A Money Coach in Canada

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This is a guest post by a friend, mentor and former boss!  Lowell-Ann provides mid-life career coaching and also helps folks who are about to retire do some good thinking on using this new stage of life as a time of renewal and re-direction.

I asked her to write a post for those who are about to enter their “Third Age”.

_____________________

So you’ve entered the uncharted territory of your Third Age and you find there are places there that really scare you:

  • What will I do there?
  • Will I have enough money to be there?
  • Who will I be?
  • Where is my tribe if I’m no longer connected to my career?
  • Where will I find the courage to deal with all this?

In my coaching work I often remind clients that it’s a lot more difficult thinking about a plan than doing it – one step at a time. But lately I’ve begun to reflect and reconsider this. A better reframe of this notion has become: “how we think about something will determine the outcome”. Do we think about it from a contraction or an evolutionary stance? I believe it’s a choice we make.

When thinking about the future, first comes a momentary reaction that is fraught with fear and the anxiety that it brings, followed by a huge resistance to the changes that we know must occur. Contraction could take over here. The psychology of contraction brings about some rather dramatic responses that we may not desire for ourselves:

  • Excess vulnerability, feelings of being victimized
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Loss of trust
  • Over-reaction to events
  • Seeking scapegoats
  • Orientation to the past
  • Hoarding
  • Using substances to numb
  • Thoughts of just putting in time

All of these responses tend to bring on more of the same – which we know is not a great place to be. Then comes the moment of choice: Do I choose what contraction brings? Or do I choose the opposite? The psychology of evolution is more likely to bring about what I do desire:

  • Generativity
  • Creativity
  • Forward orientation (both thought & motion)
  • Optimism
  • Joy and fun
  • Positive results
  • Meaningful connections
  • Sense of wholeness

The choice that we make seems to boil down to our ability to manage our fear. This is the million dollar question, “How do I manage my fear?” We can muster up the courage and just plough through, or we might try something more creative. Daniel Goleman reminds us that “the emotional brain is highly attuned to symbolic meaning”. (pg. 209) With this in mind, discovered an exercise (The Artist’s At Work by Bryan, Cameron & Allen) that puts our fear into a symbolic ritual that I think is worth a try:

1. Sit a moment and reflect – forgive yourself for the fear, confusion and lack of courage that has prevented you from claiming what you want. Generate some care toward your vulnerable self.
2. Realize there is no moment without stuckness for anyone.
3. Create a fancy jar to house your fears.
4. List all your fears. Write one fear per piece of paper. Fold each well.
5. Place each fear into the jar with ceremony. Seal the Jar.
6. Place your Fear Jar on a shelf.

Having chosen to put your fears on the shelf for a while, you have freed up some space for some practical steps toward evolving into your Third Age with expansion. Frederick Hudson in Life Launch suggests:

1. Find teachers, mentors and coaches to assist
2. Reconnect with your values
3. Reflect and decide something new that you want
4. Decide what you could unlearn or let go of
5. Identify what new information and knowledge you need
6. Consider life skills and technical skills
7. Create your learning environment

Go forward with the confidence that you have what it takes to have a very inspiring Third Age. Associate with positive, stimulating and inspiring people. And read inspiring books like Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro’s Something to Live For – Finding Your Way in the Second Half of Life or Rosamund and Benjamin Zander’s The Art of Possibility – Transforming Professional and Personal Life.

Lowell-Ann blogs at blog.workstyle-lifestyle.com

You can connect with her on LinkedIn

Photo Credit:  Jennacatpink

Buillies aren’t just found on school grounds. There is growing recognition that they exist on the workplace, and they can make life hell for their targets as well as undermine their company’s business objectives by diminishing their targets – and usually their team’s – ability to function effectively.

Why any business puts up with it beats me. At best, it’s wasteful nonsense; at worst it is deeply destructive and sabotages the organization. In my small-business work experience, it would not be tolerated: it’s too easily apparent that tolerating bullying behaviour is a net drain on the business even if it’s by a high-performer.

The following piece is the personal experience of someone I know well. She prefers to remain anonymous for obvious reasons. The experience below occurred in a large hotel chain headquartered in Europe, with over 145,000 employees.

Readers, if you relate to her experience, I’d so appreciate if you leave a comment. I’d like to know how much it cost you personally, because there’s always a dollar value attached, and what you’d estimate its cost was (dollar value) to the company where you experienced it. You can leave your comment anonymously – just fill in fake e-mail and name. I’ll never know the difference.

___________________________________
BULLIED ON THE JOB

Serial workplace bullying is only one of the recognized workplace bullying behaviours seen in today’s business world, and it doesn’t seem to matter which industry or country you are in. Despite legislation or corporate policies, many companies still have ongoing issues of this unsocial behaviour. How do I know? I have been targeted by serial workplace bullies in two countries. I don’t have scientific research to back up my thoughts — I have personal experience and desktop research. This is what I know.

