A Money Coach in Canada

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Your new car. Your new relationship. Your new Fleuvogs. Your amazing vacay. Your promotion.

If you’re like everyone else, cold, hard science says these things will bring you a boost in your well-being for a length of time between a few weeks to a few months, then it’s right back to however happy you felt (or didn’t) before these entered your life. (As a point of interest, a study in Germany found getting married provided a boost for 2 years on average, before the individuals reverted to their baseline experience of happiness). Why does this happen? We are hard-wired to adapt to, as in get used to new and good things in our life and take them for granted. Kinda sucks, but there you have it.

Want to get the most happiness for your buck?

A recent study gives two clear ways we can significantly slow down the adaptation process.

1. Active appreciation of the new item or experience. Appreciation is the psychological opposite of adaptation say the authors of the study. It amplifies the various good components of the new item thereby regenerating the feel good responses. It turns out those gratitude journals are probably extending your happiness and lowering your need to buy the next bright, shiny object.

2. Variations of the new item maintain the feel good responses as well. For example, new apps on your iPhone bring back its original sexiness and thrill. Or using your new car for different purposes – road trip, carpool, volunteering – will sustain your sense of pleasure in your new vehicle.

photo credit: hurricainemaine

I grew up with a keen awareness of what we could not afford. This was exacerbated by living a lower-middle-class life in Canada’s highest-per-capita income city and also by the fact that my two best friends during my formative years were in decidedly different socio-economic demographics (not that it was ever, not even once, flaunted).

The kinds of holidays, the size of homes, the clothing, the bedroom decor, even the refrigerator contents –  I knew what we could not afford. Most of the time it didn’t bother me, at least not consciously.   But still, I knew.   And over time, and combined with some other life circumstances, I developed what I’d call a poverty mindset. A poverty mindset is one whose default is “only just enough, if that”.   It is one that is quietly (or not)  suspicious of wealth and wealthy people.   It is one that either desperately pays attention to managing money, or avoids it altogether.

A poverty mindset kills the joy and good energy around money.

Long ago, I loosened this stranglehold mindset, and now money, and my mindset around it, means something entirely different.  Night and day different.  I’ll post about my new mindset later, but in the meantime,

Here are two techniques that helped me break out of that mindset. You can do it too, and you can help your kids do it.

1.  Replace “I can’t afford it”   with “How can I afford it?”

Do you feel the difference?  The former stifles all possibility.   The latter opens up possibility and invites creative response.  It creates options.

Bonus:  this one is a great one to use with kids and helps them inculcate a mindset of financial possibility from the get-go.  Next time they ask for something, ask them to come up with ideas on how they can afford it  (emphasis:  how they can afford it).

2. Cool visualization exercise – the dissolving flower / cloud

If you suffer a poverty mindset, there are probably a number of  unhelpful beliefs and feelings towards money riddled throughout your mind and heart-of-hearts.   These will be influencing all your approaches to money.  Here’s what to do with them.

a. Sit somewhere quietly, close your eyes, and take a few deep, full breaths to centre and focus yourself.

b. Visualize either a flower with many petals or a cloud floating in front of you.

c. Let each unhelpful belief come to the surface of your mind, then take that particular belief and place it on a petal or the cloud.

c. Do this for as long as the various beliefs or thoughts arise, each time placing it on the petal or cloud.

d. Then allow that flower or cloud to float away from you further and further into space and (important) as it floats away, visualize it dissolving.   The petals gently separate from the flower.  And then each petal and the core begins to simply, softly dissolve into nothing as it continues to float away into infinite space.   I you visualize the cloud,  imagine it gently pulling apart from itself into smaller and smaller drifts as it moves further and further away.  Each flower or cloud becomes nothing.

e. Re-emerge to your day, open your eyes, take a deep breath and experience the lightness and freedom after the release that will have occurred.

Do this exercise as often as you need to.  And if you embrace these exercises, I’d love to hear how they play out for you, so pop back and leave a comment.

PS – if you want to start managing your day-to-day money effectively, my online program will give you a solid foundation.  Even if things are a bit tight for you right now, it will help!  And it’s affordable for just about anyone, at $25.

update: for a recap of all Sept Money 101 posts, click here

Photo Credit: lalunablanca

Hello my name is Taylor Moore and I am a filmmaker, photographer and game developer.
I am a Digital Nomad.
When I turned 50, I wanted everything to be different. I wanted to radically simplify my life, and get rid of all of the crap that I was dragging around. I wanted to travel, and pursue work that was global and to live the life of a lifestyle entrepreneur.

In the Beginning
So to start things off, I got my personal belongings down to 50 things(excluding my professional gear). It actually was much easier than I thought it would be. Doing this purge has been one of the most liberating things I have ever done. It is comforting to know where everything is, and not to worry about “stuff” anymore. It has made me very conscious of what I will bring into my life next. I don’t know if I will always conform to this lifestyle but it has been a great personal experiment and experience.

