A Money Coach in Canada

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Quick —> which 5 people do you love the most?

Quick —> which 5 possessions are most valuable to you?

Quick —> have you got a will?

photo credit: Leaphart_Frank04

handshake II

Quite some time back, a fellow blogger posed the same question (if I could remember who or when, I’d link). To my surprise the resounding response was NO! These ranged from people who wanted to protect the relationship by not lending money to some pretty strong comments about not lending money since it was the other person’s problem, not theirs.

I felt sad after reading the comments (and there were dozens).

It seems to me that if we are able to help someone else out in their hour of need, especially if they are close to us, why wouldn’t we? And what’s the point of accumulating some wealth if it’s not, at least in part, to be able to extend some of the goodness to people we care about?

I’ve been fortunate in my family and friendships, I guess. It doesn’t happen routinely, but most definitely we’ve supported one another financially over the decades. I helped my brother get his first car (a snazzy Toyota MR-6, remember those?) when he was a youth. He later helped me out when I needed a computer. My parents helped me a bit when I bought my first place. I helped them out when something unexpected happened. A friend who believed in my and my vision helped me out when my business was at a low point in its cash-flow. I later helped another friend out down the road.

Obviously the amount and the repayment agreement were proportionate to the strength of the relationship. And to my knowledge I’ve never been asked for help that was a result of an addiction.

But as a rule of thumb, I think my close friends, and I sure hope my family, knows that if it came to it, I’d help out without blinking an eye.

Readers: do you see this as a “good fences make good neighbours” situation? ie., don’t bring money into the relationship? Or do you agree with me that helping people close to us out is part of the reason to have money in the first place?

30 years ago cars, banks and print media talked of SPAM (a brand of sandwich spread) for guest, cars for kids and banks to save the financial burdens of marriage. 1967 A culture we have left behind

As you can imagine, I’ve done a lot of work with couples who had differing views on money. There are plenty of approaches available to mitigate the tension although as we all know issues about money are rarely issues about Money! Usually it is issues about accountability to one another, or resistance to it; it was about comfort and discomfort around debt or risk; it was about security or insecurity.

The good news for couples with different ways of handling money is it usually means there are a distinct skill sets also being brought to the table. In fact, differing viewpoints, when combined, often led to a stronger economic unit than when two parties were, say, equally blind-eye to issues or both had a lop-sided approach. While similar approaches may have led to harmony, the bank book often suffered.

Here’s one easy exercise for couples with differing ways of handling money.

1. Each person should have a paper and pen (and perhaps a bottle of wine will help!) and sit down together.

2. Take ten minutes individually to write out your respective partner’s strengths. Not weaknesses! Genuine strengths. If your partner really angers you about money, you may need to dig deep here. Is it possible his spending brings more fun into your family life? Is it possible her control-freakiness is in fact keeping you out of peril? Is it possible her generosity is something you love in other facets of your life together? Is it possible his higher-risk investments have yielded, or might yield, a far better future for you?

3. After writing them out, read them aloud to one another. This could be the first time in a long time your partner has heard something positive about them re: money from you! Above all, do not blow it by injecting any subtle or not-subtle biting comments. Keep it 100% positive.

4. Then, take all the strengths and combine them in a list. Read and re-read that list. This is what you have to work with, as an Economic Unit.

5. Place that list somewhere visible. Don’t lose track of it. You ARE an economic unit. This list can become your play-book.

089/365 Money...What Money

Are you a broke mom who gives too much?

I worked with many women in their 50s who were broke. At most, they had their home partly paid off, but they had little savings and not much of a nest egg at all. They were understandably deeply anxious about it.

At the same time, they were sacrificially supporting their young adult kids: requesting no rent, or making their kid’s car payments/cel phone bills and more than one mom was putting them through private college.

This was difficult for me. I don’t have kids so I don’t personally know the deep, deep sacrificial love these moms had. And I didn’t know all the familial complexities and history the led up to this point.

But the moms were broke indeed, and rightly starting to sense that they were running out of time.

We would work together to find ways to ask the kids, sometimes for the first time ever, to start contributing to the family finances (rent. paying own cel. selling the car). Sometimes it happened, sometimes not. I suppose that’s because asking a child to start paying rent is so much more than a financial transaction, isn’t it?

If you’re a broke mom who gives too much, the one thing I’d say is this: it’s like being on an airplane and the oxygen mask drops down. Adults are asked to put their masks on first, and *then* help get the masks on the children. If you’re own financial life isn’t healthy (esp. at midlife), consider putting your own financial “mask” on and once you can “breathe normally” you will have a lot more capacity to help your children.