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

This is a guest post by a friend, mentor and former boss!  Lowell-Ann provides mid-life career coaching and also helps folks who are about to retire do some good thinking on using this new stage of life as a time of renewal and re-direction.

I asked her to write a post for those who are about to enter their “Third Age”.


So you’ve entered the uncharted territory of your Third Age and you find there are places there that really scare you:

  • What will I do there?
  • Will I have enough money to be there?
  • Who will I be?
  • Where is my tribe if I’m no longer connected to my career?
  • Where will I find the courage to deal with all this?

In my coaching work I often remind clients that it’s a lot more difficult thinking about a plan than doing it – one step at a time. But lately I’ve begun to reflect and reconsider this. A better reframe of this notion has become: “how we think about something will determine the outcome”. Do we think about it from a contraction or an evolutionary stance? I believe it’s a choice we make.

When thinking about the future, first comes a momentary reaction that is fraught with fear and the anxiety that it brings, followed by a huge resistance to the changes that we know must occur. Contraction could take over here. The psychology of contraction brings about some rather dramatic responses that we may not desire for ourselves:

  • Excess vulnerability, feelings of being victimized
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Loss of trust
  • Over-reaction to events
  • Seeking scapegoats
  • Orientation to the past
  • Hoarding
  • Using substances to numb
  • Thoughts of just putting in time

All of these responses tend to bring on more of the same – which we know is not a great place to be. Then comes the moment of choice: Do I choose what contraction brings? Or do I choose the opposite? The psychology of evolution is more likely to bring about what I do desire:

  • Generativity
  • Creativity
  • Forward orientation (both thought & motion)
  • Optimism
  • Joy and fun
  • Positive results
  • Meaningful connections
  • Sense of wholeness

The choice that we make seems to boil down to our ability to manage our fear. This is the million dollar question, “How do I manage my fear?” We can muster up the courage and just plough through, or we might try something more creative. Daniel Goleman reminds us that “the emotional brain is highly attuned to symbolic meaning”. (pg. 209) With this in mind, discovered an exercise (The Artist’s At Work by Bryan, Cameron & Allen) that puts our fear into a symbolic ritual that I think is worth a try:

1. Sit a moment and reflect – forgive yourself for the fear, confusion and lack of courage that has prevented you from claiming what you want. Generate some care toward your vulnerable self.
2. Realize there is no moment without stuckness for anyone.
3. Create a fancy jar to house your fears.
4. List all your fears. Write one fear per piece of paper. Fold each well.
5. Place each fear into the jar with ceremony. Seal the Jar.
6. Place your Fear Jar on a shelf.

Having chosen to put your fears on the shelf for a while, you have freed up some space for some practical steps toward evolving into your Third Age with expansion. Frederick Hudson in Life Launch suggests:

1. Find teachers, mentors and coaches to assist
2. Reconnect with your values
3. Reflect and decide something new that you want
4. Decide what you could unlearn or let go of
5. Identify what new information and knowledge you need
6. Consider life skills and technical skills
7. Create your learning environment

Go forward with the confidence that you have what it takes to have a very inspiring Third Age. Associate with positive, stimulating and inspiring people. And read inspiring books like Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro’s Something to Live For – Finding Your Way in the Second Half of Life or Rosamund and Benjamin Zander’s The Art of Possibility – Transforming Professional and Personal Life.

Lowell-Ann blogs at blog.workstyle-lifestyle.com

You can connect with her on LinkedIn

Photo Credit:  Jennacatpink

It’s been a while since I’ve worked anywhere that started employees at less than three weeks, but the bottom line is that Canadian employers are required to provide only two (paid) weeks plus the stat holidays.

I thought it would be interesting to see how that stacks up to other countries so I pinged a number of friends in faraway places, and discovered the following:

Russians start at 25 days plus stat holidays

Danish people get six weeks including stats.  Of interest:  unemployed folks get 2.5 days holidays per month.  Huh?  You ask?  While they are unemployed, they are expected to be available for work at a moments notice, and looking for work every day.  It’s their “job”.  But just like working folks, they too get a break of 2.5 days a month.

Australians can count on starting at 6 weeks plus about 10 stat days throughout the year.

Germans also get six weeks plus a number of stat holidays (highest I heard of is my friend Katherine working there who has 12 stats!)

