A Money Coach in Canada

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Sometimes people really are broke.

Not the I can’t take the holiday I want this year broke, but the world is closing in on me, and I’m going down broke.

Tell-tale signs of the real deal include

  • inability to pay bills on time, over an extended period
  • chronically “robbing peter to pay paul”  (ie. using money intended for one thing to cover something else)
  • no cash for saving or investing
  • scrambling to pay rent/mortgage over an extended period
  • sleepless nights

Sometimes even these extremes are simply a matter requiring better management of income.   But usually when this is a chronic lifestyle, it’s time to acknowledge:   I’m broke.

This is not the end of the world.

It’s a starting place to take stock, and plan a course of action.

Here are 5 initial steps to take.

  1. Determine that an increased income is your top priority. It trumps your relationship.  It trumps  having fun.  It trumps any preference to avoid the situation.  And against nearly every life coach, dare I say:  It trumps (for now) pursuing your passion.  This isn’t a downer, folks.   It’s a deep recognition that you are in charge of your life.
  2. Take stock.  Do it on paper.  What are the most critical financial needs you have?  What resources are available to you?
  • Write out: with as much clarity as possible, your exact financial situation and cash flow needs.
  • Research:  Are you eligible for any sources of funding such as insurance or benefits or employment insurance?
  • Collect:  Does anyone owe you money?  Or favours?  How can you collect, strategically? Who could help you out, if it comes to it?
  • Seek:  Do you have any forgotten treasures?  Assets you could liquidate (craigslist helps)? Term deposits (which can usually be broken in serious circumstances such as job loss/medical issues)?  Savings accounts?  even RRSPs (last resort)?  unused Lines of Credit or credit cards?
  • Call:  Which creditors can you call to ask for some temporary relief?

3.  Relentlessly seek ways to improve your income. Heads-up:  You need to be strategic here.  In the gut-wrenching anxiety of the moment, you may be tempted to take any old job.   Unless it pays enough to give you financial lift over time, “any old job” probably won’t cut it.  It will simply prolong your situation, while it consumes your precious time.  Ask, and keep asking, “how will I obtain the income I require?”

Here’s an exercise.   For one month, every night before bed (so the ideas can settle and morph in your subconscious overnight), write at least 3 possible things you could do to obtain adequate income.  By the end of the month, you’ll have nearly 100 ideas.  Allow yourself complete freedom to write down anything.  Sometimes crazy ideas make you a millionaire.     This exercise also trains your mind to be alert to possibility.

4. Deliberately be gentle with yourself. It’s possible you will take a number of hits until things turn around.   Don’t beat yourself up in the mix.   Give yourself a break.  Hang out with friends who truly care about you.  Ask for help, where you can. Identify places to go (literal or figurative) that nurture you.  Respect your own privacy – come up in advance with your own key messages if people make enquiries.  Press yourself into your faith praxis if you have one. Continue with yoga and meditation if it’s part of your life.  Keep yourself inspired, for example, read stories of others who struggled and lived to see another day (of course you will too!).  Above all don’t let your current financial circumstances define you.   You are So.Much.More than your financial life.

5.  Firmly ground yourself in the fact that this too shall pass.  Canadians who have not been broke at some time are the exception.   Much as we valorize people who build wealth steadily, almost everyone has had really tough times.  It doesn’t last.  Take it from one who’s been there!

If I took my conscience shopping everywhere, I suspect I’d stop shopping.

I had two facebook interchanges on the topic this week, one of which also reminded me of a Lululemon issue.
Here are the discussions. What do you think?
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1. To Foie Gras, or not to Foie Gras
Facebook: 28 June 12:47.
Christopher Flett is a business coach extraordinaire, for women. Working with him gave me tremendous lift-off when I started my money coaching business.
Here goes:

Christopher Flett: Kits Farmer’s Market:Just told to “F&CK OFF” by animal rights activist because I like Foie Gras. Full story here: http://tinyurl.com/l5trs8
28 June at 12:47 · via Twitter · Comment · Like

Nancy Zimmerman at 12:52 on 28 June
I’ve been confronted to do a lot of thinking about this kind of issue because of the whole seal hunt thing up here. One question to myself, to which I don’t know the answer but it’s a good question, is: To what extent do I accept responsibility for the humane treatment of the animal that ultimately I eat?

Rikia Saddy at 21:37 on 28 June
I too believe in the circle of life, but I can’t see the point of torturing animals before we eat them. There are many delicious foods that don’t require shoving a hose down the throat of a goose and forcing in 3 pounds of grains and fat, several times a day.
Isn’t a normal-sized goose liver sufficient?

Christopher Flett at 19:51 on 29 June
No it isn’t. If it was, we wouldn’t have to feed them extra helpings.
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2. Made in China
This is an on-the-ground perspective from a former client of mine who sources materials for her company overseas.
(She wrote from Thailand, btw!)

