A Money Coach in Canada

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Pop quiz!  Right here, right now, what do you know about your own money?

  1. What is your take-home pay each  month?
  2. On each of your credit cards, what is the interest rate?
  3. What is your credit rating (score)?
  4. When (which year) will your mortgage be paid off in full (if you have one)?
  5. How much disposable income do you have left for this month?

WELL?  How did you do?  These are all questions about the core of our financial lives.  FWIW, I didn’t know the answer to one of these questions myself, which just goes to show, effectively managing money is an ongoing process and even money coaches need to remind themselves of that fact!

It’s financial literacy month, so if most of those questions left you scratching your head, why not book yourself a couple 30-minute dates with your money before the end of November?  If you want to boost your financial literacy (after all, it’s your own money), you know where you can find help.

Photo Credit: Dave Bleasdale

It almost has a cult-like feel to it, but I don’t think it is one.

Maybe the fact that it feels a bit like one reflects how off-course our collective thinking has become. Sometimes we need to, nearly literally, re-wire our neural pathways. This is what Byron Katie helps folks do.

The rewiring ought to result in greater peace, energy and mental clarity – surely something we’d all do benefit from regarding our approach to our money!
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So here’s the pitch.

We can and should challenge each of our distressing thoughts about money (or anything else, for that matter) by asking the following 4 Questions:

1. Is it true?

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

4. Who would you be without that thought?

and the last challenge is to invert that thought and corroborate that inverted thought with examples.
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For example:

Thought: I might die a bag lady.

1. Is it true?
Well, of course, it might not happen. But it could. And that scares the hell out of me.

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
Uhhh… no.

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
I panic inside. I feel discouraged, hopeless and don’t even want to think about money

4. Who would you be without that thought?
Hmmm. I would feel a lot more serene. I would be more confident and optimistic about my finances, and feel better about paying attention to them. I would no longer engage in self-destructive financial habits. I might even learn to invest and start to build myself a nice little nest egg!

And the turnaround inverts and corroborates the thought:

I am not going to die a bag lady.
Corroboration: I have a job and I actually could live a bit more simply and start building a nest egg. | I have relatives who will leave me an inheritance. It isn’t much, but that will supplement my Old Age Security, and it could supplement my own savings quite nicely. | I am addiction-free and mental-illness free and generally healthy. That does not fit the profile of bag ladies!

The last bit, the turnaround, is designed to open our mind to new ways of thinking which align just as fully as our original thought. It may feel unreal, or unlikely, because we are so accustomed to one way of thinking that these new ones are hard to believe. But over time, our neural pathways should rewire and open up in ways that reduce our anxiety and enable us to relax more about money.

Katie’s site gives tons of free resources. Go play with your brain for a while!

Anxious about money? Even paralyzed just thinking about it?

Over the next few days I’ll be posting various ideas and possible techniques to break free so that you have the mental and emotional energy you need to deal more effectively with your money.

Here’s one not-the-usual option. It’s called EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique. It’s a distant cousin of its more mainstream (and generally accepted by professional psychologists) technique called EMDR .

I recently tried it out on a non-money-related matter to good effect. Did it resolve everything? No way. But it certainly helped calm my anxiety and furthermore created some new possible ways of thinking about the issues.

I’ve embedded a video below that will lead you through the technique. You can find more details on this website here or via a google search. I also recommend a FB friend of mine, Sue Burness. I did a session with her resulting in a couple remarkable insights. You may also be happy to hear she has a pay-as-you-can policy.

James is a current client working through my online Money Coaching program. Here’s what happened when he completed module 2. It wasn’t easy. But it was good.

Dear Moneycoach:

Wow, what can I say… First of all, Happy New Year!

Speaking of the new year, I can tell this is going to be a year of growth for me in many aspects, including of course, the financial. Wow Nancy, going through modules 1 and 2 of your program, I have felt a whole set of emotions, going from excitement, to fear, to shock, depression, shame and now hope and possibility.

As I wrote to you before, I began with excitement, knowing that I will finally have tools in my hands to be able to be free from financial anxieties. I went through module 1 and that was fast. I noticed I had three credit cards and I took one out, so my wallet currently has two credit cards, the ones with the least credit limit. I had little problem with that.

Module 2, now that’s a different story. First, I unconsciously and consciously avoided going through it. But you know what they say, it is precisely those things we tend to avoid, that when finally undertake them, we experience the most growth. I think I avoided going through it because I felt fear of what I might find out.

