A Money Coach in Canada

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I work with a number of couples.

This year, two couples had a very specific issue:  the women were disappointed with their husbands’ paycheques.

It’s interesting.   While I’m guessing the romance didn’t include discussions along the lines of, “I love you because you’re smart and funny and honest and because you make $60K now and I imagine that will only increase” …. at some level, the question of earning power played into the mix of why the women committed themselves to these particular men.

And while I’ve yet to find hard data supporting the theory that finances are one of the leading causes of divorce, it won’t surprise me if a study comes out that corroborates this.

In these cases, I had no easy answer to offer.  For their own all-too-human reasons, indeed the economic promise of these men did not materialize.   This means  the couples have to examine their own understandings of what it means to be married.  Like it or not, for most of us “being married” still has a cool, hard business angle to it.   “Being married” is (d’uh) a different state than “being in love.”   And more often than not, as the years go by in marriage, the business factor outweighs the being in love factor if there is a significant discrepancy between present reality and early promise.

I haven’t yet met with a couple where the husband was re-evaluating his relationship with his wife because she wasn’t earning enough.  But I imagine that day will come.

Today’s guest post is by Franklin Roosevelt.

He took office in 1933, as the great depression sank to its depth.  Here is his words to the American people in his inaugural address.   See if they don’t sound remarkably like words we need to hear today:

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.

The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.

Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.

Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation asks for action, and action now…

…Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order; there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people’s money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.

There are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new Congress in special session detailed measures for their fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance of the several States.

Through this program of action we address ourselves to putting our own national house in order and making income balance outgo. Our international trade relations, though vastly important, are in point of time and necessity secondary to the establishment of a sound national economy. I favor as a practical policy the putting of first things first. I shall spare no effort to restore world trade by international economic readjustment, but the emergency at home cannot wait on that accomplishment.

The basic thought that guides these specific means of national recovery is not narrowly nationalistic. It is the insistence, as a first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various elements in all parts of the United States—a recognition of the old and permanently important manifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer. It is the way to recovery. It is the immediate way. It is the strongest assurance that the recovery will endure.

In the field of world policy I would dedicate this Nation to the policy of the good neighbor—the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others—the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors.

We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of the national unity; with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values; with the clean satisfaction that comes from the stern performance of duty by old and young alike. We aim at the assurance of a rounded and permanent national life.

We do not distrust the future of essential democracy. The people of the United States have not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I take it.

In this dedication of a Nation we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come.

2908287561_f2f56996e8_m.jpgMake no mistake:  I remain a hardcore lefty.

But I am sympathetic with those who support Sarah Palin.

Here’s why.

The economic sophisticates in the financial sector and the super-brains (George Bush aside, there were plenty of highly educated and intelligent people around him) in the White House have unequivocally failed the American people.

New Orleans.   Current financial disaster.

Small wonder then that “credentials” and “experience” count for little: they did nothing for the six-pack-American.

Aside: This is somewhat analagous to my money coach clients.   Many have been faithfully socking away into RRSPs, never quite clearly understanding what they were doing, but entrusting their precious dollars to their Financial Planner.   Two things frequently occur.   1.  Their investments don’t do much of anything, and the person remains confused and uncertain, despite putting on a polite, brave face to their FP.   2. The issues of more immediate concern – how to get out of debt, how to spend less, how to manage the day-to-day  issues – these are bypassed by the financial “experts”, yet is the area most pressing for many people.

Back to Sarah.

Enter on stage someone who may not be sophisticated in things like “The Bush Doctrine”.   But something about her strikes your average person (being average is not an insult!  I’m one of them!  I refer to all the good people who day in, day out, do the humble or middle-management solid work that keeps us all going) as trustworthy.   As someone who won’t dupe anyone with gobbledy-gook language that ends up in economic disaster.  And as someone who really might, just might, set aside those very sophisticaterati (my word. dumb, but you get the idea) in favour of principles and straight-talk that ultimately work in favour of the American People.

And here’s another thing.  Re: the war and fear-based.   I want the US cleared out of Iraq and I want diplomacy to be resurrected.  But I also know what it is to be bullied.   And I know what it is to have the authority figure suggest we “work it out” which was fine except I was left with either literal or emotional bruises while the bully smirked.  What was really called for was a clear demonstration that the bully would not have the opportunity to strike again, full stop.   So I wonder if we lefties, with our smooth talk about diplomacy strike others as the “let’s work it out” types while Sarah seems to step up to the plate and say “no more”.    If you perceived yourself as threatened, who would you vote for?

I’m not so sure it’s a Republican/Democrat tension in this case so much as a:   Who will reflect me, and my humble interests?  Who will advocate for me?  Who seems, for once, thank God, to not have a vested interest in anything other than the good of six-pack joe-ette average?

I desperately hope Obama is elected and will be heartsick if not.

But regarding Sarah Palin, I think we’re too easily dismissing her appeal.   Just sayin’.

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   photo credit: DavidCrow

There’s office politics, and then there’s office politics.

I suppose because most of my career has been spent in the education sector, which tends to attract people with an altruistic streak in them, I have managed to escape truly nasty work situations, with one notable exception.

In addition, having several years of entrepreurial income has given me a real sense of possibility, ie.,  not being locked into something because of a paycheque.

Some people are not so lucky.   Workplace mobbing by coworkers,  bullying bosses, and corporate cultures who haven’t yet created their “No Asshole Rule”  (if Harvard Business Review can publish the word, I’ll use it just once on my blog).

Women and men, competent, caring and fundamentally decent human beings, stay in work situations that destroy their morale, take sometimes tremendous tolls on their health and spill into their private lives.

Readers:  have you experienced a job situation from hell?  Did you stay, or leave?  Why do you think people put up with these situations for so long instead of moving somewhere where they can contribute and thrive?