Office Away
The next thing was to be anywhere but in an office. In the last year I have worked out of coffee shops, book stores, libraries and beaches. This has been a tremendous boon to my creativity and approach to work and projects.

Bye Bye TV
One of the greatest events has been getting rid of the TV. Now I only watch what I really want, when I want. So many people live there augmented life through TV. With the relatively short time we have here, to spend it being spoon fed information is not my idea of living life.

Regrets, I have some

  • This is not an easy path at times, and I depend on Skype and email to retain my close friendships.
  • Having a romantic relationship in this type of lifestyle is very hard, but the new friendships forged makes it all worthwhile.
  • Loneliness is not something that visits me very often, but it can be lonely. Getting out and exploring my surrounding breaks it.

What can I not live without

  • Digital Camera with which I shoot stills, HD video and time lapse
  • Macbook Pro with which I edit my stills and video with.
  • iphone Keeps me connected to friends, family and twitter.
  • 2 TB backup Drive (Shit happen’s be ready for it)
  • Swimming trunks…ya never know when you will find a good place to swim!

Benefits

  • Having the freedom to pursue projects I believe in – such as being asked to film a Strawbale House-Raising for a family in Tennessee who lost everything in a Tornado.
  • Learning and speaking another language, which makes me think differently and grow.
  • Helping build a school in Mexico and what that does for the children, community and my karma.
  • Realizing that no matter where we are people want to help. And that gives me hope and faith in humanity.

Money tips I’ve learned

  • Always travel with two bank cards
  • Find out which local bank is closest to you (some places are pretty remote.  I once had to travel 20 miles to the nearest bank!)
  • Find out which day is payday for the local folks because the line-ups can be around the block on those days
  • Get used to military men with machine guns standing in front of the banks
  • Withdrawing cash internationally has fees attached.  Use a bank ATM though;  white-label machines have even higher fees
  • Paypal is your friend.  I typically get paid in the local currency via paypal which then converts to Canadian and is deposited in my Canadian bank account.

Taylor Moore is a filmmaker, photographer and game developer. In 2011 he has lived in Chacala Mexico, Guanajuato Mexico, Summerland BC, Tonasket, WA and Yellowknife, NWT. He can be reached at www.pixelbuz.com or on twitter @pixeltrek

Mentors:

Everett Bogue
The guy who made me look at all of the things I don’t need.
Ashley Ambirge
One of the greatest new writers, and my secret agent muse.
Seth Godin
One of the greatest marketing writers ever. Linchpin has been a personal best read for me.
Tim Ferris
Four Hour Work Week Author and Fitness Guru.
Karol Gajda
He’s the guy who got me started on this path…damn you Karol. Walks the talk.
Tyler Tervooren
He is the master of Riskology. No messing with his success.

Art of Contentment posts are about appreciating what is, and experiencing life as richly as possible, as a small act of freedom from the relentless pull to buy more.

Summer’s here way up here in Yellowknife – boy is it ever – and I am determined to take in every summery experience possible.

So I hitched a lift with a friend and visited the local swimming hole of choice for locals. I haven’t been since I was a teenager in my pre-Vancouver life. It’s something alright. Unless you’re one of my BC readers (and even then, I’d only begrudgingly cede) , I bet you ain’t never swum at a place like this before. Keep scrolling below the fold, btw.

THE SAFE(ISH) SWIMMING AREA. COOL AND CLEAN AND CLEAR WATERS.

I DIDN’T HAVE THE NERVE. WOULD YOU?

SAFE ISH BECAUSE JUST AROUND THE BEND, SUPER-CLOSE, IS THIS

OH. YOU WANTED A CLOSER LOOK? YOU GOT IT!

AND, SOMEONE TELL ME —–> OFF ONE OF THE TRIBUTARIES — IS THIS WHAT I THINK IT IS???

AND AFTER THE DRAMA, THIS VISTA:

July’s posts have been chock-a-block with on-the-ground money tips for travellers to England, Russia, Thailand and today, we hear from Jean* about being money smart in Nicaragua.

(pssst: Want to become a world traveller but don’t have the money? My business helps folks set and attain those kinds of savings goals!)

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When my parents first told me they would be traveling to Nicaragua with my sister, my immediate reaction was, “Have fun with that.” But no more than a day later, my brother and I decided we would tag along for the trip.

For as long as I can remember, whenever I was asked if I would be interested to travel to the homeland, I would always say no and that it would never happen. “Not a chance in Hell!” I think I was afraid of what I would see and learn. Living in Canada, I have gotten quite used to my possessions and other things we may take for granted.

