Posts from ‘Money’
For those of you who have seen me over the last few months, you know I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time crying. Not always sad crying, but overwhelmed crying, touched-by-amazing-stories-of-amazing-people crying, feeling-blessed crying, fear crying, anxiety crying, so-much-beauty-around-me crying, I-love-my-dog-so-damned-much crying.
Earlier this week I was on my way to a doctor’s appointment, so I tuned into my favourite radio show of all times, CBC’s The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti. I caught a follow-up show they were doing on poverty in Canada called “The 10% Have Their Say.” It was a phone-in show for people who live in poverty in Canada to share their stories. I could barely leave the car to go to my appointment as I heard the voices of Canadians who struggle every day to eat, maintain shelter, get work, and take care of themselves, their children or in one case, a seeing-eye dog. Imagine choosing between feeding yourself and your children or your seeing-eye dog. That’s shouldn’t be a choice anyone has to make. It brought me to tears (not surprisingly).
If you tuned into this show, you will have been moved. Guaranteed. If you missed it, you should do yourself a favour and listen to it on CBC’s website or download it on iTunes. There’s also a great discussion on what Alberta is doing to build a comprehensive strategy framework to end poverty. If you don’t have the time to tune in or you are afraid it will hurt to hear these stories, feel free to read some of the realizations I had while listening.
- What poverty looks like in Canada. Check out these facts. You’ll learn that almost 60% of Canadians live paycheque to paycheque and so many other things that will cause your jaw to drop.
- How invisible poverty really is. People are struggling every day and they look just like me even though our lives couldn’t be more different. They might have clothes, they might have shelter, but they could be living on the border of losing everything every day or they just can’t afford to meet their basic needs. Some of them have mental health issues which are also invisible barriers to overcoming poverty.
- How alienated poor people in Canada feel. Many of them don’t have email, internet or phone lines. It’s too expensive to stay connected to community, family, friends and there’s no extra money leftover to pay for high-speed cable to check out the latest YouTube videos and internet crazes. Many callers talked about how alienating it is to not participate in the social aspects of today’s society.
- How poverty is every Canadian’s problem. There are proven links between poverty and health outcomes and crime. This means that poverty in Canada is costing all Canadians who pay for our health and criminal justice systems.
- How many children in Canada aren’t spoiled. While I was cruising comfortably along Crowchild in my car with a heated seat, I heard an 8-year-old girl tell Anna Maria that she didn’t want to say what she wanted for Christmas for fear of hurting her mom’s feelings knowing her parents couldn’t afford her gift ideas. This young girl was racking her brain trying to come up with cheaper wish list items. The sensitivity of these children to their parents’ feelings was heart-breaking.
Of course at the end of all this, you ask yourself how you can help. I’d suggest you check out Canada without Poverty to get informed, but then look around to your own community to see if there are any local agencies that allow you to sponsor families (like Families Matter in Calgary), provide homeless people with the things they specifically need (like the Mustard Seed in Calgary or Edmonton), or take donations for broader programs and policies.
If you know of any other agencies where readers can help, feel free to share them in the comments below.
One day a long time ago, my best friend Sarah, asked me to go to a “cleaning party.” We’re in our thirties, so this kind of an outing is considered a girl’s night out. And much to my satisfaction, it proved to be eye-opening, educational and entertaining.The only thing I wasn’t expecting was dropping over $300 in cleaning supplies. But what’s a night out without a little surprise at the end?
Norwex: The clean way to clean
We were introduced to Brandy Corcoran, the Norwex lady. She started her presentation by introducing us to a line of non-chemical cleaning products that keep your home healthy and clean while saving you time and money. They carry everything from laundry detergent, cleaning cloths, bath and face towels, window cloths, athletic products, toilet cleaners, toothbrushes, mops, dusters, mattress cleaners, scrubbers, you name it. Many of the products are guaranteed to work for up to two years, and if anything isn’t quite as you expect, it’s super simple to get it replaced or get refunded.
My friend Edith loooooooooooves her dog. Almost two years ago, she adopted Rogue, an astute little Blue Heeler/Border Collie cross. Since then I’ve seen a whole new side of Edith. The “dog person” side of her. The side of her that always asks how Gracie (our Labradoodle) is doing. The side of her that wants to meet up at the park with the dogs when she’s otherwise not such a social person. The side of her that would rather be teaching Rogue how to whisper than spending time in the kitchen preparing culinary delights (she was a sous-chef for years before the adoption).
Premium pet supplies without premium prices in Calgary
The other day I got a phone call Edith telling me that after many painful months of paying through the nose for good pet supplies for Rogue, she decided to sign up as a distributor at Anipet. From one dog person to another, she wanted me to know that she was going to be ordering some of the best brands of pet supplies at deep discounts for friends and family. For example:*
- Bags on Board poop bags 4 pack or dispenser with 2 rolls for $4.99 or 2 for $7.98 (compared to $9.99 at Petland)
- Bags on board poop bags 8 pack for $8.99 or 2 for $14.99 (compared to $18.97 at Petland)
- Chuckit! Ultra balls at $7.99 or 2 for $14.99
- Chuckit! Glow balls at $6.99
- Chuckit! launchers starting at $6.99 (pocket size) or $9.99 (original size)
- Chuckit! tennis balls standard 4 pack 2.5″ for $5.99 or 2 pack for $3.49
- Three types of booties, all park tested for stay-on power
- ECOgear backpack in green, orange, pink or blue from $27.99 – $45.99
- Meteorlite LED glow ball for $14.99 or $25 for two (we use them and they are awesome for winter!)
