A Money Coach in Canada

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My post title was a bit flippant.  But look.  Nobody should own you.  While I’m no proponent of the “tell my boss to shove it and walk off the job” mentality (which says a lot more about the employee than the employer, imo), three things are clear:

1.  If your work life is hell, for instance if you are being bullied, you should have enough set aside that you can walk away from your job to find a healthier workplace, if it comes to it.

2.  Lay-offs happen. Certainly not as much in Canada right now as in the USA or the UK but still, they happen.  You should have enough set aside that this doesn’t totally un-nerve you.

3.  And you can bet there will be more and more Strikes happening as belts tighten around the western world.

So.  The $60,000,000 question is:  How much should you have set aside?

The standard answer used to be three months of your basic living expenses.  (Don’t know what three months of your expenses are?  Shameless self promotion:  you need to take my online money coaching program and find out!)

However, I spoke to a seasoned career counsellor yesterday who said it’s taking about 8 months these days to find a new job in Canada these days.  That’s just his off-the-cuf response, but still. I imagine the stats in the States are  worse. Gulp.  Eight months is a lotta dough to stash away.

Start with this. Start with one month’s worth of living expenses set aside.   Do it within one year and make that your financial project for one year. Force the savings one way or another: straight off the paycheque, into a TFSA or a simple savings account or even your RRSPs.  It will be saving just a little less than 10% of your salary which is the savings benchmark we should be striving for anyway.

Here’s what even one month of savings will accomplish:

  • You will discover the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve got something, something if, god forbid, it came down to it.
  • Secondly, you will grow it further, guaranteed.  Once your initial goal is met, I’d be pretty amazed if you don’t find ways to keep growing it, because it will feel so good.
  • Last, if you’re not already a saver, your self-image will shift.  There’s nothing quite like having something set aside to give a quiet, inner confidence.

If you decide to go for it – please do! – you should check out ING Direct.  Give them this code:  14641937S1 and we’ll both get a little bonus when you sign up.

If it does not seem do-able despite having a regular paycheque, let me recommend my program again.  It’s affordable and will help you get to the place where you can set aside what you need.

Three different people taking my online money coaching program have contacted me recently about creditors who were hounding them, including two who were receiving calls at work.

Here’s one of the emails I received:

Credit cards and debt collection – is there a law stating how many times they can call you in a day? [credit card collections] has been calling me 4-8 times a day for 2 weeks starting at 7:30am! Last week I wasn’t able to answer my phone (mechanical failiure) but this week I can and I just asked to speak to a supervisor, who was of course out of his office.
Any suggestions? I’ve complained to them about this before.

I recognize that I am in arrears with my account, but does that give them the right to basically harass me? Any links / tips would be helpful. thx.

The answer is “NO!  Creditors cannot hound you like that”.  Most Canadian jurisdictions have laws regarding how creditors must operate.

Before proceeding with the resources below, it must be said:   If you are in a situation financially where creditors are hounding you, you need the help of my business.  Listen to this (my story) and take it from there.

In 2003, the Ministers Responsible for Consumer Affairs all across Canada agreed together to work towards legislating limitations on Collection Agencies in their respective jurisdictions.

BC.  According to the Canadian Bar Association of BC creditors can only attempt to call your employer to verify your employment.  They can call you at work once, only if they cannot reach you at home.  In addition, if you request in writing that they contact you only in writing, they must do so.

Alberta:  This legislation (scroll down on the page) applies to collections agencies (as opposed to businesses collecting money you owe)

Saskatchewan:  Collections agencies cannot call you earlier than 8am, after 6pm, or on Sundays or holidays.  There is further protection from harassment

Manitoba: Scroll down to Section 98 for the limits on collections calls.

Ontario:  They can only contact you three times (including leaving voicemail) within a seven day period.  Further information is here.

Quebec:  The legislation isn’t as specific but it provides some parameters

Newfoundland/Labrador:  Scroll down to Section 12

PEI: doesn’t allow them to contact your place of employment at all (see Section 5)

New Brunswick:  has robust regulations.  Scroll down to Section 14.

Nova Scotia:  see Section 20

Territories – sorry – it wasn’t easy to find legislation!  Worst case scenario, contact your MLA.

I don’t remember a season of such unrest as this one. Debt Ceiling Crisis in the States. Riots in the UK. Greece on.the.brink. The stock market plummeting and rising and plummeting. And that’s just in the western world.

If ever I’ve been grateful to be Canadian – land of “socialism” to some, where we riot about silliness like hockey outcomes (I’m not making light of it, just grateful it wasn’t about regimes), land of regulated banks and a good, strong dollar, land of one of the lowest debt-to-gdp ratios – if ever I’ve been grateful, I am now.

And I’m grateful too for our political tenor. Our talk is far from ideal, to be sure, and often very bitter, but so far on the whole we stop short of the vitriol I see in other countries. And we should. If my brief stint in the heart of politics up here taught me anything, it’s that politicians, even those whose approaches are angering, are trying their best to create a system that (in their opinion) will be good for the city, territory, province or Canada.

Which brings me to Jack Layton. I’m no NDP-er (I’m Green, and far too capitalist). But Jack Layton by all accounts was a thoroughly decent person. And we said that about him before he died! He was somewhat of a Canadian-style Obama. Talked sincerely about hope, but without excess charisma. Was passionate about social justice … yet comfortable with something as ordinary as “Orange Crush” (Orange Crush?!?) as a de facto campaign slogan. No celebrities made amazing mashups and sang songs for him, but his mustache sure made the rounds. All so Canadian.

