A Money Coach in Canada

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Many readers will know that being part of an investment club turned my finances – and my sense of competence – around.

One of the members, Clare Hodge, has recently produced a film which is opening this weekend in Vancouver and Toronto (I’m going Sat night, if anyone wants to join me. Bloggerbuddies: Netchick? Miss604? Monica? Isabella? David? ) Note – her post below doesn’t say that several CornerGas actors are in her film. I’ve seen the preview and it’s a fun, must see, imho.


Love and Other Dilemmas, my first feature film as a producer is opening in theatres in Vancouver and Toronto on February 1, 2008. It’s a great romantic comedy about a cursed and pregnant bride on her wedding day. Little did I know that when I fell in love with the character of Ginger Shapiro, the bride, and vowed to bring her to life that it would be a 6 year journey.

I also didn’t know that my personal choices along the way would determine if the film would ever get made. Producing a film is an incredibly complex – and sometimes very boring – process in which the development or scriptwriting, financing or looking for money, and the exploitation or theatrical release takes far longer than the fun part of filming the movie with the actors in front of a camera.

I worked very closely with the writer Deborah Peraya and the director Larry Di Stefano, and we consider ourselves very lucky to have made a feature film in Canada. I like to think that I’m a storyteller but, as a producer, when I say “made a feature film” I don’t immediately think of the characters or the setting; I think of money, risk, negotiations, contracts, clearances, legal haggling and the items we ultimately delivered to our distributor. We made the film in the usual way with the usual suspects: Canadian government soft money, distribution advance, support from broadcasters and, yes, deferrals or investments. What I didn’t expect was that the biggest personal decision I’ve ever made – to buy a condo in Vancouver – would be one of the best advantages in getting this film made.

If you’re a film fan, you’ve heard that Robert Rodriguez financed his first film “El Mariachi” by charging the costs to his credit cards. But what was the interest rate he paid? Instead, I think that having a good credit rating is one of the most important assets a producer can have. That, and an audience – come to see our film! www.LoveandOtherDilemmas.com


I’ll be there, Clare! Best wishes!

ps: here’s another public invitation – I’m part of a bloggers’ virtual ‘progressive dinner’ this Wednesday. Crash the party!

Spare some Change?

“So what’s it like, living with all the bums?” a colleague asked me, upon discovering I live in gastown/downtown eastside, Vancouver (Canada’s poorest postal code). Caught off guard, I didn’t know how to reply.

One thing for sure:  rare is the day when I am not subject to multiple requests for my ‘spare change’.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned a few things that influence my response.

Consider this.  Do you ever experience a /Feed Me Now! / sugar low? Or live with someone who does?  If so, you will know that getting something, anything to eat, fast, is imperative.  Nothing else matters and god help the person who suggests otherwise.

Now, throw this in the mix:  Have you ever had a hair-pulling, frustrating experience with some system – a bank, say, or one of those phone loops from hell? The kind of frustration that leaves you helpless and enraged?   Now imagine those together: you’re in a /Feed Me Now!/ mode while trying to reach a live human being at the CRA.

The ‘bums’ experience this as a lifestyle – and often fly off the handle with those who maybe, just maybe could help.  If they could be reached.

Here’s an experiment.  Take off your watch for a week.  Discover what it is never to know exactly what the time is.  Really.  Try it.  Imagine no reliable clocks in your home or computer.  Yet if you want supper, you must be at the food line at the exact right hour, or you miss it.  So let’s hope you wake up in time for breakfast.

Water.  Most of the ‘bums’ are dehydrated.  Where would you get water throughout the day, as you panhandle?

Speaking of water, you know that grim, squishy feeling you get when your shoes are sopping wet?  And for that matter your socks?  Imagine that as a lifestyle, day in, day out.

Oh, and teeth.  I bet a few readers have known the misery of a toothache, or the ragged edges of a broken filling.  How long would you be polite?

Spare change.

Spare change?

Do I have some spare change?

