A Money Coach in Canada

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Photo Credit:  SpiritMama

Margaret Visser  has done it again –  taken something as ordinary as saying Thank You and found fascinating things to say about it in a new book, discussed on cbc’s Tapestry  this morning.  Fascinating things like:

1. If someone gives a gift, it’s polite to not immediately reciprocate.  Why?  It stops wars.  Seriously.

Think way back to tribal days.  Fight, fight, fight … then one day someone in a tribe, let’s call him Joe,  offers a freshly killed deer (or whatever) to someone in the other tribe (let’s call him Jim).  Well now.  Jim has a dilemma.   Why would he go fight deer-giving Joe?

So he holds off and ponders what to do.  And as long as he’s pondering, Joe is safe.  Eventually, Jim responds by killing a goat, and brings it to Joe.  Back atcha. But enough time has elapsed that rather than a pure exchange, Joe now faces the dilemma Jim had faced.  Why would he go fight Jim?  So he holds off and ponders what to do.  And as long as he’s pondering, Jim is safe.

Etc.  Etc. Etc.!  And thus is war averted.

2. Learning to express Thanks is more complex than we realize.   Your two-year-old pretty quickly figures out: Hey, the lady’s waving.  That’s my cue to say “bye-bye” and then everyone around me will ooo and ahh.    Your three-year-old pretty quickly figures out:  If I say “please” I’ll get that ice-cream.   But figuring out to say Thanks?  That’s more complex.  What are the cues?  What is the motivation?  Finally of course, all decent kids figure out:  under circumstance A, if someone gives me something, I should say Thanks, although under circumstance B, it’s perhaps not necessary.   And saying Thanks doesn’t provide any immediate reward, it’s just something I do to avoid annoying the giver.

A sign of maturity is when saying Thanks isn’t simply a technical social convention, but something we feel inside ie., gratitude.

3. Gratitude gets us in touch with the transcendant.  For once, for blessed once, we are not self-focussed, but focussed on the giver.   And this teaches us to be human.

As Martin Buber points out:  The truth of being human is gratitude;  what is required is appreciation, a sense of awe and wonder. This indeed is the secret … a sense of awe and wonder, even amazement, that springs from our encounter with the world in which we live.

In short, saying Thanks even in the briefest of encounters, acknowledges the deeply comforting truth:  We are not alone.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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?

I suppose figuring out what constitutes an “indulgence” varies by socio-economic status. This weekend, I indulged in 5 things that as a middle-income earner felt entirely gorgeous – and I did it at reasonable (imho) prices.


photo credit: Roland

  1. Went to Spa Utopia, again. For $100 you not only get a massage, but you are invited to come 30 minutes early for a steam or sauna, or to sip rooiboos tea with mint (or cool water with cucumber) – and all this in a gorgeous terry-towel robe with soothing music and a luscious environment. That 90 minutes leaves me feeling $500 better.
  2. Bought my first ever pair of John Fleuvogs. Yaaaayy! I got some black sandals at about 40% of their usual price, and I’m thrilled. And hooked. By the way, did you know John Fleuvog has open-sourced designs? How cool is that?
  3. Ordered this week’s suppers, all of them, from Sliced Tomatoes, for only $63 for 5 meals. This means every night this week I’ll come home to delicious, local, organic food that requires minimal cooking from me, and will provide me lunch as well with leftovers.
  4. Took myself to see Mama Mia! If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a must for the summer, and you’ll want the big screen experience. It’s a chick-flick, but men will appreciate it too. I paid full price but for a rush of Feel Good that lasts the whole weekend, it was worth every penny.
  5. Went on the PNE’s old rollercoaster. At my age, that’s not an so much an indulgence, as sheer foolishness. But as my friend Nikkie said (who insisted we go take the very front seats), I plan to go til I’m in my 80’s.

Readers: what have you indulged in recently? And if you don’t mind me asking, what price tag was attached?

ps:  my colleague S has some mint-condition IKEA furniture she’s selling due to a move (to my ‘hood!  YAY!).   Check out her craigslist post if you could use some pieces.

I just got back from a three-night getaway.

Some generous friends from out in the valley (hi there – you know who you are *wink*) have a place that I now refer to as Martha Stewart Unkempt (the Unkempt is a compliment. And the inside is kempt. The outside is just all lovely and done, but not manicured). An acreage, a vast lily and fish pond, berry bushes, garden, and tall, very tall trees that seclude the property.

The dogs are welcome too, much to their delight. It’s doggy disneyland: squirrels, crows and for once in their blessed lives, a green yard (they’re concrete jungle urban daschunds). Oh, and a geriatric, ever-tolerant, black lab.

And the sounds: birds at night, creatures rustling in the bushes, the zap of bugs getting to close to the light, chain saws and trains in the distance.

The point is this: truly, truly the best things in life are free.

Readers: any best-things-in-life moments that you’ve had this summer?


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