A Money Coach in Canada

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ZenHabits is one of the loveliest blogs I know.

Today’s post was on micro-addictions, and how to overcome them.  I recommend taking a moment to read the post.

Interestingly, I was interviewed by Global TV about money habits – the little things, not the huge stuff and in a way, the little things are micro-money-addictions.  (watch for it this Monday, 6pm news – BC only, I think.)

So here’s an adaptation of the original post, directed towards money.

Think of a little money habit that you have, that does not serve you well.


photo credit: idogcow

Hands up:  Who…

  • eats lunch out, too often?
  • goes shopping, just for the sake of getting out and doing something?
  • often impulsively picks up the tab for others, even though your RRSPs aren’t in solid shape?

Here are some tips to help, again, drawing directly on the ZenHabits post by Jonathon Mead.

  1. Do your best.   When we fall back into die-hard habits, it’s easy to resign ourselves to failure in this area.  Once we resign ourselves, it’s hard to make a change.  Instead, give yourself a bit of mental space to seek to do better.
  2. Chip away.   Take a second, right now, to think of making a change for just one day.  For example, plan to bring your lunch on Monday.   Or this weekend, make plans that are not shopping.
  3. Think small and act big.  There is so much pressure in our society to make heroic-sized changes.  Don’t think that way or you’ll likely psyche yourself out from the get-go.  Instead, think of a small change you could make, then act fully on that small change.
  4. Change your environment.  For example, do you go shopping in part just to get out of the house?  Why? Is there something you could do to make your home more appealing?
  5. One thing at a time.   I frequently need to my clients – typically coming to me for money coaching all raring to go – to master one change, before moving to the next.  Rather than a dramatic overhaul, try eliminating only one bad money habit, and switching it to something positive.  Do this until the new habit is firmly in place, before moving to the next change.
  6. Be persistent.  If you fall off, dust yourself off and get back on the plan.  If you dropped a chunk of serious change in a round-of-drinks for the 15 person crowd, well, so be it.   It doesn’t have to be any prediction of future behaviour.
  7. Reject perfection.  The perfect time to start something will never arrive.  Start tomorrow.  Give it a shot.  See what happens, rather than aiming for the time when all the stars will be aligned.
  8. Do some value work.   This is so ! important.  The whole point behind changing money habits is to live out your values.  What are your values?  Take a moment to identify at least three key values you hold, and ask yourself how well your money is going into those values.
  9. Be content.   Enough said.
  10. Stop Thinking.  Start doing.

Readers:  any other suggestions on how to approach changing a micro-addiction that impacts your money?

One of the most aesthetically pleasing, and intellectually stimulating blogs in Vancouver, hackd,  posted this.   I repost in its entire perfection (heads up:  a bit of cussing):

People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.

update:  thanks, ineaquitas, for pointing out that this is a quote from grafitti artist banksy.

Fellow Citizens, you should know about this:

Many of you know of the infamous Oppenheimer Park in my ‘hood, the Downtown Eastside. It’s a pretty grim park, frankly. I only go there rarely and I don’t let my dogs walk there because of the needles. And other stuff. See image below.

People without a house and nowhere to couch surf hang out there in the day and sleep there in cardboard and cheap sleeping bags at night. Not my kinda crowd, not easy people to be around, and easy to dismiss.

But this next part is insane:

Yesterday morning at approximately 4:30am the police took action against the homeless living in the park. People were ticketed and were allowed to leave with their belongings- those who didn’t have shopping carts or other means of carrying their belongings had everything loaded into a garbage truck that had followed the police into the park.

The police stated they intend to continue this action on coming nights.

I ask you:

1. What the hell is the point of ticketing them? TICKETING the HOMELESS?

2. Exactly who among us is upset that we can’t use the park at 4:30am because people without homes are sleeping there? Why, precisely, was it so imperative that they be moved along at that ungodly hour?

3. Where, exactly, do we as a society expect them to move along to? At 4:30 in the morning? Without a place that is their own?

My fellow citizens, and especially those in Vancouver,

if you, like me

  • have a place to call home (esp. us property owners)
  • enjoy enough abundance that we can delight in getaways for the weekend (ironically, away from our own homes)
  • possibly struggle with so much stuff that we actually store our excess

if you, like me want, to live in CANADA, not some Dickensian horror,

for Christ’s sake (perhaps literally), here is some action you can take:

  1. Hold your politicians to account. This is not about the police. It’s about what kind of society your politicians are shaping. E-mail the following with your thoughts on the matter: Mayor Sam Sullivan, [email protected] Peter Ladner [email protected] ; Kim Capri [email protected] ; Suzanne Anton [email protected] or the entire council at [email protected]
  2. Inform yourself further – easily – by things like joining the facebook group Streams of Justice. This is a faith-based group but you will be comfortable hearing about and joining their activities no matter your own faith or no faith at all. Or, browse and keep checking Blackbird’s photo documentaries on homelessness in Vancouver on Flickr.
  3. If you are ready for some more radical action, I am considering sleeping outside myself as an act of solidarity. Not sure when, not sure where, but I hope to have my podcasting skills up to speed and contribute to the documentary of what happens at 4:30am in Vancouver. If you may be interested in joining me, either twitter me (money coach is my handle) or do a bit of research to figure out how to contact me (because of the nature of this post, I am not going to publish my e-mail or I’ll get tons of hate-on stuff)

We don’t have to settle for a lame-ass city, fellow citizens. But our politicians need to know we’re not OK with this.


