A Money Coach in Canada

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cdn-penny.jpgWith our dollar at par, many Canadians can’t help but notice how much less expensive it would be to purchase a car in the US these days. And with NAFTA an all that, this would be an option of us, you’ think. Here’s Judy’s experience:

So you’re a Canadian and want to buy a Toyota? Excellent choice. Great car.

But oops! The price. About $10K more than the identical vehicle in the United States

Well, how ’bout buying one in the US and having a bit of a vacation during the three days it takes to get a US export permit?

Canada Customs is very helpful, providing a pamphlet called, “How to import a car from the U.S.” And all they will ding you for is the gst. No duty.

Then comes the brick wall. Whammo! That friendly American salesperson you were negotiating with sadly informs you that he is not allowed to sell to you.

“What? Who, me? Am I such a pariah?” Yes, you are. Because you’re Canadian, that’s why.

Canadian Toyotas are still priced as though the Canadian dollar were still around 63¢ US. That accounts for the 30% difference. Somebody in Toyota must be getting very rich selling in Canada.

An irritation, though, is that stream of Canadians going to buy Toyotas in the US – what a hew and cry from Canadian dealers! The remedy? Forbid US Toyota dealers to sell to us Canucks. Disregard the discrimination. Disregard the Canada – US Free Trade Agreement. Protect the obscene profits made by Toyota in Canada.

Editors note to Judy: you’re not alone in your disgust! CBC did 2 features – one on the general question: when will consumer goods start being evenly priced in Canada? And another specifically on the car issue – apparently a class action lawsuit alleging conspiracy is being taken against four car companies and the canadian auto association.

Readers: what are you thoughts on this? Are the higher prices in Canada justified, or is it a complete rip-off?


A little while ago I wrote an article on trying vs. allowing. Nancy thought it would be interesting to apply this to our relationship with money.

“Okay, so here is the spreadsheet for tracking your money. Can you use that for a month?”

“I’ll try.”

Proabably, this scenario happens once in a while in Nancy’s practice. I know it does in my counseling practice.

What does this “trying” actually mean?

The pleasant part of “trying” is that it’s open ended, that it points to a beginner’s mind. The not-so-pleasant part sometimes makes me think of clenched teeth, ‘trying but failing’ or ‘trying without much effort.’

It’s not a very powerful word, and if I’m right about the clenched teeth, the failing and the lack of effort, it’s a word that speaks of discomfort, disappointment and lack of energy.


That’s why the idea of “allowing” feels so much better. It’s still open ended. It’s a word that is sweet and expansive. It’s about opening one’s arms and saying, come in, come in! And in that, it is much more powerful.

Instead of being a good little girl then and “trying” to follow the advice of an authority, I can consider the advice of an experienced equal and allow myself to experiment with it. Instead of “ok, I’ll try”, we could have:

“Hmmm, I wonder what will happen when I see where all my money goes? What insights might I gain? How could doing this help me invite more interesting and helpful things into my life?”

isabella mori
counseling in vancouver

I get excited when I hear about anyone who decides to empower themselves around money. Imagine my excitement when I discovered one of my earlier bosses, who was a real role model to me when I was a kid in Yellowknife fresh out of college, had initiated a group of women in Victoria who are opening up the taboo money-topic with other women via lunches and workshops? And more than that — focussing explicitly on the ‘feminine’ aspects of money? Here’s how the group evolved, what they’re up to in Victoria, and some thoughts about feminine energy around money.

Million Dollar Women – Our Story

Back in September of 2005, we were all sitting together at the VI Women’s Business Network Let’s Do Lunch (we are all active members) at Spinnakers and were getting to know a new gal whose business is in the financial world. One thing led to another until we found ourselves chatting about the Rich Dad, Poor Dad board games. We thought there might be a need for an opportunity here especially for women. So it was decided to get together and play the games just to see.

We gathered in the way that women usually do, at the Queensleys’ home bringing pot luck and some wine for lunch. We have met weekly since then, always beginning with some lunch together and processing the previous week’s learning. The wine is now only occasional since we are all concerned over weight and getting something accomplished.

First we played the children’s game and moved up to Cash Flow 1 & 2. It was such fun to explore and learn together. In the early days we did a lot of brainstorming about the possibilities since we all have so much to offer, but we are not financial planners or analysts or millionaires. Through our own exploration and study, we discovered that everything to do with money is usually presented from a left brain, masculine perspective. How could we present this information from the right brain, feminine perspective? We went to work and The Joy of Money Program was developed.

We realized that we do a lot of feminine things really well, and we need only apply our own experiences and qualifications. After all, we are all adult educators, facilitators, coaches, writers, and consummate networkers. We are quite comfortable in our feminine skin and yet are also comfortable in the money world, having run our own businesses, raised families and live the law of attraction

Here’s what we have observed about our feminine process:
• Found a common interest
• Attracted by a business potential
• Came together over food – a pot luck (weekly)
• Share our experiences from the past
• Lots of listening & supporting
• Played the games
• Discussed our observations and learning
• Explored and acknowledged our personality types.
• Began developing our Business Charter
• Explored our Vision – what it would look like.
• Put together our program concept.
• Tried working together on a prototype (WBN)
• Agreed we each contribute what we are best at.
• Consensus decisions
• Equal contribution & investment.
• Lots of brainstorming.
• Exploration of the masculine & feminine.
• First session followed by processing what worked & didn’t.
• No competition – we don’t grab opportunities to plug our own businesses
• We honour each other’s weaknesses
• We share our own business materials willingly

You can learn more about the Million Dollar Women and The Joy of Money Program at www.themilliondollarwomen.blogspot.com

2girls.jpgOne of my favourite Canadian personal finance bloggers has agreed to guest post today on … the September costs of putting your kids in school, even if it’s a public school! I’m betting some of you parents can relate…

I was running low on ideas and asked my wife for a topic for today’s blog and she came up with the cost of our “free” education system. She had been out shopping for back to school supplies (a HUGE industry in itself) and was telling me about all the “bargains” she was going to have to find to pay for all of the unwritten educational expenses.

