A Money Coach in Canada

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Money coaching is a nascent field, and we’re all kinda pioneering and figuring “it” out as we go along, but the money coaches I’ve met – Sheila, MillionDollarWomen to which a former mentor of mine, LA, belongs, and Steve share one thing, that’s for sure: we want to see people handle their money effectively in a way that leaves clients empowered and confident.

imgp4182.jpgAnd now I’ve met another! Her name is Michelle, and she practices out of NorthVancouver. She, like me, has a frugal streak (but don’t worry! I don’t think everyone has to frugal – and I’m sure not frugal when it comes to my daschunds), all to achieve the greater good, financially. Here’s a little introduction to her:

I was out for a run this gorgeous morning and was thinking about what, if anything, to write for this blog (having never written on one) and my mind quickly wandered off, as it does when I am running, to a whole stream of thoughts and much of them were to do with money.

I was thinking about book club last night and discussing Eat, Pray, Love and then moved on to an upcoming trip and then my mind meandered over to our trip two Junes ago to Italy. For some reason, instead of remembering the great times we had with friends eating and drinking and taking in all the sights, I was thinking about one of our friends on this trip who peppered me with comments throughout the two weeks about how “frugal” I was. He’d say things like, ” how many times are we going to see you in that shirt this trip?” or, with much sarcasm, “hey Michelle are you going to take that roll home with you and make a sandwich out of it for lunch?” It was all in good fun and didn’t bother me a bit (although it irked my husband after about the tenth jab).

Anyway, then I started thinking about yesterday morning, it was cold, and I was really feeling like a steaming cup of coffee at the coffee shop but I thought, no, I can go home and make myself one just the way I like it and drink it by the warm sunny window…ahh, heaven.

Then my mind went to Sunday night and I was meeting my business partner at a local coffee shop and I ordered a decaf coffee misto. As I sat at the table waiting for it, I heard two of the employees talking about how I had ordered a “poor man’s latte”. I laughed to myself.

What do all these thoughts mean? Well, I was really aware of how much “mental accounting” I do on an ongoing daily basis. And why I do it. That is the key question. For myself, travelling is of huge importance to me. It gives me great joy, satisfies my need for adventure, my curiousity about how others live, and adds spice to my life. It is a Big Goal that I am committed to making happen every two years.

imgp4201.jpgAnd how do I make that happen? By constantly doing mental accounting. I use my goal as the gauge and all my spending gets scrutinized in light of that goal. If I buy that “thing” then X dollars is now out of my + side and over into my – side. Is it worth it? Will it help me to get closer to what I really want? It is something I do almost unconsciously, like tying your shoes. It has become a habit and it seems to really work for me. I will be in France in June for two weeks taking in the sites and food and people.

Au revoir and thanks for reading my first blogging attempt!!

Welcome to the blogosphere, Michelle!

Michelle can be reached at 604-985-9391.

Check out her gorgeous website too!

Over to you, readers: Do you have any methods that help you reach your goals involving money?  We’d love to hear! 

On Saturday, a conversation with a money-coaching client strayed into the realm of worldview, philosophy and religion. It happens more often than you’d think. We start out figuring out how to get out of debt or how to save for the kids’ tuition, and in the mix talk about financial anxiety and somewhere along the way we often start to frame those questions in a larger picture. Me included.

I’m one of a dying breed – someone who is, dare I say it, a practicing member of organized religion. Unfashionable but there you have it.
Specifically, I am a parishioner of St. James Anglican Church – socially liberal (yes to gays), theologically conservative (yes to Jesus being God-in-the-flesh not simply a good moral teacher), and politically activist (lets feed the hungry and house the homeless already).

I believe that some day I will be asked (gently, but still) to account for my life. I imagine the two main questions will be something along the lines of,

1. Nancy, I went to a lot of work to create the earth. earth How deeply did you enjoy it?

2. And, you also shared the world with a lot of other people just as inherently valuable as you. How well did you love your neighbour? (and anyone who knows the story of the good samaritan knows that ‘neighbour’ doesn’t just refer to your friendly summer rooftop bbq with the people in your condo strata, but the people who your culture tends to easily dismiss and despise. In my case, I interpret that as my literal neighbours, the homeless who are addicts and often mentally ill).

Re: #2: I hope I’m inching my way towards allocating my money towards caring for my neighbours. I’m not going to disclose specifics, but a few more people get practical care than otherwise might, and I’m also learning, when asked for change, to overcome my awkwardness and buy the person some groceries at a nearby shop. This doesn’t happen often, but it feels right when I do it.

Also, I’m changing how I eat for my own good, but also to better respect the inequities in access to food (ie. it’s not right that I’m carrying excess kilos while the homeless lunatic across the street is malnourished).

