The best thing you can do for your relationship is talk about money

Picture it. You’ve settled the kids with a babysitter, put on some clean clothes and headed out with your spouse for a long overdue date night. You’re about to enjoy a bottle of wine, a nice meal, maybe even dessert. And best of all, a rare chance for uninterrupted, adult conversation.

You know what you should talk about?

Money.

I know what you’re thinking: “That’s a sure-fire way to kill the mood.” Or “Great. Just what I want to do — start a fight.”

But the truth is having a heart-to-heart about your finances is one of the best things you can do to build a healthy, lasting relationship.

Continue reading The best thing you can do for your relationship is talk about money

Economy vs. environment: Five ways you can support both


Someone, somewhere, started a rumour that it’s impossible to have a strong economy and a healthy environment. Then they drew a line between the two and suggested we all choose a side.

Well don’t.

This is lazy thinking.

It underestimates people’s ability to adapt to change and solve complex problems. It ignores the incredible work that industries are already doing to improve environmental stewardship while fostering economic success. And, worse of all, it makes it seem like there’s nothing we can do as individuals to balance the interests of both, so why bother to try.

The truth is individuals can have a very big impact on both the economy and the environment just by the choices they make on how and where to spend their money.

Here’s a few things that we can all do to support both.

Continue reading Economy vs. environment: Five ways you can support both

Eight tips for better holiday giving

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“We make a living by what we get.
We make a life by what we give. ”
– Winston Churchill

The holiday season is upon us, whether we’re ready for it or not. I can tell the season is here because shoppers are fighting over this year’s most popular toys, Starbucks has released it’s red cups, and the Facebook debate about whether to say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” is in full swing.

A number of charities have also started their seasonal campaigns. For most, this is the make it or break it season.  While the rest of us are jostling crowds and sipping eggnog lattes, or better yet — shopping online with a rum and eggnog in hand — these charities are counting on us to set enough money aside to see them and their clients through the upcoming year. So that they can provide others with things like food, clothing, shelter, care and support.

It provides a little perspective this time of year. And also makes me realize that my current level of generosity sucks. Continue reading Eight tips for better holiday giving

How to be more mindful of your money

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I’ve been reading a lot about mindfulness lately. The practice is everywhere. It’s the new catch phrase in the office. It’s being used to teach kids in school. It has even found its way into the delivery room.

But it makes sense that people are drawn to this idea because its the antithesis to the world we’ve created: where we wear multi-tasking as a badge of honour, double and triple book our time and smugly boast about how “busy” we are when asked how things are going.

We try to focus on a million things at once until we’re so physically and mentally exhausted that we can’t focus on anything at all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run around like a lunatic trying to get my shit out the door in the morning, only to arrive at work not remembering the drive in because my brain shut down the second my butt was in the car. It’s a vicious cycle of insanity and autopilot.

I’ve been on maternity leave for nearly nine months. I thought it would be a break from the rat race, but it isn’t. The race is still the same. It’s just different rats. I feel like the time is going by too fast, like I’m missing out on all the little moments that I should be making the most of because I’m still caught up in this need to always be getting shit done.

So I started reading about mindfulness. And the more I read, the more I realized that what I was learning could help in other areas of my life too — like my finances. Here’s how.

Continue reading How to be more mindful of your money

Three steps to better money management

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When we found out we were having another baby, my husband and I decided that I should extend my maternity leave by tagging six months of unpaid leave to the end. There were a million great reasons to do this:

  • I’d have more time with the baby, and more time with our two older kids.
  • The time of my return to work would give us two full summers at home.
  • It would be (hopefully) easier to go back to work full-time with an 18-month-old than a one-year-old.
  • I could take the time without giving up my job.

There was really only one reason not to do it: Money. We’d structured our lives as a two-income family. We were adding another person to our mix (not cheap). And we were still renovating our home (really not cheap). If I was going to give up half a year’s salary, we had to make sure we could still manage our living expenses without taking on debt.

Easier said than done. Continue reading Three steps to better money management

How to save thousands on your family vacation

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Ten years ago, within the span of a couple of months, my now husband and I moved to a new city, bought our first home, started new jobs and got married. Tackling four major life events in under 60 days was very exciting, but it was also incredibly expensive, leaving us with little money to fund a honeymoon.

But we were young and in love and in need of a break. So instead of completely forgoing a vacation, we bought a tent, packed up our Toyota Matrix and embarked on a 2,000 kilometre road trip to the West Coast.

This summer, to celebrate our 10-year anniversary, we decided to take a similar vacation — only this time, we’d be travelling with three little passengers in tow. We wanted our kids to share some of the experiences we’d had. We wanted to hear their breath catch in their throats as we travelled through the heart of the rocky mountains and see the excitement on their faces as they sidestepped crabs and jellyfish in the Pacific Ocean.

With a little planning, we were able to do all this and more, and keep our costs in check in the process. Here’s how. Continue reading How to save thousands on your family vacation