And finally to send us all a simple letter, written to be published after his death, not filled with polished rhetoric, yet closing with these simple, straight-up words:

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

Damn. I’m content to be Canadian.
RIP Mr. Layton.

Photo Credit: Tiffany Trinidad

Buillies aren’t just found on school grounds. There is growing recognition that they exist on the workplace, and they can make life hell for their targets as well as undermine their company’s business objectives by diminishing their targets – and usually their team’s – ability to function effectively.

Why any business puts up with it beats me. At best, it’s wasteful nonsense; at worst it is deeply destructive and sabotages the organization. In my small-business work experience, it would not be tolerated: it’s too easily apparent that tolerating bullying behaviour is a net drain on the business even if it’s by a high-performer.

The following piece is the personal experience of someone I know well. She prefers to remain anonymous for obvious reasons. The experience below occurred in a large hotel chain headquartered in Europe, with over 145,000 employees.

Readers, if you relate to her experience, I’d so appreciate if you leave a comment. I’d like to know how much it cost you personally, because there’s always a dollar value attached, and what you’d estimate its cost was (dollar value) to the company where you experienced it. You can leave your comment anonymously – just fill in fake e-mail and name. I’ll never know the difference.

___________________________________
BULLIED ON THE JOB

Serial workplace bullying is only one of the recognized workplace bullying behaviours seen in today’s business world, and it doesn’t seem to matter which industry or country you are in. Despite legislation or corporate policies, many companies still have ongoing issues of this unsocial behaviour. How do I know? I have been targeted by serial workplace bullies in two countries. I don’t have scientific research to back up my thoughts — I have personal experience and desktop research. This is what I know.

Bullies will continue to be part of the workplace as long as people don’t talk about it. I think it is time to keep the conversation going. And to have a conversation, it is helpful to have the facts.

Bullies don’t target the stereotype of weak incapable staff — they target people who are ethical, just, fair, well-liked, highly personable, strong, independent, intelligent and self-assured.

Bullies are driven by feelings of inadequacy at being able to do their job, and fear being exposed. Bullies envy the target’s abilities, are jealous of their social skills and relationships. Bullies turn their insecurity outwards, finding satisfaction as they attack and try to diminish the capable people around them. Bullies try to project guilt, shame and fear — which are known as tactics of control. It is how all abusers try to gain control over their targets and silence them.

And there is a huge impact on our societies. Bullying affects individuals, colleagues, corporations, organizational productivity and the economy. Many of these targeted individuals either take long periods of leave from work, or they leave, some never finding their feet again. The cost to lives and communities continues to add up. Why do we keep accepting this behaviour in our society?

As I said, I was bullied at work, once in Canada and twice in Australia. After being bullied the first time, and choosing to learn from the experience, when I saw the signs a second time, I had no issue to act and speak out quickly.

In my first meeting with the new General Manager after returning to work from my summer holiday, I was confronted with a finger wagging across the desk at me and the words “I have it on good authority that you…” with very negative words about me coming next. I was appalled. Rather than get to know me, he chose to believe, and repeat the vicious words the two office bullies had started to circulate the weeks before I went on leave. I was the third manager in our team to be targeted in 12 months. I recognized the signs all too well. I had spoken to HR before, now it was directed at me.

When his phone rang, I excused myself from his office and called his bluff. I went back to my office, sorted my emails, packed my personal belongings from my desk and typed up my resignation. Within 30 minutes of experiencing the escalation of the bullying, I left with eight weeks pay.

I also talked about what was going on, to former colleagues, to other managers, to HR — I got it on record. I knew it was my choice about how long I wanted to stay, or leave. This organization had no bullying policy — and no intention of putting one in place. There would be too many staff to deal with if a new policy was written. I knew there was nothing I could do to change the corporate will to stop the bullying.

If you are being bullied, or know someone who is being bullied, learn about it. There is plenty of good information available online. Know that you are not alone, that bullying will not go away through your good behaviour, and decide what you are going to do to look after yourself.

_________________________

Resources for folks being bullied:

http://www.workplacebullying.org/

Your “>EAP

KickBully

Photo Credit: CoalandIce

Are you overlooking hundreds of dollars worth of resources because you think Employee Assistance Programs are just for folks with pretty severe issues like drug abuse or alcoholism?

You should think again. Once I got past that idea, and was convinced of the confidentiality (and the companies who offer EAP know their life depends upon it), I haven’t hesitated to access EAP for all manner of resources.

Over the years I have received, at no cost to myself:

  • 10 weeks of nutritional advice, one-on-one, tailored just for me.
  • 45 minutes of free legal advice.
  • Career coaching that included some eye-popping discoveries and prevented me from wasting time on applying for a couple jobs I would have sucked at (I discovered).
  • And yes, several sessions of the more typical counselling, when I was going through a really rough time a while ago.
  • In every instance, the professional I worked with was absolutely excellent.

    Are you overlooking your EAP plan? I totally recommend finding out what is available to you and accessing it. Why walk away from no-charge-to-you resources which could prove invaluable to you?

    Photo Credit: D Sharon Pruitt