On the first question, my 2008 goal is to slow down and absorb the simple pleasures in life. I had one this weekend – discovering a sweet little song, innocent, youthful, lovely. Catch the lyrics – they’re worth it. Here it is:

homeless.jpgIt never ceases to amaze me: so many of us seem to live in fear that we don’t have/won’t have


When I probe my clients for more specifics, there is usually a lack of groundedness – not to mention, lack of concrete data with which to draw any conclusions about having, or not having enough.

Some of my clients earn over $100K, with or without assets to speak of.

Others earn in the $30-K range.

I personally, have managed to live reasonably well on … less even than that(!) over the past years as I’ve built my business – and yet, life has been incredibly meaningful, my work is absorbing, I have had countless rich times with friends and people I love, my intellect has been stretched in ways I haven’t experienced since my UBC history days (I still miss you, Prof. Straker , RIP; Your history/philosophy of science class blew my mind), and in the mix I had a number of wonderful getaways too. In short: life can be good and full on a lot smaller budget than we think! (although see my other post about Enough Already with living frugally.)

So the questions remain:

1. What creates our respective barometers of ‘what constitutes enough‘?

2. Why do so many of us feel like we don’t have it?

(Isabella, are there connections to our eating disorders here? Bargainista – I bet you’d thrive well regardless of your income. Krystal – do you ever struggle with a generalized sense of not having enough? or does mapping it out so clearly for yourself keep you grounded? David, I bet Pivot Legal has some thoughts on whether or not we have ‘enough’! And LA – does your midlife Millionaire’s group of women discuss/feel like they have ‘enough’?)

No, the diva did not personally deign to post on my blog (give me another year, and I’ll see what I can do) but she wrote a beautiful post on her own blog, saying the following about money in her life:

Annie Lennox

A somewhat strident message about why I [Annie Lennox] write…

If you think that money will protect you from potential pain and suffering…you are misguided. Money will certainly oil the wheels, and give you a more comfortable ride…but when it comes to loss…pain and suffering…when that hits…money will not get you out of it.


youth…grows older


success…is relative

love? Do you really know what that is? Have you gone beyond your own ego to find out? And then…and then… Do you know how many old people are fading away in geriatric homes, institutions, or stuck in some isolated little apartment somewhere? In this society they are marginalised. They are out…finished. They are you/ me / us some time down the line. If you are poor…who will value you? In this society you count for almost nothing. If you are sick, or weak, or disabled in some way.. Will you be treated with respect, empathy or dignity? And the religious institutions, the governments, the power brokers, the corporations.. The media…do they care? Are they compassionate? Are they humane…decent? We have our heads in the sand.

I write to communicate what I truly feel. The outrage, the disappointment, the frustration, the sadness, the confusion. And I wonder…am I the only one who feels this way? Apparently not.

Mr. Cheap (and he IS, proudly!) over at FourPillars blogs mostly about money but with a dose of his weight goals thrown into the mix. I’m not about to blog regularly about my weight — but suffice it to say, I’m committed to some weight loss of my own, possibly courtesy of Bargainista’s contest for 3 months worth of free nutrisystem. I’m undoing my contest chances by spreading the word, but it is Freebie (or nearly) Wednesday! (and fyi, if you haven’t signed up for Bargainista’s feed, or bookmarked her site, you’re missing awesome sales intel).

To enter the contest, we need to explain our motivation. Here’s my thinking about my need to lose weight (and it’s on the serious side, heads-up):

I am about 20 pounds over my healthy weight. You wouldn’t know it (according to friends, lol) to look at me, but my doctor confirms it’s absolutely the case. My desire to lose the excess me is partly for my own health and energy, but also from another philosophical grounding point. It’s this. I blog about being wise with money. I have a business that helps people be thoughtful with their money. My dream goal is that Canadians become so adept at handling their money (out of debt, not buying crap, finding meaning in things other than consumption) that we become known for it, and are able to be generous towards developing countries, and find really creative ways to live sustainably.

And yet here I am overeating on a regular basis, even as, night after night, the character I affectionately call ‘the homeless lunatic’ sleeps against the heat duct of the building across my street. He is skinny, underfed, and lines up for the soup kitchen down the street for whatever food they have on offer. And I overeat, even as addicts in my neighbourhood walk on cartoon-like legs and have guant faces because they don’t nourish themselves properly with food. Not to mention the kids in refugee camps around the world.

For me to consistently overeat and carry around excess me is just. plain. wrong.

So, Hello 2008: I’m going to try my d-est to get hold of my eating. To eat appropriately, and heathily. To respect the people who are starving enough not to mindlessly stuff myself.

end of story.

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