By Miranda Massie on April 3, 2018
I was fortunate to take a short vacation to a sunnier destination at the end of last month. Nothing gets me thinking about my finances more than travel, especially when converting hard-earned Canadian dollars into US currency. With tax season upon us, and in an effort to bring attention to the importance of financial wellbeing, I present a list of our top financial hacks to help set you on the right track for the new financial season.
Hack #1: Deal with high debt
Prioritize debt with the highest interest rates. When you’ve paid off one, move on to the next highest.
Hack #2: Unsubscribe from temptation
If you are trying to practice good financial health, unsubscribe from mailing lists so that you are not tempted to impulse-buy through online shopping deals.
Hack #3: Travel tips
Planning a vacation and want to stretch your dollars? Look at “value for money” destination lists such as Lonely Planet’s 2018 Best Value guide. Or, try clearing your cache (browsing history) each time you search for flights online, as sites often raise their prices if they see that you are searching multiple times for the same flight.
Hack #4: Statements serve a purpose
Read your monthly financial statements to help combat fraud and identify potential mix-ups early. Real-life example: I discovered I was being overcharged on my cellphone bill even after contacting the company to clear up the error. I would not have caught it without fully reading through my statement each month.
Hack #5: Get gift card savvy
If eating out is important, save some money by giving someone an “experience” gift, purchasing prizes in bulk, or buying discounted gift cards from places like Costco or London Drugs. Alternately, if you find yourself with a wallet full of unused gift cards, look at re-selling them online through sites like CardSwap.ca.
Hack #6: Maximize your benefits
Do you know all of the details of your UBC Extended Health plan? You might be missing out on opportunities to save money. Learn more about your benefit details, or check out our Health, Fitness and Family Discounts.
Hack #7: Strengthen your money know-how
Attend our upcoming workshop on Debt Freedom & Finances or The Psychology of Money, or read some of our past finance-related articles, including A Financial Cleanse in Five Steps and ‘Cha-Ching’: Cost Effective Health Hacks.
Here’s to healthier wallets this spring!
All my best,
By Melissa Lafrance on April 3, 2018
Are you looking for clarity when it comes to dealing with complex financial concerns? UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider, Shepell, can be a great place to start. Find insights, tips and strategies to simplify your financial matters and gain a clearer perspective when it comes to your finances. Best of all, EFAP’s financial support services are confidential, available 24/7 and free to access for all eligible UBC staff and faculty enrolled in EFAP.
To help you and your family understand both everyday and more complex financial situations, EFAP offers the following financial support services:
- Credit and debt management
- Financial aspects of separation and divorce
- Financial emergencies
- Retirement and will planning
- Employment transitions
- Real estate
It’s All About You
Shepell’s financial support services are designed to suit your learning, lifestyle and comfort level. The following options are available:
Online Financial Planning Services
- Interactive and personalized three-month online program
- Provides financial education and helps you create a tailored action plan for your future
- Convenient, secure and confidential
- Professional and confidential financial advice
- Referrals to financial advisors and additional resources provided as needed
To get started with Shepell’s financial support services, call 1-800-387-4765 or browse their available services online.
Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization.
Enhance Your Financial Knowledge
Shepell offers an extensive library of online financial information. If you prefer to take a self-guided approach to learning about finances, access their workhealthlife articles on the following topics:
- Finances for New Parents
- Financial Health: How Your Finances Affect Your Mind
- Credit and Debt Management
- Things to Consider for Retirement Planning
- Will and Estate Planning
- Legal Support Services
- Tax Planning
- Real Estate and Mortgages
Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization.
By Melissa Lafrance on October 25, 2017
Managing Your Money | October 25 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Location: Point Grey)
Creating a plan to manage your money is a sound way to achieve the goals you want in life, whether it be a house, travel, education or retirement. The quote, “failing to plan is planning to fail,” does apply to the process of managing personal finances. In this session, join money coach Melanie Buffel to learn how to manage and control finances, reinforce good habits, build new ones and create a manageable budget. There will be additional information on saving to meet your financial needs and investing these savings. Find out more and register now.
