A Money Coach in Canada

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Have you absorbed the beautiful Mythology about pursuing your hopes and dreams, or passion, with everything you’ve got? Rags to riches is a great storyline, isn’t it. It’s inspiring. It creates a sense of confidence that anyone, in any circumstances, can achieve great things if only they put their mind to it and believe in themselves and work hard enough. How could that not be attractive?

I lived into it when I started my business. I had the opportunity to continue part-time with the job I had. But I chose instead to be “all in” with Your Money by Design. I was smart, I had a well-written business plan with conservative estimates, and a certain amount of savings in the bank. I was determined to give my business 110%. No half measures for me.

Eight months into it, the penny dropped: I wasn’t getting nearly the numbers in my seminars I’d anticipated. And I wasn’t the only game in town after all. And everything they say about expenses always being higher than you anticipate had proven true. And hardly anybody could figure out just what was a money-coach anyways (oh, you sell mutual funds? No! I don’t!)

Anyone ever eaten at Hamburger Mary’s in Vancouver? That’s where it all sank in for me. It all sank in as if the air turned black, and my stomach clenched up such that I couldn’t even look at my plate of food when it arrived. My then-boyfriend kindly excused me for a moment – so he thought – and as fast as I could I found a quiet set of steps on an apartment building around the block and there I began to sob and sob and sob. I not only felt the pain of disillusionment but the weight of failure.

And you know what really sucked (to use blunt language)? I was as passionate as *any* entrepreneur and would likely have been one of those people who live without electricity or even in the back of their car (well, maybe not quite) and ultimately become super-successful and get to tell their passion-driven story. But being a money coach … well, you can see why that wasn’t an option.

Nevertheless I carried on valiantly for another 1.5 years (didn’t want to quit just one day before I’d finally make it big, right?) before succumbing and taking part-time work to ensure I could practice at least a baseline of what I preached about managing money effectively. And for a further 3 years I made an acceptable go of it. My electricity stayed on, my mortgage payments were made, my dogs and I were fed. But. I didn’t take a holiday, not a real one, ever and I denied and denied myself so much over the months and months that my energy and enthusiasm, those spades and spades and spades of it, ultimately got sucked away.

There is nothing newsworthy, nothing exciting, nothing thrilling about that story at all. And the final failure was utterly banal: I’d set one “STOP AND SERIOUSLY REASSESS NOW” boundary at ever having to touch my RRSPs. And it happened. I got tripped up on something unforeseen and had to withdraw from my RRSPs. So I stopped in my tracks right then and there. What a boring end-of-the-road, eh?

I reassessed. I concluded I needed to rest for a while and hold my dreams less tightly. I decided for this reason along with a cluster of other rather awful events (which *would* make an interesting story) to move north for a v. good-paying job with full benefits (sick days! extraordinary!) and paid holidays and a pension. I can tell you, it has been a respite. A real respite.

And after two full years of respite, I’m replenished and ready to go again, but this time in and from a different place. I am pursuing my hopes and dreams (ie. creating a rockin’ social-entrepreneurial business that helps people and helps the planet) with the same deep passion …and with significant and ongoing financial stability and security around me. From that firm ground, and rooted there, I am able to re-venture. Is that sexy? Dramatic? The stuff of legend? No. But I honestly think there’s a much higher probability of attaining my personal hopes and dreams from this place.

So. You and *your* hopes and dreams. I’m not about to say don’t go for (ha ha) broke. We all have our journeys to make. And I understand too (do I ever) that entrepreneurialism in particular has exceptional risk and uncertainty. But … I strongly encourage anyone pursuing their hopes and dreams to anchor that pursuit as deeply as possible in a broader financial context. And give yourself permission to follow the road less travelled in your pursuit, even if it sometimes looks remarkably ordinary compared to rags to riches!

Photo Credit: Ann Douglas Her website is here.

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. brad

    I had a similar experience when I first tried following my dream of being a freelance writer: I ignored all the standard advice and jumped into it before I had a financial cushion or a stable of regular clients (I did at least have a pretty impressive portfolio of published work, but that doesn’t help much if you don’t have clients lined up). I starved, and more important I went into debt, using my credit card to pay even for groceries so I could keep eating while waiting for the occasional meagre paycheque to come in. It took me five years to dig myself out from the debt hole I had dug. Eventually it all paid off as I found a client (or rather they found me) who gave me regular work that eventually turned into a fulltime job. But my big lessons were 1) if you’re going to strike out on your own, be sure you have enough money to live on for 6 months or a year while you start up your business, and 2) even better, don’t strike out on your own until you’ve got clients and customers lined up — at least that applies to freelance writing, which is the only “business” I really know about; the same would apply to consulting, though. Just putting out a shingle and hoping that people notice isn’t going to cut it.


    Nancy (aka Moneycoach) Reply:

    @Brad, your comment made me think about venture capitalists (eg. Dragon’s Den). They won’t even look at investing, unless the individual has already made some sales and proven their business has “legs”, at least a bit. And yet we don’t do the same thing before investing “ourselves” (eg. by quitting our jobs and forgoing income), do we. Huh. Food for thought.


    Apr 18, 2011
  2. Linda

    Nancy & Brad, thank you both. I work 4 days a week at a credit union, and spend one day a week working at my passion of energy healing. Sometimes I feel so angry at my self for not having the courage to take the leap into full time self employment, but many times I still have to subsidize the business with my day job income, so I just can’t bring myself to do it. So kudos to both of you for giving it a shot, and thank you to both of you for saying that you are still pursuing your dreams while having other work, and here’s to someday…………..


    Nancy (aka Moneycoach) Reply:

    Hey Linda glad to hear this encouraged you and high-virtual five to you. Thanks for chiming in!


    Apr 18, 2011
  3. brad

    Linda: Another thing I learned from my experience is that sometimes hopes and dreams and passions survive best when they’re NOT the focus of your day-to-day job. When I wasn’t writing for a living, I lived for writing. I wrote in the mornings before work, I wrote in the evenings and weekends. But once it became my job to write, it really did become a job; it’s now a lot harder for me to muster up the energy to write for “myself,” for my own enjoyment, or even to bring in a few extra bucks. Sometimes I think the best way to kill a passion is to turn it into a job.

    Another one of my passions is music, and I’ve flirted occasionally with the idea of making my living through music. But I think it would take some of the magic away from it. Music is precious to me in part because I don’t have enough time for it; it feels a niche in my life but I think it would be a very different situation if I depended on music for my income.


    Apr 19, 2011
  4. brad

    Interesting and relevant post here on Signals v. Noise:



    May 10, 2011

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