A Money Coach in Canada

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Sometimes people really are broke.

Not the I can’t take the holiday I want this year broke, but the world is closing in on me, and I’m going down broke.

Tell-tale signs of the real deal include

  • inability to pay bills on time, over an extended period
  • chronically “robbing peter to pay paul”  (ie. using money intended for one thing to cover something else)
  • no cash for saving or investing
  • scrambling to pay rent/mortgage over an extended period
  • sleepless nights

Sometimes even these extremes are simply a matter requiring better management of income.   But usually when this is a chronic lifestyle, it’s time to acknowledge:   I’m broke.

This is not the end of the world.

It’s a starting place to take stock, and plan a course of action.

Here are 5 initial steps to take.

  1. Determine that an increased income is your top priority. It trumps your relationship.  It trumps  having fun.  It trumps any preference to avoid the situation.  And against nearly every life coach, dare I say:  It trumps (for now) pursuing your passion.  This isn’t a downer, folks.   It’s a deep recognition that you are in charge of your life.
  2. Take stock.  Do it on paper.  What are the most critical financial needs you have?  What resources are available to you?
  • Write out: with as much clarity as possible, your exact financial situation and cash flow needs.
  • Research:  Are you eligible for any sources of funding such as insurance or benefits or employment insurance?
  • Collect:  Does anyone owe you money?  Or favours?  How can you collect, strategically? Who could help you out, if it comes to it?
  • Seek:  Do you have any forgotten treasures?  Assets you could liquidate (craigslist helps)? Term deposits (which can usually be broken in serious circumstances such as job loss/medical issues)?  Savings accounts?  even RRSPs (last resort)?  unused Lines of Credit or credit cards?
  • Call:  Which creditors can you call to ask for some temporary relief?

3.  Relentlessly seek ways to improve your income. Heads-up:  You need to be strategic here.  In the gut-wrenching anxiety of the moment, you may be tempted to take any old job.   Unless it pays enough to give you financial lift over time, “any old job” probably won’t cut it.  It will simply prolong your situation, while it consumes your precious time.  Ask, and keep asking, “how will I obtain the income I require?”

Here’s an exercise.   For one month, every night before bed (so the ideas can settle and morph in your subconscious overnight), write at least 3 possible things you could do to obtain adequate income.  By the end of the month, you’ll have nearly 100 ideas.  Allow yourself complete freedom to write down anything.  Sometimes crazy ideas make you a millionaire.     This exercise also trains your mind to be alert to possibility.

4. Deliberately be gentle with yourself. It’s possible you will take a number of hits until things turn around.   Don’t beat yourself up in the mix.   Give yourself a break.  Hang out with friends who truly care about you.  Ask for help, where you can. Identify places to go (literal or figurative) that nurture you.  Respect your own privacy – come up in advance with your own key messages if people make enquiries.  Press yourself into your faith praxis if you have one. Continue with yoga and meditation if it’s part of your life.  Keep yourself inspired, for example, read stories of others who struggled and lived to see another day (of course you will too!).  Above all don’t let your current financial circumstances define you.   You are So.Much.More than your financial life.

5.  Firmly ground yourself in the fact that this too shall pass.  Canadians who have not been broke at some time are the exception.   Much as we valorize people who build wealth steadily, almost everyone has had really tough times.  It doesn’t last.  Take it from one who’s been there!

About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. Nancy,

    While reading this, I was doing a little checklist in my head.
    And for most of them – they got a little check mark – not all, about 75% though. Which makes me feel like I am on the right track.
    But that I have a little extra work to do as well, which is a bit of a relief actually.

    Anyway, thanks for posting it. It was most helpful, and needed at this time.

    It’s important to not let the situation get you down though. Knowing that this situation is temporary is key. And at least in my case, its very temporary – hopefully the soon to be over kind of temporary. But in case its not, I at least know where I can turn to for advice 🙂

    .-= laura´s last blog ..Let’s Stop the Cycle =-.


    Jul 04, 2009
  2. It’s funny that you didn’t mention SPEND LESS MONEY. If you make more and you still have bad financial habits, you’re still gonna be broke. I know people who make twenty times more than I do who are always broke. And I’ve been more broke on a higher income than I am now with a lower income. Spend less, pay your bills first before you spend money on discretionary items, keep track of your expenses and see where you can cut back. Earlier in the year, I was able to free up a fair amount of money by looking at my cell phone bills and groceries. I have other items that need slashing and they will be slashed as soon as possible. I also have more income right now, which is allowing me to catch up on overdue bills, but when the season ends and I’m back on EI, it’s my cost-cutting that’s gonna help me the most.
    .-= Mongoose´s last blog ..Nothing good can come of this =-.


    nancyzimmerman Reply:

    Hey Mongoose- yep, I agree. The vast majority of times, things can turn around by spending less. But there truly is a minimum to this (unless you want to live on the streets, I suppose). At a certain point, it’s no longer a question of spending less, but of increasing your income. That’s who I was writing for, in this particular instance.


    Jul 05, 2009
  3. It’s difficult to even leave the house without spending money. As a friend of mine in Toronto observed, we are almost automatically spending $10 every time we step out the door here. Some days it feels that way. But there are free resources around, such as the city parks and the libraries. The libraries are huge–a place to read the newspapers, get free access to the Internet, and find information that could lead to the next job such as how to put together the latest style of resume or names of companies that are in your industry.
    .-= Connie Crosby´s last blog ..15 Key Observations by Bob Pearson =-.


    Jul 12, 2009

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