A Money Coach in Canada

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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??)

I’m here at the Entrepreneur’s Business Growth Group, and the guest speaker is from SPUD SPUD– small potatoes urban delivery. I use them — one of the things I spend extra money on (ie organic, lots of local ) instead of the usual grocery stores. Over the year, I’m sure it costs a chunk more (retraction! see notes below), but I want my dollars to go towards: food that is less gm, more local and better for this body of mine.

This isn’t quite ‘live blogging’ as I’d hoped (taking a lesson from Miss 604), but I am typing this on location, and as I hear it and will upload when I get to some wifi!

Speaker:

Darren Stot (with a tantalizing table piece – massive bowl of gorgeous fruit. hmmm…. for decor only? – Later — nope, we got to sample!)Cezanne Fruit

Darren’s been with SPUD for 4 years; SPUD is 9 years, founded by David.

Cool factoids:
SPUD started with: 5 customers, 1 farmer, 2 staff.
Now: 100 staff, 10million rev/year, over 100 farmers, over 5000 customers in vancouver, 7000 across 4 locations. Vancouver, Calgary, Victoria, Seattle. Plan to be in 20 cities over next 10 years. Some have challenged them, “big is bad!” to which they reply: The more that buy from SPUD, the greater impact on environment.

Triple Bottom Line: People.Profit.Planet

Primarily, it’s a Grocery delivery business.
yes, they have a List of Banned Ingredients. eg. nitrates (huh? I’m clueless- don’t know what they are or why they Ought To Be Banned)

potatoes AND
household cleaners
local bakeries, pizzas
ethical bean coffee (some questions are dumb. I asked one. I asked why we buy coffee grown on saltspring at the expense of our neighbours in the south. he explained the beans aren’t grown on saltspring; the beans are processed there. and if you want to go hardcore ethics, choose Cafe Etico = non profit, direct relationship with farmers)

Meat products = humanely reared, organic note: free range can have antibiotics. They sell only organic.

Produce = certified organic
Everything = local (processed here)

speaking of ‘local’, referenced BALLE. Business Alliance for Local, Living Economies.
org that connects local businesses – who then support each other.

Because they sell groceries, but are not safeway/iga, by definition they are a Challenger Brand which requires different marketing, eg. trucks are purple. They do inhouse pr, including guerilla stunts – got a coffin, put a shopping cart in it, had a ceremony on VAG = press

They were first grocery delivery company to turn a profit in north american.

Why? because delivering a unique product, ie, straight from the farm. Kept it small.
Customer loyalty: because sustainable, recycle, etc., customers love them, and stick with you.

The Lovemarks Effect: Winning In The Consumer Revolution

is a book describing how some businesses cause their clients to fall in love with them – cbc, vancity VanCity

(ahem. Apple)- people just love these companies because of what they do. because they invest in the community. 60% of new customers came from present customers. fanbase.

It’s the same price as purchasing organic food from a store.

Question: does organic food go bad quicker?
Answer: yes. so buy it every week and make sure you eat it all!
on the other hand, you get it more fresh, since it’s local.

Q: what are those ‘green bags’ that keep things fresher, longer.
A: don’t know they name, but they work. As fruit goes off, they release ethene gas which makes fruit go bad. Don’t keep bananas or apples anywhere near other fruit.

side tip: Don’t put tomatoes in fridge.

Q: are your dairy products organic?

A. 80% yes; 20% no. and yes, Soya, unsweetened. Yes, rice milk.

REGARDING STAFF
attracts certain people. 8 managers. each one could double money elsewhere, but committed to what SPUD is about. Grocery business = slim margins.
brainstorming. involved in decisions. give ideas on csr. Victoria warehouse: took it on themselves to have ZERO waste. Every single thing is recycled or composted. No waste, at all, leaves the warehouse.

Social purchasing portal = group of businesses that, for example, will employ from downtown eastside. If you do that, other businesses will use you as a business.
For example, VanCity buys from SPUD explicitly because they have hired people from downtown east side.

