A Money Coach in Canada

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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?

Like many of us, I’m still sorting through what role mainstream media plays in this new web 2.0 world.

I don’t watch tv anymore, really. YouTube and viddler have my attention now.

I haven’t cancelled my subscription to National Post (and here you thought I was entirely lefty. surprise!) but I rarely read it – I prefer grabbing headlines off twitter and reading the selected articles.

But here’s a purpose it does serve for me. I sometimes look to mainstream media to be the expert, sort through it all, and provide the most worthy content. CBC still does that (although that is changing).

So here’s the story.

Have you ever had a piece of music just reach out and grab you? This past weekend, Howard Dyck on cbc aired stunning music by a rather obscure composer named Zelenka: I had to have it.

Alas! a google search yielded little, itunes came up empty and I lost all hope when cbc pointed out that the recording “was not available commercially”.

WAILING & GNASHING OF TEETH! (yes, over a piece of classical music)

Enter web 2.0.


I cried out my pain on twitter, and my cry was answered by a woman in Nebraska (named Barb, to be specific) who actually knew of Zelenka! Barb pointed me to a recording of the piece on youtube (see below). Now I strongly suspect the recording is under copywrite and should not be posted on youtube! But I listened anyways, and listened again and again until my addiction was complete.


I also cried out my fate – having fallen in love only to discover the music was UnAvailable (anyone who can relate?) – on facebook. Enter my buddy Clive who responded with a link to Amazon with several second hand recordings.



And for the icing on the cake, David (see link above re: cbc changing) e-mailed me with a link to a place I could order the score.

My point is simply this. Mainstream media may yet serve us all well, if it can figure out how to draw our attention to the quality stuff (as opposed to the quantity of crap, so ably poked at by Morning Brew). And if it weren’t for the exposure it received (illicitly?) on YouTube, I may well have forgotten about it. As it turned out, I am going to purchase the recording, for sure, and likely the score. Perhaps the sky isn’t falling. Perhaps this brave new world of new business models may result in wins for everyone.

Readers: have you ever started out with errrrr, grey-area consumption of something that resulted in a purchase?

fyi – here is the piece that caught my attention. It’s just over 2 minutes, it grabs you, and doesn’t let you go til it’s done.

Water and money… some questions, some answers! From Raul, Vancouver’s academic-environmentalist-blogger. (thanks, Raul! you got me thinking, that’s for sure)


First of all, thanks to Nancy for inviting me to guest-blog on issues of money and sustainability. You’d be surprised to find that there are many more linkages than people think about. For this first post, and given that we recently celebrated World Water Day 2008 (some countries celebrate on March 20th, some on March 22nd and others on March 23rd), I wanted to highlight the linkages between money and water, given that water is one of the world’s most scarce resources (and at risk of becoming a commodity). As the Dublin Principle 4 indicates, water has an economic value:

Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development (1992):
‘Principle No. 4: Water has an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognized as an economic good. Within this principle, it is vital to recognize first the basic right of all human beings to have access to clean water and sanitation at an affordable price. Past failure to recognize the economic value of water has led to wasteful and environmentally damaging uses of the resource. Managing water as an economic good is an important way of achieving efficient and equitable use, and of encouraging conservation and protection of water resources.’ [United Nations’ World Water Development Report]

Water pricing in Canada is amongst the lowest amongst the developed world (at $ 0.40 per cubic metre, compared to $ 1.91 in Germany). While people often tend to believe that Canada doesn’t have problems with water scarcity (some statistics indicate that Canada has about 7% of the world’s supply of freshwater, you would be surprised at how much of a fallacy this statement is. Furthermore, this widespread belief (combined with the fact that much of Canada’s municipal water supply is not metered and thus consumption is not deterred by way of price differentials) has led some people to be wasteful with the precious liquid.

However, the pricing schemes looming in the future of Canadian residents will include both metering (and paying per cubic metre) and the concept of full cost recovery, which implies that you’ll be paying more if you consume more (also, the more you pollute water, the more you pay). So, the next time you want to find ways in which to reduce your spending, you may want to start thinking about ways to reduce water consumption. Your ecosystems will thank you, and so will your wallet.

Readers – I don’t know about you, but when I see the image below, I get pretty complacent about how much water I use. Do you make an effort to conserve water or like me ( busted!) do you not really even think twice about it?


Lest anyone think I walk around in sackcloth and ashes after Monday’s post – I assure you, I am not averse to good things in life, and esp. not averse to some rock n’ roll! (but even these won’t compensate for the impending death of cbc radio 2)

Thanks to Bargainista for pointing out 99 Nights – in which REM posts a video a night til Mar 30, which you can download! HD no less.
Thanks to Krystal for pointing out the Pemberton Music Festival (who knew?) featuring Coldplay, Tragically Hip, Tom Petty, 9 Inch Nails.

Thanks to Steve for pointing out the set sale for the X-Files movie:

Thur. Mar 20|10am-5pm|Northshore Studios|555 Brooksbank Ave., Construction Mill 1| North Vancouver.

j0313819.jpgWe all know that loving money isn’t generally a good thing (did anyone else watch cbc’s JPOD episode featuring the woman on the bed… with loads of money…?) but:

Do you LIKE your money?

Here are 3 hot tips to enhance your relationship with your money.

1. Let go of the past. Whatever has gone on for you ’til now no longer matters. Forgive yourself for mistakes you’ve made, forgive your money for not being there for you (said mostly tongue in cheek, but also, sometimes we really do need to forgive life for letting us down) and start your relationship afresh. Believe it can be better for you. Trust yourself again.

2. See your money with fresh eyes. What do you think of money? For years, I ignored it as a necessary evil. Then I begrudgingly acknowledged that money was amoral. Now, I see it this way: money is a powerful energy with which I can nourish myself and the people I love, and bless the world around me. See how that would alter how I behave with my money?

3. Spend time together. Not spending it (although there’s a time to let spending thrill you, for sure), but getting acquainted with it:

  • what turns your money on? what makes it work?
  • does size matter? how much do you have? how much do you want? how much do you need?
  • is it staying home with you, or going places you don’t really know?

Get intimate with your money! After all, you’re in it for life together.

Happy Valentine’s to you, and if you have secrets about a happy, healthy relationship with money, leave a comment for us!

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