Bullies will continue to be part of the workplace as long as people don’t talk about it. I think it is time to keep the conversation going. And to have a conversation, it is helpful to have the facts.

Bullies don’t target the stereotype of weak incapable staff — they target people who are ethical, just, fair, well-liked, highly personable, strong, independent, intelligent and self-assured.

Bullies are driven by feelings of inadequacy at being able to do their job, and fear being exposed. Bullies envy the target’s abilities, are jealous of their social skills and relationships. Bullies turn their insecurity outwards, finding satisfaction as they attack and try to diminish the capable people around them. Bullies try to project guilt, shame and fear — which are known as tactics of control. It is how all abusers try to gain control over their targets and silence them.

And there is a huge impact on our societies. Bullying affects individuals, colleagues, corporations, organizational productivity and the economy. Many of these targeted individuals either take long periods of leave from work, or they leave, some never finding their feet again. The cost to lives and communities continues to add up. Why do we keep accepting this behaviour in our society?

As I said, I was bullied at work, once in Canada and twice in Australia. After being bullied the first time, and choosing to learn from the experience, when I saw the signs a second time, I had no issue to act and speak out quickly.

In my first meeting with the new General Manager after returning to work from my summer holiday, I was confronted with a finger wagging across the desk at me and the words “I have it on good authority that you…” with very negative words about me coming next. I was appalled. Rather than get to know me, he chose to believe, and repeat the vicious words the two office bullies had started to circulate the weeks before I went on leave. I was the third manager in our team to be targeted in 12 months. I recognized the signs all too well. I had spoken to HR before, now it was directed at me.

When his phone rang, I excused myself from his office and called his bluff. I went back to my office, sorted my emails, packed my personal belongings from my desk and typed up my resignation. Within 30 minutes of experiencing the escalation of the bullying, I left with eight weeks pay.

I also talked about what was going on, to former colleagues, to other managers, to HR — I got it on record. I knew it was my choice about how long I wanted to stay, or leave. This organization had no bullying policy — and no intention of putting one in place. There would be too many staff to deal with if a new policy was written. I knew there was nothing I could do to change the corporate will to stop the bullying.

If you are being bullied, or know someone who is being bullied, learn about it. There is plenty of good information available online. Know that you are not alone, that bullying will not go away through your good behaviour, and decide what you are going to do to look after yourself.

_________________________

Resources for folks being bullied:

http://www.workplacebullying.org/

Your “>EAP

KickBully

Photo Credit: CoalandIce

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.

Any pet lovers amongst you, readers? This post will resonate! The author is the illustrious writer and editor Rebecca Leaman who also helps rescue dogs and teaches people really cool stuff (like how to create newspaper nails — who knew?) on her personal blog.

HOW MY DOGS GOT ME OFF THE CONSUMPTION TRAIN

It’s a bit ironic. These days, I shell out more on dog food, vet
bills, and peanut-butter-stuffed marrow bones than I do on clothing or
technology tools — yet it was my dogs who taught me how to get off
the Consumption Train, to make wiser and more conscious choices about
how I spend my money.

Once upon a time, I was a mindless shopper.

Every weekday lunch hour, I’d fill the after-sandwich time by browsing
the shops and scurry back to the office, almost late, with package in
hand. Usually clothes or accessories, seldom an item I really needed
but always a “bargain” I couldn’t pass up. Every Saturday afternoon,
if no better entertainment was on offer,  I’d crawl the malls — and
never go home empty-handed.  My closet was stuffed full with
unsuitable, seldom-used items that made me feel guilty just to look at
them.  My bank account was hurting. But I just couldn’t seem to stop
the mad spending spree.

Oh yes,  I was riding that ol’ Consumption Train with the best of them.

But then I adopted a dog… and another… and…

Now, I know what you’re thinking:   Dogs need to be played with, fed,
trained, groomed, and walked a couple times a day. Anyone with more
than one dog (it’s three right now, but who’s counting?) just doesn’t
have time to go shopping very often. Problem solved! True, but that’s
only a very small part of the turnaround story.  My dogs have taught
me, by example, how to live  lightly and  joyfully, without a whole
lot of “stuff.”

Here’s what I’ve learned:

BOREDOM  LEADS TO SHOES

When a dog is bored, he chews up our new shoes. When we’re bored, we
go buy some.

Nine times out of ten, when our dogs misbehaves it’s the direct result
of boredom, or stress, or  frustration — an excess of mental and/or
physical energy with no constructive outlet.  And just as a dog with
not enough to engage him will go wandering around and “get into
things,”  we too often find ourselves wandering in search of
something, anything, that holds out the promise of making our lives
more purposeful, meaningful, satisfying, and fulfilling.