Students/Interns want to research projects. Advice on how to be more efficient by engineering student; marketing student gave marketing ideas; business students from BCIT gave ideas on retaining customer loyalty.

Biofuels: can come from recycling waste or from cornfields in brazil. Trouble with latter is cornfields get grown for fuel, not food. Chop down rain forests. and you’re still burning carbons. so not always wonderful.

Stat: delivery companies use 95% less energy than a grocery store, they are that more efficient.

1 truck drives efficiently to 100 homes, instead of 100 people driving to grocery store.

also, takes 8 minutes to shop online instead of 1 hr to go to store and back.

…and that was that! informative, and I discovered, frankly, how little I know about the world of organic food, ethics and the food industry etc. Perhaps I’ve been letting myself off easy, hoping SPUD will do the thinking for me.

Also in the group were

Blaise MacClayne, and Teya France (founder of EBBG) who do phone marketing B-2-B

Chris Sturgess, Freedom 55

Diane DeVie, bookkeeper

Kassandra Harfield iris imaging/metabolic typing

Katrina Smith of Thrive Chiropractic Wellness Centre

Robert Wood, lifecoach.

So many businesses get it all wrong and alienate their customers. Then there are others that consistently hit the ball out of the park … just when I thought I couldn’t love them more, they ‘wow’ me again, and I fall in love all over again.

2 local businesses did that this week.

1. Workspace, where Your Money by Design conducts its money seminars, and I see my one-on-one clients, is in my ‘hood, gastown – a place I’m politically passionate about. Yup, I have idealist dreams of those of us with money being Pigeon Parkdeeply respectful and compassionate towards those who are addicted, homeless, mentally ill and marginalized.

I hope businesses bring a good measure of that as they move in and integrate. Workspace just did a lovely, lovely thing last Sat. They pooled together some cash, and bought a whole lot of pizzas they informally gave away to people at pigeons park. How kind is that! Workspace, you make me swoon.

2. Sliced Tomatoes – if you’re run ragged and in desperate need of a civilized meal, these guys bring it to your door. It’s much better than mere meal delivery: they bring the food all good to go but requiring only the cooking on your part. Every.Single.Time. the meal is exceptional. Fresh, organic produce, all chopped to a perfect size. Perfectly seasoned meats. Truly gourmet. The money coach in me knows good value when I find it. Sliced Tomatoes – you gave me a wonderfully satisfying dinner last night, again, on an evening I needed it. Thank you!

I need your help! My holiday plans (trip to Oregon) unexpectedly fell through. So, I’m going to have a ‘tourist in my own hometown’ (of Vancouver) holiday for the next couple weeks. I want to deeply unwind, rediscover vancouver, but also not break the bank. Ideas I have include:

  • day trip to Whistler with a friend
  • Festival Vancouver concert 1/2 price tix, day of concertVancouver Public Library
  • Spend all day at the library (I’m a nerd! and I never get to go there)
  • Monet/Dali exhibit
  • PNE on Saturday (free day!)
  • Book (suggestions? intelligent trash, if possible) and blanket on a beach

Any other suggestions for me?

Our guest post today is from Pierre, who states, “Keeping up with Jones’ is for suckers!) Pierre and I work (me, part-time) at Canada’s best-kept-banking-secret, a virtual bank called http://www.citizensbank.ca, that puts ethics on the table, right on par with profits. Its parent company is Vancity Credit Union. Pierre is the bank’s IT guru.

First of all I’d like to thank Nancy for her warm invitation to post on her blog.

Nancy and I work and the same great company and I have come to really appreciate and relate to Nancy’s love of technology (I’m a techie myself!) but also for the important work she is doing with her website and blog educating people about the basics of money management.

Some of the case studies I’ve read on Nancy’s blog sound like typical stories, everyday folks trying to get by as best they can but needing a little help to get out and over the trap of living paycheck to paycheck.

Unless you are lucky enough to have learned certain fundamentals from your parents or a course in school (I didn’t have one when I was growing up however did you?) basic money management is still a mystery to most.

