Are we financially literate?

November. Financial literacy month in Canada. The time when we are officially reminded of information and strategies we can use to improve our financial health.

Financial literacy refers to the set of skills and knowledge that allows an individual to make informed and effective decisions with all of their financial resources. It’s a term that was introduced fairly recently, when governments began to focus on the need for consumer education in this area.

A recent newsletter from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada reports that Canada is near the top of the charts for financial literacy in a global survey published in spring 2017 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Canada tied for second worldwide…in the financial literacy component of the Programme for International Student Assessment, a global survey of 15-year-olds.

This report was followed by… [one] on adult financial literacy… [in which] Canadian adults…tied for second with Norway.

As a Canadian, I was feeling proud… and perhaps even a bit smug. Then I remembered a Statistics Canada report, also from last spring, telling us that the debt-to-income ratio of Canadians was at an all-time high of 167%. This means we owed $1.67 for every $1 of disposable income. The fact that Canadians have a lot more debt than income seems at odds with the assertion that we have high levels of financial literacy. How can this be?

Reading on, I noticed that “The self-assessment portion of the survey showed that Canadians had a strong understanding of key financial concepts such as interest paid on loans, risk and return, and the definition of inflation.” Two things struck me…

  1. Self-assessment isn’t necessarily objective. Haven’t we all tried to present ourselves in the best light at one time or another? Perhaps this incongruence between the reports is a case of actions speaking louder than words, as my grandma used to say.
  2. We can understand concepts and be able to explain them without translating our knowledge into practice. There is often a big disconnect between head knowledge and what we actually do. Just think of how many people you’ve heard say, ” I know I shouldn’t eat this brownie, but oh well…

Head knowledge is not enough.

Translating understanding into action requires more than just what we know in our head. It requires us to be connected to our sense of inner knowing about what is our right action based on what’s important to us. Being in touch with our values is a crucial component of decision-making in a consumer culture because there are so many pretty things and shiny new objects to attract our attention and our money. Even more tricky is the fact that we can buy immediately because of our easy access to credit.

Overconsumption is built into the consumer culture.

The story of the culture is based on beliefs that “big is better” and “more is best.” Many people buy into the story with no discernment as to whether that viewpoint is in alignment with their values.

As a result, we see excess everywhere. Thrift stores in North America are full of items that were bought and never used. People put a lot of money into conspicuous consumption, buying flashy status symbols as evidence of their worthiness. The debt load is excruciatingly high as people fund their consumption with credit on which they are paying shocking amounts of interest.

Debt load

Not only does over-consumption put us in debt, the stress it causes is bad for our health. Beyond the mental and emotional stress of carrying a high debt load, there’s the effort it takes to maintain and manage all the stuff.

Befriending ourselves is our best defence.

We will fare best in the consumer culture if we learn to tap into our deep inner knowing. Not what we know in our head, but that felt sense of knowing it in your bones, or having a gut feeling. You may hear someone say, “It just doesn’t sit right with me.” This kind of awareness is an indispensable complement to our mental thoughts and understandings.

This inner knowing is what connects us to the bigger picture of the life we want to live. It’s what keeps us from being distracted by shiny baubles and smooth sales pitches. And this is what will ultimately lead to happy and satisfying lives.

Finding your inner “yes”

One of the capabilities that kept me going in difficult times is my intuition, which I usually refer to as my inner sense of knowing. It helps me find the answers that are grounded in my self. In this way, I’m able to discover new perspectives and feel more confident in making decisions. I don’t know how I would have managed without it!

I think my inner knowing was always with me, but not fostered in my environment. It wasn’t until adulthood that my intuition and I reconnected when I took an energy psychology workshop. It was teaching a method of releasing emotions stuck in the energy field. Muscle testing was used to help us identify them so they could be released.

Muscle testing is a means of communicating with the subconscious through our bodies. It was exactly what I needed to make my long-ignored intuition visible.

After a few years, I became aware that I knew the answer inside me before the muscle testing showed it. These days, I use muscle testing when working with clients so they can see what’s happening. Otherwise, I go with the inner sense which, for me, feels like the answer landing squarely on my heart (yes) or rolling off to the left (no).

