A Money Coach in Canada

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PART TWO (see Part One here)

Rack debt up again – frack!
Whittle debt back down.
Slowly rack debt up again.
Hack furiously at debt.
Outta debt!!! < happy dance >
OOOOOPS – forgot about the car repair payment due but no money ’cause it paid off the debt.
Back in debt.
Discouraged. Pissed off. Get outta town for the weekend on the credit card since it’s racked up anyways.
In more debt than ever.
Forgetaboutit. Just forgetaboutit.

You cannot get permanent results with temporary changes. (Liz said this first)

If pulling out your credit card because you don’t have the money for your purchase is a lifestyle, your lifestyle is out of whack with your income. It’s time to make some permanent adjustments. Will it be painful? Possibly, but not as painful as living with screwed up finances for the rest of your life. And probably not nearly as painful as you might think.

1. Start by getting a real handle on what you’re doing with your money.

2. Have a sober look at your lifestyle. I don’t mean the lattes.
I mean medium/big ticket things like:

  • your choice of transport
  • your choice of home
  • the extent to which you socialize and how you socialize
  • your choice of job (not enough income/location)
  • your bright-shiny-objects (lookin’ at you, fellow geeks).

Are there systemic aspects of your lifestyle that are slowly taking you under? Wednesday’s post asked you to identify some small changes you could make to your lifestyle. Today I ask you to think carefully about the bigger picture. Are there some fundamental changes you need to make, permanently? This is not a quick-fix thing; this is a long, hard look thing that will require serious discussion with other people in your life, identifying multiple options for yourself, selecting the one that is most workable, and the resolve to make a permanent shift.

Wbat’s peace of mind worth to you?  What’s that inner assurance that you are getting ahead worth to you?  The lifestyle changes above are the pricetag.   Over to you.

3. Find ways to increase your income. This is a whole topic in itself. It doesn’t have to mean a second job (but it could). You could start a small home-based business. You could ask for a raise. You could see if your investments could do better. You could actively seek higher-paying work. You could get your teen-age+ kids to contribute a bit to the family coffers.

update: for a recap of all Sept Money 101 posts, click here

Photo credit: Bill Luken


Yes, that Krystal may have done it but dammit, she’s the exception that proves the rule:   If you are hell-bent on getting rid of your debt NOW, you will fail.  Or most of you will.

I feel your stress level shoot up.  Hang in there.

First, some (begrudging) exceptions:

  • If you have a healthy income and a small-ish debt ($500 – $2000), go hard.
  • If you are young or youthful, unhindered by kids, dogs, violin lessons, boyfriends,  with quantum energy to work multiple jobs go crazy.
  • If Frugaliciously You live well and truly below your means, have been for a while, and you’re good like that, go for it too.

But for the rest of you:  those of you who have hit some kind of panicky pissy pain point that makes you think This feels awful and I want this debt of my back NOW, for those of you, listen closely.


If you are serious about eliminating your debt, it requires a long-haul strategy.   A long-haul, day after day after day after day after day after tomorrow and the day after that and the day after and the day after and the DAY AFTER THAT strategy.


So.  What can you do to get started on a serious journey, not a loop-de-loop in debt | workworkworkwork | making good progress | DAMN NOW I’M BACK IN DEBT  journey?

Here are three starters:

  1. Decide on three small, really small, changes that you can make in your lifestyle that you won’t feel.  Think of things like a subscription for a magazine you don’t read anymore; eliminating your land-line and using your cel and skype instead;  switching to public transit to save on parking fees at work (but only if you can really handle it).   That money you saved?  That specific amount (yes, get your calculator and get specific) now goes to your debt every month.
  2. Move your debt to a lower interest debt. Credit cards can be moved to a lower interest card; lower interest card balances can be moved to lines of credit; lines of credit can sometimes be rolled into your mortgage if you have one.  The money you will save in interest? That specific amount (what.  you put your calculator away?  silly you) now goes to your debt every month.
  3. Snowball it.  The money saved in #1 and #2 goes to your smallest debt.  Once that is paid off, combine the money saved in #1 and #2 plus whatever you had been paying originally for that smallest debt and start applying that to the next smallest debt.

Come back Saturday for PART 2.

oh, and if you’re burning to eliminate your debt and take control of your money right now, time for you (shameless plug alert) to take my program.

update: for a recap of all Sept Money 101 posts, click here

Photo Credit:  Firepile

By all accounts it wasn’t fair.

The men had arrived at 5:30 am, the frost still biting on the ground, coffees in hand.   They formed a rough line along the sidewalk, standing facing the street.  Mostly, they were the illegals.  At about 5:40 the first trucks began to appear and man by man they were called over to jump in the back of the truck.  By 6:15 only the motley were left – one with an obviously gimped leg, another whose bleary eyes betrayed the night before, another who just looked too damn timid for the hard work of the fields.

The trucks dispersed across the land to the vineyards where the men expertly got to work, picking, picking, picking.  First the sun warmed and cheered the morning.  By mid-day it was merciless and water breaks were an unwelcome intrusion, but necessary to keep up the relentless pace until sundown.

At 4pm, something unexpected happened.  Another truck arrived, carrying the men who had been left behind in the morning.  Those leftover men got a quick tutorial from a supervisor, and joined in the silent work.  During the next quick break, word got out:  the landowner had a larger quota than usual to supply to the chain store the next morning, and needed the berries picked asap.

