A Money Coach in Canada

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Photo Credit:  SpiritMama

Margaret Visser  has done it again –  taken something as ordinary as saying Thank You and found fascinating things to say about it in a new book, discussed on cbc’s Tapestry  this morning.  Fascinating things like:

1. If someone gives a gift, it’s polite to not immediately reciprocate.  Why?  It stops wars.  Seriously.

Think way back to tribal days.  Fight, fight, fight … then one day someone in a tribe, let’s call him Joe,  offers a freshly killed deer (or whatever) to someone in the other tribe (let’s call him Jim).  Well now.  Jim has a dilemma.   Why would he go fight deer-giving Joe?

So he holds off and ponders what to do.  And as long as he’s pondering, Joe is safe.  Eventually, Jim responds by killing a goat, and brings it to Joe.  Back atcha. But enough time has elapsed that rather than a pure exchange, Joe now faces the dilemma Jim had faced.  Why would he go fight Jim?  So he holds off and ponders what to do.  And as long as he’s pondering, Jim is safe.

Etc.  Etc. Etc.!  And thus is war averted.

2. Learning to express Thanks is more complex than we realize.   Your two-year-old pretty quickly figures out: Hey, the lady’s waving.  That’s my cue to say “bye-bye” and then everyone around me will ooo and ahh.    Your three-year-old pretty quickly figures out:  If I say “please” I’ll get that ice-cream.   But figuring out to say Thanks?  That’s more complex.  What are the cues?  What is the motivation?  Finally of course, all decent kids figure out:  under circumstance A, if someone gives me something, I should say Thanks, although under circumstance B, it’s perhaps not necessary.   And saying Thanks doesn’t provide any immediate reward, it’s just something I do to avoid annoying the giver.

A sign of maturity is when saying Thanks isn’t simply a technical social convention, but something we feel inside ie., gratitude.

3. Gratitude gets us in touch with the transcendant.  For once, for blessed once, we are not self-focussed, but focussed on the giver.   And this teaches us to be human.

As Martin Buber points out:  The truth of being human is gratitude;  what is required is appreciation, a sense of awe and wonder. This indeed is the secret … a sense of awe and wonder, even amazement, that springs from our encounter with the world in which we live.

In short, saying Thanks even in the briefest of encounters, acknowledges the deeply comforting truth:  We are not alone.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

I work with a number of couples.

This year, two couples had a very specific issue:  the women were disappointed with their husbands’ paycheques.

It’s interesting.   While I’m guessing the romance didn’t include discussions along the lines of, “I love you because you’re smart and funny and honest and because you make $60K now and I imagine that will only increase” …. at some level, the question of earning power played into the mix of why the women committed themselves to these particular men.

And while I’ve yet to find hard data supporting the theory that finances are one of the leading causes of divorce, it won’t surprise me if a study comes out that corroborates this.

In these cases, I had no easy answer to offer.  For their own all-too-human reasons, indeed the economic promise of these men did not materialize.   This means  the couples have to examine their own understandings of what it means to be married.  Like it or not, for most of us “being married” still has a cool, hard business angle to it.   “Being married” is (d’uh) a different state than “being in love.”   And more often than not, as the years go by in marriage, the business factor outweighs the being in love factor if there is a significant discrepancy between present reality and early promise.

I haven’t yet met with a couple where the husband was re-evaluating his relationship with his wife because she wasn’t earning enough.  But I imagine that day will come.

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   photo credit: DavidCrow

There’s office politics, and then there’s office politics.

I suppose because most of my career has been spent in the education sector, which tends to attract people with an altruistic streak in them, I have managed to escape truly nasty work situations, with one notable exception.

In addition, having several years of entrepreurial income has given me a real sense of possibility, ie.,  not being locked into something because of a paycheque.

Some people are not so lucky.   Workplace mobbing by coworkers,  bullying bosses, and corporate cultures who haven’t yet created their “No Asshole Rule”  (if Harvard Business Review can publish the word, I’ll use it just once on my blog).

