A Money Coach in Canada

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Remember that delicious movie, The Devil Wears Prada?  My favourite scene was the one where Miranda scorningly points out that while it may be politically correct amongst intelligentsia to dismiss fashion, at the end of the day, the colours we all select from our re-used, recycled clothing were determined months and months before by the fashionistas.   We think they don’t impact us.  But they do.  Except we end up wearing just the yucky shades of the colours they’d promoted.  I’ve had a lot more respect for the fashion industry since watching that scene!

Now that I work for government, I’m increasingly aware that government has a similar effect.  Behind the scenes (or sometimes not!) it sets policies that ultimately determine things that matter in our every day life.  Things like if tuition is affordable, if we have generous access to the internet, if more green energy options will be available, if we can book an appointment with a physician:  Or Not.

Who is in power affects us more than is readily apparent.  But it matters.  Most people will know by now about the prorogation issue. Those of us who are part of the facebook group have been challenged:  Are you just willing to click a group link?  Or will you do more?   I’ve done, and will do, more, and today, I challenge you to do the same.   Join me in putting your money where your political mouth is.

Believe minimal government is the best?  And that the government should primarily concern itself with ensuring Canada has a free market?  Give some money to the Conservatives to help them stay in power.

Believe, like me, that business is awesome, but the only good business is one that benefits people and the planet as well as makes profit? (or at bare minimum, genuinely and completely mitigates any negative impact it has on people and the planet)?  Support the Green Party.

Believe that gov’t should be more than bare bones, but rather, a coming together of middle-of-the-road Canadians, to help shape how we want to Be, as a society?  Donate to the Liberals.

Believe that the people who truly make this country work are those who day in, day out, perform the sometimes mundane tasks that create the economy in the first place?  And that we all benefit by helping people who can’t/don’t help themselves?  Donate to the NDP.

I just did.  It wasn’t anything my bank account can’t handle. But I did.  I put my money where my political mouth is.

And when you’ve done that, come back for a revisit of the fabulous Meryl Streep:

So having tweeted and facebook statussed Copenhagen multiple times daily, I was increasingly uncomfortable with the fact that I’m flying to Vancouver for Christmas.   Emissions, much?  (well, 0.7 tonnes to be precise)

Fortunately my friend and former colleague Lucinda pointed out that I could purchase carbon offsets through Offsetters.ca.

They have a handy calculator and payment system – it took me less than 5 minutes to complete – and to my surprise cost only $20Cdn.   The money will be used to install a Windfarm near Marmara, Turkey.

I dearly hope there comes a day when travelling doesn’t pollute, or at least not nearly so much, but until then, I’m happy to cough up a little more dough to deal with it.

I can list the money books I wholeheartedly endorse on one hand.   A new one just got added to the list, and I’ve got one copy to give away to a reader, or someone you care about, who would benefit from some thinking about money.

The Secret Language of Money is not The Secret redux, its title notwithstanding.  Rather, it is a grounded, thoughtful invitation to explore our relationship with money – the ways we give money meaning that it doesn’t really have, and how that plays out in our lives.

If you’re tempted to believe you and I are rational about money, consider this experiment at Harvard, replicated 600 times:

Groups of economists and financial specialists were set in an auction environment and shown a $20 US Dollar Bill up for auction.  In over 600 “auctions”, not once did that $20 sell for less than $20.  HUH?  Exactly.   Presumably this happened because the prize ceased to be about $20, and became about winning.

That may seem a bit far from our every day money realities.  The book brings it all a lot closer to home.  See if some of these don’t ring true:

  • After a setback or disappointment, do you spend a bit of money to feel better?
  • “I’ve already spent more than I planned to.  I might as well go ahead an buy XYZ too, since I’ve blown my budget anyway.”
  • “I lost money in the stock market, so I won’t invest in the stock market anymore!”

Between my work in my life as a money coach (currently on sabbatical, btw) and my own self-discovery about my relationship with money, I have concluded that unpacking our hidden money drivers is imperative if we want any hope of managing our money effectively.

This book will help you – or a friend – do that.  It could be one of the most helpful Christmas gifts you provide someone.

Interested in a free copy?

Leave a comment describing one example of irrational thinking about money you’ve either engaged in personally, or have observed, and your name will go in the draw!   The draw will be next Sunday, Dec. 13th so the book might even arrive in time for Christmas (if you observe it).

UPDATE: Congrats to Nola who was selected by the Random Generator to win the book. Thanks all for your comments — they could form a blog post in themselves! Nola, I’ve e-mailed you. If you didn’t receive it, pls check your junk box just in case. If still nothing, leave me another comment.
ALSO: Thanks to McGraw Hill for donating the books!

I found this Radical (my word) Advent Calendar on the Toronto Sun. Yay, you, Suzanne Elston, for writing this.

It reminds me of one of my favourite quotes, by a remarkable Presbyterian priest/author named Frederick Buechner:

“Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It’s the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too. ”

‘Nuff Said. Read it for yourself.


Photo Credit: StarryNight1

Set up a piggy bank.  During Advent, each day you will contribute to the piggy bank per below.  At the end of advent, choose a not-for-profit to which you will use the savings to write a cheque.


1: For every finger and toe your children have — intact and unblemished by landmines — add 5 cents. Landmines have killed or injured more than 70,000 Afghans in the past two decades.