Finally 8pm came, and the men lined up for their money –  cash, of course.  The gimped-leg man was first to be paid and word spread like wildfire that he had received a full days wages.  Same with the timid man.  That’s when the rumours flew: The daily rate had jacked up.   The crew of  leftover men received the usual full days wages, but in fact it was only half-days wages because of the new rates.   So those who had started in the early hours of the morning would be getting double their usual today.

As news of this spread down the line, each man immediately calculated what they would do with the extra money and started the math:  What would they make this entire week, then?   For some, it meant something as earthy as a whole lot of booze.  For others, it meant getting some better boots.  Some of the more sentimental among them thought of surprising their children with gifts.

But it didn’t work out that way.   Not at all.  When the first labourer who had started with the early morning crew expectantly held out his hand, he received the same amount as usual, that is to say, the same amount those who had started at 4pm.  received.  He stood there a moment longer, looking at the boss.  The boss shrugged and turned his body to the next man waiting his pay. Same thing.  The usual amount.  And just as quickly as the excitement had built down the line, the disappointing news spread.

Strange how what feels normal and fair at the beginning of the day can be a real letdown mere hours later.

As the men clustered back to the waiting trucks, their tones were bitter.   And their tones were overheard by the landlord who had just driven in to review the day’s harvest.   Seeing the resentful looks, he approached one threesome and asked what the problem was.  Two of the men just looked at the ground but Joe spoke up:  We worked all day for you.  From the cold morning through the heat, all day into the evening.  But your boss gave us only the same amount as he gave the crew that arrived at 4pm.

A flash of understanding and some anger crossed the landlord’s face.  “What is it to you, what I paid them?  Did I cheat you?  Didn’t you agree to the wages at the beginning of the day?  Aren’t those very wages now in your hands?”

The men still looked at the ground, saying nothing.

“Look,” the landlord said, “It’s my money to do with as I please.  With that last crew, I wanted to make sure they could feed their kids tonight and pay their rent – it’s rent day, remember?  Are you angry that I was generous?”

End of story.


  1. In what ways are you resentful of those who seem to have gotten a better deal than you?  (I ask myself this too).
  2. In what ways does our culture set us up for this resentment?
  3. How would it benefit you to instead by content with what you have?

Did your parents set you up with a savings account and ensure a portion of whatever money you received went into that account?

Did they ask you about your kid-sized goals (wishes) and let you know how much you’d need to save up for it, and encourage you in it?

Are you doing the same for your own children?

I cannot emphasize enough how being someone with savings changes you.  And ripples out positively into all aspects of your financial life.

In debt?  Be someone with savings, who saves.

Doing just fine? Be someone with savings, who saves.

Having a rough time financially? Be someone with savings, who saves.

Unemployed? Be someone with savings, who saves.

Have savings but keep plundering it?  Keep saving anyway until one day it clicks and works as you intended.

On a fixed income?  Be someone with savings, who saves.

Single mom?  Be someone with savings, who saves.

And make sure your kids know you are someone with savings, who saves.

Here’s why:

  • Having savings and being a saver assures you deep down there may be times of real struggle but you are never truly broke.
  • Having savings and being a saver embodies the truth that while you may owe others, you are never owned by them.
  • Having savings and being a saver is a freedom gesture from all the messaging intended to lure you into buying stuff.
  • Having savings and being a saver has a mysterious way of multiplying itself.
  • And in addition to that, from time to time it may save your ass.
  • More likely, it will allow you to achieve a financial goal that means something to you.

If you are ready to become a saver, and want some additional strategies and support, my $64 online program will help.  In fact, I’m going to be a bit aggressive and say if you are earning over $30K with no dependants, or over $50K with dependants, yet are not saving anything (living paycheque to paycheque) you *need* to check out my program.

If you’re Canadian, and choose to save with ING (which I recommend) quote this “orange key” 14641937S1 and if you contribute $100 we’ll each get $13 as a bonus.

update: for a recap of all Sept Money 101 posts, click here

Photo Credit: Letterror

Well I didn’t used to put it quite so baldly, but when I read this post Rewrite Your Old Stories and Move On I was reminded of advice I give to clients.

If you aren’t doing well with your money, or if you have an unhealthy relationship with it, you likely picked  a lot of it  up from your family of origin. It’s time to get new parents.

Look around you. Who do you know who has a few years on you, and is doing well for themselves financially?
Adopt them as new role models and seek opportunity to learn from them (or him or her). If you are comfortable enough, start having conversations with them about money. You could ask questions like:

  • What are the top three financial habits you think everyone should have?
  • If you could do one thing differently, what would you do?
  • What do you think makes the difference between people who struggle with money and those who thrive?

Those are reasonably non-threatening questions and if the conversation goes well, you could ask more meaningful or specific questions at a later time.

In addition to asking questions, observe them.  Not creepily, of course!

  • what are the cues to you that they are savvy with money?
  • What about the way they are with money do you aspire to?
  • What are the differences in how they behave with money and how you do?

Readers,  time to chime in!   I’m interested:  What have you learned about money (good things!) from people other than your family?  And what is the best thing about money you learned from your family?

OK – I’ll go first.   From non-bloodline “parents”  I learned how lovely it can be to be gracious with money.   And from my family, I learned the empowerment of creating an income from entrepreneurship instead of a job.   Over to you!

update: for a recap of all Sept Money 101 posts, click here

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