A Money Coach in Canada

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In these days of financial tension, even the most spendthrift types among us are becoming more conservative with spending.

Life can still feel good.  Here are some five ways to get back in touch with what we already have, and enjoy.

  1.  Squawkfox, who writes clearly and intelligently about stocks, bonds, and inverse ETFs, also includes posts about food (accompanied by drool-inducing photos).   If you’ve got kids, and you’re thinking about hallowe’en, you’ll want to check out her post about gross, scary food you can make.
  2. We all know it feels good, but we rarely do it:  Pare Down.  Sometimes we spend in order to distract ourselves from the clutter in our lives – we are not comfortable in our own home so we go out; our closets are so over-stuffed that we forget our pieces that still fit and feel wonderful; our once bright, shiny toys are dusty and tangled with wires.   Paring down can bring back zen and contentment… without spending a dime.
  3. Apartment Therapy is featuring a series called “Something for nothing: Decorating with CraigsList’s free section”.   Someone in Chicago turned a workshop table into a kitchen island, for example.   Anyone with a toolkit and some creativity out there?
  4. Do you have dogs?  Then you may, like me, have forgotten part of the reason you got them in the first place:  To have fun!  This is a good time of year to play some games with your canine kids.
  5. And then you can always scheme how you, too, can enjoy a 4-hour work week.

Clients come to me for all kinds of reasons.   Many times it’s because the debt level has hit the “panic” threshold.  Many times it’s a general fear of concluding life as a bag lady.   Also:  General frustration with what their finances allow, or don’t allow;  wanting to provide a better future for their kids;  generalized guilt about not managing money;  feeling lack of control;  couples who wish they were more connected about money; chronically not earning up to their potential; sensing their spending doesn’t match their values; just a Yuck factor about money, period ….  it’s nearly as varied as the clients themselves.

And I’m no stranger to many of these sensations myself:   I’m not a money coach because I’m naturally wonderful with money; I’m a money coach because I’m naturally lousy, and lazy, and I’ve managed to learn a few things about how to overcome this.

I’ve also figured out what my real job is both for myself, and for my clients.

It’s to remind myself, and my clients at an individual level, of a fundamental truth about money that’s all to easy to forget.

Jesus gently pointed it out.

Obama’s got it figured out  (5th from the top)

and not surprisingly, I now discover Seth Godin’s got it all sorted too (best bit comes at the end)

ps:  even the Beatles  sang about it here.

Thanks for catching this one, Chris!

I’m distraught.   I missed Blog Action day.  And all the more distressing is that the theme is something absolutely close to my heart:  Poverty.

In lieu, here are some finds on blogs whose authors are more organized than I, who wrote excellent posts on the topic.

Why women are poor in retirement.

The UK Embassy in Russia blogs about how the UK foreign office is partnering with Russia on development initiatives.

Here’s a funny one for people who torrent stuff:   Donate your savings.  Interweb Robin Hood 🙂

Moritherapy found a great video from last years day against poverty.

and a blogger expat in the Caribbean has this little project going on.

And Me?  Here’s what I’m doing.   You likely know about the vigil at Vancouver City Hall as part of Homelessness Action Week.  If I’m really brave (and I hope to be) and if I can find a warm sleeping bag (HINT HINT) for the night, I’m going to try to sleep outside overnight on Friday with the people observing the vigil.   If I can’t get it together or screw up my courage enough, then for sure I will be on the steps of city hall on Saturday at 1pm for the STAND. Local Readers – join me!

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Photo Credit:  SpiritMama

Margaret Visser  has done it again –  taken something as ordinary as saying Thank You and found fascinating things to say about it in a new book, discussed on cbc’s Tapestry  this morning.  Fascinating things like:

1. If someone gives a gift, it’s polite to not immediately reciprocate.  Why?  It stops wars.  Seriously.

Think way back to tribal days.  Fight, fight, fight … then one day someone in a tribe, let’s call him Joe,  offers a freshly killed deer (or whatever) to someone in the other tribe (let’s call him Jim).  Well now.  Jim has a dilemma.   Why would he go fight deer-giving Joe?

So he holds off and ponders what to do.  And as long as he’s pondering, Joe is safe.  Eventually, Jim responds by killing a goat, and brings it to Joe.  Back atcha. But enough time has elapsed that rather than a pure exchange, Joe now faces the dilemma Jim had faced.  Why would he go fight Jim?  So he holds off and ponders what to do.  And as long as he’s pondering, Jim is safe.

Etc.  Etc. Etc.!  And thus is war averted.

2. Learning to express Thanks is more complex than we realize.   Your two-year-old pretty quickly figures out: Hey, the lady’s waving.  That’s my cue to say “bye-bye” and then everyone around me will ooo and ahh.    Your three-year-old pretty quickly figures out:  If I say “please” I’ll get that ice-cream.   But figuring out to say Thanks?  That’s more complex.  What are the cues?  What is the motivation?  Finally of course, all decent kids figure out:  under circumstance A, if someone gives me something, I should say Thanks, although under circumstance B, it’s perhaps not necessary.   And saying Thanks doesn’t provide any immediate reward, it’s just something I do to avoid annoying the giver.

A sign of maturity is when saying Thanks isn’t simply a technical social convention, but something we feel inside ie., gratitude.

3. Gratitude gets us in touch with the transcendant.  For once, for blessed once, we are not self-focussed, but focussed on the giver.   And this teaches us to be human.

As Martin Buber points out:  The truth of being human is gratitude;  what is required is appreciation, a sense of awe and wonder. This indeed is the secret … a sense of awe and wonder, even amazement, that springs from our encounter with the world in which we live.

In short, saying Thanks even in the briefest of encounters, acknowledges the deeply comforting truth:  We are not alone.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.