A Money Coach in Canada

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A week ago today, one of my most trusted, intimate friends wrote me off. For good.

This was no ordinary friendship. I hesitate to use the word “soulmate” which has a slightly ethereal sound to it. I prefer to say this was a “friend of the soul”. The relationship was characterized by mutual regard, transparency and fierce loyalty. This, in addition to intelligent conversation, mutual shared values (!), seeing one another through some extremely tough times, and a hell of a lot of fun over the six years. We’re lucky to encounter this in our lifetime. And I certainly believed with my whole heart that this would last a lifetime.

But there was one aspect of me that bothered my friend, which bothered me, and it would erupt and disrupt repeatedly. Repeatedly, but not chronically.

In my perspective, it was entirely tolerable, and came with the territory of genuine intimacy. If the friendship were a ‘pie chart’, maybe 5% tops would be allocated to this conflicted area. The remainder would filled with, well, the qualities mentioned above.

To my friend’s perspective, it was too much. It exceeded my friend’s ability, much less desire, to see past that to the (in my perspective) weightiness of all that was true and good.

So after six years, I was written off (by e-mail no less).

As you can imagine, after recovering from the initial blow, it has caused significant introspection.

Questions I am grappling with are:

  • How is it possible for humans, in all their glory and their mess, to write one another off, ever? (and yet we all, me included, do it routinely in one form or another)
  • To what extent do we, as a culture, easily treat one another as disposable? Why is that?
  • What is the cost of friendship? What are appropriate measures by which we decide if another human is “worthy” of our ongoing, committed friendship? (I once had a friend who was Always Late – an hour or more. It nearly did us in. Thankfully, I relaxed, she moved to the ‘burbs, and we found other ways to stay connected that didn’t entail me sipping my 10th latte. But what if it hadn’t improved? Would I have written her off?)

So now I suppose I will go through the stages of grief. But the questions haunt me: what is the cost of friendship? How is it possible to write off a person? a person?

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photo credit: megyarsh

Blogging buddy Squawkfox (I love her blog, and you will too) wrote a post on 50 reasons to stop using plastic bags.

So good was the post that MSN money picked it up! Yaaaay, Squawkfox!

I thought it was a great piece and frankly, a no-brainer, ie., why wouldn’t we use canvas bags for shopping?

Well some of the 200+ commenters on her post didn’t agree:

  1. I don’t care whether or not my plastic bag will be around 50 years from now.  Really, I don’t.  Let’s concern ourselves with how to turn our economy around and get inflation under control.  The media loves to jump on a “fad” until the next one comes along.  Give me a break!
  2. If plastic bags are banned how the heck am I going to pick up my dogs business in public places?? paper is not suitable..maybe I can carry a roll of saran wrap for collecting  that crap or better yet put a diaper on the dog… oh wait, that also made of plastic.. damn I guess I better get rid of the dog… now about the catbox ….
  3. well, too bad.  i need them for my trash can.

You get the idea.  And there were quite a few like this sprinkled in the mix.

Wow – I guess I’m more left-coast than I thought.  I don’t get it.  Why isn’t using canvas bags a no-brainer?

You can guess what I’d do with it:  social housing.

But there are lots of other great options:

  1. increased/improved public transit
  2. investing in alternative energy
  3. helping out the Cambie merchants

 Readers:  it’s your money!  (if you’re in BC).  What would you want the provincial gov’t to do with it?  (and giving it back to us is an option too!)

In my years as a money coach, I’ve met with hundreds of people who have privileged me by opening up about their financial situation. The majority of my private clients are high income: $80,000 – $200,000 salary – realtors, film industry, professionals.

In the mix there has been another sub-set: women in their 50s with no money to speak of.
Often it’s not for the reason you’d think. It’s not so much about the traditional Waiting for the Man who Never Came as this: they have lived lives based on their ideals, and forgot to include the sexiness of including a solid investment portfolio in the package.

They have pursued their dreams, things like travelling the world to do good, working for causes at low pay, or pursuing passions that didn’t pay off.

We’re lucky to have these women amongst us.

They come to me because at this stage of the game, it’s sinking in: retirement is a decade or so away, and they are unprepared. Other markers include having such a narrow margin between income and expenses that they are having to think seriously about things like whether they can buy a pair of $80 shoes or not. (I don’t mean chronic lifestyle overspending here. I mean a fairly basic, normal expense).

My message to them usually goes along these lines:

  1. Part of being an empowered woman is a healthy portfolio and the ability to go toe to toe with any suited financial planner and know what they’re talking about.
  2. If something is truly “meant to be” it will include the financial resources to be prudent. If it doesn’t include that aspect, no matter how compelling, it probably is not, in fact, “meant to be”.
  3. There is still time to get on solid ground. It will take intention, and action. The starting place, unlike most of my clients, is not how to cut back even further, but to figure out how to increase their income. And that is their first task.

Photo Credit: Liz Noise
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Happened again. The VPD  kicked a few homeless awake in the morning, at Pigeon Park this time. I wonder if Kim Capri is going to use the “the grass might catch fire” excuse again, for this concrete park? Photo courtesy of Blackbird.

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