A Money Coach in Canada

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Any pet lovers amongst you, readers? This post will resonate! The author is the illustrious writer and editor Rebecca Leaman who also helps rescue dogs and teaches people really cool stuff (like how to create newspaper nails — who knew?) on her personal blog.

HOW MY DOGS GOT ME OFF THE CONSUMPTION TRAIN

It’s a bit ironic. These days, I shell out more on dog food, vet
bills, and peanut-butter-stuffed marrow bones than I do on clothing or
technology tools — yet it was my dogs who taught me how to get off
the Consumption Train, to make wiser and more conscious choices about
how I spend my money.

Once upon a time, I was a mindless shopper.

Every weekday lunch hour, I’d fill the after-sandwich time by browsing
the shops and scurry back to the office, almost late, with package in
hand. Usually clothes or accessories, seldom an item I really needed
but always a “bargain” I couldn’t pass up. Every Saturday afternoon,
if no better entertainment was on offer,  I’d crawl the malls — and
never go home empty-handed.  My closet was stuffed full with
unsuitable, seldom-used items that made me feel guilty just to look at
them.  My bank account was hurting. But I just couldn’t seem to stop
the mad spending spree.

Oh yes,  I was riding that ol’ Consumption Train with the best of them.

But then I adopted a dog… and another… and…

Now, I know what you’re thinking:   Dogs need to be played with, fed,
trained, groomed, and walked a couple times a day. Anyone with more
than one dog (it’s three right now, but who’s counting?) just doesn’t
have time to go shopping very often. Problem solved! True, but that’s
only a very small part of the turnaround story.  My dogs have taught
me, by example, how to live  lightly and  joyfully, without a whole
lot of “stuff.”

Here’s what I’ve learned:

BOREDOM  LEADS TO SHOES

When a dog is bored, he chews up our new shoes. When we’re bored, we
go buy some.

Nine times out of ten, when our dogs misbehaves it’s the direct result
of boredom, or stress, or  frustration — an excess of mental and/or
physical energy with no constructive outlet.  And just as a dog with
not enough to engage him will go wandering around and “get into
things,”  we too often find ourselves wandering in search of
something, anything, that holds out the promise of making our lives
more purposeful, meaningful, satisfying, and fulfilling.

Well, guess what? Those shoes won’t do it for a bored dog — not for
more than five minutes, anyway — and they won’t do it for us, either,
in the long run.

NOTHING IS NEW ENOUGH

Look at the lucky dog, with a box full of squeaky toys, stuffies, rope
toys and balls and anything else the pet industry can come up with to
soothe the conscience of a guilt-ridden too-busy dog owner. He greets
a new toy with bouncing glee, and we think “This is it, finally,
something he really really loves!” — but two days later, that toy
lies forgotten beneath the couch and the dog is bored again.

Turns out, dogs have a craving for novelty, just like we humans do.
Since we’re humans, with opposable thumbs and credit cards, we can go
out and buy new toys when that craving kicks in. Oh, the new thing
entertain us for a brief time, but in turn each wonderful new
acquisition will lose its charm when the novelty wears off.

And that way, my friend, lies an endless cycle of fruitless consumption.

“TO DO” BEATS “TO HAVE”

We could go buy a lovely quilt in the most gorgeous colours and
patterns imaginable,  but it would only ever be a Thing.  Go sit at
Grandmother’s knee and learn to piece together a quilt of our own,
sharing stories and laughter, gaining a sense of accomplishment and a
new skill?  You can’t buy that.

See, when your dog  tears up your lawn, for him it’s all about the
digging, not the hole.  If you doubt it, go out and dig a hole  and
show it to your dog. Odds are he’ll look at it, sniff around, then go
dig a new hole of his own, three feet away.  Why? Because it’s the
creative act of digging that a dog finds satisfying, not the passive
ownership of a hole in the ground.  And it’s not  that much different
with people — except maybe there’s a little less mud on our faces, at
the end of a really good day.

“To do” beats “to have,” as I’ve finally learned.
(Thanks, pups.)

cinder-mud

casey_2004

Hang on to your hats, folks. We’re about to enter a crazy time of the year.

Your shopping is probably mostly done (right? RIGHT??) but there’s plenty of in-the-moment wallet busters in store (sic) for the next 10 days. Here are 5 last minute tips to spend smart between now and New Years.

Gift
1. Run, don’t walk, run to your nearest dollar store to pick up gift cards, wrapping paper and bows. You don’t want to spend a fortune on this at the Brand Name store on Christmas Eve! If you have 90 minutes of time, an even better idea: make your own bows from leftover wrapping paper like Karen does.






Happy New Year!
2. New Years Eve. Going out? Leave your keys and your plastic at home. Decide how much you’re doing to spend and use cash. Save yourself from yourself! No oops-overspending hangovers this January 1st on my watch! 😉












3. Create your “standard-polite-decline” in advance to excuse yourself from potentially pricey on-the-spot invites you receive (we’re going out for lunch, join us!). Your line can be whatever works for you. Ideas: a gracious and classic, “Thanks so much but I have other plans” or “another time”; if suitable, ask if you can check your calendar first; have a standby excuse “I need to take the dogs for their walk”.






iPhone
4. Travelling? Call your cel phone service provider today to be clear about extra charges. Avoid nasty surprises when you get your January bill! I usually purchase about $10 from Bell so I can make extra calls while in Vancouver.












5. Don’t apologize for not spending. I’m not saying cheap-out. But controlling your spending over the next 10 days should be a badge of honour. Settle that within yourself, and then let your actions and your words flow from that place.

Details Halloween house, Vancouver Downtown 2

I don’t know about where you live, but I’d say it was somewhere in the mid-2000’s when Halloween became an event rivalling Christmas in Vancouver. It became seriously epic! A little warmer than in December, Oct. 31st is the perfect time of year to walk through neighbourhoods not trick-or-treating (albeit tempting) but looking at the spookily bedecked houses. Folks go all out – sound effects, coffins pop open as you walked by and gravestones are scattered eerily across formerly friendly lawns. (Check out this haunted house in Thornhill, Ontario!) And costumes are no longer just for the kids. Halloween has become a time when everyone can express their creativity and ghoulishness…. as you walk down Broadway or Robson …

It doesn’t seem to be quite as big a deal up here in Yellowknife, perhaps because it’s hard to wear costumes over parkas, but still it has a strong presence (as Nanook the SuperHero demonstrates).

Canadians are going to spend $1.5Billion on Halloween this year, an average somewhere between $60 – $75 per each and every Canadian.

I’ll fess up. Things have been so hectic for me the past few weeks that I haven’t spent a dime on halloween this year. Not a dime. It also means I’ve bunkered down in my apartment so nobody comes trick-or-treating – how lame is that! How ’bout you? Do you get into Halloween? How much did you spend? And what made it worth it?