invite God’s healing into our relationship with money

5. It’s a practice of gratitude

Mother Jessica’s Top 5 Reasons to Tithe from St. James' Anglican Church on Vimeo.

Photo Credit: More Good Foundation

In my cri de coer last Tuesday I committed to picking up the slack in my own financial life.

I used to love investing. Stocks. Bonds. Dividends. p/e ratios. Yield. Acid tests (they’re not what you think). These are words more women need to know, love and own!

If you know my personal story (see vid on sidebar), part of the joy included building up my investments in tandem with getting out of debt and managing my day-to-day use of money.

But I’ve back-slidden.

Here’s what happened: When I started my biz, YMbD, I stopped investing in the market because I was investing in my business instead. Most of the time I worked part-time as well, and at least had a bit of work pension building up. For the past two years I’ve enjoyed building up an (ahem) public servant pension. And so I got lazy. It’s been too long since I’ve socked away money in a dead serious manner, nor have I been on top of the business world the way I believe I should be — and any woman, dare I say, should be.

I don’t feel good about this.

So I’ve made the first moves to get myself back in the investing saddle.

*** DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER ***

I am not a financial planner. I am not a financial advisor. Do not take any of what I’m about to say as advice. I am simply an average-joe-ette who learned how to make her own investing decisions because I’m nerdy and a control freak on these things (and want to save the commissions) and I genuinely like reading financial pages and annual reports. I’m also fun at a party.

*****************************************************************************************************************

So here’s what I’ve done.

1. I’ve re-joined a women’s investment club which I’d actually co-founded 10 years ago. I withdrew 5 years ago, but it’s still going strong and they kindly accepted me back in. This is fertile ground for intel about which businesses are up-and-coming (but not penny stocks! We look for at least a 5 year track record). We each pay $40/month, and come to monthly meetings prepared with research on various companies. We pool the funds, and once we have a chunk of change, we debate the various companies and select one in which to invest. The person who recommended the selected company then keeps us informed each month on how it’s been doing.

2. I’ve also rejigged my budget so that a chunk of my monthly salary will start going automatically into my self-directed RRSPs. Truth be told, I’m not confident these days about buying stocks. I’m way more jaded then I was pre-2008 now that we know the extent to which markets (us investors large and small) were duped by corrupt employees and CEOs. Beyond that, I’m not seeing much in the macro picture that gives me confidence my investments will pay off for me over the next 20 years. But … I’m not about to put my money under my mattress either. So, I’ll hunt and peck until I find some companies I like and think will perform, larger picture notwithstanding.

That’s it for now. I’m quietly excited. Skepticism notwithstanding, there’s a real thrill from investing in companies, and at least in the past, I had a kick-ass success rate that beat that pants off the vast majority of mutual fund returns. Anyone care to join me online Saturday mornings, lattes in hand, and share good business / economics articles for an hour or so?

James, we’ll call him, is a new client. A thirty-something professional with a good income, he wants his use of money to have integrity, that is to say, align with who he is as a person. And that, readers, is the heart and soul of what my biz, Your Money by Design is all about.

I’m giving James coaching support to supplement his work on my It’s Your Money program. In exchange, he will guest post reflections on the modules as he works through them.

Here’s why he wants to take the program:

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Hi Nancy,

I guess part of the story of my life is delaying taking action in matters that are important to me, or that I have every indication that they will be important to me. And facing my “money issues” is one of those matters.

I have read or heard from different sources that how you deal with money is a reflection of how you deal with yourself, how much you love yourself. And all throughout my life, I have been dealing with low self esteem issues, with false beliefs about who I am, about others and about life in general. Even though I grew up in a middle to to high class environment, somehow I was always in a space of lack, I viewed life as this unfair structure that just “had it out” for some people, while favouring others. I felt I was one of those people life had it out for. It was this set of beliefs that drove many of my actions in life; the women and friends I chose to be with, career decisions and being clueless in matters of money.

The struggles I felt around my sense of self, others and life have led me to ask questions, that in due time have been answered. I have discovered that I am way more powerful than I originally thought. I have learned that by challenging false beliefs, finding my deeper truth (who I really am), setting clear intentions and acting in alignment with these intentions, I can basically have the life that I want and so much deserve, like everyone. I have also being introduced the concept of integrity, which basically is the way you measure how much in alignment with your intentions, and how to restore it when you all out of alignment or out of integrity. I have learned that shame, feeling bad, beating myself up about having falling out of integrity, is not going to get me back in integrity. I can admit to myself my mistakes while still loving myself, by viewing mistakes as part of being human and a vehicle that drives us to grow.