Befriending your intuition…

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Healing Illness with the Subconscious Mind

.If you can heal your mind, you can heal your life. There are resources out there to help you feel like the best you. There isn’t one modality that’s right for everyone, but we can each find something that works for us. Here’s another possibility for your consideration and exploration.

The human body has an innate ability to heal—sometimes it just needs a little help. Danna Pycher knows that from first-hand experience. Surviving a near-fatal accident was the easy part; coping with the PTSD and chronic pain afterward was more difficult. In this TEDx talk, she shares her story about trauma and the transformative insight that allowed her to harness the healing power of her subconscious mind.

Today Danna Pycher is a certified Neuro-Linguistic Hypnotherapist specializing in chronic illness and trauma. She is also a motivational speaker, coach, and Psych-K practitioner.

To learn more…

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Combining NLP and Hypnotherapy

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Getting rid of inner clutter to deal with outer chaos

Paper chaps

True confession—this is what my outer chaos looks like most days.

Ever since I started this blog a year ago, I’ve been drowning in books, papers, and sticky notes. I find myself researching a wide array of sources and don’t want to lose track of  important thoughts. My aim is to pull ideas together in new ways. That seems to mean I have to amass a of ideas before I can recombine and distill them. It’s a messy process, but that’s how I work.

Recently I became aware that the volume of idea clutter had become overwhelming. It was no longer helpful. It was causing me stress.

Relieving the stress of overwhelm

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Self Help for Stress Relief

Stress usually arises at inconvenient times. How useful it is to know what to do about it at the time, on your own!

This post is an introduction to two energy psychology modalities that are self-empowering—easy to learn and you can do them yourself. Both are methods I use and recommend.

Emotional Freedom Technique

What is the Emotional Freedom Technique? How is it used? Does it work? Dawson Church explains…

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When life seems too demanding…

It’s easy to feel stuck or overwhelmed by the demands of modern life. It’s not a constructive state of mind. It can lead to stress and anxiety.

Daniel Friedland MD is a high-performance leadership trainer. In this video he shares tips on how to shift your mindset so you can accomplish what seems overwhelming. The key is to turn stress into challenge. This shift in viewpoint leads to a different energy toward what needs to be accomplished, resulting in a greater sense of control and a more productive outcome.

It applies to demands in any setting, for people at all stages and in any role in life. When the shift is made, it’s like a weight being lifted—you feel lighter, with a sense of breathing space. Then you can tackle the challenge with enthusiasm rather than dread.

His two key tips Continue reading

Ask a better question.

Shann Nix Jones unexpectedly found herself married to a farmer, living on a Welsh farm, raising goats, and producing kefir. When her husband had major surgery, he came home from hospital with MRSA, an antibiotic-resistent condition. In Wales, MRSA patients are not allowed back into the hospital because of its life-threatening nature. The doctor who made house calls had no treatment to offer either. Continue reading

Change your mindset, change the game.

Beliefs can be changed

The psychological and physiological effects of anything in our lives can be influenced by our mindset. That means what you think can change your body’s response.

For example, if you think stress is bad for you, your body will respond accordingly. Continue reading

Beyond Informed Choice

Eleanor Roosevelt on choice

Choice is our greatest power. It’s what allows us to use all our resources to live our best lives.  But the consumer culture trains us to make decisions by default rather than by conscious choice. Truth is, questioning the status quo and making conscious choices can seem daunting. Many of us are happy to let others decide because we don’t know how to make choices consciously.

Living by default

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Why Meditation?

Be present to yourself.

This is being posted on Valentine’s Day, when it’s traditional to acknowledge those you love. If you aren’t on your list of people you know and love, this is a good time to think about how to change that.

Meditation is a time-honoured means of learning to be present with yourself, to get to know and appreciate who you really are.

If you’ve ever had even an inkling of interest in meditation, this video is for you. Emily Fletcher started her career in theatre. When she refers to being able to dance, that relates to her 10-year career on Broadway, which included roles in Chicago, The Producers, and A Chorus Line. Continue reading