With the cost of housing here in Vancouver nearly doubling in the span of 5 short years and the average downtown condo going for 300K+ I can imagine that this can be incredibly daunting to most new young people graduating from college with school debt hanging over them.

I am by no means an expert but for what its worth here are some of my thoughts on the subject:

1. Keeping up with the Jones’ is for suckers. The people who have accumulated the most wealth didn’t do so by being extravagant and showy. Many ‘rich’ people I know drive 10 year old cars and live in very nicely decorated but simple homes (not mansions) even though they can probably ‘afford’ much more. This takes a bit of a heart to heart with yourself: What is the most important thing to you and how do you intend to achieve it?

Many people think that more money, bigger houses, fancier cars is the way but more often than not it leads them down a path which feels more like a trap as they find themselves slaves to the monthly payments, a job they hate and often not having time to enjoy these things they’ve been working so hard for in the end. A lot of people would say more freedom and choice is a good thing to have but most won’t see this until they retire given the current path they are on and then maybe only if they are lucky.

Everyone I’m sure would agree that there are enough things to cause yourself stress so why add money to the equation? Instead of spending time worrying about money all the time why not free yourself up to allow for more time with your family, creative pursuits or (you fill in the blank). I can’t reiterate how important this one is but also the most difficult.

Many people get caught in the rat race trap thinking they have to ‘be’ in a certain place at a certain age taking on huge mortgages and debt and living in absolute terror of how they will manage should their situation change? What if they lost their job, what if the interest rate changes? What if?! If you do your best to lower your monthly obligations to a low as possible you will start to feel that freedom.

2. So how do you start to lower your monthly obligations? I don’t even know where all the money goes each month you say! Simple. To start, do up a monthly cash flow budget! [editor’s note: if you’d like a free, easy-to-use cash flow spreadsheet, contact me, nancy, via my business website – link is just below – and I’m happy to e-mail it to you]. Most of the people I talk to that are stressed out about money have no idea where it all goes every month. You need to get a handle on your month cash flow to understand your spending habits. There are some simple techniques (Nancy has suggested some great ones at www.yourmoneybyyourdesign.com).

One of the simplest and most brilliant ideas was one I read about on Nancy’s blog here, was the separate sub-account. Once you’ve calculated your personal budget at every paycheck transfer your ‘spending money’ – in my case this is money for groceries, gas and entertainment – to a sub account and only spend money on those things from there. It will help you stick to your budget and help to prevent dipping into your savings by having two separate accounts. Certain costs are fixed and others are luxuries which add up quickly (Starbucks, eating out etc…). Once you see where the money is going you can allocate self imposed limits.

3. The harder part is trying to reduce some of your fixed costs like the mortgage. Ok, so I’ve got a hold of my monthly spending. Now what? How do I lower my monthly living costs? Stay or move, settle or co-mingle? Considering the cost of housing in Vancouver has doubled in the past 5 years (although salaries haven’t!) I think many people have thought of alternatives. I believe people will be making some tough choices.

More and more people will either resign to raising a family in a condo or you will see a more occurrences of multigenerational living arrangements where parents and children live together, the parents perhaps passing the family home to their children and the the children looking after their parents in their old age. It is also a real help to growing families who now have some help around the house and certainly makes it easier for the any young family considering children if the parents are there and willing to help with babysitting etc.

The latter is not as typical in our culture so my money is on the first scenario, but we’ll see! If neither of these choices sits well with you and you absolutely want the white picket fence dream then moving to a less expensive city or suburb should be a consideration. Locating by public transit can also reduce the need for a vehicle (this is more realistic for single people or couples living downtown who don’t have kids who need to go to piano, hockey ballet etc!!) but can also help couples potentially reduce the need for a second vehicle if communing by transit during the week in as option.
I would love to hear your comments and I also would be curious to hear what you think a bank could do (say in an online capacity) to provide basic helpful advice to help people reach their financial goals.

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