2: For every female in your family who is free to go to school, pursue a career, or walk openly in the street, add 50 cents.

3: Add 10c for every time you’ve voted in a democratically held election.

4: Add $1 if your drinking water is safe. An estimated 5 million people die every year from illnesses caused by drinking poor quality water. 1.1 billion people lack access to safe water.

5: Add 25 cents for every shower or bath taken by members of your family today. Two-and-a-half billion people lack access to water for sanitation.

6: Add $1 for everyone you know with HIV/AIDS. 270,000 children die of AIDS every year.

7: Add 50c if you can name your family doctor. Add $1 if you’ve paid a visit to his or her office this year.

8: Add 5c for every year of your life untouched by civil war or conflict.

9: If you live above sea level, add $1. The World Health Organization estimates that 150,000 people die every year from drowning in low-lying coastal areas.

10: If you have flood insurance, put a loonie in the box and count yourself lucky.

11: Add 25c for every toy gun in your house (don’t forget video games).

12: Add 25c for every time you’ve called 911.

13: If you’ve had a permanent address for more than six months, add 50c. If you own your own home, add $1.

14: If you have open access to information through newspapers, the Internet, radio or TV, add $1.

15: Add 50c if you’ve ever written a letter to the editor. Add $ 1 if it was published.

16: Add 1c for every book that you own. If you have more than 100 books, add $2.

17: Add 50c for anyone in your family or circle of friends that serves as a member of the armed forces, police, fire or ambulance services. Now call them up and say thank you.

18: Add 50c for every one of your children who attends a publicly funded school. An estimated one billion adults are illiterate. Two-thirds of them are women.

19: Add $1 if you’ve ever sought legal council.’

20: Add $1 if you’ve ever been called for jury duty. Add $2 if you’ve been privileged enough to serve.

21: On this, the darkest day of the year, add 2c for every light bulb in your house. Don’t forget your Christmas lights!

22: If you’re free to visit with friends and family over the holidays, add $1.

23: Add $1 if you’ve sung Christmas carols this season. Add $2 if you sang them in public.

24: When the stockings have been hung by the chimney with care, add 25c for every gift under the tree.

25: If your family celebrates Christmas Day with a sumptuous feast, add $5.

26: If you didn’t recycle Christmas wrappings and boxes, add $1.

27: Add $1 if you had fast food today. One billion people suffer from obesity in the developed world. In the developing world, one billion people are starving.

28: If you have a drug plan, add $1.

29: If you have a pension plan, add $2.

30: If you have ever collected employment insurance or disability benefits, add $2.

31: Add $5 if you attend or host a New Year’s Eve party.


1: Add 10c for everyone you called to say “Happy New Year!”

2: Add a loonie for every member of your family who received a flu shot this year.

3: Add 50c for every member of your family who has lived past 70 years of age. In Zambia, life expectancy dropped from 44 to 33 years between 1990 and 2000.

4: Consider how fortunate you are. And then consider that 50% of the world’s children live in poverty.

5: Sit down with your family and decide where you would like to send the contents of your Advent Sharing box. Suggestions include UNICEF and Oxfam.

6: (The Epiphany) — Add up the contents of your box and then send a cheque to the charity of your choice.

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3493128907_d4e4fc08b9Photo Credit: kanegen

Massive DISCLAIMER – see masthead – I am not a financial planner.  I want to post a wee bit in the coming days on the topic of ethical investing.  But these posts should in no way be construed as advice or recommendations.  Do your own homework, or contact a licensed financial advisor/planner.  These posts are simply my thoughts as a citizen who is hoping to invest ethically and make money at it.


In an earlier post, I mused about general expectations I have for ethical investments.   In short, I’m not looking for perfect purity.  I’m looking for things which are better than the current status quo.  And things I can influence as a shareholder.

Over the next couple years, I’ll be scanning for green energy businesses. It’s a bit iffy, I know, and does not conform to my usual investment principle of looking for companies that have been money makers for several years already.  But I’m pretty convinced that Green Energy remains the Next Big Thing.

Here’s why.

My hunch is that indeed we’ve reached peak oil – ie., we’ve maxed out how much can be produced, and from now on production is going to decline.

BP’s Review of World Energy states: The amount of proven oil reserves awaiting to be exploited fell last year for the first time in a decade. The amount of crude left in the ground was 1.258trn barrels – 3bn less than last year.    Speaking of Canada specifically (the 2nd largest producer in the world), according to the National Energy Board (NEB), gas production in Canada peaked at 17.5 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) in 2001, and has been decreasing since then. 

While this may be contested, the uncertainty is of grave concern to business – how can you do business when you don’t know what price you’ll be paying any given year for your energy?  Even the US Military, the biggest consumer of energy in the world, has clearly indicated they want out of traditional energy sources and want green alternatives.  Not only is it a price concern, it is also a death concern – fuel convoys are popular targets and account for half the American deaths.

So if there’s business incentive to move off of traditional energy, and military interest as well, I’m guessing I will live to see a fundamental shift in energy sources.

Please God, let it be towards energy sources that mitigate climate change!  (as opposed to euphemistically named ‘unconventional gas‘ – or, as I like to call it ‘I know!  Let’s do the same old, same old, but worse!’)


I’ll be exploring:

Which companies build wind turbines?

Which companies build solar cells?

Who builds geo thermal heat pumps?

Readers:   any companies you recommend I investigate?

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