All these concepts have worked well for me in, slowly but surely, claiming back my life, my personal power. It feels as though waking up from a state of trance and looking around me and seeing the mess around me but instead of ignoring it, just slowly putting things in order. Well, the time has come for me to put my financials in order, to take steps to restore my financial integrity, so to speak. Part of the mess I have woken up to is finding myself in debt. Not too big but big enough to be noticeable and to send me warning flags that if I don’t do something soon, I may find myself in trouble. I see debt as the financial world’s way of measuring how much in integrity we are. If this is the case, I am out of integrity, and I want to restore it. Why did I take so long to take charge? Well, I felt ashamed, inadequate, a bad provider. But these feelings are no way to get to where I want to be, there is no power in feeling ashamed. So I have decided to face that shame and start taking my steps towards financial freedom.

I feel blessed that I have you as a source of guidance, and I can’t wait to get started in learning my way back to financial integrity. This is my intention for working with you Nancy, to learn how to clear all the false beliefs I have about money and my ability to be in a state of abundance. I look forward to this work with you.

To abundance,

James

Photo Credit: Blue Bubble

Women, I’m agitated.

A g i t a t e d.

And my bottom line, which I’ll get to, is: It’s really, really, really important that we, as part of our definition of being self-possessed women, have our collective financial acts together.

What happened was this.

For lack of an iPad or magazines, I watched Dr. Phil on the flight down to Vancouver and my stomach has been quietly churning ever since. It featured a young woman, now 23, who had videotaped her father, a Judge, whipping her with a belt under the guise of “discipline” when she had been 16.

This was in 2004.
Not 1955, 1765 or 1800.
2004.
2004.

It was a barbaric, violent act against a woman to begin with, but two further aspects have me nearly choking down vomit.

1. The first was the mom, who later was clearly remorseful, but at the time, do you know what she said to her daughter? What she said was: Lie on your stomach and take it like a grown woman.

WTF?

WTF?

WTF TAKE IT LIKE A GROWN WOMAN? What’s that supposed to mean? What?

2. The second thing that sent me over the edge is that a sizeable portion of the online commenters not only thought it was ok, “kids these days need discipline”, but thought she was in the wrong for posting this and shaming her father. I know, I know, I know that online commenters tend to be the oddballs of society with time on their hands — or so we should hope, anyway, judging by the quality of most online comments. But still!

So in 2004 we have judges who think it’s ok to whip their teenage girls and mothers who think women should lie on their stomachs and take it, and a whole lot of folks who think that it’s justified to use height, weight, strength, belts against 16 year old girls. In North America.

I’m obviously not ok with it, and I’m hoping to hell you’re not ok with it either. Not at all ok with it. I hope society steps up, and with due process, seriously sanctions the father, the judge. I hope society overwhelmingly condemns this act.

But I doubt it will.

I doubt it will, because women are still not equal, or perceived as equal, or perceived as powerful. If we were, would a man dare to treat a woman like that?

Which brings us back to us women and money.

Being organized with your money isn’t about that great holiday. It’s not about feeling good about yourself. It’s sure not about buying Fluevogs (which is not to say I don’t!)

BEING ORGANIZED WITH MONEY IS ABOUT POWER, AND DON’T ANY OF US FORGET IT.

Our place in the world – such as it is, and after engaging in this episode I’m wondering if we’ve come that far after all – has been, and will be, hard-won. It’s been won by women courageously facing scorn and criticism and derision (not unlike that heaped on #occupy folks) who persevered in insisting women should vote, even at the cost of being brutalized in jail. It’s been won by women who wore themselves out being both moms and career women. It’s been won by women who endured harassment and quietly continued to do good work despite a hostile environment.

We’ve come this far. Let’s not fuck it up by complacency! And since money is power (witness who drives public policy), all I can say is that we women need to get very serious about our money, get serious about being savvy, and get serious about using our money to shape our society. Until we do, it will still be ok to whip young, vulnerable girls with impunity.

Forgive me in advance for how uncharacteristically direct I’m about to be below. Here goes:

1. If you’re not spending time to effectively manage your day-to-day money, your priorities are out of whack, and you’ll soon be out of the game if you’re not already.

2. If you think money is not important, or something you are too good for, you are kidding yourself. Money is a powerful energy and if you’re not in control of it, it’s probably in control of you.

3. If you think managing your money is about “creating the life you want”, your vision is too small.

Last, a confession. I’ve grown complacent myself. Over the past couple years, having significantly more than enough for my needs, I’ve been lax on my active management. Oh, I’ve set up auto-donations to causes, I seek out fair-trade/organic, a blend of truly worthy and feel-good, but I’ve lost sight of the Mammon aspect – that money is power. And I can wield it. And I’d damn well better.

And I will. Over the coming weeks, I’ll post (amongst others) what I am personally doing to make my own finances even more robust and, God willing, effect social change.

Photo Credit: European Parliament

Just sayin’.

This money coach loves these guys. And you will too. Not to mention you’ll love being a Saver.

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