A Money Coach in Canada

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James is a current client working through my online Money Coaching program. Here’s what happened when he completed module 2. It wasn’t easy. But it was good.

Dear Moneycoach:

Wow, what can I say… First of all, Happy New Year!

Speaking of the new year, I can tell this is going to be a year of growth for me in many aspects, including of course, the financial. Wow Nancy, going through modules 1 and 2 of your program, I have felt a whole set of emotions, going from excitement, to fear, to shock, depression, shame and now hope and possibility.

As I wrote to you before, I began with excitement, knowing that I will finally have tools in my hands to be able to be free from financial anxieties. I went through module 1 and that was fast. I noticed I had three credit cards and I took one out, so my wallet currently has two credit cards, the ones with the least credit limit. I had little problem with that.

Module 2, now that’s a different story. First, I unconsciously and consciously avoided going through it. But you know what they say, it is precisely those things we tend to avoid, that when finally undertake them, we experience the most growth. I think I avoided going through it because I felt fear of what I might find out.

Once I got a hand of my bank statements and started adding things up in your spreadsheet, I was shown a clear picture of why I have been stressing lately. I was shocked! I was shocked to see that if I tried to pay more then the minimum of the credit card balances, I wouldn’t have much cash left for me for the whole month. From there I went to feeling quite depressed and ashamed after realizing how careless I have been. I clearly had not been loving myself. But I do now, and once I have the big picture, I have realized that with a little effort, I can have a better grasp of where my money goes, and make decisions. I actually feel quite encouraged now, I know that this is the year I turn it around.

Thank you for devising this program and I can’t wait to get on with module 3. If I were to make a suggestion, I would make the meditation around money available throughout all the modules. When I was feeling all depressed, I felt I was needing something like that to help me reassure me that I’ll be fine.

FInancially, hopefully, yours,

James

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

Hi, my name is Karen and I’ve been working with Nancy for several weeks now and am just starting Module 4. So far my biggest learnings have been 1) realizing that I am not far off in the estimates of my expenses and 2) looking at my finances isn’t quite as scary as it seemed when I started this process. Huge thanks to Nancy for making this process feel safe!

Karen in BC Sept. 2011

I don’t think Karen’s head was in the sand. But a lot of folks’ heads are, that’s for sure! Plenty of people can get away with it because their incomes, fortunately, exceed their intuitive lifestyle. But if anyone want to be strategic and intentional with their money, that’s not the way to go!

What often happens though is that just under the surface, things actually are NOT ok. Then a little (or big), unanticipated financial crisis occurs where the happy equilibrium to date gets busted. At that point, folks have a choice — hurriedly rectify the situation (if possible) and carry on as before, as step back, and start taking control of their money.

Is your own head in the sand about your finances? Are you blithely unaware and secretly scared of what you’ll find out? As the saying goes, There’s nothing to fear, but fear itself! Seriously: Again, again and again once my clients pull their heads out of the sand and start getting clear about their money they feel an enormous sense of relief. They know what they have to work with and can start building realistic plans. Would you want to have any other kind of plan? Or do you prefer no plan at all….?

If you’re ready to pull your head out of the sand and gain clarity, my online program will help. You will feel safe. Take the Tour to get started!

Melanie seeks Nancy’s help dealing with her debt.

Todays’ guest post is by Kathryn Anderson, a former client who is well on her way to achieving a key goal in her life – escaping Canadian winters by becoming a snowbird.

And if you want to do the same, it starts by taking control of your money and making it happen.  I can help!

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Ever dreamed of becoming a snowbird?  (No, not one those exceptional pilots who fly for the Canadian Forces demonstration team!)  I’m talking about those who flee cold and snowy Canada and head for a warm and sunny destination for winter, the minute there’s the faintest whiff of snow in the air!   If you want summer in winter – without going into debt – you’ll need a plan.