Conflict Management Series (Location: Point Grey)
Part 2 – Dealing with Difficult Personalities | October 26 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Workplaces can produce high achievers and dynamic team players. They can also be places where employees become regularly frustrated or annoyed with co-workers. Developing techniques to address these challenging personality types can greatly increase staff morale and job satisfaction. This session will look at the distinction between difficult behaviour and difficult people and provide participants with strategies to respond effectively to challenging situations with a focus on assertive communication. Find out more and register now.
Part 3 – Understanding High Conflict Personalities at Work | November 9 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
This workshop will outline the skills and strategies for understanding complex personalities in the workplace from the perspective of a mental health diagnosis. Participants will gain insight into how and why individuals with diagnosed personality disorders might behave and interact with others the way they do. The workshop also examines how compassion can help increase one’s competency in recognizing challenging behaviours and handling high conflict interactions. Find out more and register now.
Thrive Week Workshops & Courses (October 30 – November 3)
Thrive Kick-off | October 30 | 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. (Location: Point Grey)
All staff, faculty and students are invited to join the Thrive week 2017 kick-off event. Grab a healthy snack, hot drink and yellow stress ball. Enjoy upbeat music. The event will take place in Lee Square at the corner of East Mall and University Boulevard (near the Bookstore). Learn more about the Thrive Kick-off and other Thrive events on both campuses.
Thriving in Change | October 30 | 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. | Cost: $200 (Location: Point Grey)
Change is normal and natural, and we can respond to change and support others to make it a positive experience. Attend this half-day course to explore your own attitudes and reactions to change. Learn foundational models to broaden your appreciation and gain new tools and strategies to use in an interpersonal and organizational context. This course is PD-eligible and costs $200 to enrol. Find out more and register now.
Relaxation Techniques to Help You Thrive | November 2 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Location: Point Grey)
Make time to calm down and reduce stress, using both proactive and reactive relaxation techniques. You will leave this workshop with an understanding of your stress response, discuss the importance of managing stress, and practice stress-reducing exercises. Learn more and register now.
UBC’s Largest Zumba | November 3 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Location: Point Grey)
Join UBC Recreation and your fellow colleagues, students and friends for UBC’s annual Largest Zumba. The event will include a Zumba session, refreshments, info booths, and other fun activities. Get moving and celebrate the end of Thrive week! Learn more.
Mindfulness@Work Program | Starts November 7, 2017 (Location: Point Grey) and April 5, 2018 (Location: DHCC/VGH) | Cost: $100
The six-week, in-person Mindfulness@Work training program runs in November 2017 and in April 2018. If you are looking for more in-depth mindfulness training, Mindfulness@Work specifically focuses on integrating the practice of mindfulness in the workplace to promote effectiveness, teamwork and communication. Find out more and register now.
QPR Suicide Prevention Training | November 23 | 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Location: DHCC/VGH)
QPR Training is an internationally recognized suicide prevention program designed to help you question, persuade and refer. QPR acts as an emergency mental health intervention designed to save lives, much like CPR or other methods of emergency medical intervention. Learn to recognize suicide warning signs, how to approach someone who may be at risk, persuade the person to seek appropriate health services, and connect the person to resources that will help resolve crises. Suicide is preventable. Find out more and register now.
Ergo Your Office Tutorial | November 29 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Location: Point Grey)
Optimize your computer work environment to improve comfort and reduce the risk of injury. This one-hour tutorial combines a presentation and a practical session, giving you hands-on experience adjusting typical office equipment. By the end of the tutorial, you will know how to set up your chair, keyboard/mouse and monitor to promote neutral working postures. Find out more and register now.
Photo credit: UBC Thrive
Posted in Events, Healthy UBC Initiatives | Tagged conflict, courses, Ergonomics, events, financial health, Mindfulness, money management, QPR, Relaxation, stress management, Suicide prevention, thrive, workshops | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on April 5, 2017
Congratulations on making it through the end of the fiscal year on campus! This inevitable, yet often trying, time of year can be very stressful, particularly if you are like me and have a fear of tiny boxes filled with numbers.
According to the Financial Planning Standards Council, 42% of Canadians rank money as their top source of stress. As a young professional currently renting a one-bedroom, planning a wedding and hoping to eventually start a family, finances are always top of mind and often a source of stress. Caring for our financial health and finding ways to manage the associated stress is vital to our overall wellbeing and quality of life.
With this in mind, spring feels like a great time to begin thinking about ways to boost fiscal health, perhaps through a financial cleanse. Think of it as spring cleaning for your wallet!
