A Money Coach in Canada

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I far prefer my self-directed RRSP but for reasons to boring to explain, I contribute a bit each month via a financial planner towards a couple mutual funds. Last week I had my first annual meeting. I wanted to know 2 things:

1. How much money did I make?

2. What specifically am I invested in?

In answer to #1, my planner said, “this portfolio grew by 10%” in the last year.

Ok, but how much did my investment grow? By 10%, said the f.planner, pointing out the market value of my portfolio.

“How much of that market value is just my own monthly contributions?” I asked, insisting that we find out the total of my contributions.

Get this:  The market value was LESS than my total contributions made over the year! So much for the nice chart showing 10% growth. Turns out I actually lost money this year. (in contrast, my own stock picks have averaged over 15%).

Second, I wanted to know what I held. I have funds managed by Inhance, one of the socially responsible investment firms. I have a Balanced fund (part bonds, part equities) and a Global Leaders Fund.

“Well, they’re wrap funds,” said the financial planner, implying, End of Story.

fyi – wrap funds = funds that hold other funds inside.

“But I want to know, what do I hold?” I insisted again. So we did the legwork and I found out the major companies I hold – no real surprises, but at least I knew. The financial planner told me out of 2200 clients, I am the only one who ever asked him what companies are in my mutual funds.

Gentle readers: do you know what companies are in your mutual funds? Does it matter to you? Why, or why not?  Also:  do you feel comfortable having detailed discussions with your financial planner?  Do you feel like you get  complete, understandable responses to your questions?coffee-and-financial-pages.jpg

Huge disclaimer: I am a Canadian money coach. I help people with the day-to-day financial issues like monthly cashflow/budgeting, getting out of debt, relationship with money. I am NOT a credentialed financial planner so today’s post is not professional advice – in fact, it’s not advice at all. It’s simply what I am going to do as someone who makes her own investment choices (and does a fine job, if I might add).

Here are 3 stocks I like:

Apple logo

  1. Apple. After a lifetime of being on the fringe, dwarfed entirely by Microsoft, I believe they are going to take giant strides into the market – and not just the pc market, the electronics market. The Ipod, safari for windows, and the hype around the iPhone: all these are some pretty mighty thrusts into the imaginations and wallets of the market. I think this will continue into exponential growth, and that purchases of imacs and macbooks will rapidly increase over the next 3 years as well.
  2. Bank of America. They give dividends of 5%. If the US lowers their interest rates in response to the credit crunch, this 5% will look increasingly attractive in comparison – plus, it’s a bank stock so the underlying asset will increase in value as well.
  3. Timminco. These guys (Canadian) make solar grade silicon metal – used for alternative (solar) energy. They’ve got solid contracts already in place plus a market with more demand than supply.

That’s what I’d do – after triple checking their balance sheets etc. – but repeat after me: Nancy is not a financial planner or advisor.  This is not official advice.  It’s just a peak into her own personal portfolio.  She may regret any one of these purchases, if things don’t play out as planned!


A little while ago I wrote an article on trying vs. allowing. Nancy thought it would be interesting to apply this to our relationship with money.

“Okay, so here is the spreadsheet for tracking your money. Can you use that for a month?”

“I’ll try.”

Proabably, this scenario happens once in a while in Nancy’s practice. I know it does in my counseling practice.

What does this “trying” actually mean?

The pleasant part of “trying” is that it’s open ended, that it points to a beginner’s mind. The not-so-pleasant part sometimes makes me think of clenched teeth, ‘trying but failing’ or ‘trying without much effort.’

It’s not a very powerful word, and if I’m right about the clenched teeth, the failing and the lack of effort, it’s a word that speaks of discomfort, disappointment and lack of energy.


That’s why the idea of “allowing” feels so much better. It’s still open ended. It’s a word that is sweet and expansive. It’s about opening one’s arms and saying, come in, come in! And in that, it is much more powerful.