Once I got a hand of my bank statements and started adding things up in your spreadsheet, I was shown a clear picture of why I have been stressing lately. I was shocked! I was shocked to see that if I tried to pay more then the minimum of the credit card balances, I wouldn’t have much cash left for me for the whole month. From there I went to feeling quite depressed and ashamed after realizing how careless I have been. I clearly had not been loving myself. But I do now, and once I have the big picture, I have realized that with a little effort, I can have a better grasp of where my money goes, and make decisions. I actually feel quite encouraged now, I know that this is the year I turn it around.

Thank you for devising this program and I can’t wait to get on with module 3. If I were to make a suggestion, I would make the meditation around money available throughout all the modules. When I was feeling all depressed, I felt I was needing something like that to help me reassure me that I’ll be fine.

FInancially, hopefully, yours,

James

Women, I’m agitated.

A g i t a t e d.

And my bottom line, which I’ll get to, is: It’s really, really, really important that we, as part of our definition of being self-possessed women, have our collective financial acts together.

What happened was this.

For lack of an iPad or magazines, I watched Dr. Phil on the flight down to Vancouver and my stomach has been quietly churning ever since. It featured a young woman, now 23, who had videotaped her father, a Judge, whipping her with a belt under the guise of “discipline” when she had been 16.

This was in 2004.
Not 1955, 1765 or 1800.
2004.
2004.

It was a barbaric, violent act against a woman to begin with, but two further aspects have me nearly choking down vomit.

1. The first was the mom, who later was clearly remorseful, but at the time, do you know what she said to her daughter? What she said was: Lie on your stomach and take it like a grown woman.

WTF?

WTF?

WTF TAKE IT LIKE A GROWN WOMAN? What’s that supposed to mean? What?

2. The second thing that sent me over the edge is that a sizeable portion of the online commenters not only thought it was ok, “kids these days need discipline”, but thought she was in the wrong for posting this and shaming her father. I know, I know, I know that online commenters tend to be the oddballs of society with time on their hands — or so we should hope, anyway, judging by the quality of most online comments. But still!

So in 2004 we have judges who think it’s ok to whip their teenage girls and mothers who think women should lie on their stomachs and take it, and a whole lot of folks who think that it’s justified to use height, weight, strength, belts against 16 year old girls. In North America.

I’m obviously not ok with it, and I’m hoping to hell you’re not ok with it either. Not at all ok with it. I hope society steps up, and with due process, seriously sanctions the father, the judge. I hope society overwhelmingly condemns this act.

But I doubt it will.

I doubt it will, because women are still not equal, or perceived as equal, or perceived as powerful. If we were, would a man dare to treat a woman like that?

Which brings us back to us women and money.

Being organized with your money isn’t about that great holiday. It’s not about feeling good about yourself. It’s sure not about buying Fluevogs (which is not to say I don’t!)

BEING ORGANIZED WITH MONEY IS ABOUT POWER, AND DON’T ANY OF US FORGET IT.

Our place in the world – such as it is, and after engaging in this episode I’m wondering if we’ve come that far after all – has been, and will be, hard-won. It’s been won by women courageously facing scorn and criticism and derision (not unlike that heaped on #occupy folks) who persevered in insisting women should vote, even at the cost of being brutalized in jail. It’s been won by women who wore themselves out being both moms and career women. It’s been won by women who endured harassment and quietly continued to do good work despite a hostile environment.

We’ve come this far. Let’s not fuck it up by complacency! And since money is power (witness who drives public policy), all I can say is that we women need to get very serious about our money, get serious about being savvy, and get serious about using our money to shape our society. Until we do, it will still be ok to whip young, vulnerable girls with impunity.

Forgive me in advance for how uncharacteristically direct I’m about to be below. Here goes:

1. If you’re not spending time to effectively manage your day-to-day money, your priorities are out of whack, and you’ll soon be out of the game if you’re not already.

2. If you think money is not important, or something you are too good for, you are kidding yourself. Money is a powerful energy and if you’re not in control of it, it’s probably in control of you.

3. If you think managing your money is about “creating the life you want”, your vision is too small.

Last, a confession. I’ve grown complacent myself. Over the past couple years, having significantly more than enough for my needs, I’ve been lax on my active management. Oh, I’ve set up auto-donations to causes, I seek out fair-trade/organic, a blend of truly worthy and feel-good, but I’ve lost sight of the Mammon aspect – that money is power. And I can wield it. And I’d damn well better.

And I will. Over the coming weeks, I’ll post (amongst others) what I am personally doing to make my own finances even more robust and, God willing, effect social change.

Photo Credit: European Parliament

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