A Money Coach in Canada

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I am won over to credit unions. Even if they don’t always meet their ideals, at least the ideals are explicit and a continual gentle standard to which, in my experience, most sincerely strive. I enjoy reading tinfoiling, by Gene, G.M. of Mt. Lehman Credit Union (near Mission, B.C.). Here’s a guest post from him on why small is beautiful for credit unions:

There are 10 good reasons on why ‘Small is Beautiful’ for credit unions.

  1. Relationships – smallness dictates that the number of relationships between members, staff and board is manageable for all parties. There is a quality, not quantity, in relationships.
  2. Communication is quick and inclusive.
  3. Transparency. There is always an understanding on why things are happening.
  4. Challenges that are healthy. Being small means you can’t take anything for granted.
  5. Agility in being able to move and respond quickly to any circumstance.
  6. Planning that is truly dynamic. You have a plan but you are constantly reviewing and upgrading it based on any and all communication received.
  7. Teamwork. Everyone can participate in the continuing sense of accomplishment.
  8. Managing your own destiny. There are market conditions and circumstances beyond anyone’s control but you can steer and manage quickly and precisely. You aren’t a 53 branch credit union so can manage in a much different direction.
  9. Technology is cheap. If you put the pillars you need in place to use technology as a strategic advantage, today’s hardware prices and work tools have never been cheaper or more powerful. You can build what you need.
  10. Politics don’t get in the way of accomplishing what needs to be done.
  11. Members, members, members. They always come first.

Money Diva, a Cdn on Vancouver Island who blogs about her own financial life, had a really cool post: she asked people how they make sure they’re never caught short on their automatic payments. I’ve done it. You’ve done it (c’mon, admit it). We’ve all done it – forgotten one month and badaboom, badabing, ching-ching a service charge here or there.

Money Diva’s synopsis of peoples’ responses yielded several good methods:

Some of them were using a cheque register, or spreadsheet, or just keeping track, but I wanted ways that were more dummy-proof than that. So here are seven ways that my readers keep track of automatic payments and make sure they have enough money for them:

  1. Schedule the payments in your Outlook Calendar
  2. Use alerts in Microsoft Money or Quicken
  3. Link your bank account to your line of credit or set up overdraft protection
  4. Use a product such as Manulife One (bank account, line of credit and mortgage all rolled up together)
  5. Have the payments come off a Visa with a large enough limit (and get points)
  6. Deduct all payments at the beginning of the month in your tracking system
  7. Keep a minimum balance in your account

I think that if you use any one of these methods consistently, you should be able to say goodbye to bounced payments forever. So choose the one that works for you, and then sit back and let the rest be automatic!

My own method is to have two bank accounts:

One is at VanCity, and my income goes into that one. I know what my monthly payments will be, so I simply ensure enough income is left there to cover the expenses. Then I take money above the monthly requirements, and transfer the funds to Citizens Bank of Canada. That money is available for my discretionary spending – movies, groceries, dog treats at Bow Wow Haus, taxis, dog treats, starbucks and dog treats.


If you’re like me, you’ve had a few war-wounds with money by now.

One of my own horror stories: for a couple years I faithfully plugged away at giving a mutual fund my precious dollars. I’d invested in a fund that seemed good and no-one told me the company who sold it to me wouldn’t call me up when it was tanking (what did I know? I was just a 20-something kid at the time!). And tank it did. So I took my meagre leftovers and trustingly handed every dollar of it to a stock broker. Then he, literally, moved to the Caymen Islands. By the time the complete carnage was over, I was left with $200 bucks. Really.

Thankfully, a girlfriend coaxed me into joining a women’s investment club. Together, we Twandians learned how the market worked, and honest-to-goodness, never made less than 20% in the five years I was in the club (this includes over the disastrous 2000!)

Now, of course, I know how to choose my own stocks, and also how to keep on top of mutual funds I purchase through an advisor (and I’ve known many fine advisors who haven’t moved to the Caymens).

Financial Turnarounds. If you’d like to inspire yourself by other people’s stories of financial $(#* and back, check out the 100 most inspirational financial turnaround stories.

They’re real, their fun, and there will be a least one that will speak to your own situation. Unless you’ve had a financially perfect life.

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