A Money Coach in Canada

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This is so weird. Twice now this year, I’ve gone to a church as a visitor and the topic was … being wise with money.

Anyway, when I was recently in Vancouver, I went to my radical and wonderful home parish in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and the priest on deck for the homily, Jessica (yes, a woman priest, YAY and because it’s a High Anglican church it’s “Mother” Jessica), gave the homily, and I have to say it challenged this money coach.

It challenged me to make tithing a central aspect of my finances rather than a one-more-aspect. By that, I mean I want it to become my new barometer of my financial health. This is part of my re-invigorated money-coach-heal-thyself programme to which I committed.

Previous barometers were:

  • ability to meet my monthly obligations
  • building up a nest egg
  • buying a home
  • able to live a more luxurious lifestyle
  • having savings for nice things

But I want a new barometer.   I want my new barometer of financial success to be:  Am I managing my finances in such a way that I can give 10% of it away?  To organizations that feed the hungry?  To organizations that advocate for structural change, social justice, so that folks aren’t hungry in the first place?  To initiatives that will help the planet?  And of course, to my parish which has been such a rich blessing to me over the years?

I don’t do that right now.  I give a certain amount on a regular basis, and beyond that, on one-offs throughout the year.  But I can, and desire to, make it a central aspect of my money management to give 10% away on a regular basis.   If you want to listen to the homily – it’s about 6 minutes – it’s below.  If you want just the key points, here they are:

1. Tithing is in response to a great vision, not a commandment

2. Occam’s Razor – the simplest model is probably the best one  (10%)

3. Tithing can offer freedom from anxiety

4. It can invite God’s healing into our relationship with money

5. It’s a practice of gratitude

Mother Jessica’s Top 5 Reasons to Tithe from St. James' Anglican Church on Vimeo.

Photo Credit: More Good Foundation

About the Author


Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com

11 Comments

  1. brad

    You might want to read Peter Singer’s brilliant book “The Life You Can Save.” He presents a clear and logical argument (including convincing rebuttals to all the usual counter-arguments) for giving a portion of your income to charity. But not just any charity: his focus is on eradicating world poverty, a goal that he says is within reach. More than 20,000 children die needlessly around the world every single day, and each of us, no matter how rich or poor, has an opportunity to save at least one of those lives. The book’s website (www.thelifeyoucansave.com) allows you to plug in your gross income and it’ll calculate the level you should set for your charity goal if you decide to take the pledge.

    Singer acknowledges that many of us want to give in our own communities and to help the needy in our own countries, but when you consider that the poorest of the poor in the world are living on $1.25 per day or less (and this is a figure that’s adjusted for the buying power of a dollar in developing countries, so you have to imagine how you might live here in Canada on $1.25 per day), the disparity is too great and the need too urgent. I do still give some to local and national charities, but I give more to international aid organizations. For local development, I use my local credit union for impact investing; I’m gradually shifting all of my investments away from the market and into impact investing, and while my financial return is lower my social/environmental return makes up for it. 😉

    [Reply]

    Nancy (aka Moneycoach) Reply:

    Thank you Brad! I’ve opened the website and look forward to reviewing it. I do have a sponsored child but I would really love to do more internationally, so your recommendation is very much attended to by me. I’m excited, actually.

    [Reply]

    brad Reply:

    Singer’s arguments are very compelling and logical, and indeed life-changing. There’s a brilliant interview available at http://www.pointofinquiry.org/peter_singer_the_life_you_can_save/ where you can hear Singer explain why we should give, and hear his rebuttals to all the common arguments against doing so. It’s very inspiring.

    [Reply]

    Nov 30, 2011
  2. et

    Brad – what is impact investing?

    Nancy – When you write “Am I managing my finances in such a way that I can give 10% of it away?” do you mean 10% of the income or 10% of the principal? A year or as a one time event?

    [Reply]

    Nancy (aka Moneycoach) Reply:

    et – I mean of my income, in an ongoing (monthly, I was thinking) way.

    [Reply]

    et Reply:

    Giving away 10% of your income is a much more interesting goal.

    Of your previous goals 2 (or more) were completely egocentric and never attainable. There will always be more “nice things” and “a more luxurious lifestyle”.

    [Reply]

    brad Reply:

    10% is actually a really hard target to hit for many people, especially those of us with mortgages or who are behind in saving for retirement. Peter Singer actually uses a sliding scale, similar to a tax-bracket scale, that may make more sense than a flat percentage for everyone. If you’re only making $20K/year, a goal of 10% to charity is likely way out of your reach, whereas if you’re making $2 million/year you could probably give 40% or more of your gross income to charity and still live a very comfortable lifestyle even if you assume that another 30% will go to taxes. Singer’s site, thelifeyoucansave.com, has an online calculator that allows you to plug in your gross income (or net income if you live in a country where charitable contributions aren’t deductible) to see a reasonable target for your annual charitable giving.

    Nancy (aka Moneycoach) Reply:

    I meant to reply to your thoughtful comment ages ago Brad! I like the idea of a sliding scale. And 10% is really hard for lots of folks. It’s a stretch for me, but I think I can manage it (daschunds are a lot less demanding on a budget than kids!). I still wonder, though, what would happen if we all put 10% as an organizing principle for our finances. Might it make us take generating a good income more seriously? (I realize that’s controversial and I’m not set on it myself). Might we discover it’s more possible than we think?

    brad Reply:

    There is actually a small organization based in England, called Giving What We Can (http://www.givingwhatwecan.org/) where you can make your pledge to give 10%. They’re serious about it, so you have to report back to them each year on how much you made and how much you gave, in order to maintain your membership. I’m planning to join them myself, but for the next few years I have to balance the competing goals of paying off my mortgage and catching up on 20 years of inattention to my retirement (and I don’t have a job that will pay a pension). Once the house is paid off in 4-5 years I’ll ramp up to 10% to charity, maybe more. I do feel like one of the reasons I want to stay in my current job (which pays well) is because it allows me to meet my charitable giving goals.

    [Reply]

    brad Reply:

    Impact investing is a relatively new term for an old concept: it means putting your money to work directly for social and/or environmental improvement while still earning a decent return. The options for retail investors are currently thin on the ground, unfortunately; institutional investors are where most of the effort has been focused (I’ve seen cases of 200%+ returns, but of course also cases of big losses). For retail investors it’s more like in the 1-5% range, using things like GICs from a credit union that invests locally in social and environmental enterprises and projects, or bonds like the SolarShare bonds that are available in Ontario.

    Impact investors are investing for “blended value,” which means you gauge the value of your investment not only on financial terms but also on its social/environmental accomplishments. In my case, I’m shifting most of my investments from the market over to a credit union here in Québec (la caisse d’économie solidaire) that offers GICs; the money you invest is put to work on a variety of initiatives that I feel good about supporting and I’m willing to make the substantial sacrifice in returns (these GICs barely make 2% interest). But I’m also keeping my eyes on the impact investing field, as I think there will be much more attractive options available to retail investors in the next few years, which should allow us to take on more risk in the hopes of larger financial returns. If you want to read up on it, check out http://socialfinance.ca/impact-investing

    [Reply]

    et Reply:

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Dec 01, 2011

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