A Money Coach in Canada

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Anyone have opinions on pet insurance?

My two daschunds are 2 years old, and I don’t have pet insurance. I do have a little emergency fund, and set aside money every 2 weeks to plump it up. My reasoning is that I’ve heard too many horror stories about insurance companies not coming through – negating the claim – and I don’t want to pay into something that may not pay out when I need it!

Plus, daschunds are prone to back problems, and I suspect insurance companies don’t cover this particular issue.

So I’ve been putting money into a savings account instead.

Recently though, a client told me how much she wished she’d had insurance for a multiple-thousand dollar surgery.   Now I’m second guessing my decision.

Anyone have experience with pet insurance? Good? Bad?  Should I get it?

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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!

Responding to WestCoast Woolie’s challenge to Personal Finance bloggers to donate this month, I decided to carry change for once (I’m usually cashless and use my debit cards) and give away a loonie each day to a panhandler. I was going to attempt to ‘connect’ briefly with the person rather than simply drop the change and walk on.

How’s the first week been? Well, not so much!

I don’t know where they’ve all gone, but panhandlers were in scare supply this week. Does anyone know when welfare wednesday is? Or is it possible that I have perceived way more ‘beggars’ in my neighbourhood than in fact exist? I’m sure I’ve come home irritated (and chiding myself about feeling that way) by multiple requests in the 3 blocks between the skytrain and my home.

homeless1.jpgI gave change only 3 times in the past week. The first guy was sitting with his dog outside CitizensBank, and I didn’t have time to give more than my money.  So no connection.  Another day I resorted to contributing to someone busking – he was appreciative but not who I was looking for.

Yesterday I had my most ‘template’ experience – a woman asking for money outside Waterfront Station, and it did reveal a little of myself: I have not seen her before, and she looked healthy. I gave her my change. I felt too awkward to engage any more deeply than responding “you’re welcome” briefly when she smiled and thanked me.  And then sure enough my cynical side raised plenty of judgmental questions: is she a scam artist? is she one of those stories where she goes home to a place as nice as mine, courtesy of us suckers who forked over their cash? did she migrate from the u.s. because she heard canadians are a softer touch? I concluded that worst case scenario, I would prefer to be the scammed than the scammer. Not a very gracious conclusion, but the best I could do.

And speaking of the best I could do, yesterday I joined in the ‘lie in’ by the End Homelessness Clock in front of the Vancouver Art gallery.

This week’s guest post is by a fellow british columbian, WestCoastWoolies, who agreed to tell her inspiring story about their journey out of debt.

debtsucksshirt2.jpgA year ago my husband and I were facing a few financial challenges. He had been unemployed as a union welder for almost 3 months, and my new business, although keeping me busy, wasn’t bringing in the cash flow fast enough. We couldn’t keep up with the bills, and our credit cards were both maxed.

Our $96,000 in debt seemed insurmountable and we fought about money regularly. Really, we were not prepared to live without a steady income (though I think we thought we were), and the situation we were in had not improved significantly over the previous year.
There is no formula to how we started to turn things around, in some ways we had luck on our side, because within a few months my husband did have full time employment and money from my contract eventually started to trickle in. I think what has really helped us though are a few simple steps, which we had to learn when faced with our financial challenges:

1. Because we do have variable income, we had to create a budget which we could live with, in the lean times. When income is lower than usual we still need to be able to pay bills, debts, and eat. We still need to put some extra money each month towards one debt (a snowball debt) and be able to save. We created this budget back in March 2007, and it has varied little since. The key components are: to cover all fixed expenses, including debts and the mortgage, to plan sufficiently for variable expenses such as groceries, and, most importantly to my husband, have an allowance for each of us so we can play a little each month. This last one, I tell you, has almost completely stopped any arguments about money between myself and my husband (who likes to spend a little). It gives us each financial freedom and responsibility at the same time, while not allowing us to go overboard.

2. When our income is higher than usual, any extra cash goes directly to debt. This concept has meant we have made big strides in our debt repayment at times, while at others the debt appears to change very little because we only have $500 a month in our budget to apply as a debt snowball amount.

3. We also made sure we started planning for our future for the first time. We had some small RRSP contributions, and my husband has a pension through his union, but we went to a financial advisor for the first time and began financial planning in earnest. It was an interesting exercise to work with an advisor to see where could go once our debts paid off. It actually gave me hope that we can be successful and retire (I was worried I might be working forever) and that alone gives me energy to keep paying off debt.

With our regular monthly debt repayments combined with lump sum payments when we could afford them, we have reduced our debt by $14,993 in 10 months. It took us awhile to find a system which worked with our variable income, allowing us to get by in times of lower income, and take advantage of the times when our income is higher (rather than just spending all that extra money on ‘stuff’).

Our credit rating has improved dramatically in this time period because we are no longer at the limits of our credit. And the most exciting part of becoming financially on track for us is that we were able to start a family. I am 20 weeks pregnant, our little boy is due in June, and we have a financial plan in place which will further reduce our debt by about $10,000 and enable us to live off of one salary plus our savings (and still pay off our debts!).

It’s ash wednesday, in my particular faith tradition, and I had a whimsical thought: I will return to dust, but some of my loonies and toonies will outlast me! kinda erie, now, looking at my coin jar.

And on a more serious note, I was struck by how money-and-power/politics related the liturgical prayers for ash wednesday were:

We confess….

our self-indulgent ways, and our exploitation of other people

our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves

our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts [ed note: that would be me]

Accept our repentence…

for our blindness to human need and suffering

for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us

for our waste and pollution of creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us.

Ouch! Hit a little close to home…

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