A Money Coach in Canada

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How financially mature are you?

Are you like a kid?

  • You don’t think much about money at all
  • You assume or hope someone other than you will ensure your financial needs are met
  • You take little responsibility for your financial life

Are you like a teenager?

  • You earn an income but don’t really have a plan for it and don’t think too much about the long-term future
  • You think there is a “backup” other than yourself if something were to go wrong financially
  • The majority of your money goes towards feeling or looking good in the moment

Are you like an adult?

  • You “own” your finances
  • You are educated and informed about  money
  • You ensure your current needs are met and also plan and save for the future

Are you like an elder?

  • You are wise about what money is, and what it is not
  • You are creating / have created a legacy with your money
  • You have an inner peace about money

ps:  I’ve  known loads of teenagers who exceeded their years in their maturity.  I’m basing my analogy above on my own teenage years!  So no “diss” intented to teenagers 🙂

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Are you a slave to your money? Or is your money your slave?

I was one of those people brought up with injunctions like “you cannot serve both God and money”.
The way it played out for me was that I didn’t really concern myself at all with money. And I certainly wasn’t about to make it an objective to – God forbid – accumulate wealth (and for that matter, I didn’t really make it an objective to have basic savings, either).

And then it struck me like lightning: having to scramble and not having enough for unexpected things and having to fret about how to pay the bills and not having savings and having a growing fear of growing old without RRSPs and sleepless anxious nights—- all that was an indicator that I was serving money after all.

It still took a number of years to reprogram my core beliefs about money esp. vis-a-vis my spirituality. But somewhere along the way it became so very obvious that actively managing my finances, ensuring I have savings for things ranging from emergency vet visits to my annual holidays, and yes, building a nest egg (accumulating wealth) means money is in service to me, not vice versa.

How ’bout you? Are you enslaved by money? Or is money serving you?

Mike Todd is a friend of mine, and like me shares a deep interest in money, and how money can change the world, and like me he shares a strong connection to Vancouver’s DTES (my other home). I asked him to guest post about his journey from investment advisor to coming alongside some of my sisters in my old ‘hood.

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What a Long, Strange Trip it’s Been

I’ve spent just about my entire adult life thinking about money, in one way or another. And along the way that thinking has changed dramatically.

This relationship with money started with my first full time job as a customer service representative with Templeton Management, the company started by the late great investor John Templeton. (Somewhere around here I have a photo of a younger version of me standing next to a smiling Sir John.) Twelve years later I walked down Toronto’s Bay Street for the last time when I left my position as Vice President – Alliance Distribution with Fidelity Investments. (Come to think of it, the photo of Peter Lynch and me is probably in the same box as the one with Sir John.)

From there I went to World Vision Canada to start their Corporate Development work. After a year there, my wife and I moved out to Vancouver to help a friend get Linwood House Ministries up and running. Among my responsibilities as Director of Engagement at Linwood is fundraising… a term I really don’t care for at all.

From start to finish my resume screams, “Money!” I’ve gone from helping people with their money (and helping their advisors make money) to raising money for a large global relief and development agency, to helping a small relational group of folks interact with some of the wonderful people who call Canada’s poorest postal code home.

Personally my relationship with money has followed the same apparent trajectory as my career. I’ve gone from making lots, to making some, to making little. At the same time, we went from the big house, to the smaller house, to the small condo, to the basement suite. I don’t tell you this to boast; I want you to see how little and how much money means to me. Personally, I don’t care about it. But as a tool to help us change ourselves and change the world? It’s critical.

I said above that I don’t really like the term “fundraising”. I’ve joked with friends that I’d like to be successful raising funds for Linwood by breaking every fundraising rule in the book. I’m not interested in separating you from your cash. I’m interested in changing the way you think about money. And I’m interested in changing the lives of all of us, from wealthy West Vancouver, to the notorious Downtown Eastside, and all points in between.

It seems the more we have, the more we need. The more we get, the less happy we are. The more we pursue, the less fulfilled we are. And while we cling tighter to what we have, more and more of our neighbours have less and less. That’s a bad combination. My own spirituality is responsible for many of the choices I’ve made on this journey, but I have friends who would claim to be atheists who are feeling the same way. So, this isn’t about religion, if that’s worrying you. Corporate greed is running rampant, and keeping up with the Joneses is driving many of us into the kinds of debt that could sink us.

Something has to give. We need to try something new.

I invite you to think about your money in a different way. Call it postmodern philanthropy if you like. Take a look around. If you live in Vancouver, spend some time standing at the corner of Hastings & Main. (And if that idea terrifies you, drop me a line and I’ll meet you down there and we can stand together.)

Don’t give up on your money, but instead look at it as a catalyst for change. I started out on this journey rather naively thinking that I was here to change the world. Instead, I’ve come to the realization that what needs to change is me. I can’t change the world. There are too many problems, and I’ll simply get frustrated and quit. Here’s the irony though: If I start thinking of others instead of myself, if you do the same, and then if we both encourage others to try and look at the world like that, in other words if we change, then the world will change too.

Recently I had this conversation with an acquaintance. He responded angrily by asking, “Am I my brother’s keeper?!” I pointed out that the answer to that question is supposed to be, “Yes.”

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Mike Todd lives in Vancouver BC, and would love to interact with you on this issue, or anything else you want to talk about. He blogs at Waving or Drowning? and tweets at @miketodd07. If you would like to learn more about Linwood, check out the blog. They’re on Twitter and Facebook too.

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