Not Optional

These are expenses you can’t escape from and you MUST pay:

  • $45.00 yearbook & agenda/year fee which is not optional (per child). My kids in High School can’t even get their schedule before they pay this fee.
  • $10.00 for the agenda at my elementary daughter’s school
  • Class fees for individual classes:
    • Art fee $25.00
    • Music Fee $25.00 not to do with the instrument rental
    • Musical instrument rental or purchase which can be anywhere from $100 to $800
    • Physics Fee $10
    • Tech Fee $30
    • Music Fee $35.00

Not that much I guess around $100 – 200.00 per child all due in September.

Optional Expenses

These are the added expenses that you can try to not pay or find ways around them, but some are more optional than others. An example would be I can’t really not buy bus passes for my daughters who go to a school a 20 minute drive away, but I will include them here for the sake of fairness in the model.

  • Yearbook fee of $15.00 for elementary/middle school
  • $200.00 since one of my daughters plays on the school basketball team
  • Food
    • Pizza $45/child/3 months
    • Juice $38/child/3 months
    • Pita Bread $40/child/3 months
  • Class photos $40
  • Team fees for athletics $20.00
  • Team fees for football $32.00
  • Team fees Curling $50.00
  • Tournament fees for basketball $115.00
  • Skiing $60.00 for club
  • End of year camp $187.50
  • Gym Fees $24.00 for self defense
  • Team fee softball $45
  • Monthly Bus Passes $58.00 per month Per Child
  • Band shirt $25.00

The bus passes are tax deductible luckily, but a lot of the school athletics aren’t really covered under the new “active child” tax credit, and you can see these expenses can be anywhere from $100-$800.00 for a child over the year. Now this does not really include things like:

  • Pencils, pencil cases, crayons and such
  • Paper, binders and the like
  • Computer, and computer paper
  • Clothing for the start of the year

Anybody else know why I don’t have any money in September? Just take a guess.

His related articles:

Wake me up when September ends

Cost of school transit

The disappearing middle class in Canada

HouseI spoke with Beatrice Scott, a Vancouver mtg. broker with Invis about the whole subprime mess. What is a subprime mortgage? Why did it cause my portfolio to tank? (grrrrrr….). Here’s what I learned.

When a person qualifies for a mortgage, the bank of course looks at the person’s credit, profession, income and downpayment. When a person doesn’t qualify for a mortgage (usually because their credit rating indicates they struggle to make their debt obligation payments) they can sometimes turn to other companies for a sub-prime mortgage.

A sub-prime mortgage is one that charges higher interest rates (sometimes significantly higher) in exchange for taking the risk with the individual. They are usually floating interest rates, that started at 4%, but now with interest rates having risen in the States are at 8%. You can imagine the pain of having your mortgage payments double, in under 5 years!

Note: I (Nancy) personally nearly got sucked into one of these when my mtg was up for renewal. I had just started my new business 4 years ago, and (erroneously) figured a bank wouldn’t be interested in me. I saw a couple very attractive sounding adverts on TV by non-bank mortgage companies who pretty much guaranteed I’d get my mortgage. It sounded reasonable, until (money coach that I am) I read the fine print carefully. OUCH! It was, in my opinion, nearly criminal. There were all kinds of hidden fees and the way the interest was structured would have left things pretty shaky for me. Thankfully, I got a mortgage broker and discovered I would indeed qualify for a terrific mortgage through a bank.

Not everyone was so lucky. In the US 20% of all people who have mortgages had a subprime mortgage as compared to 5% in Canada. There are some significant differences in the US and Canada in terms of qualifying for a subprime mortgage. The differences are the tighter rules in Canada for this type of mortgage.

In the US last year, subprime mortgages accounted for 1 Trillion dollars. These subprime Mortgages were sold to different companies all around the world. Now, those companies are in dire straights because their clients are not able to meet their payments and are defaulting. It also means the US housing market has deflated significantly, and caused a global credit crunch – ie., institutions are less likely to lend out money, since they can’t recoup their previously loans.

Case in point: The US Federal Reserve Board decreased their lending to commercial banks by half a percent.

What is surprising is that the effect on the stock markets world wide isgreater than the actual financial implication. Investor’s emotions have played a key in their reaction to the collapse of the US subprime Mortgages.

An interesting effect here in Canada was the increase in the dollar. We had our biggest gain in the Canadian dollar since June 2006. It increased all the way to 94.22 cents.

Currently Canada’s prime lending rate is at 6.25%. Before the US subprime collapse, Canadian economists were predicting that the Bank of Canada would increase it to 6.50% in September. It is now predicted that we may not see that quarter point increase.

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