Wine with A Purpose Inaugural Event

1When women have wine with a purpose and come together to support each other a kind of alchemy occurs.  The sharing becomes natural and flows effortlessly. This is what happened on March 3rd at the inaugural Wine with a Purpose event.  I had the pleasure of spending and evening with some very diverse and beautiful women.  We came from different backgrounds and had different life experiences, but were able to understand each other in a very authentic and unspoken manner. We all talked about  the issues that face us and as diverse as they may have been, we call could empathize with each other. During the course of the evening we sometimes veered off from financial issues. There was a lot of talk about shoes and cars, but we kept circling back to the central theme of the evening which was the disentanglement of self worth and net worth. The more we talked, we realized that this insidious concept haunts a lot of us and for some it is deeply ingrained.  If this inaugural session is an indication of things to come I would say were are in for some deep exploration and intense sharing, which will get us closer to freeing ourselves from the burden of this concept. The evening ended with a mission. The first part of the mission is acceptance. Accept where and how you are now. The second part of the mission is that moving forward we start asking: Why do we want the things we want? Where are we in a rush to get to? Be warned that when we take a moment to question our motives we may start to uncover more than we bargain for!

I am looking forward to our next session. Register at  to have the details sent straight to your inbox.



A note on sensational media financial advice!


In a recent episode of Dr. Oz, he had financial experts advising on how to get debt free once and for all.  The segment opened with the question “how much would you have at the end of 30 days if you double a penny each day for those 30 days”.  The expert captivated the audience by telling them that they would end up with about $5,000,000 at the end of the month (he may have said $10 million). If we do the math we see it is in fact $5,000,000. It is a beautiful example to show the power of compounding.  The presentation, however, did not make it clear that it was just a demonstration of a concept. It made for a sensational sound bite “pennies can earn you millions”.  Then he goes on to rattle off something about a 10% interest rate growth and mutual funds and EFTs.  The implication was that if one buys mutual funds or ETFs they can just watch their money grow. These were the “simple” steps.

What he failed to mention was that his explanation was ALL theoretical.  He forgot to mention that for a 10% return one  would most likely to be invested in equities and this means that we have to expect volatility and losses. Anyone  following the markets recently would need a strong constitution to hold their ground with the current level of uncertainty and volatility that exists.

The expert neglected the most important factor in overcoming and remaining  debt free  and that is one has to address the behavior that caused the problem in the first place. If that behavior is not corrected, the chances of one relapsing into debt are very high. The audience would have benefited more from  understanding that there is no quick solution and that saving is important and the earlier you start and the longer you do it, the better off you will be.  How and where to save, is very specific to one’s life circumstances. These points are not very sensational or attention grabbing. If anything they sound like a lot of work.  The reality is that that dramatic headlines are just that, drama. There is no getting around fundamentals.

The other piece of advice was given by a second expert and I think its best to call this whack-a-mole financial advice. Let me explain. Dr. Oz has a 30 debt credit card challenge to get your debt in order “once and for all!” With this challenge you are not allowed to use your credit card for 30 days. You can only use cash and you are only allowed to use your debit card once and a week.  Now, on the one hand it is phenomenal to get people to stop using their credit card and realize that it is possible to live without them.  Dr. Oz has a large following, so kudos to him if he helps people get off their credit cards, even if it’s for just a month. The problem with this is that it does not address the fundamental issue of what caused the problem in the first place. This advice is akin to a crash diet.

The  advice was to literally freeze your credit card so you don’t use it! Ever tried to suppress a buoy underwater, you can do so for a bit, but once you let it go, you’re going to get smacked in the face if you don’t get out of the way!  Freezing your credit card does not fix the problem of why you overspend in the first place.  It may help you in the moment, but the backlash of that would be substantial because it is not getting you any closer to addressing fundamental spending habits and traits.


The reason people have credit card debt is because there are core financial behaviors that need to be modified. This whack-a-mole approach is only taking care of the symptoms and does not get to the root of the problem.  What is needed is for one to learn how to stop the moles from popping up in the first place.  In the beginning the whack a mole approach may work because one has the time and energy. As time passes however, the moles pop up faster and faster and then both time and energy become a problem. It would be easier to find a way to stop the moles from popping up rather than find clever ways to whack them down.

This segment may have given the viewers the erroneous idea that one can effortlessly get out of debt. The advice was not explained properly nor was it put into perspective. Rattling off a few catch phrases and taking a whack a mole approach to personal finance does not do service to anyone. Many people need real financial counselling and a five minute segment on Dr. Oz will not solve a systemic problem.