Women and men, competent, caring and fundamentally decent human beings, stay in work situations that destroy their morale, take sometimes tremendous tolls on their health and spill into their private lives.

Readers:  have you experienced a job situation from hell?  Did you stay, or leave?  Why do you think people put up with these situations for so long instead of moving somewhere where they can contribute and thrive?

In my years as a money coach, I’ve met with hundreds of people who have privileged me by opening up about their financial situation. The majority of my private clients are high income: $80,000 – $200,000 salary – realtors, film industry, professionals.

In the mix there has been another sub-set: women in their 50s with no money to speak of.
Often it’s not for the reason you’d think. It’s not so much about the traditional Waiting for the Man who Never Came as this: they have lived lives based on their ideals, and forgot to include the sexiness of including a solid investment portfolio in the package.

They have pursued their dreams, things like travelling the world to do good, working for causes at low pay, or pursuing passions that didn’t pay off.

We’re lucky to have these women amongst us.

They come to me because at this stage of the game, it’s sinking in: retirement is a decade or so away, and they are unprepared. Other markers include having such a narrow margin between income and expenses that they are having to think seriously about things like whether they can buy a pair of $80 shoes or not. (I don’t mean chronic lifestyle overspending here. I mean a fairly basic, normal expense).

My message to them usually goes along these lines:

  1. Part of being an empowered woman is a healthy portfolio and the ability to go toe to toe with any suited financial planner and know what they’re talking about.
  2. If something is truly “meant to be” it will include the financial resources to be prudent. If it doesn’t include that aspect, no matter how compelling, it probably is not, in fact, “meant to be”.
  3. There is still time to get on solid ground. It will take intention, and action. The starting place, unlike most of my clients, is not how to cut back even further, but to figure out how to increase their income. And that is their first task.

Photo Credit: Liz Noise
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5 years ago, Kat joined my very first Smart with Money seminar series.

She came by accident more than anything – happened to see the advert the same day it started, the time and location was convenient so she impulsively signed up and showed up.

Kat was in her mid-30s, and had recently quit her high-paying job-from-hell in favour of doing what she felt called to do.

Only problem was, doing what she felt called to do resulted in $23,000 in debt. Her lifestyle hadn’t shrunk with her income, and she’d taken a significant hit. In fact, her new income scarcely met her basic living costs here in Vancouver.

During the Smart with Money course, Kat began to track her spending. She also faced her debt – and found it overwhelmed her with anxiety and burden. And then there was the mind-set. A child of very difficult economic circumstances, Kat needed to believe she could be on solid financial ground, that she could be an empowered woman with money, and that her financial past was in no way determinative of her financial future.

These kinds of issues don’t get solved in a matter of months (contrary to some claims). But Kat was resolute.

Over the years, she and I had many talks. There were tears and discouragement to be sure, and sometimes an issue had to be visited and revisited until new mindsets and habits really took hold.

You can read some of her own posts on my business blog.

There were a series of breakthroughs.

The definitive one came this past Friday.

I was in a meeting with my boss, and Kat, also a member of Canada’s best-kept-secret bank made the effort to come share a really great moment with me. She found my boss’s office, knocked on the door and held up a deposit slip.

Debt: $0.00

Savings: __________ well, I won’t say, ’cause that’s private, but it was a very respectable sum, indeed.

This, she accomplished while getting a number of courses under her belt, and staying at the same place of employment.

I’ve asked her to write a blog post, and will hound her to do so, but in the meantime,

Kat…. Kat… Kat.. WOOOHHOOOOOO! Congratulations from your money coach who’s freaking proud of you.

Readers:  Have you ever had a big Breakthrough Moment when you felt like something was permanently different for you, financially?  I’d love to read about your experience too – leave a comment 🙂  !

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Photo Credit: UncleWeed

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