Instead of being a good little girl then and “trying” to follow the advice of an authority, I can consider the advice of an experienced equal and allow myself to experiment with it. Instead of “ok, I’ll try”, we could have:

“Hmmm, I wonder what will happen when I see where all my money goes? What insights might I gain? How could doing this help me invite more interesting and helpful things into my life?”

isabella mori
counseling in vancouver

Money coaches in business for themselves are no more immune than the rest of the population to moments of anxiety about money! And today, for the first time in months, I had waves of anxiety. (and having worked with high-income earners as well as middle-income canadians, I just bet that the likes of oprah et alia aren’t exempt either!). I’ve learned some good strategies to handle my anxiety and offer them to you.

My Top 5 Methods of Handling Financial Anxiety

  1. Distinguish between cash flow issues, and overall net worth. Cash flow can be navigated, including choppy waters. Net worth is the grounding point. (and if any readers are panicking because they don’t have much net worth either — this is just one in five! Read point #5 – it will help!)
  2. Clearly differentiate between self-worth and finances. Fortunes come and fortunes go. So do the tighten-the-belt times. We are not our finances! We are, in Lynn Twist’s words, fully sufficient as human beings irrespective of our bank accounts. So let’s not overencumber ourselves by adding our very sense of Self into the mix!
  3. Remind ourselves of the numerous times we have handled tough moments. Life simply isn’t easy – not for Britney Spears, not for Owen Wilson, not for anyone. The real test, in Kipling’s words, is: “If you can meet with triumph and disaster And treat those two imposters just the same.”
  4. Do some deep breathing exercises. Take deep breaths in … and let go of the past. The past is in no way a determinant of our future. Take deep breaths in … let go of the future. It hasn’t yet arrived. We do no know what it holds, in any direction. Anxiety about the future is based on nothing real. Take deep breaths in … and enter the flow state of Now. In that calmed state, approach your current circumstances and … #5….
  5. Turn the anxiety into productive action. In the calmed state, review the situation, and make plans. They don’t have to be perfect plans. They can be adjusted. They don’t have to be Ultimate plans. They just need to give some methods of navigating through the current financial circumstances. Lay out the facts. Give yourself breathing space to come up with ideas. It may come down to ‘which is least unpleasant’, but more than likely, it will come to something that is manageable.

Do you have strategies of managing your anxiety? What are they?

CoffeeSome time ago, after resisting all the way through university, I succumbed to the coffee culture. My blogger friend Jack, whose story with money can be found here, today wrote about how he indulges in coffee on a regular basis, by investing in his home inventory.

Coffee no longer a dark hole

I confess: I love my coffee and I can be found in the line up of one of our region’s coffee stores at least twice a day. I prefer drip coffee or a shot of espresso. This means my habit costs about four bucks a day. Not a bank breaker.

Along comes a friend who is passionate about coffee. As the months pass, he convinces me I need a coffee grinder for home and a French Press coffee maker. Says he: anyone can make better coffee than what is served as most coffee shops.

He’s right. I’m now at the point where I can bring out the distinguishing flavours of the varietals. Bet you didn’t know some coffee beans have hints of chocolate. The Kenyan Peaberry I sampled yesterday boasted citrus overtones. Who knew this stuff is just like wine.

So here is the bottom line (this is a money blog, so there needs to be a bottom line): I’m still having two cups a day, but a third of them I make myself. I have invested $250 in a burr grinder and a French Press. Factoring in the beans I buy, I am saving $25 a month. The equipment is paid for in 10 months.

That’s all great, but the real story is I have learned so much about coffee and how best to prepare it. I have met baristas and coffee-loving folks who are sharing their knowledge and passion with me. The hands on approach is taking my appreciation for java to whole new level. Money can’t buy this experience and I have just a little more in my pocket.

Any other caffeine freaks out there with us?  How do you save money?(or is it desecration to consider finances when thinking about coffee??)

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