Saw your status and wanted to comment (since I’ve just spent the past week and a half visiting factories in Asia!) Definitely in China health hazards are a plenty. As you can imagine, clothing is ridiculously dusty (especially anything cotton related such as cotton spinning) Every time we do a visit we look for such hazards and the factory owners always tell us the same things… they educate the workers on dust hazards and provide masks but the employees don’t comply.

I’ve been to cotton spinning mills in India and after a 2 hour tour, my nose tickles for days! The factories are usually in hot places so the workers refuse to wear the masks since it’s already so hot without masks on. Don’t get me wrong, I totally don’t agree with it, but I have seen some factories genuinely try to enforce rules to no avail (and for the past few years if an employer got really strict, employees would just move to a more lax factory: I suspect that’ll change a bit now with the slowdown)

Anyway, my two cents after having seen the manufacturing side of things! Manufacturing is certainly a crazy world, don’t even get me going on the labour end of things! A lot of people’s perceptions is that people like Nike produce in sweatshop environments. In actuality, large brands (Nike, Patagonia, mec) are leaders in making improvements in health/safety/pay by ensuring that work hazards are minimized, overtime is paid etc… it’s hardly a perfect world and factories don’t always comply but with more and more brands coming on board it’s getting better. It’s the “no name” brands or knockoff brands (where price is the number one concern) that have little/no standards. Anyway… I digress!

I think the whole manufacturing/3rd world thing is very catch 22.

I’m still torn everyday on what I feel is right or not. The sewers (the workers, not the plumbing system!) make a base wage of less than $5 day (there’s a lot more money to be made in incentives though) and by Western standards, that’s hardly a lot of money. Then again, most of the workers are under 25, without an education and live in factory dormatories (hardly luxurious) accommodations. Then again, they are able to send home at least 50% of their income to their families (typically dirt poor farmers) which is not something that I’d be able to do in Canada! So, because of our Western greediness, the farmers kids move to the factory towns to be able to send money home to support the rest of the family. So does that mean that by buying things we’re exploiting the workers? Or would they be worse off if we didn’t buy anything? The issue I have is if companies (such as lululemon) keep shifting where goods are made because labour costs get too expensive (labour costs in China have been increasing at more than 10% a year for the past few years) and start giving up the Chinese factories in favor or vietnam, bangladesh, etc… that’s where I think the “west” gets exploitative.

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3. Lululemon and child labour
Before Lululemon became a public company, but well into its meteoric rise, I attended a grass-rootsy talk about fashion in Vancouver. Chris Chip was a guest speaker, and discussed sourcing his materials. Apparently he had hired a few young girls in his factories overseas. He openly discussed his dilemma: Odds are that if he didn’t hire the young girls they’d be in the sex trade instead. So what, he asked the audience, would we do in his position? Turn them away knowing the alternatives? Hire them and feel good about providing a safer situation? Hire them and feel lousy about child labour?

To collect, see the very last part of this post. If I haven’t heard from you by Canada day, I’ll move on to the next person on the random-machine generated list. Congrats and enjoy!

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When I was a kid, China, like Russia, scared the crap out of me.  It was communist.  Communist China.  People who shared my faith, Christians, got tortured there.  In fact, lots of people got tortured there.  WE might, under very rare circumstances, be allowed to visit, but Chinese people could never visit us because they were locked inside. It was a secretive, faraway, very scary country.

It’s such a different story now.  We witnessed the opening ceremonies stream from Beijing. I’ve enjoyed getting to know several immigrants from China. And above all it’s become nearly impossible to purchase anything that’s not made in China.

Can you relate?

Let’s get familiar with this new super-power, this country that has encroached our lives every which way. This money coach found some econ 101’s:

China makes

  • 1/2 the world’s clothes
  • 1/2 the world’s computers
  • More than 1/2 the world’s digital electronics
  • More than 3/4 of the world’s toys (ed note:  uh-oh)

Factors that make this manufacturing do-able by China

  • 104 million workers
  • 1/10 of the wage compared to Europe and the US
  • for every $1 sale in the US of designer clothers, the manufacturer receives 10¢
  • workers can work up to 18 hours a day in busy months

To create these goods, China uses

  • 1/2 the world’s iron ore
  • 1/3 the world’s aluminum
  • 1/2 the world’s copper
  • nearly 1/2 the world’s hard coal
  • nearly 1/10 the world’s oil production (ed note: that’s less than I’d thought.  I guess because they use coal instead)

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I got these stats from an offbeat but very intelligent magazine called The New Internationalist. It’s introducing me to all kinds behind-the-scenes stories that affect my every day life.  If you, like me, want to be better informed, I recommend subscribing!  It’s causing me to see the world differently – in a good way.  (no, I get nothing for the pitch! I am just really impressed by the mag.  And they use a creative commons license – what’s not to love?)

Off topic.  Courtesy AbsoJesus

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