Since leaving central Canada for the West Coast in search of less – shall we say – offensive winters, I’ve been continuously finding a way to survive winter more easily.  Raised in climate that saw a lot of sun but also -20C to -40C for a good part of the winter, I grew very tired of 14 layers of fleece, mitts, hats, scarves, slushy/sandy roads, sidewalks, hallways, and salt-stained…everything!  Now instead, I get to wear 14 layers of goretex, rubber boots, umbrellas, and forget that such a thing as blue sky even exists from November to May (or July this year)!  No Canadian winter is ever “perfect” for me.  Are you starting to get the picture?

At times it has felt like my sanity was hanging on by a thread in the winter, no matter which province I lived in.  So, over the last four years I’ve begun taking steps to realizing my dream of becoming a snowbird. Slowly but surely, my plan has begun to take shape.

I knew that if I wanted to live abroad for my winters, I would need to start travelling for short trips south (one to four weeks), to do two things: (i) to do research in the actual country where I might spend 6 months; (ii) to get a taste for a regular winter holiday, to entice me to keep my vision alive.  By visiting the actual countries where I’m considering living for the winter, I get an understanding of what the local economy is like, how difficult/easy it might be for me as a foreigner to get work, what are the second language requirements, what about Visas, what is the standard of living compared to Canada, how much further do my earnings go there versus here in Canada, what about health care, my personal safety, local customs I need to be aware of?   There are a lot of factors to be considered to make an informed decision.

I started first by creating a small vision board collage. I was taking Nancy’s Smart with Money program, and identified that travel to warm climates in winter was a much desired goal of having more money and having a healthier relationship with my money.  So just by using some photos cut out of travel brochures and magazines, I put together a collage that included some places I’d like to visit:  Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica.  I mounted that collage on my fridge so I’d see it daily.  Even though I’d sometimes just be looking wistfully at the pictures, it inspired me to want to feel that sunny warmth on my skin.  And just when I might be closing my fridge after deciding to skip packing my lunch for work the next day…thinking “ugh. I’m too tired, I’ll just buy lunch tomorrow”, I’d see the collage beckoning me.  Inviting me to come lay on the deliciously unspoiled beaches of Cuba or the Dominican.   I’d realize that if I diverted that $6 to $10  towards my travel account, instead of buying lunch, I’d be one step closer to that trip.

I also bank with ING and set up multiple accounts to remind me what I’m saving for.  You can have an account just called Travel, or name it something fun and creative like HotSunnyBeaches to be very specific.

I was also fortunate that I was able to work with my employer to start shaping my work life towards a snowbird existence. When I got a promotion, I had some latitude to make some changes to the structure of my job.  I asked if it would be possible to work 4 days a week instead of 5.  Because I was being promoted, my salary was being increased. By working only 4 days a week, ultimately I kept making the same money but worked one day less a week for it.  It gave me time to devote to going to school, which helped me increase my earning power, and then I could work on that 5th day, self-employed or for another employer, if I chose to.  More money to put towards my vacations!  After two years in my new role, I also slowly began to approach the topic of work-sharing at my performance review, just to see how my employer felt about it.  They didn’t have any immediate answers for *how* we could do it, but they were open to the possibility.  I suggested we consider asking one member of staff who was staying home to raise children and would want her summers off.  We discussed the possibility of her doing my job while I was away for the winter, and me being there for the summers while her kids were off school and she wanted to have family time.  A workable set of factors.

I took some other very simple & quick actions:

