A Money Coach in Canada

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It’s the Saturday case study post of my clients past and present.  As always, the characters have been altered to protect privacy, but the underlying issue remains the same.  Rick was as twenty-something who had a lot going for him:  attractive, smart and a real go-getter who was enjoying a successful business he’d started in his late teens.  Rick also had a gorgeous girlfriend who had a lot of struggles.  And didn’t have a job.  She’d moved in with him a few months previously, and it wasn’t going so well.  She had nothing to contribute to the rent, and hadn’t been able to keep any of the original financial arrangements such as contributing to groceries.  She was on E.I., but even that income seemed to be all spoken for, and none of it went to Rick.  They’d separated briefly, but both found that too hard, and she moved back with Rick within a week.  Rick cared about her, but was also growing tired of the situation, felt she wasn’t looking hard enough for a job (he would often come home and discover she’d spent the whole day at English Bay), and he was beginning to feel used.  At the same time, Rick felt he overspent on a number of luxury items for himself – lunch out every day (and he wasn’t eating at McDonald’s), a great car, and a lot of gadgets.  He didn’t feel right about pushing his girlfriend too hard on the financial front.What suggestions would you offer Rick?  Click the comments link below, complete the form (totally private, unless you’d like to publish your website in the field for it) and give your opinion!   

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


  1. The girl needs some help from a third party.

    You don’t go from “I know I should be more active, and I will be active tomorrow; and to celebrate that decision I’ll spend today down by the beach, preparing for tomorrow” to actively job searching without some external influence.

    Enroll her in Futureworks (job search and (I think) life skills for people on EI) or any of the many three week job search programs that are open for anyone (I went to one run by Landell & Associates once upon a time).

    Good job on the case study description, Nancy, filling in lots of little distracting details that have little or nothing to do with the problem: That the two people are attractive, that there’s a boyfriend at all, etc.

    One relevant factor, though, is that as a couple they do have the means to invest in her future, they don’t have to stick to the (many) free offers available.


    Jun 24, 2007
  2. I think this one (since the focus seems to be on suggestions for Rick) is about healthy boundaries, acceptance and living with committments.

    I’m a career coach and am very familiar with people who are unemployed and stuck because of unresolved job loss issues or paralyzed by career confusion. So I can empathize with ‘the girlfriend’. I appreciate the comments of Jan regarding recommending career services. There are many free career planning and job search programs offered across Canada – and all the programs in the Greater Vancouver area are listed at http://www.lmer.ca.

    When these two first got together, it sounds like there were some stated committments regarding cost sharing etc that were not met – so I can understand Rick’s frustration. However, after seperating for a while, he chose to recommit to her with full knowledge of her challenges. It seems to me that if he loves her and has chosen to live with her despite the financial issues, then he’s basically made the choice to support her and provide for her during this time. If he didn’t want the committment and financial ‘burden’ he should have maintained healthier boundaries and kept the separation going until she was employed.

    If he’s looking for a roommate to share/reduce costs, and that’s the priority, then he should be clear about it and end the stress and the arrangement. If he truly cares and is committed to her, he should make the neccessary sacrifices (as best he can), and provide lots of TLC and acceptance. This will probably be the best support he can provide, as it will provide her with a sense of safetly and security from which she can then focus on her personal issues and job transition.

    Although it’s hard, we can’t choose to commit to people based on who we wish they were or hope they’ll be. The best we can do is love who they are and then support them when they’re ready to make changes in their own time.

    Quotes to consider…

    I’m a big believer in growth. Life is not about achievement, it’s about learning and growth, and developing qualities like compassion, patience, perseverance, love, and joy, and so forth. And so if that is the case, then I think our goals should include something which stretches us.
    -Jack Canfield

    “We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that what is deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
    — E.E. Cummings


    Jun 30, 2007
  3. Thanks Jan and Gregg. This is a great cast study because it shows the complexity of money and people: it’s rarely purely a question of crunching the numbers. Sometimes it’s difficult as a money coach to know where my own boundaries are with a client. It’s not my role to advise anyone to break up or stay committed to their partner; it is my role to (diplomatically) point out the financial implications of either route.

    In this instance, the message I got from Rick seemed heavily weighted towards, “this situation is negatively impacting my ability to move forward financially in the way I want to, and my commitment is definitely waning”. That’s not quite as hard-hearted as it sounds. The relationship didn’t seem to have been really strong in the first place.

    By our last session, Rick decided to end the relationship and put some kind of timeframe on how long the girlfriend would continue living with him. As sometimes happens, I lost touch with Rick, so alas, cannot give the “ending” of this particular story!


    Jun 30, 2007
  4. Gregg, great point about the relationship, that Rick knew what he was getting when he got back into the relationship.

    Nancy, as you say, your job is not to give relationship advice. But is it not your job as an outsider and trained professional to present non-obvious (to the client) options when a client thinks he’s facing a choice between two evils — or that he’s stuck altogether with no options? And won’t some of those non-obvious options really represent relationship advice?

    In this example, Rick has two options that are obvious to him:
    1. Let things continue as-is
    2. Split up

    A couple of other options will affect the relationship in more subtle ways:
    3. Set some sort of limits/requirements
    4. Deliberately invest in the girlfriend’s training/career

    It’s hard to present options 3 and 4 without touching upon the relationship between the two in some manner, I’d think?

    By the way: A consultant I know says (all the friggin’ time) that he “doesn’t give advice”, he just “presents options”. Because if he gave advice, the clients could hold him liable for any negative consequences that might come from following his advice.


    Jul 04, 2007

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