A Money Coach in Canada

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I found a really interesting question posed on a fellow Canadian finance blog. She writes,

I just went to Quizno’s for lunch (I printed off a free coupon off their site!) and ordered a yummy sandwich. I paid via VISA (I’m only allowed 10 debit transactions for free a month) and promptly left. On the walk back to my office I realized that I never signed the Credit Card slip.

Now I know my VISA can be charged directly to my debit account, however, I didn’t enter a PIN, so I know that didn’t happen. The receipt I got shows that it was a VISA and the charge went through, but I don’t know if they can put the payment through if I didn’t sign the slip.

I’ll have to wait and see if it shows up on the ‘net.

This got me thinking – when it comes to company mistakes, how far will you go?

Wow. What a thoughtful question. I recall in my 20s, making a 15 minute trip back to a hardware store to give back a couple bucks for an item they’d neglected. I’d noticed at the time, hadn’t spoken up, but was troubled the whole way home.

I think my de facto m.o. is now: weigh out the cost to the business, plus my inconvenience to correct the mistake, plus estimating whether I’d want the customer to correct the mistake if I were in their shoes. (the answer isn’t always yes.)

How ’bout you?

This morning I sent out one of my “Money Missions” (an e-mail program helping people get super-organized with their money), and for one group, the mission was to choose a not-for-profit, and organize some regular giving mechanism – post-dated cheques, pre-authorized payments, etc.

I had to pause for a moment. The truth is, for the past year, I have given almost nothing, even though I intend to, and desire to. My reasoning until now has been, “I’m building my business”. (Your Money by Design, helping middle-income Canadians become really savvy managing money) “Every dime goes back into building my business”. And it’s true: I’ve been personally living more frugally than I have in my life. And yet. I have cable. I have internet. I bought a gorgeous new mac. I bring in a cleaner for my condo from time to time. And yet I “can’t afford” to give?

Time to change this. I’ve now sent monthly cheques off the the charity of my choice. They’re not massive, but they’re happening. It feels good. It feels right.

I’m pleased to report that the daschunds have cut back on their pricey eating habits. It’s now a mix of kibbles and cooked ground beef (supplemented with carrots, garlic, onion, breadcrumbs), which reduces from about $5 a day to maybe $2 a day.

As for me, I’m doing better, but not there yet. This last week contained 2 unplanned eatings-out (both of which could have been avoided) = $22. Annualized, that would result in $1,144.00 Yikes! I’m giving up a trip to the UK in favour of mad-dash grab-some-chow from McDonald’s or wherever? This week, I’m determined: not one single, unplanned eating out for me! Next step … menu plan.lunchbox.jpg

Money Diva, a Cdn on Vancouver Island who blogs about her own financial life, had a really cool post: she asked people how they make sure they’re never caught short on their automatic payments. I’ve done it. You’ve done it (c’mon, admit it). We’ve all done it – forgotten one month and badaboom, badabing, ching-ching a service charge here or there.

Money Diva’s synopsis of peoples’ responses yielded several good methods:

Some of them were using a cheque register, or spreadsheet, or just keeping track, but I wanted ways that were more dummy-proof than that. So here are seven ways that my readers keep track of automatic payments and make sure they have enough money for them:

  1. Schedule the payments in your Outlook Calendar
  2. Use alerts in Microsoft Money or Quicken
  3. Link your bank account to your line of credit or set up overdraft protection
  4. Use a product such as Manulife One (bank account, line of credit and mortgage all rolled up together)
  5. Have the payments come off a Visa with a large enough limit (and get points)
  6. Deduct all payments at the beginning of the month in your tracking system
  7. Keep a minimum balance in your account

I think that if you use any one of these methods consistently, you should be able to say goodbye to bounced payments forever. So choose the one that works for you, and then sit back and let the rest be automatic!

My own method is to have two bank accounts:

One is at VanCity, and my income goes into that one. I know what my monthly payments will be, so I simply ensure enough income is left there to cover the expenses. Then I take money above the monthly requirements, and transfer the funds to Citizens Bank of Canada. That money is available for my discretionary spending – movies, groceries, dog treats at Bow Wow Haus, taxis, dog treats, starbucks and dog treats.

 

OK.  Last Monday I vowed to monitor my eating and spend less.  Success in some fronts; a couple disasters – entirely avoidable ones, I might add.Success:  did a good grocery shop at Costco.  Nothing like a full fridge to assist home-cooked meals.  I’m sure I cut my eating out by half.
Disasters:1.  Thur.:  gave seminar from 12:30 – 2:00.  Silly me – thought I’d last til 3pm.   One $12 ‘coffee break’ later…

2. Sat:  bought my gorgeous new Mac!  and in the process all thoughts of food fled, but when I went to the bank to work, hunger struck and off to, ugh, McDonald’s.

3.  Monday:  today, again – lost in MacLand, and brought no sustenance to the bank.  So again, off to WhiteSpot this time.

Between the three, easily $30 gone in a flash.  I wouldn’t mind if it was intended – like Sunday brunch at Docker’s – but this was pure waste. Next week, I’ll post my excel results on this.  With any luck my eating-out column (the only one I’ll post!)And, I’m thinking my daschunds may need to modify their dining habits as well!  In with the homemade, out with the high end treats from the Store of Doggie Temptation, Bow Wow Haus.  

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