I will leave you with a few points to remember about wealth accumulation. The first is that you can accumulate wealth over a reasonable amount of time with a well-diversified portfolio that includes among other things both stocks and bonds.  Secondly, if you want to know how long it would take for you to double your money use the rule of 72.   All you have to do is divide 72 by the investment’s rate of return.  The rates of return on investments are, on average, between 5-6.5% for both the US and Canada. Given these rates, it would take somewhere between 11 (72/6.5=11.1) to 15 (72/5=14.4) years to double your money.  Finally, one’s ability to accumulate wealth has less to do with the numbers and everything to do with one’s values and lifestyle.



Dr. M

When is the right time to talk to your kids about Money?


In 2014 the Bank of Montreal found that Canadian parents would rather talk to their kids about sex than they would about money. There are several reasons for this. The first and the most common reason is that parents don’t feel confident in their own money management skill. Unfortunately, we were not brought up learning about money either at home or at school. Money is a touchy subject in many households. The attitude, ranges from it’s vulgar to discuss money to the ostrich effect, if we avoid talking about it, it will go away!  How can we then expect adults to take charge and teach children about money?

Fortunately, this can be remedied. There are many books, courses, and workshop that teach personal finance. It is worth the investment of time and money in this pursuit, as it will serve both you and your children in the long run.  There are several great authors on this topic; Gail Vaz Oxlade, David Chilton, Robert Kiyosaki, Dave Ramsey and Susy Orman.  I would like to (humbly) add to the list the TKS Financial Caregiver’s Manual. The purpose of the Manual is to provide caregivers with enough information to either reinforce or build their confidence in managing their own finances so that they feel prepared enough to teach their children these skills. The manual also guides parents on how to impart these skills to their children.

Another reason that parents don’t want to talk about money is that they know they have bad habits. They know that they can’t practice what they preach and this prevents them from having the money talk with their children. A less obvious reason is that it makes life all too real. I remember when I was growing up I didn’t care nor did I want to hear about my parents’ finances. I didn’t want to think about the finiteness of it all. I preferred not knowing and I just wanted to believe that my parents had a bottomless pit of money.

It seems that making a child aware of the realities of money robs them of their childhood innocence. Children should not be “burdened” with this issue at such an early age. They should be playing and having fun. As a parent, I totally understand this perspective. Parents want to protect the innocence of their children. We do our best to allow them to be free to dream. The thing is, it is possible to ground them in practical logic and at the same time encourage infinite creativity.


I recently came across a review (I haven’t read the full book) of a book entitled The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money by Ron Lieber. The reviewer noted that the book recommends that parents have a formal discussion about the household finances. The author also recommends telling kids how much you earn and how it compares with your peers. I am not sure about some of these recommendations. I think it’s too much information for young children and even for teenagers. It all depends on the temperament of the child to handle such information. I think there may be some negative fallout in the future from telling your kids how much you earn and how it compares to your peers.  Another suggestion from the book was that parents should institute “fun ratios” which requires the family to itemize every toy in their kids’ possession and calculate the hours of fun divided by the cost of the toy. This “fun ratio” will then be used as a yardstick to determine future toy purchases. I love finance and calculating ratios, but I think this task would make me pull my hair out.

Based on the review of this book, a few things stood out. The first is that parents don’t want to talk to their kids about money and now they are being asked to make it official, organized and do a lot of work/calculations. There maybe a few families who may find this method appealing. I think, however, the majority of families would not find this an enjoyable task. Even if they initially employed this method, I am not sure how long it they would continue doing it.  Secondly, all these ratios and discussions about earnings, etc. are a topical solution.  If a child has not been taught the correct behavioral traits to deal with money, you could talk until you’re blue in the face, it would make little difference in the end.

It is possible for children to learn money management while playing and having fun. I call it teaching in stealth. It doesn’t have to be painful to teach children about money. In fact, teaching children core money skills, is really teaching them life skills.  The heart of the matter is that kids need to learn how to make effective choices. This implies that they learn core principles in a natural way.  If we make a big fuss about finance then it will be how the child deals with money, as a chore and a pain. If we make it a natural and fun process, then the child will have a better relationship with money. With the proper training we can instil in children the behaviours that would lead them to make good choices, save and spend wisely.  Making good choices, saving and spending wisely, are the holy trinity of finance. When a child understand and master these core skills, then you can implement tools, discussion and ratio and the like. Only then will the tools, etc. will have meaning and be of value.


In my own case I started early with my daughters. One of the first things I taught them was the difference between needs and wants. This lesson carries itself over not just with money matters, but also with food, drink, entertainment and even activities. We don’t live life in compartments, it’s all interrelated.  The things we learn in one area naturally carry over to other areas of our lives. My goal is to train my girls in a logical manner and simultaneously encourage them to dream and create. Like most parents, I do the best we can for my kids. This is my way of preparing them for the world. Every day is the right time to talk to your kids about money.  Every day presents an opportunity to caregivers to teach children important life/money lessons.

Dr. M