Well, guess what? Those shoes won’t do it for a bored dog — not for
more than five minutes, anyway — and they won’t do it for us, either,
in the long run.

NOTHING IS NEW ENOUGH

Look at the lucky dog, with a box full of squeaky toys, stuffies, rope
toys and balls and anything else the pet industry can come up with to
soothe the conscience of a guilt-ridden too-busy dog owner. He greets
a new toy with bouncing glee, and we think “This is it, finally,
something he really really loves!” — but two days later, that toy
lies forgotten beneath the couch and the dog is bored again.

Turns out, dogs have a craving for novelty, just like we humans do.
Since we’re humans, with opposable thumbs and credit cards, we can go
out and buy new toys when that craving kicks in. Oh, the new thing
entertain us for a brief time, but in turn each wonderful new
acquisition will lose its charm when the novelty wears off.

And that way, my friend, lies an endless cycle of fruitless consumption.

“TO DO” BEATS “TO HAVE”

We could go buy a lovely quilt in the most gorgeous colours and
patterns imaginable,  but it would only ever be a Thing.  Go sit at
Grandmother’s knee and learn to piece together a quilt of our own,
sharing stories and laughter, gaining a sense of accomplishment and a
new skill?  You can’t buy that.

See, when your dog  tears up your lawn, for him it’s all about the
digging, not the hole.  If you doubt it, go out and dig a hole  and
show it to your dog. Odds are he’ll look at it, sniff around, then go
dig a new hole of his own, three feet away.  Why? Because it’s the
creative act of digging that a dog finds satisfying, not the passive
ownership of a hole in the ground.  And it’s not  that much different
with people — except maybe there’s a little less mud on our faces, at
the end of a really good day.

“To do” beats “to have,” as I’ve finally learned.
(Thanks, pups.)

cinder-mud

casey_2004

Never use easy-to-guess PINs...

Guest Post by Harriet Fancott

My debit card was compromised a few days ago. My cell phone rang before 9 am, which seemed odd, so I grabbed it only to hear a recorded message indicating my ATM card had been cancelled. It said I should check my account to see if there was any unusual activity and then go to my branch in person with two pieces of ID to get my account sorted out and obtain a new debit card.

I immediately fired up my netbook to check my bank account while my toddler took it upon himself to tear the place apart by climbing on the table, grabbing pens and attempting to get at my keyboard – not ideal when engaging in online banking. I sat him in his highchair with a bowl of applesauce so I could take care of business.

A quick review of my account revealed a $360 withdrawal from an ATM in Surrey, a suburb about 45 minutes from Vancouver. I haven’t been to Surrey since I worked there about seven years ago so I knew it wasn’t me. Cue a minor panic attack. I then remembered that my card had been cancelled so I had no reason to worry about further charges. Still I had a paycheque to deposit and I was worried about getting back the $360. I needed to go to the bank pronto.

One slight problem: my son is at the age where he cannot go to a bank. At 16-months-old, he’s a nonverbal whirlwind of activity simultaneously charming and dangerous. I told my neighbor the situation, and she graciously took him off my hands for an hour while I hightailed it to the bank.

Clearly compromised cards are so common the bank doesn’t even flinch when you tell them you didn’t withdraw $360 charge from your account. The bank teller casually asked me if any other charges weren’t mine. I briefly considered adding a few but didn’t want to be ushered out of the bank in handcuffs. I asked her how they knew my card was caught in this compromising position with a shady ATM machine in the burbs, and she mumbled something about the police and security and switched the subject. Pressing on, I asked her what I could do to avoid this happening again and she said, “Pay cash.”

I had to fill out some forms, sign that I had not withdrawn the $360, and the teller set a reimbursement to my account in motion. She then set me up with a new debit card. The process was straightforward and took about half an hour.

************
Money coaches comment: Drawing on my time in the banking industry, this is a common experience. Naturally people want to know which merchant had a compromised machine. Usually the bankers themselves don’t know; the police don’t tell them. For one thing, often the merchant is a victim too (in that they had no clue their machines had been tampered with) and also, sometimes the police still want to catch the criminals so don’t want to give any indication that they’re onto the situation.
Regarding how to prevent it, I never use my card at a machine that is unattended, eg. at the gas pump. Unattended machines give opportunity for the criminals to insert their readers into the machine.
***********

Harriet Fancott is an Associate at Limelite PR and blogs about her family at seetheorun.com

Readers, my understanding is that all (Cdn) banks will reimburse you if money is taken from your account, provided that a) you have never disclosed your PIN to anyone and that b) you sign affidavits. Have you ever heard of anyone not being refunded?

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