The park in question:


Photo Credit: The Blackbird

update – this press release:
July 17, 2008, Vancouver, BC:  Police continue to ticket and confiscate belongings of “homeless” campers at Oppenheimer Park in the Downtown Eastside every morning.  The sweeps typically happen between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. and campers were threatened today that multiple tickets will turn into arrests tomorrow.

Neighbours are concerned about this and not for the usual reasons the public would expect.  Kathy Walker, a parent of 5 and resident of a house across the street from the park, will sleep out with the campers tonight.  She said: “The park has been very much under control all year.  People are quiet, they clean up after themselves and they support each other.  They put away their tents before the park opens at 8:00 a.m.  These people are part of a community.  We want Oppenheimer exempt from this unfair by-law.”

With a virtual zero % vacancy rate, closure and upscaling of many local residential hotels, 40,000 turnaways from shelters over a 9 month period in the area, the campers themselves wonder where they are expected to go.  Brian Humchitt and his partner Tina Eastman were ticketed this morning.  They said:  “We’re homeless in our own land.  We are struggling to survive in our home which is our tent.”

Wendy Pedersen, parent of 2, resident of the DTES and organizer for the Carnegie Community Action Project, says “these tickets will turn into warrants.  This by-law is the perfect tool to aid the police to move people where they want them to go before the 2010 games – out of the Downtown Eastside.”

PIVOT Legal Society is collecting tickets and planning to contest them in court.

A convergence of concerned neighbours is planned for 5:00 a.m. Friday morning and a press conference will be held at 6:00 a.m.  Planning is underway to continue the pressure.


Where:  Oppenheimer Park, 400 block Powell Street
When:   Friday, July 18 6:00 a.m. – near the totem pole


This weekend I splurged and spent a chunk of change at a spa.

And not any old spa. The Spa Utopia. Pan Pacific location. Yes, it’s every bit as wonderful as it sounds.

It raised the questions it usually does: I walked by beggars, including women who sleep on stairs and cardboard, enroute to the spa. How can I justify this splurge in face of the people whose primary needs are not being met?

Like many of you, I have grappled frequently with this question. Here are a few thoughts I have, and I hope to god I’m not defending the indefensible.

  1. No one is served by everyone being destitute. Rather, we need to find ways where we all enjoy a reasonable standard of living. The fact that I have a reasonable standard of living is a good thing.
  2. Spa experiences are a good thing. A gorgeous luxury. When it is within my means, and when I go to a spa, the appropriate response is not guilt, but rather ensuring I celebrate and enjoy the experience fully.
  3. Notwithstanding, I remain accountable (to whom? For me, the creator of all people. But also, to my society. And also, to the marginalized themselves. Food for thought: a priest in an inner city church in the states made the comment: No one gets to heaven without letters of recommendation from the poor) — I remain accountable for the people I encounter locally, and the people across the globe, who are going to bed hungry, and outside.
  4. I cannot solve the planet’s poverty with my salary. But I can give with increasing generosity. My rule of thumb is that I both give monthly to a charity and also, for every splurge, I give an equal amount to the charity, in addition to the regular amount.
  5. I can request political change and policies that do more than I can do singlehandedly to eradicate poverty locally and globally.

Readers:  how do you balance luxury spending in the midst of a planet of hungry people?

Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) a very worthy organization has forwarded this for dissemination:


Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
For Immediate ReleaseFriday, June 13, 2008
Downtown Eastside Welcome Wagon to Visit Concord Pacific.
“There’s still time for you to be a good neighbour, Terry.”

This is the message that Downtown Eastside residents and their supporters will bring to the CEO of Concord Pacific at his office on Friday.

In the last few weeks, members of the Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP), tried to get an appointment with Terry Hui, but didn’t succeed. They want the owner to reconsider his application for 1/2 million dollar condos at 58 West Hastings and instead turn over the property for social housing. The group wants the site named after Darrel Mikasko, the homeless man who couldn’t get into a shelter and died in a fire trying to stay warm.
Concord made billions off the Expo lands and can afford to give a little back, especially in our neighbourhood where people are going to be pushed out because of new condo development,” said Robert Bonner of CCAP.
Joe Le Blanc, a resident of Vet’s Manor said Concord is “putting their condos between the Portland Social Housing Project and the Grand Union Hotel, between despair and hope. We need more hope and that means more social housing.”
“It would be nice for developers to give back to the community they are making so much money off of us”, said Phoenix Winter, another CCAP member from the community, who is referring to Concord’s condos on Powell Street now under construction.
The welcome wagon troupe will bring in some special gifts in a basket to Terry Hui that they hope will inspire him to consider donating his land to Downtown Eastside residents in need. Among the gifts, will be a Hope in the Shadows book, 200 letters calling for social housing on the site, tickets to the premier of the film “The Way Home” about homelessness and a sample of critters that plague the Downtown Eastside.

Time: Friday, June 13 at 1:00 p.m.
Place: 1095 West Pender Street, Vancouver – meet outside front doors
Contacts: Wendy Pedersen 604-839-0379; Jean Swanson 604-729-2380


note from Nancy: this is my ‘hood. I’ll be there tomorrow, if anyone wants to join me.

also, I think CCAP is being generous. If I understand correctly (and I still need to get the facts) I believe this permit did not go through proper notification processes, and city hall has issued an apology.

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