1.Track where you’re at
Though it may be tedious and it might seem like a slow start to the process, it is impossible to make improvements to your spending habits without first assessing where you are at. For best results, track your spending for a minimum of 30 days. The good news is that there are lots of spending trackers and budgeting apps that can make this step less painful.
Mint.com (App or desktop)
Budget Calculator in Excel (Credit Counselling Society)
2.Take stock of your existing inventory
While tracking, take stock of what you already have in the way of clothing, health and beauty products, non-perishable food, etc. Create a list so that you are on top of what you currently own. This decreases the likelihood of making purchases “just in case” or because you’ve forgotten what you’ve already bought.
You might also want to take this time to look at any ongoing monthly subscription services that you are paying into, like Netflix, meal delivery services, gym memberships, magazines or catalogues. Are you receiving the value you expected at the start? Are you making the most of the services? Do you think that the service is worth what you are paying (i.e., would you sign up now if you were not already subscribed)?
3.Consolidate your plastic
The average Canadian has two or three credit cards in their name and close to half are carrying credit card debt month to month. Try making purchases without a credit card (using debit instead), or if you like to get rewards points, ensure that you have the money needed to pay off the purchase in advance. Consider closing one or more of your credit cards (remembering to hold on to the oldest one for credit history purposes). There are a variety of different strategies for how to go about paying off credit card debt, but typically anything that goes above and beyond the minimum payment per month is a positive step.
4.Establish a debt plan
On top of credit cards, many people are also facing car loans, mortgages, student loans and other personal loans. These debts can weigh heavily, restricting daily financial decisions as well as overall mental health. Consider creating a debt repayment plan. List all of your debts and their interest rates and determine a minimum monthly payment for each that you are comfortable with. Explore ways of consolidating loans, and use any savings from other areas to help pay down the remaining balance.
5.Try a fiscal fast
If you are trying to curb spending or change your financial habits, stop spending money (except for essentials of course) for one week. This will force you to make do with what you already have and stop you from spending on “extras” or unnecessary items. You may discover that there is a lot that you can do without money or that you can find new value in what you already have. To make it more fun, try it as a challenge with a friend or within your family.
Check out the Money Diet: Withdraw all the cash you will need for essentials for a week. Avoid using debit or credit cards and see if you can make it through the week.
*Bonus tip: Put up a “digital defense”. Remove temptations that could lead to online shopping by unsubscribing from store newsletters or offers for products. You may also want to consider creating a self-imposed ban on online purchases during certain times of the year.
I realize that some of these steps may not be feasible, or may not appeal to everyone. Even if this is the case, I encourage you to use the start of spring as a reminder to look after your financial health. Financial stress, left untreated, can have significant impacts on our mental health and on the wellbeing of those around us. And don’t be afraid to reach out for support, especially if you just can’t bear to face the tiny boxes with numbers all alone.
All my best,
By Melissa Lafrance on April 5, 2017
It’s no secret or surprise that financial stress is a major cause of overall stress for many people and that finances play a crucial role in our wellbeing. After covering our fixed and living expenses, it can be difficult to justify spending money on personal or professional development. Luckily, UBC staff and faculty have free and discounted perks that make it a little less cost-prohibitive to take part in developing our health, wellbeing and professional growth.
The April edition of the Healthy UBC Newsletter is all about financial wellbeing – and there’s no better way to save money than by taking advantage of free things! Read on to learn about the wide range of free (or discounted) health, wellbeing and professional development offerings.
Corporate Health, Fitness & Family Discounts
As a member of UBC’s staff and faculty, you and your family are eligible for many discounts at organizations both on and off campus. Check out the health, fitness and family discounts for local fitness, yoga and recreation programs, as well as local arts and culture offerings.
Learn ways of budgeting for fitness, nutrition and work-life balance.
Free Courses and Professional Development Opportunities
Programming includes workshops, training and large-scale events aimed at increasing and promoting the wellbeing of faculty and staff as well as the development of healthy work environments.
Healthy UBC Events and Workshops are free ongoing university-wide educational opportunities that focus on promoting positive mental health and physical wellbeing for staff, faculty and departments.