Too many companies fall into the trap of thinking making money is the goal. It’s not and when this becomes the goal, you’ve seriously lost your marbles. The problem is that you can make money all sorts of ways that aren’t sustainable or good for the customer. For example:
- Add hidden fees
- Increase prices without increasing value
- Shed low-margin products that customers like
How about thinking about what you truly want to do for your customers, or better yet, what you want to do for a community or niche? Then think about what they need that is in your realm of competency. And give it to them. And charge them the right price for it.
Revenue is not an objective. It’s the outcome of solving customer problems well.
I just got the best holiday gift catalogue in the mail. It came from Plan Canada. Let’s just say it wasn’t your typical gift guide; no smelly soaps, kitschy keepsake ornaments or plaid pyjamas.
21st century catalogue shopping
At the risk of sounding trite, it’s true what they say about giving being the best gift of all. But now you can take that to a whole new level by giving some in-need communities some basics in life that we privileged first-world dwellers take for granted, like water, warmth and nourishment. Add to this the fact that you can buy these gifts online (ahem, without facing the stooooopid Christmas rush at the mall) and suddenly catalogue shopping is looking very appealing.
Gifts you can feel good about
When I got this catalogue, I was suddenly filled with a desire to shop, spend and give! I wanted to buy mango trees ($12), re-build a home in Haiti ($2,500), install a water and sanitation system ($1,000), start a school in Rwanda ($10,000—okay this might have to wait a few years while we save up), buy a herd of goats for a community ($75 for one goat and $775 for a herd) and maybe even invest in a zambulance ($150). Starting from just $10, I could buy some much-needed ethical gifts that would change the lives of individuals, families and communites around the world. Imagine little me effecting change without even leaving my laptop.
Gifts of change closer to home
For some of us, charity starts at home and giving the gift of change to someone we know and love is just as important. If this is where you are at, here’s some more holiday gift ideas that could make a difference in the lives of your loved ones:
- A Feng Shui consultation for someone you love (or maybe you!). Anyone you know looking for a boost in a certain area of their life? Love? Money? Health? Fertility? Rachna Joshi, certified Feng Shui consultant (and best big sister ever!) is kindly offering her “Feng Shui Fix” for a single area of someone’s life for only $150 for sonakhosla.com readers (regularly $199). Or, you can go for the whole sha-bang and get a full home or office make-over for $350. Or, maybe you can stop wishing for a shot at appearing on What Not to Wear and you can just get yourself or someone you love a Feng Shui Fix for their wardrobe with some personal shopping (rates vary). You can email Rachna at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. All I can say is that within three days of having my bedroom feng-shuied, I met my future husband.
- Music from the streets of the world. Have you heard of Playing for Change? It’s a band and not-for-profit organization that brings together amazing street musicians from around the world who make music so they can build music and art schools in communities that need inspiration and hope. I have the CD but recommend the DVD because watching the musicians do their thing is truly moving.
- The gift of nutritional wisdom. Amy Bondar’s book, Sound Nutrition, is still one of my favourite books on nutrition. It addresses the many facets of nutrition, brings together some of the leading research in the field, answers some tough questions (like do eggs really increase your cholesterol?) and serves it up in digestable chapters that are informative and inspiring in equal parts. It makes a great gift for both those who are curious and serious about using the power of foods to achieve better health.
- Clean drinking water systems for the home. There’s nothing more important than the water you drink, so consider a home water filtration system from Crystal Quest. This is hands-down the best company to get a custom water filter from (including systems that take out fluoride). And guess what? They are now offering sonakhosla.com readers a 10% discount with this downloadable coupon. If you are looking for cleaner water, give these guys a call and ask for Elaine. She really knows her stuff and recently helped us put together a custom filtration system for under $350!
There’s only one month left till Christmas and if you’re not like the guy I work with who finished his shopping yesterday, then you might still be in need of some inspiration on what to give this year. Consider this blog your unorthodox guide to giving change this holiday season.
Sona: My dad, Anil Khosla, is a very smart man. On weekend mornings, we catch up over the phone. I tell him about my job, my dog and my husband and he gives me the latest international news and insight on how this will affect the global economy, the job market and mortgage rates. And, whether I like it or not, he also gives me a little personal financial advice. It never ceases to amaze me how someone can understand how changes in the global economy will affect my yearly RRSP contribution. On a recent phone call, my dad mentioned to me that while walking the downtown tunnel in Houston where he works, he suddenly could see that there are three possible outcomes in the global economy. He then proceeded to share them with me which I’ve now asked him to share with you.
So, here’s something a little different than what you’re used to. Feel free to comment and ask Anil for his financial views. Trust me, he will not hesitate to give you his very informed opinion!