A Money Coach in Canada

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Hands up if you often misplace financial mail (statements, bills, flyers that you are actually interested in) because you don’t have a place to put it. It may end up with the kids’ artwork or it may end up in some other stack but it doesn’t end up someplace where it will get dealt with in a timely manner.

I used to attempt to file items right away but that meant later remembering I had to deal with it, then pulling it out again and besides, it was just a hassle sometimes to file it on the spot.

Here’s what’s been working for me for the past couple years.

When finance mail comes in, I have a special bin (NO NOT THE GARBAGE! A CLASSY LEATHER SERIOUS-BUSINESS-LOOKING BIN!). It’s easily accessible (I’m fierce about that. And absolutely nothing else goes in it) but tucked out of sight in a closet. I just toss it the money related mail in the bin, perhaps opening it or perhaps not depending on what it is. Then during my money-management times I pull the bin out onto my desk and go through it properly.

So, your weekend warrior challenge to declutter your finances: If you don’t have a similarly easy, functioning way to handle your money related mail, try out my system for yourself.

If you have other ways of managing effectively, I’d love to here them!

Photo Credit: SnakemanRob

Friends, It’s been quite a week. Still renewing my mortgage. Renovations well underway. Keeping a close eye as my beta testers proceed testing my new online money coaching program. And trying to pull together a blogcamp up here in Yellowknife. #tiredjustthinkingaboutit

But never fear. Others are doing the heavy lifting on how to live luxuriously yet frugally.

You should check them out…

Karen posted a super-simple way to make floating candles. Don’t worry! You don’t have to actually make the candles! You just … adapt them.

Learn to make your own pizza dough, just like an Italian. Does this not look seriously therapeutic?

Keep an eye on the iTunes 99¢ movies. Know what’s available right now? Twilight, that’s what. Oh, c’mon. Don’t be so snobby. Punch Drunk Love then, maybe? Or The September Issue?

Or then again, skip silly Hollywood movies. They’ve got nothin’, nothin’! on a top drawer radio show out of Chicago called This American Life. It’ll make you want to gather the family ’round, call in the dog, light the fire and then lean back in a leather easy-chair, guaranteed.

Readers: are you doing anything wonderful this weekend that’s also still frugal?

Photo credit: Dale Chumbley

If so, I can assure you you’re in good company. It’s not something I’ve ever had to deal with myself, but lots of my clients have. And it’s very specific – a fear that when they are old, they will not have enough to meet their basic needs. That they will end up eating cat food or trudging around with a shopping cart, living in abject poverty. It’s time to declutter your mind from this kind of thinking about your financial future!

These fears are a form of distorted thinking and this one is called Catastrophizing.

It can take two forms.

One occurs when something negative or unpleasant happens to you financially (say, you go into debt, or you don’t get a raise, or you overspend) and your mind quickly exaggerates that into worst case scenarios: I’ll never get out of debt so I’ll get kicked out of my home, I’m never going to have enough in my RRSP/pension so I’m going to have to work ’til I die, I can’t handle money and won’t have any left when I’m old.

Another occurs when you hear bad news about the economy, or someone who really is facing severely difficult times. Your imagination runs wild and you envision all kinds of horrible circumstances for yourself in the future: If they were a decent, middle-class person and that happened to them it could happen to me! The economy is going to collapse and I’m going to lose everything too!

The effects can be crippling – you feel doomed before you even try to ensure your old-age is reasonably secure! You lose sleep, you may suffer full-blown anxiety attacks, and you may divert energy towards a panic-driven reaction to a future that hasn’t even happened yet. It’s exhausing!

If you are prone to catastrophizing, here are some steps you can take to help.

1. Name it as catastrophizing. Pause your imagination, and remind yourself that it is a known phenomena and it is distorted thinking.

2. Ground yourself in the present. Take several deep, slow breaths. Feel your feet on the ground and your hands by your sides and your head on your shoulders. Take note of your surroundings – the sounds, the smells, the people around you. Bring yourself fully back to your present, which is where you belong.

3. Ask yourself silly questions –> Did I inherit a crystal ball? –> Is it true that everything I think is going to happen always happens? Do I have that super-power and someone forgot to tell me? –> Should I call CNN and tell them what is going to happen? Of course, ask these questions with a gentle affection for yourself!

This is the second of our financial decluttering series which focuses on our messy thinking. Last week we explored the distorted thinking pattern called filtering. Check it out if you are prone to thinking the worst of yourself and your finances rather than appropriately acknowledging the good aspects of you and your money. And come back next week for ideas on combatting another form of distorted thinking.

photo credit: AnnieGreenSprings

CRAPOLA! Beware the Ides of March indeed!

I popped a hard candy in my mouth yesterday at work and instantly seemed to have two instead, but one was not candy, it was my tooth! My molar no less, and most of it.

“That’s OK,” I thought. “Thank goodness for my dental coverage.”

As it turns out my best option – an implant – is not covered at all.

Price tag? $4500.00

Let’s see.

That’s one totally awesome vacation, or two really nice ones.

That’s a gym membership, a personal chef, and a really great wardrobe for a year or more.

That’s A DOWN PAYMENT ON A HOUSE in many areas of Canada.

oh.  And have I told you about the past few months of UNEXPECTED EXPENSES?  (I have, but let me rant again) “MY! What a quarter I’ve had! 2 months without a tenant followed by Christmas and travel, plus purchasing a new fridge and a new macbook plus a $700 vet bill plus $600 in semi-annual property taxes due plus helping out someone who needed a serious chunk of change plus the deposit on some renos LEAVES A GIRL BROKE for a bit, even if she is a money coach who sets aside funds for these sorts of things.”

I’ll make it of course.  But my emergency fund will take a body blow.  And it stings to have to spend all that money on something like a tooth in the back of my mouth.   And I’ll have to re-think a few things I’d looked forward to over the coming year.

Readers – have you ever had a dental bill with that price tag?  How did you manage it?

Photo credit: jcolman

When I was a kid, my family said a quick grace before every.single.meal – oatmeal breakfasts before kindergarten included. These became (regrettably) perfunctory and rushed over the years but we kept up the tradition.

As an adult the habit fairly quickly faded away. In fact, I’m starting to feel uncomfortable with the extent to which I don’t take even a nano-second to take note of the fact that I am engaging in a primal, life-sustaining activity which often required the death of another being. Meals for me have more often than not become woeful in their slap-dash, toss on a plate and eat obliviously while I surf the ‘net or watch TV manner. Or my inhale as I’m walking around getting ready for work in the morning manner. Meal eating has become a purely functional affair.

I don’t think this is good. I don’t think this is good at all. In fact, I think it’s grim. It is anti-contentment.
And assuming (?) I’m in good company with my culture in this, it’s no wonder we are so obsessed with weight loss, and even obsessed with calories, yet out of touch with our own eating habits. In government-speak, perhaps we need a framework for how to approach our meals!

I’m not quite ready to go slow-food. But over lent, and hopefully beyond, I am going to start a new praxis of contentment: I am going to pause for at least 3 seconds before every single meal. Will I always Give Thanks per se? Perhaps, and I probably should. But at a minimum I will take a couple deep breaths, and attend to the fact that I am about to participate in a profound act of being human and participating in the food chain.

Readers – what about you? Did you say grace when you were growing up? Do you now? Do you engage in any quasi-ceremonial act before eating or like me, do you just dive in?

ps: after writing this, I found this gorgeous post How to Eat Like An Italian via twitter. #5 – perfect tip for me!

Photo Credit: Wiedmaier

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