A Money Coach in Canada

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If Franke James can do it, so can I! (and we’re both saving money, too)

What Franke James did was, The Hardest Thing First.   In her case as an urban dweller in Toronto, the hardest thing was


Photo Credit: Franke James,  creative commons

My hardest thing?   I’m going to dry my laundry on a clothesline.

Given I live in Yellowknife this can only occur until October, but I’ll be hanging up my stuff (I’ll use some discretion) on a clothesline I have in the backyard.

When I was young, I thought of this as entirely gauche.  I hope other people don’t think that about me.   There’s something a tiny bit eco-chic in this, right?  Right?  Regardless, this will be my summer:

2430043983_5843daf5c8Photo Credit: brockvicky Creative Commons

@frankejames I reckon I’ll save myself about $40 or so.   Obviously your savings a much greater (ie. sans suv).  (hey, sans suv has a great slogan kinda feel, non?).   How much do you reckon you’ve saved since waving goodbye to your suv?


I’ve long felt awkward about this whole latte thing.  It’s the quintessential metaphor for foolish spending of money.  You know, as in, a latte a day costs enough over a year that you could go to Europe with the same amount, or better yet, put it into your RRSP.

Well, I’ve always had a weakness for lattes.  And since moving to Yellowknife, I buy a latte every morning.

I spend $3.14 per latte = $722 per year (I reduced it by 6 weeks to account for 4 weeks holiday – perk of working up here – plus 2 weeks of days when I get freebies for giving them all that business)

If instead I invested the money, and it compounded at 8%, in 5 years it would be worth $1060.85

(If anybody cares to calculate how much I’d have in 5 years if I eliminated that cost for each of the 5 years, I’d be interested in the results.)

But as I used to say to my clients, there’s no law in the universe that says you can’t buy lattes all you want, as long as doing so doesn’t kaibosh your other priorities.

For me, lattes aren’t so much about the caffeine and frothy milk.  More, it’s about

  • a little mental and physical break from my work environment
  • taking along a coworker and having that kind of informal chat that leads to good working relationships
  • And to a certain extent, it’s even about the friendly interchange with the baristas.

Over the course of the year, I’m willing to pay that $700+ in order to have this as part of the fabric of my life.

Readers:  I’m curious.  How much do you spend on lattes/coffees each month?  Do you feel OK about it?

photo credit:  Robyn Gallagher

oldbook.jpgI’m a history major.    BComm students and well-meaning (perhaps) working people pooh-pooh’d this course selection.

What use is it in the real world?  they’d inquire, implying I’d never make a go of it unless I joined the MBA crowd. 

 Fifteen years out of university, with experience as an entrepreneur, as an employee in small business, and in a large corporation, I can pretty much kick any MBA’s ass (no offense)

(photo credit: Zevotron

While we may not have mastered the corporate lexicon (learnings.preferred outcomes.KPI’s) and PowerPoint is usually our enemy, here are skills any history major worth her degree brings to the table:

  1. The ability to read – lots – fast, and extract the critical information that will make a difference to the business.
  2. Predicting trends – both by reading broadly (see above) and by good analysis of stats.
  3. Asking smart questions, and connecting the dots.  Studying history isn’t really about memorizing dates and locations and events.  It’s about asking questions:  What is the meaning of this event?  How does X event connect to not just the obvious Y but even to Z?  Or:  If we make X change in our business,  it will affect Y like this, and will likely affect Z this way – perhaps as an unintended consequence.
  4. Challenging convention and making new discoveries as a result.  Revisionist history is chiefly concerned with challenging the assumptions, interpretation and questions asked of historical events, leading to new, often radically new, understandings of the event.  Innovation, anyone?
  5. Seeing beneath the surface, and making thoughtful, grounded decisions.   Our current economic woes reveal how easy it is for businesses to make short-sighted decisions, sometimes without knowing all the facts.  History majors know that what seems evident may in fact be obscuring other information that, when considered, changes the whole story.  History majors, while perfectly capable (admittedly, not universally) of being decisive, are not prone to shallow decision making processes.   They know how to weigh opinions, to note what is not said as well as what is said, to consider the context and make decisions based on thorough research. 

AND.  If all that isn’t enough, how ’bout this:   We’re careful to give credit wherever credit is due.  Wouldn’t that make a history major a refreshing colleague? 

So there you have it:  my case for liberal arts majors (with a special nod to history) as essential to good business.

Readers: Have at ‘er!   Are you a liberal arts major?  Do you think it served you well?  Why do you think liberal arts majors seem to get short shrift?


Photo Credit: Michael Blanchard 

I’ve been  having a few conversations with clients/prospective clients on how to save yourself from yourself vis a vis your money. 

Here are 3 of my fave quick-and-dirty tricks:

  1. Set up a high interest savings account anywhere other than your primary bank/credit union.  Set up an automatic savings plan, even if only $10/paycheque (start small if you have to, but start!)  Do not get an atm card – repeat – do not get an atm card.  You can even go extreme – bury your online codes to make it a real hassle for yourself to withdraw the funds.  That way your true savings goals will stand a fighting change of being realized instead of subject to impulse buying.
  2. Lower your credit card limits unless you pay it off in full every month.   Most people don’t pay them off (that’s how visa/mastercard/amex make their money) and you know who you are:  Save yourself from yourself by shaving off your balance, then calling and reducing your limit.   Lather. Rinse.  Repeat.
  3. Do a quick, daily check-in with your bank accounts.  In the ideal world, we’d be so organized that we wouldn’t need this.  But who lives in the ideal world?  3 minutes to keep right up-to-date with account activity may save you a small disaster some day.

Readers:  any other crime-prevention measures you can add?

2522609853_a8e786fc86_m.jpgJust a short thot.   I’m utterly fatigued of words like Abundance.   ProsperityWealth.

They have the odour, for me, of negligent obliviousness to the fact that we are not paying, and have not paid for a long, long time, the true cost of our acquisitions that constitute this so-called wealth.  We’ve been naively content to let people (women and children especially) in developing countries pay the price, and of course, the planet.   See:  The Story of Stuff among many other indictments.  (note: I include myself in this paragraph!)

Furthermore striving for abundance (etc.) is based on a false premise:  That we do not currently have enough, and that we will feel better if we somehow attain a threshold we can call abundance, prosperity, ad nauseum.   Problem is, that threshold rarely is defined and we never arrive there.

I have a secret hope that as the false-ness built into our economies, esp. those of us in North America, continues to be exposed for its vacuousness (like flying on private jets to ask for massive taxpayers’ handouts) and deception (like Bhopal),  that we will insist, absolutely insist, that we rebuild a better way of doing economics.  It may mean pared down wardrobes, fewer shoes and even (gasp!) an end to dog fashion.   Really, I just don’t care about those things so much anymore – do you?

Might we be willing to exchange our abundance for an abundance of clean air and clean water?

Might we be willing to exchange our prosperity for basic nutrition for children around the world?

Might we be willing to exchange our wealth for creating an economy where the genius and creativity of individuals have a fighting chance to actualize regardless of country of birth?

I’d do it in a heartbeat.

PS:  So – if anyone’s looking for a money coach who’s going to cheerlead enroute to further excess , I guess I’m not your gal.   But if you, like me, want to wisely and thoughtfully manage your money so that our presence on earth is a net benefit to the global community and planet, not a net loss, let’s talk.

PPS:  I haven’t got it all figured out yet either.  But I’m sure trying.

PPPS: photo credit: Leeziet

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