A Money Coach in Canada

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1. Steve Jobs is dead. A light went out folks.  A light went out.

2. #OccupyWallStreet If you’re not keeping informed about what’s going down in the heart of the financial district, you probably should be. You won’t find much about it in mainstream media (any guesses why) but I’m pretty sure this is history in the making. While there is no one “key message” (which would be a contradiction in terms for the protesters), they do coalesce around these common themes:

  • citizens should be at the heart of public policy, not money
  • corporate money should not have nearly the influence it has
  • a call for society to re-order itself to close the gap between the rich and poor

This protester spoke eloquently to Fox News (and the interview was never aired):

3. And the IMF had some things to say about Canada’s real estate market as had Mark Carney (Governor, Bank of Canada) housing market back in June. Worth the read.

Don’t flame or tase me: I have some praise for the Conservatives. Yes, I’m still Green – I think business, particularly small business, can save the world if given every opportunity, with the imperative caveat that we (businesses small and large) must incontrovertibly demonstrate the way we do our business is of benefit to people and the planet in addition to being profitable. How anyone can argue with this beats me.
So am I a lefty? Progressive? Conservative? I like to believe I defy right | left categories.

Certainly I’ve been known, though, to publicly protest actions of Canada’s conservatives and my most popular blog post is one in which I went ape-shit about how we in Vancouver used to treat our homeless (arresting them for sleeping outside, for god’s sake). My point? I’m not typically an apologist for the Conservatives.

But.

After my month in England and concentrated doses of BBC reporting and the immediacy of what’s gong on in Greece, I have a deepened respect for policies which get and keep us out of national debt. National debt, just like personal debt, gets a stranglehold on a country, and then takes them down.

Consider this: Greece funded its many worthy social objectives with debt for years. Now, it has to pay nearly 20% (at time of this writing – July) on its bonds. Canada only has to pay 0.65% because of our relatively sane debt levels. Yes, I know much of that should be attributed to Paul Martin under the Liberals. But it also is attributable to Michael Wilson (Finance Min. under Mulroney) and also attributable to the perception that the Conservative Gov’t will keep the debt in check.

What does this mean? It means the same sort of thing that it means for individuals. Because we are (relatively) in good shape on our debt to earnings ratio, we are considered a good risk and just like individuals who have handled their debt well and can get the best interest rates on their credit cards and their mortgages, so Canada can borrow money from other countries and its own citizens at the best rates. This translates to more of our taxes going to programs and less of our money going to dealing with our debt.

I’m good with that. If I’m going to be taxed (and I don’t inherently object to being taxed at all; I want to live in a society that funds the arts and takes care of the vulnerable and funds higher education) I don’t want it to be paying off debt, or worse, simply paying the interest. And if the Conservative Gov’t helps us on that, measured props to them.

Photo credit: British PMO office (somewhat ironic, eh? no photos avail from the Cdn PMO)

The snow’s sad drift.
A bed unmade.
Doleful dishes strewn.

My melancholy’s showing.

Everything wrong threatens permanence: We’ll never get better, our global inequities, and neither will I have a fully funded pension and more than 3 weeks vacation when I can mentally let go of my business responsibilities. ever.

Everything right seems of no consequence: My earning power is at its peak but the world is teetering on economic collapse, if climate change and peak oil doesn’t shatter us, every last one of us, first.

Snow sadly drifts.

Why would any thinking person make a bed, clean the dishes, cozily simmer soup in such conditions?

Why would anyone download their business receivables from Paypal and tally up their net revenue and press Send Money to the psychologist who contributed a module to the program,and also press Send Money to the firm that created the site?

Why would anyone respond graciously to an email query laced with tone?

Why would anyone continue saving $50/paycheque for that 6-months-in-Detroit (yes, Detroit) for an unorthodox 50th experience? It’ll never happen.

Snow sadly drifts.

But quietly I root into resources, inner and outer, that pacify. For me:

  • last of a dying breed (see?  even here my melancholy’s showing), a mainstream-religion-member and believer, I content myself in trusting that Another has much more at stake than I do in the wellbeing of planets and poverty-crushed souls
  • and the psychologist and the firm, for them I give calm thanks:  they were good to me.  they were good to me.  So I will gather my energy, enough energy to press Send Money.
  • and the savings, all my little stratagems to realize my desires, created in better moments, these carry on with or without me (thank you, auto savings plans) and they may not reach their goal, or they may.

The snow drifts.   The bed gets made.  The dishes can wait til tomorrow.  I watch a video about Detroit.

Photo Credit:  Opaline Fracture

Sept 2011’s Money 101 post roundup:

What were you taught about money?

How to bust a poverty mindset

Quick chat with John Chow on culturally-shaped attitudes towards money

Cover it Live twitter chat w/ Krystal on how she got out of student debt so fast, and Marcy on common money messes she sees.

Get New Parents (if yours didn’t give you a healthy approach to money)

Saving. Should you save if you’re in debt? and other such questions.

Debt Elimination: Part 1 Part 2

Disappointment Recovery Plan

And of course all the goodness that was my Online Launch Party!

Disappointed with how things turned out?

Yeah, life doesn’t usually turn out how we think it will. And often the way it turns out doesn’t compare favourably to the life we anticipated. Maybe we don’t feel grown up enough. Maybe we don’t have the RRSPs saved we thought we should by now. Maybe we quietly wonder why others have the Audi, the Yaletown condo, the Fluevogs, the weeks in Italy that we don’t.

Regarding money. Disappointments about money. A recovery plan:

1. You are not alone. Know that. Whatever aches, shames, frustrates — you are not alone in being disappointed about your finances. Take comfort in this. Nearly every one of my clients – physicians, realtors, politicians among them – quietly wonder the same thing (admittedly on a different scale). We all face disappointments great and small.

2. It’s probably not your fault. Or not most of it. You and I and our money are shaped by our birth year, by government policy, by what is happening in Greece, and yes, to some extent our will to take control of our finances as well. So cut yourself some slack.

3. Acknowledge that comparing your situation to others is a fool’s errand. Who knows the full story? They may have had other priorities. They may have received an inheritance. And yeah, possibly they have made more financially astute choices to date, but whatever. You are where you are; they are where they are. Let it be.

4. Remind yourself of what’s good in your life. Then take this 30 second exercise to blow your mind.

5. It’s true, you know, that today is the first day of the rest of your life. If you are convinced you can do better for yourself – however you define better – shake off the disappointment or guilt or failures of yesterday and move forward. Move forward.

update: for a recap of all Sept Money 101 posts, click here
Photo Credit: Opaline Fracture Design

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