  • I posted a picture of me on the beach in the Dominican as the wallpaper on my computer, and as my profile picture on FaceBook to remind me where I want to be every single time I’m at the computer.
  • In my “About Me” section on FaceBook I wrote that “I’m actively seeking a way to earn $$ while living the beach life….do you know someone who spends winters in a warm sunny climate then comes back to Canada?  Introduce me please!”  (and indeed, I’ve made connections this way.)
  • I bought a beautiful (and very economical!) beach photo on canvas from Ikea and hung it in my office.  It not only inspires me, but also my clients.
  • I bought a Tropical Beaches calendar for my kitchen where I stand and do dishes so I look at it every day, reinforcing my goal.
  • I got a very inexpensive Page A Day Gallery calendar from Workman Publishing (picked mine up at Costco) and put it on my desk at work: 365 days worth of beaches to inspire me, especially at work!
  • When I went to Mexico in December 2010, I had a set of business cards printed up for under $10 through Vistaprint.ca so that if I met people who had valuable information about how I could become a snowbird, or with whom I might later do business, I could stay connected to them.
  • I met people in Mexico who had information and connections for rental properties, who were ex-pat Canadians who are successfully living abroad and/or are snowbirds already.  I asked them about how they did it, what I need to know, what lessons they learned, what they might recommend I do differently than they did, where their situation and mine differ to understand how possible this might be for me.  I’ve added many of these connections to my FaceBook so that I am actively building relationships with these people.  When my accommodations for a trip coming up this December went by the wayside, I was able to put the word out in my network and find replacement arrangements inside of 24 hours, very reasonably.

I do these things because I am aligning my ACTIONS with my INTENTIONS. Every single day.

Now you might think, “But I can’t do all that!”.   I assure you, I had no clue what I was doing when I began.  I just knew that an intention is only that, if I don’t pair it with action.  So I figured out what small things I could do, and just started doing them.

When I first began saving a few years ago, it was a VERY small amount of money ($10 per pay, twice per month) just to get me started.  It just helped to know I was building something, even if the goal felt very far off.  As soon as I got a larger than expected tax return, I added it to my travel account and suddenly my few dollars a month was rolling my savings from 3 digits to 4.  So I wanted to keep building that money and in no time I found myself figuring out how to live with a little less here and there (i.e. – if I’m heading to a meeting or event, I almost always pack a travel mug of my own French Press coffee now, superior quality and just 4 coffees a week puts $10 in the Travel account, $40 a month, more if you’re a heavy coffee drinker) so that money could grow even more! I continued to save, even when I incurred some unexpected debt last year.  By devoting money to my travel account, it helped keep my mind focused on building savings, instead of just on “the need to pay down my debt”.

So now a wrench in the plan:  my beloved job of 8 years has disappeared due to corporate restructuring.  It means I’m re-working my plan.  I was still in the information gathering phase in any event: about what work I can do while living abroad, what country will have the most accessibility in terms of working/visas/learning a second language, whether I just want to work really hard for six months and bank all my savings to just live off of them while away (without needing to work), about whether I can do my coaching work via the internet – and even if I can, do I want to?, what to do with my apartment (I rent), whether to pack up everything & put it in storage, is a home exchange possible (i.e. they come to Vancouver and use my place while they ski for the winter, I take their place to lay on the beach?).

All good questions for which I am still finding answers.

What I know for sure, is that owing to a variety of factors, every cell in my body sings with joyful abandon when I am immersed in warmth and sunshine.  I function so well and feel so fully alive. Therefore I am committed to finding my way to a snowbird life, ideally within the next five years.

Remember that collage on my fridge?  Well, without even realizing it – it felt like no specific conscious intention at the time of booking – I have travelled to Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico (for a second time!), all on savings, no debt incurred.  That happened since I took my Smart with Money with Nancy in 2005, along with becoming debt-free.  Which, regardless of the brief departure to debt-load last year, has once again become my reality – despite the loss of my job.

Nancy’s education informed me how to re-think my relationship with money, how to live well (even with less, like in my current “lost my job” circumstances), and to keep my eye on the prize.

What’s your prize…and what’s one step you can take today, that will lead you closer to it?

Photo Credit: [email protected]

Kathryn Anderson is a former client of Your Money by Design. Since taking YMbD’s Smart with Money program in 2005/6, she overhauled her relationship with money, proudly attaining debt-free status in 2008.   Now instead of working for her money, her money works for her!  Kathryn is a Facilitator, Educator and Motivator specializing in the creation and enjoyment of purpose-based lives and careers.  She lives and works in Vancouver, BC.

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