Funding is available to several employee groups to support learning opportunities that enhance knowledge, work performance and career growth at UBC. Funding can be accessed to supplement UBC tuition waivers and it also covers external learning activities including professional membership fees, workshops, conferences and courses. Learn about eligibility criteria and how to apply by visiting the PD Funding page.
As an employee at UBC, there are many professional-development opportunities available to you that will support you in your current role as well as in your career progression at the university. Learning and development opportunities can range from in-person multi-day programs to on-demand online courses. You and your dependent family members may also be eligible to take many UBC courses without paying the tuition fee.
Learn the most in-demand tech, creative and workplace business skills taught by industry experts. All UBC staff and faculty receive free premium-level access to the lynda.com library of high-quality digital tutorials, courses and curated learning paths.
By Melissa Lafrance on October 25, 2016
Back by popular demand: Managing Your Money – Oct. 26, 12:00 – 1:00 pm (Location: Point Grey)
Creating a plan to manage your money is a sound way to achieve the goals you want in life, whether it be a house, travel, education or retirement. The quote, “failing to plan is planning to fail,” does apply to the process of managing personal finances. In this session, join Money Coach Melanie Buffel to learn to manage and control finances, reinforce good habits, build new ones and create a manageable budget. There will be additional information on saving to meet your financial needs and investing these savings. For information and to register, click here.
Ergo Your Office Tutorial – Oct. 26 & Nov. 30, 12:00 – 1:00 pm (Location: Point Grey)
Optimize your computer work environment to improve comfort and reduce the risk of injury. This one-hour tutorial combines a presentation and a practical session, giving you hands-on experience adjusting typical office equipment. By the end of the tutorial you will know how to set up your chair, keyboard/mouse, and monitor to promote neutral working postures. For more information and to register, click here.
Thrive: Kick-Off Celebration – Oct. 31, 8:30 – 11:30 am (Location: Point Grey)
All staff, faculty and students are invited to join in celebrating the Thrive week 2016 kick-off event. Grab a healthy snack and hot drink, grab a yellow Thrive stress ball, enjoy live music by the Fireside Quintet and chat with UBC President Prof. Santa Ono! The event will take place at the corner of East Mall and University Boulevard (near the Bookstore). For more information, click here.
Thrive: UBC Botanical Garden Tours – Daily between Oct. 31 – Nov. 4, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm (Location: Point Grey)
Join a Garden Guide in a walk through our significant plant collection at the UBC Botanical Garden. Take in the natural beauty, fresh air and camaraderie and enjoy one of UBC’s treasures on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. This tour is part of UBC HR’s Thrive Initiative to support UBC staff, students and faculty in getting active. For more information and to register, click here.
Thrive: Stress Relaxation Techniques – Nov. 1, 12:00 – 2: 00 pm (Location: Point Grey)
Make time to calm down and reduce stress, using both proactive and reactive relaxation techniques. You will leave this workshop with an understanding of your stress response, discuss the importance of managing stress, and practice stress reducing exercises. For more information and to register, click here.
Thrive: UBC’s Largest Zumba Class – Nov. 4, 12:00 – 1:00 pm (Location: Point Grey)
Join UBC Recreation and your fellow colleagues, students, and friends for UBC’s annual Largest Zumba class. The event will include a Zumba session, refreshments, info booths, and other fun activities. Get moving and celebrate the end of Thrive week! For more information and to register, click here.
Mindfulness@Work – Nov. 7 – Dec. 12(Location: Point Grey)
Mindfulness@Work is a six-week, in-person, evidence-based training that will let you reduce stress, cultivate physical and mental health, and promote your wellbeing. Mindfulness@Work specifically focuses on integrating the practice of mindfulness in the workplace to promote effectiveness, teamwork, and improved communication. The program will run Nov. 7 – Dec. 12, 2016 and again April 10 – May 15, 2017. Registration is now open for the Fall and Spring programs!
You can expect:
- Expert-led and evidence-based programming and classes
- A half-day weekend retreat & homework including 10-minute daily meditation
- Supportive small group setting
- Practical learnings and interactive practices
- $100 registration fee
Mental Health First Aid Training – Nov. 29 & Dec. 6, 9: 00 am – 4:30 pm (Location: Point Grey)
Mental Health First Aid, a two-day in-person workshops, aims to improve mental health literacy by providing participants with the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, a family member, a friend or a colleague. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, be able to provide initial support to a person who may be developing a mental health problem or is experiencing a crisis, and be prepared to guide a person towards professional help. For more information and to register, click here.
