A Money Coach in Canada

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Sept 2011’s Money 101 post roundup:

What were you taught about money?

How to bust a poverty mindset

Quick chat with John Chow on culturally-shaped attitudes towards money

Cover it Live twitter chat w/ Krystal on how she got out of student debt so fast, and Marcy on common money messes she sees.

Get New Parents (if yours didn’t give you a healthy approach to money)

Saving. Should you save if you’re in debt? and other such questions.

Debt Elimination: Part 1 Part 2

Disappointment Recovery Plan

And of course all the goodness that was my Online Launch Party!

When is the last time you had a meaty conversation about the meaning of life? Or attempted to think through (much less articulate) what living a good life means to you?

It’s been years for me, frankly. Sure, I know what kind of things deeply please me: downloading a good sci-fi flick (finally discovered Doctor Who!) on my hd 40″ flat-screen TV; a well-crafted, made-in-the-USA weekender bag; a sumptuous supper with good wine at France & Doug’s place (who grow all their own produce and use solar panels for energy and pump in their own water from the lake by which they live).

No doubt you have your own list of good things.

These lists of ours are where we allocate our dollars (just ask Oprah).

While lovely and worthwhile, the sum of those lists don’t necessarily equate to a good life. And there’s no guarantee that at any moment a whole lot of those won’t be removed from us by illness, job loss, or a stock market crash. (Canada’s 2011 election results indicate most of us instinctively understand that, and so we voted in the guy who promised to protect us against the possibility).

A recent HBR article re-challenged me to do some hard thinking about all this. The author writes:
[In contrast to consumerism, there’s] an alternate vision, one I call eudaimonic prosperity, and it’s about living meaningfully well. Its purpose is not merely passive, slack-jawed “consuming” but living: doing, achieving, fulfilling, becoming, inspiring, transcending, creating, accomplishing — all the stuff that matters the most. See the difference? Opulence is Donald Trump. Eudaimonia is the Declaration of Independence.

Figuring out what “living meaningfully well” means to each of us requires quietude and deliberation. It is not about going from pleasurable episode (fun Doctor Who flick) to pleasurable episode (lovely dinner with friends) to pleasurable episode (vacation in England) but an over-arching, continuing, life-long narrative into which the episodes fit, or don’t. On a personal note, I’ve dusted mine off from years ago and mine is simply this: to be and become the most Nancy I can, in this one life (to my knowledge) that I’ve been given.

As we work through these very.big.questions, we will discover we can extricate ourselves from our culture of consumption in favour of living into our very own, unique lives well lived.

Photo Credit: elkit

Can you hear the ducks in the pond?

How ’bout the lazy sound of bees, or the bugs on the water?

Or the airplane far off in the distance?

Can you feel the warmth of the northern, summer sun?

My 2 daschunds and I spent a glorious hour on a park bench and by the end I felt as tranquil and at ease with the world as a person can ever hope for.

Thank you, nature.

Huh. I’ve held onto one measly token share of Martha Stewart Living and after all these years, I just might see a return on my investment (or at least get my money back). Here’s an interesting fact: her magazines and TV shows all lose money, but is offset by all the licensing (ie. her brand name placed on products) they do. Just goes to show: personal brand IS everything!

A Toronto Condo sold for a record $28 Million. Guess Canada’s hit the world stage for reals now. (But I’m not sure I care for the lighting fixture, do you?)

The French Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde, announced she will be running for the top job in the IMF. (What is the IMF? More on that in the fall, but quick version: Essentially they keep an eye on economies around the world, lend money to countries who are floundering, and give advice).

And your daily cuppa will likely go up: Starbucks is paying a 17% increase for its bags of coffee.

We should set aside money for RRSPs.

We should not have any debt.

We should have and stick to a budget.

We should be saving our money.

We should care more about managing our finances.

and then there’s real life.

Look. There is no Law Of The Universe out there that we are breaking when we don’t have it all together with our money. There is no “guilty” verdict hanging over you, or anybody. Really. If you are not saving, if you are in debt, if you are overspending, you are not guilty of anything.

Having a bunch of Shoulds in our heads about our money usually just creates a sense of failure. This is not helpful! It does not inspire us! And it incorrectly positions us in relationship to money. It makes money our taskmaster rather than vice-versa. (It can also be deadly on relationships if one partner has a set of shoulds that they believe apply to the other partner as well!)

This particular pattern of distorted thinking is pervasive when it comes to managing money. It’s time to declutter our minds of the shoulds!

Here’s how.

Next time you find yourself feeling guilty or tense about how you’re handling your money, ask yourself what internal should you are not living up to. Then remind yourself there is no law. There is no standard. So where did the should come from? Only you can answer that. Explore it a little.

Replace that should with weighing your various options about how to handle your money in that particular area. For example, rather than I should save more for retirement your options available could include:

  • Having a nest egg (or a bigger one) for when I retire would feel good and I’d probably be really glad I had it when the time comes.  But living life fully right now feels better.   So I am giving myself permission to carry on as I am.
  • I really wish I could put aside more for my retirement.  However, I am setting aside the amount that is workable in my current situation which includes paying down my mortgage, getting my kids through school, and paying off my student loan.  When it makes sense, given my overall financial picture, I will increase more.
  • If I do not set aside anything for my retirement, things could get pretty ugly at that time.  I know that.   Just because I’m not doing anything about it doesn’t make me a bad person.  It will probably bite me in the ass but that still doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.
  • When I really think about it, I would actually like to save more for my retirement.  I could increase my contributions by $50/$100/$500 a month.

Last, do a simple bait-and-switch.  Next time you have a should change it to a could. That is a word that is full of possibility.    I could set aside more for retirement.  I could be out of debt.  I could have and stick to a budget.  I could….

ps – If you’d like to get more involved with your money, pop over to my biz website, Your Money by Design. It’s still in beta and I have a whole lot of users testing it but you’re welcome to join in at this point!  Because it’s still in beta it’s no charge – that will change for folks who start after May 2011, so dive in now!

photo credit:  416Style

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