I’m a money coach.  Most of my thinking and commentary about money is on an different scale and sifting through entirely different matters.

But sometimes, it comes down to the simple question:

Do I have any spare change?

Money coaching is a nascent field, and we’re all kinda pioneering and figuring “it” out as we go along, but the money coaches I’ve met – Sheila, MillionDollarWomen to which a former mentor of mine, LA, belongs, and Steve share one thing, that’s for sure: we want to see people handle their money effectively in a way that leaves clients empowered and confident.

imgp4182.jpgAnd now I’ve met another! Her name is Michelle, and she practices out of NorthVancouver. She, like me, has a frugal streak (but don’t worry! I don’t think everyone has to frugal – and I’m sure not frugal when it comes to my daschunds), all to achieve the greater good, financially. Here’s a little introduction to her:

I was out for a run this gorgeous morning and was thinking about what, if anything, to write for this blog (having never written on one) and my mind quickly wandered off, as it does when I am running, to a whole stream of thoughts and much of them were to do with money.

I was thinking about book club last night and discussing Eat, Pray, Love and then moved on to an upcoming trip and then my mind meandered over to our trip two Junes ago to Italy. For some reason, instead of remembering the great times we had with friends eating and drinking and taking in all the sights, I was thinking about one of our friends on this trip who peppered me with comments throughout the two weeks about how “frugal” I was. He’d say things like, ” how many times are we going to see you in that shirt this trip?” or, with much sarcasm, “hey Michelle are you going to take that roll home with you and make a sandwich out of it for lunch?” It was all in good fun and didn’t bother me a bit (although it irked my husband after about the tenth jab).

Anyway, then I started thinking about yesterday morning, it was cold, and I was really feeling like a steaming cup of coffee at the coffee shop but I thought, no, I can go home and make myself one just the way I like it and drink it by the warm sunny window…ahh, heaven.

Then my mind went to Sunday night and I was meeting my business partner at a local coffee shop and I ordered a decaf coffee misto. As I sat at the table waiting for it, I heard two of the employees talking about how I had ordered a “poor man’s latte”. I laughed to myself.

What do all these thoughts mean? Well, I was really aware of how much “mental accounting” I do on an ongoing daily basis. And why I do it. That is the key question. For myself, travelling is of huge importance to me. It gives me great joy, satisfies my need for adventure, my curiousity about how others live, and adds spice to my life. It is a Big Goal that I am committed to making happen every two years.

imgp4201.jpgAnd how do I make that happen? By constantly doing mental accounting. I use my goal as the gauge and all my spending gets scrutinized in light of that goal. If I buy that “thing” then X dollars is now out of my + side and over into my – side. Is it worth it? Will it help me to get closer to what I really want? It is something I do almost unconsciously, like tying your shoes. It has become a habit and it seems to really work for me. I will be in France in June for two weeks taking in the sites and food and people.

Au revoir and thanks for reading my first blogging attempt!!

Welcome to the blogosphere, Michelle!

Michelle can be reached at 604-985-9391.

Check out her gorgeous website too!

Over to you, readers: Do you have any methods that help you reach your goals involving money?  We’d love to hear! 

1. Yeah! Having been sans cel phone (yes, it’s possible) for over a year, because I so HATE getting into 3-year-freaking-locked-in-anythings Peter, who gives us Useful Crap (sic) found what sounds like the best celphone plan in Canada. Believe it or not, it’s offered through I’m going to check it out, and once again I may be accessible by cel.

Totally dumb question: does anyone know, could I use an I-phone on this plan without too much crazy hacking (of which I know nothing)? John?
or Dave the iVacationer?

2. BC Hydro found an extreme frugality hack using bread clips to cut down on your hydro.

Umm, thanks. I guess.

3. And Apple shares tumbled 11% today along with all the others. Hmmm…. to buy? to buy? I wonder what mariam would do?

ps:  if you’re going to Hawaii, say aloha to WoolyWoman’s Blog, where she posted on how to get better meals for less money on Kona.