Posted in Events, Healthy UBC Initiatives, Mental Health, Nutrition, Physical Health | Tagged activities, Ergonomics, events, financial health, Mindfulness, physical activity, Relaxation, Stress, thrive, Thrive week, tours, UBC, UBC Botanical Gardens, Walking, zumba | 1 Response
By Miranda Massie on April 5, 2016
It is no secret that we live in one of the most expensive cities on the planet. The draw of delicate cherry blossoms, crisp ocean breezes and gorgeous mountain views are only some of the reasons that keep us here, despite the costs.
The stark reality however, is that we can’t count on the ocean or the view to pay the bills, and, the stresses associated with finances can be overwhelming and at times suffocating.
I often hear from people that items related to personal health and wellbeing are the first things to be sacrificed in times of financial strain. What we sometimes forget is that keeping well doesn’t have to break the bank.
At the end of the day, if we don’t have our health, how are we to enjoy and appreciate our wealth?
Top health hacks to boost your wellbeing while keeping money in your wallet
Participate in free events:
Register now for UBC’s annual Staff and Faculty Sports Day on May 6, 2016. This free UBC Centennial event is designed to build teamwork and celebrate the end of the school year. With your team of 4-6 people, you will take part in four physical or intellectual challenges and enjoy a free lunch, prizes and more!
Take advantage of discounts:
As a staff and faculty member at UBC, you have access to a wide range of corporate discounts for local fitness, yoga, and recreation programs. Already covered for physical health? Don’t forget to explore the arts and culture as well as family event discounts available too. Discounts include both on and off campus options.
UBC offers free pension plan workshops on a wide range of topics intended to help you make informed decisions for your family and future. Topics include Pension Plan 101, Understanding your Pension Plan, Retirement Information and GetEducated Seminars. Available for individuals, departments and larger groups.
You also have access to a wide variety of online learning tools through UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program provider, Shepell. Visit workhealthlife.com to find out more.
Find the right incentive:
Canada’s first wellness rewards program has launched in the form of Carrot Rewards. BC residents who make an effort to lead healthier lifestyles can now be rewarded with loyalty points such as Aeroplan, PetroPoints, Scene and MoreRewards. Users who sign up (it’s free) for Carrot Rewards will be able to earn loyalty points for completing activities centred on making healthier lifestyle choices.
As we set foot into a fresh fiscal year, I want to leave you with one last hack, or perhaps just a fun fact:
People often assume that eating healthier costs more money. Well, Harvard did a study to see if this was really the case. They found that the difference in price between the healthiest diets (rich in fish, nuts, fruits and veggies) and the least heathy diets was $1.50 per day. For the cost of a daily cup of store-bought coffee, you have the potential to re-allocate your funds in a health boosting way.
All my best
By Melissa Lafrance on April 5, 2016
Maintaining a wholesome diet or purchasing healthy foods may seem a little more difficult these days with increasing food prices. Perhaps you’ve noticed a difference in your grocery bill, or have seen the changes to Statistic Canada’s Consumer Price Index for food. One culprit is the current value of the Canadian dollar. With 81% of vegetables, fruits and nuts imported from outside of Canada, it’s an inevitable shift. Another factor is climate change and the effect this has on crops.
Regardless of food prices, we need to eat! There is some good news. We can all adopt a few habits to get the most bang for our buck while ensuring proper nutrition and reducing the impact the rising food cost has on our health and our wallets.
1. Cooking at Home vs. Eating Out
The University of Guelph’s Food Price Report states the average Canadian household will spend $8,631 on food in 2016, an increase of about $345 from 2015. Those figures include an average of $2,416 spent in restaurants. When you go out to eat, you are not just paying for the food itself, but also for the service, food preparation, staff wages, etc.
Get cooking to save money! Check the Healthy UBC Recipes Series.
2. In-season Produce
Foods that are in-season are often less expensive than when they are not in season. Check out a helpful chart for seasonal and local foods in BC.
3. Shop the Specials
Take a minute to read the in-store flyers and plan your meals accordingly. It may mean you need to visit a couple of stores to get the best deal. Stock up while specials last but make sure not to overdo it to avoid food waste.