South Korea gives 19 vacation days plus 15 stat holidays (this defied my stereotype, truth be told)

Slovakia gives 4 vacation weeks plus 15 stat holidays

Japan gives 4 vacation weeks plus 16 stat holidays

The UK gives nearly 6 weeks vacation plus 8 stat holidays

Finland gives 6 weeks plus 10 stat holidays

Brazil gives 6 weeks plus 11 stat holidays

Iran gives 4 weeks

American friends – I tried to find stats for you and it appears you have no required vacation days? Other than stats?


Photo Credit: Sherlock77

My post title was a bit flippant.  But look.  Nobody should own you.  While I’m no proponent of the “tell my boss to shove it and walk off the job” mentality (which says a lot more about the employee than the employer, imo), three things are clear:

1.  If your work life is hell, for instance if you are being bullied, you should have enough set aside that you can walk away from your job to find a healthier workplace, if it comes to it.

2.  Lay-offs happen. Certainly not as much in Canada right now as in the USA or the UK but still, they happen.  You should have enough set aside that this doesn’t totally un-nerve you.

3.  And you can bet there will be more and more Strikes happening as belts tighten around the western world.

So.  The $60,000,000 question is:  How much should you have set aside?

The standard answer used to be three months of your basic living expenses.  (Don’t know what three months of your expenses are?  Shameless self promotion:  you need to take my online money coaching program and find out!)

However, I spoke to a seasoned career counsellor yesterday who said it’s taking about 8 months these days to find a new job in Canada these days.  That’s just his off-the-cuf response, but still. I imagine the stats in the States are  worse. Gulp.  Eight months is a lotta dough to stash away.

Start with this. Start with one month’s worth of living expenses set aside.   Do it within one year and make that your financial project for one year. Force the savings one way or another: straight off the paycheque, into a TFSA or a simple savings account or even your RRSPs.  It will be saving just a little less than 10% of your salary which is the savings benchmark we should be striving for anyway.

Here’s what even one month of savings will accomplish:

  • You will discover the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve got something, something if, god forbid, it came down to it.
  • Secondly, you will grow it further, guaranteed.  Once your initial goal is met, I’d be pretty amazed if you don’t find ways to keep growing it, because it will feel so good.
  • Last, if you’re not already a saver, your self-image will shift.  There’s nothing quite like having something set aside to give a quiet, inner confidence.

If you decide to go for it – please do! – you should check out ING Direct.  Give them this code:  14641937S1 and we’ll both get a little bonus when you sign up.

If it does not seem do-able despite having a regular paycheque, let me recommend my program again.  It’s affordable and will help you get to the place where you can set aside what you need.

Three different people taking my online money coaching program have contacted me recently about creditors who were hounding them, including two who were receiving calls at work.

Here’s one of the emails I received:

Credit cards and debt collection – is there a law stating how many times they can call you in a day? [credit card collections] has been calling me 4-8 times a day for 2 weeks starting at 7:30am! Last week I wasn’t able to answer my phone (mechanical failiure) but this week I can and I just asked to speak to a supervisor, who was of course out of his office.
Any suggestions? I’ve complained to them about this before.

I recognize that I am in arrears with my account, but does that give them the right to basically harass me? Any links / tips would be helpful. thx.

The answer is “NO!  Creditors cannot hound you like that”.  Most Canadian jurisdictions have laws regarding how creditors must operate.

Before proceeding with the resources below, it must be said:   If you are in a situation financially where creditors are hounding you, you need the help of my business.  Listen to this (my story) and take it from there.

In 2003, the Ministers Responsible for Consumer Affairs all across Canada agreed together to work towards legislating limitations on Collection Agencies in their respective jurisdictions.

BC.  According to the Canadian Bar Association of BC creditors can only attempt to call your employer to verify your employment.  They can call you at work once, only if they cannot reach you at home.  In addition, if you request in writing that they contact you only in writing, they must do so.

Alberta:  This legislation (scroll down on the page) applies to collections agencies (as opposed to businesses collecting money you owe)

Saskatchewan:  Collections agencies cannot call you earlier than 8am, after 6pm, or on Sundays or holidays.  There is further protection from harassment

Manitoba: Scroll down to Section 98 for the limits on collections calls.

Ontario:  They can only contact you three times (including leaving voicemail) within a seven day period.  Further information is here.

Quebec:  The legislation isn’t as specific but it provides some parameters

Newfoundland/Labrador:  Scroll down to Section 12

PEI: doesn’t allow them to contact your place of employment at all (see Section 5)

New Brunswick:  has robust regulations.  Scroll down to Section 14.

Nova Scotia:  see Section 20

Territories – sorry – it wasn’t easy to find legislation!  Worst case scenario, contact your MLA.

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