If you are going to be traveling to Nicaragua, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Do not advertise how well off you are by pulling your smartphone (or anything else of value, for that matter) out of your pocket. This is foolish because it is quite dangerous. You are likely to attract the attention of no-gooders anyway simply by being a tourist. You do not need to become a target.
2. Be prepared for the electricity and running water to cut out at the most inconvenient of times.
3. Dress lightly. Why you would even consider wearing long pants is just beyond me. They do provide great protection from the bugs though…

Now, as a super user of social media (Is saying “it consumes my life” too strong?), I usually rely heavily on Wi-Fi and for the most part (if at all), that isn’t an option in this country. So my one tip for those of you who are like me:

Turn off your mobile data. The cost of data in Nicaragua in roaming fees is astronomical. $25.60 per megabyte of data (if you are with Bell), to be exact. If you are looking to tweet or update your status on Facebook, set up the mobile texting service before your trip. The cost of sending a text is $0.75. A much better alternative. Facebook’s number is 32665 (FBOOK) and Twitter’s is 21212. You can set up these services straight from your phone or on the web. Leave all other events that would require data for cyber cafes. Cyber cafes are incredibly cheap and usually have 30min, 45min, or hourly rates for less than $2.50, maybe even $2.00. And you may want to keep phone calls short as they are $2.99/min. Don’t be a victim to the thought of “I’ll barely use the data, so I should be fine.” When they say apps run in the background, they mean it, and they consume a lot more data than you might think. Save yourself the headache and save yourself a lot of money.

Things are cheap in Nicaragua for the visitor. It was actually quite heartbreaking to see just what kind of life my family has. To bring things into perspective, I present to you some facts.

1. Beer can cost as little as $0.85, which, if you can stand to drink a beverage that will dehydrate you in the already blistering heat, I say go for it. My drink of choice during the whole trip was Coca-Cola, because water never did seem to come cold enough.
2. Food here is always fresh and local. Think about it! You are not paying to have someone bring in the food from another country. IT IS ALL THERE. And it is also cheap…for us. Twenty dollars really can get you so much. How much does the average Canadian family (say of four members) spend on groceries per week? Maybe around $150.00? Take that amount and think of it feeding your family for a whole month, if not more. Sounds great, right? Now think of how difficult that money is to come by, considering most homes are single income… Yeah…

And now for the kicker:

After speaking to one of our cousins’ wife, she was telling us how they had afforded to buy their home using the money earned by selling shoes that never quite made it to shelves, or were claimed. Think of how Winners sells brand name clothes for cheap because of defects in the stitching, missing buttons, etc. You know, the little things that don’t really matter. So a friend from the US would send down boxes of shoes, and she would sell them locally. When I asked, she told me that to buy the lot cost them 8,000 Cordobas, Nicaraguan currency. The materials to build the house cost another 8,000 Cordobas. This is in Esteli, one of the larger cities in Nicaragua. But let’s play a guessing game to see what that amount of money translates to in dollars.

For the total of 16,000 Cordobas, to buy yourself a lot and then build a home of approximately 800 square feet, what would be the equivalent cost in a consumer home electronic?

Would it be:
a. Nintendo Wii – $149.99
b. XBOX 360 250GB Kinect Bundle – $399.99
c. iPhone 4 32GB – $779.00
d. iMac 27-inch: 2.7GHz – $1,699.00

You might be shocked that I didn’t go any higher. Well, truth be told, I wouldn’t want to attract that much attention to my own home, depending on the location. But if you picked “c”, the iPhone 4 32GB model, you would be slightly over. The exchange rate that stuck with me the whole trip was 22.3:1. So for 8,000 Cordobas, that was around $360.00. So you could either own a vacation home in Nicaragua for the price of two XBOX 360’s for one of your LAN parties, or one iPhone 4, from which you might even be reading this very blog post. Kind of makes you think, hey?

Now, this entry is not meant to guilt you, but rather expose you to the reality of the kind of life you’ll be seeing if you take a trip down there. I have heard that one can spend nights in some cheap hostels for about $8.00, and transportation itself is very cheap and there are many options: mini-taxi, tricycle, motorized bike, motorcycle, mini-bus, you name it. Souvenirs are also very cheap, so you really won’t need to worry about how much you’re spending on gifts to bring back home to family and friends. Just don’t get too comfortable with how inexpensive most things are. Spend only for what you need, and if you feel you have some to spare, donate to the locals. You have no idea how much a little bit for us means a lot for them.

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Jean, aka Jeryes, is a long time Yellowknifer with bucket loads of ambition but with absolutely no direction. Dreaming of one day becoming either a musician, a designer, a writer, or a teacher (to name a few), he spends most of his days in the online universe correcting people for their misuse of punctuation and spelling errors. He is also allergic to cats.

Photo Credit: Damon_Torgeson

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