4. Plan Ahead and Stick to Your Grocery List
When there is a plan in place for meals, there is a better chance that food will be readily available when you need it and there will be less tendency to eat out or purchase pre-made meals. It’s so simple and the payoff will be worth it.
5. Waste Less and Use Leftovers
6. Cook More Vegetarian Meals
If you are finding animal proteins are more expensive than what you can afford, you can add more vegetarian sources of protein to your meals. Check out a fantastic collection of healthy vegetarian recipes and 10 meatless high-protein foods.
7. Check the Best Before Dates
Make sure you check the date to ensure you will have enough time to consume it before it goes to waste. Read more on best before dates vs. expiry dates.
By Melissa Lafrance on January 11, 2016
30 Day Online Mindfulness Challenge – Orientation & Registration
Dates & Locations:
- Jan. 12, 2016 | 1:15pm – 2:15pm (VGH/DHCC)
- Jan. 13, 2016 | 12:30pm – 1:30pm (Point Grey)
This free orientation session is an opportunity to learn more about the art and science of mindfulness and the 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge, as well as an opportunity to register for the programs beginning in February, 2016. There will be time for questions and answers at the orientation session.
For more information and to register for the orientation sessions, click here.
Introduction to the CUPE 2950 Health Spending Account & Other Benefit Changes
Dates & Locations:
- Jan. 12, 2016 | 12-1pm (Point Grey)
- Jan. 20, 2016 | 3-4pm (VGH/DHCC)
- Feb. 3, 2016 | 12:10-1pm (Point Grey)
This session will be an opportunity for CUPE 2950 members to learn about their new benefit changes and to ask questions about the changes and other available benefits. For more information and to register for one of the information sessions, click here.
Gentle Yoga – Jan. 20, 2016 @ 11am – 12pm (Location: Point Grey)
By focusing on your breathing, relaxing your mind, and connecting with your body, you will find calmness within yourself and be prepared to take on the rest of your day.
All UBC staff & faculty of all yoga practice levels are welcome to register and attend this free Gentle Stretch Yoga class. For more information and to register, click here.
Financial Success Workshop: Saving Strategies – Jan. 21, 2016 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
This workshop will provide you with an analysis of wealth accumulation and savings mechanisms, as well as a review of best practices. For all levels of wealth management, there is information relevant to all situations no matter your knowledge base or income bracket. For more information and to register, click here.
QPR Suicide Prevention Training – Jan. 27, 2016 @ 10am – 12pm (Location: Point Grey)
QPR Training is an internationally recognized suicide prevention program designed to help you question, persuade, and refer. QPR acts as an emergency mental health intervention designed to save lives much like CPR or other methods of emergency medical intervention. For more information and to register, click here.
Ergo Your Office – Jan. 27, 2016 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Optimize your computer work environment to improve comfort and reduce the risk of injury.
This one-hour tutorial combines a presentation and a practical session, giving you hands-on experience adjusting typical office equipment. By the end of the tutorial you will know how to set up your chair, keyboard/mouse and monitor to promote neutral working postures. For more information and to register, click here.
Creating Balance in Your Life – Feb. 10, 2016 @ 12-1pm (Location: VGH/DHCC)
This session will help you explore how your current choices impact your work-life satisfaction and help you develop strategies to achieve a greater balance in life. Learn a better understanding of what balance means, recognize what you can and cannot control, and identify priorities in your life. For more information and to register, click here.
By Miranda Massie on April 8, 2015
My partner and I recently met with a financial advisor. We are currently in the midst of planning for our future, feeling caught between student loan debt and an uncertain job market, while looking ahead to home ownership and starting a family.
In a city like Vancouver, the financial prognosis is grim and we have often put off facing our finances due to the stress and overwhelmingly gloomy outlook that comes with it. We have met with advisors at our banks in the past, but often left feeling as though we had sat through a sales pitch instead of a counselling session. Denial was our financial strategy of choice, but that can only work for so long.
In last month’s editorial, I wrote about embarking on an emotional cleanse and getting rid of the negative impact that bottling up emotions can have on our health. I think that this same idea applies to finances. We (as a society) tend to not talk about money. We have been socialized to keep financial matters to ourselves, as well as dealing with the myriad of emotions that come along with them. Keeping all of this stress and uncertainty to ourselves can take a toll on our mental health, relationships and overall wellbeing.
What I discovered is that it feels great to talk about money out loud, especially with someone who knows their stuff. Our discussions with the financial advisor were calm, frank and filled with humour and even prompted discussions with friends on the subject. The advice was invaluable, as well-sensitive and honest.
This month, I invite you to talk about money. Say the words out loud, either to yourself, a loved one or a financial professional. Letting someone else in, especially on this topic, can alleviate some of the inevitable financial crunch that we feel we are under.
5 fun facts I learned from financial planning
It’s ok to dream and to say what you want out loud. Do not apologise for lofty goals. You will only have a chance to achieve them if you are realistic in planning for them.
You find out where you are. Knowing where you stand, whether positive or negative will always set you up in a better position for success than not knowing at all.
Financial advisors are not all sales people. I used to fear going into see a financial advisor because I always felt like I was being pushed towards something I didn’t really need. Find someone you trust and stick with them.
It feels great to have a plan. The benefit of seeing professional advice is that you no longer have to guess at whether you are doing the right thing or making the right financial move. The decisions are still yours accompanied with guidance from a professional.
We don’t need it all now. Of course we have dreams and plans for the future but waiting for them is okay. Taking the time to plan and save now will ensure that our goals are all met in the long run.
Looking for free or affordable financial advice?
Financial Support Services from UBC’s EFAP provider Shepell.
Know Your Financial Advisor-online search tool
Posted in Editorial, EFAP, Mental Health, Miranda Massie, Spot Light | Tagged editorial, facts, financial health, fun, mental health, money, money management, planning, resources, Support | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on April 8, 2015
Guest contribution by Dr. Joti Samra
Q: I lent money to a friend in trouble – a year has passed and although he’s now got his feet back on the ground, he’s not brought up paying me back. How can I ask for my money back?
A: There is some wisdom in the old adage that money and friends don’t mix. More often than not, mixing the two can create rifts in a friendship and add an awkwardness that wasn’t there before.
In your situation, you did what a good friend does – in fact what a great friend does: You supported your friend when he needed it. However, he has a responsibility to now respect you by paying you back. The best way to approach him is clearly and directly.
Here are some tips you can follow when making your request:
Describe the past situation: “You may remember that in [month/year] I lent you [x dollars] when you had called and let me know you were in a jam. I really wanted to help you out, so was happy to do so. I know you’ve gone through a lot since that time, and I am really happy that you are getting back on your feet again.”
Describe your current situation (not necessary but it may help to give context): “I’m in a position now where I need that money back.”
Make your request (be specific, and provide timelines): “So, I need the full amount of what I lent you back, ideally by the end of the month.”
Be reasonably flexible and allow your friend to respond: “I realize that this is likely not something you were planning for. What are your thoughts on being able to get the full amount back to me within that time period?”
Then negotiate a reasonable resolution that is acceptable to both of you. Be specific. Ask yourself what you are willing to accept and convey that clearly to your friend. For example, if you need the money within the month and he proposes to pay you six months down the road, let him know that won’t work for you and why. Tell him that you do not want money to get in the way of your friendship and that you are hopeful you can arrive at a resolution that works for both of you. Do not apologize (as that dilutes the request) and do not be overly wordy.
If your friend is not willing to give your money back or work to get it to you within the limits he has, unfortunately, it may be that you just have to learn a very valuable lesson from this and decide how, or in what capacity, you want to keep this friend in your life moving forward.
Reminder: UBC Staff and Faculty have access to a number of health related prevention services through the Employee and Family Assistance Program. Staff and faculty who are enrolled in UBC’s extended benefits plan also have $1,200 coverage per year to see a Registered Psychologist.
Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych., is a clinical psychologist and organizational and media consultant. She is the host of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Million Dollar Neighbourhood” and was the psychological consultant to CITY-TV’s “The Bachelor Canada”. She has also served as a psychological consultant and expert to a number of other TV shows and news outlets. Dr. Samra maintains a clinical practice in Vancouver. Her website is www.drjotisamra.com and she can be followed @drjotisamra.
This article is adapted from an article Dr. Samra wrote for The Globe and Mail (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/ask-a-health-expert/my-friend-borrowed-a-bundle-from-me-how-do-i-get-him-to-pay-it-back/article4455928/)