What are you saving for?

By Amanda Ainsworth If you couldn’t make it to our most recent event, Money Matters, I hate to tell you but you truly missed out! An evening with Tracy Theemes was all I needed to get my money-saving, ladder-climbing butt in gear!

For me, the most valuable takeaways came in two parts: Tracy’s methodical approach to identifying your goals and achieving financial freedom and her behavioural tips to help every women work their way to the top of their careers.

Below you’ll find Part I: Tracy’s 5-Question Technique for Financial Decision Making. I hope you find these as valuable as I did; stay tuned for Part II: Tracy’s Behavioural Tips next week!

Tracy’s 5-Question Technique for Financial Decision Making

Q1. Where am I now?

How do you know what financial position you’re in once all the smoke and dust clears? Here are two things to calculate and track:

  1. Net Worth— Calculate it every six months: Net worth = your Assets – your Liabilities
  2. Cash Flow — Track your spending pattern over a 90-day or six month period. Use your online debit and credit statements or the plethora of online apps/websites (such as Mint.com) that will do it all for you.

Q2. Do I have reserve?

Reserve is simply a liquid “backup”, preferably kept in a high rate savings account, meaning you can take it out as cash in under 24 hours. Keep cash (or cash equivalents) in your reserve.

The amount of reserve money you should have will depend on things like occupation, for example someone in the film industry might need more than someone with a predictable and dependable income, and your other spending patterns.

When should you start building this reserve? Umm, right now! A good base is to calculate how much money you need to cover your costs of living for three months.

Being your own bank is not only cheaper, it creates financial freedom, confidence and happiness.

Q3. Where am I headed/What do I want?

Pick the 2-3 most important things to you right now (hint: one of these should be your reserve from Q2, if you haven’t already reached your margin)

Then ask yourself, how much does it cost?

And, when do you want it by?

Q4. How am I going to get there?

 These are the years to learn (and practice) positive new behaviours. So skip that latte, pick up an extra job if you need to and attend one of Tracy’s investment classes – they’re free! Contact us if you want to hear about upcoming sessions.

Q5. How am I going to monitor my progress?

Fluent with Excel? Even if you aren’t, it’s a great tool for tracking your budget and financial goals, Use it!

Define what would be “success” for your financial goals and remember to track your progress!

So, what are you saving for? Share with us in the comments below and stay tuned for Part II next week!

Ladies in Pink: Volunteering with Room to Read

Written by Megan Rendell

Volunteering my time is something I take a lot of pride in doing. It is my way of giving back where I can to organizations that could not operate without the support of volunteers. While volunteering is valuable to the organization, I find the experience I gain by donating my time is a million times greater than the services I’m offering. So why should you volunteer? Because you have the ability to make a difference in the lives of others and if you’re reading this you’ve been blessed with two things very few children in third world countries have: strong literacy programs and the right to a childhood education.

For more than these two reasons, the organization I’m most proud to volunteer my time with is Room To Read (RTR) Vancouver. Starting out as a grassroots book donation campaign in 1998, RTR was founded by John Wood, an ex-executive of Microsoft. Inspired by a three-week backpacking trip in the Himalayas in 1998, John set out to change the large gap in literacy education in Nepal after touring a school on his trip.

Along the tour John was smacked in the face with the harsh reality that the schools in the Nepal villages were not only dilapidated but lacked any resources to teach children to read. John was even more shocked to discover that the (very) few books this school did have – a Danielle Steele romance, the Lonely Planet Guide to Mongolia, and a few other backpacker castoffs – were so precious that they were kept under lock and key...to protect them from the children!

This visit was the beginning of a project John could never anticipated he would undertake. He immediately put himself to work making call-outs to family, friends, and acquaintances, whomever he could to collect as many books as possible.

Quickly his passion for his project grew and the initial book campaign became the launch of Room to Read, a now worldwide NGO that works “to create a world in which all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world.”

In Canada, RTR is 100% volunteer driven and is built on the basis of a communal vision to support the cause to create a world in which all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world.

Because I cannot put it better myself, from the Room to Read website, "To achieve this goal, we focus on two areas where we believe we can have the greatest impact: literacy and gender equality in education.  We work in collaboration with communities and local governments across Asia and Africa to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the life skills they’ll need to succeed in school and beyond."

RTR relies heavily on their chapter leaders (locally the wonderful and inspiring Sharon Davis) and chapter members to help achieve annual fundraising goals and to represent and connect Room to Read to local communities.

I have been volunteering with Room to Read Vancouver since April of this year and work alongside some amazing professionals. Focusing on communications and community relations locally, I am working with the board to develop key stories about our members, local initiatives and international impact in an effort to increase our presence. Most recently, I spent a day volunteering at the TSX Golf Tournament at the UBC Golf Club where RTR was one of three beneficiary charities. Attracting financial professionals from all over including Vancouver, Toronto and New York City, this event was a great way for me to meet like-minded volunteers and professionals while talking about the organization and educating others on how they can help make an impact in the lives of millions of children.

The passion I feel towards the organization’s international cause is definitely a key to my fulfillment in working with this organization, however, the people that lead the charge locally are incredibly driven, talented and generous which inspire me at every meeting to want to do more.

The Vancouver chapter’s efforts have helped contribute to RTR’s amazing worldwide impact. To date RTR has built 1,556 schools and 13,152 libraries; published 707 children’s books; distributed over 11.5 million books; funded 16,879 girl’s education through scholarships; and have benefited roughly 6.7 million children world-wide. These numbers say it all and with an organizational goal to improve literacy for 10 million children by 2015 RTR is well on their way to making our world a better, educated and equal community for future generations everywhere.

my {YWiB} story – member highlight: Megan Rendell

name| Megan Rendellsocial| twitter: @meganrendell web| Linked In: Megan Rendell email| meganrendell@ywib.ca

why YWiB |  i joined YWiB’s new Marketing team in December 2011 because I wanted to get more involved with the team!  i had helped out with YWiB events in the past but wanted to commit to something for longer than a day at a time.  i love sharing my experience with others and YWiB lets me do that while meeting and learning about other fabulous women in Vancouver.  i studied Commerce at UVIC grading in summer 2009 and quickly moved to Vancouver without having much of a network base here.  shortly after settling in Van I heard of YWiB and its mission and begged to volunteer at Beyond Pink 2009!  where I got to meet some of the inspiring members.  fast-forward a couple years later, I just completed SFU's intensive Public Relations program and am looking for a career I'm passionate about in PR & communications.  you can never underestimate the wealth of knowledge you gain in working with like-minded, passionate women all while building a solid network via YWiB!!

childhood ambition|  marine Biologist (the interest is definitely still there)

my home|  Kitimat, BC, as much as I love Vancouver nothing beats Northern BC!

wildest dream|  travel the world learning about people and cultures all while changing the lives of others daily.  if you are doing this and want my help, please contact me!!

proudest moment|   being awarded an appreciation award for my work at the Department of National Defence.  it was humbling to be awarded something from such inspiring people that have devoted their lives for the everyday freedoms we have in our country.

biggest challenge|  balancing my personal needs with the demands of my professional development.  this is something that will probably take a lifetime to master!!

favorite quote| “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” ~ Marianne Williamson

inspiration|  my parents – they have always prioritized their children’s needs before their own and that sort of love should never be taken for granted.

You Can Do Good Anywhere

Have you ever felt that you’re unable to create change in your company?  Most of us have been there but I write to encourage you to think positively.  We all have the ability to spark a little fire and create change.  It all comes down to approach and convincing others that change is good.  I’m not talking about those games we play where we convince a guy that something we came up with was really his idea (don’t judge me, you know you do it too).  I’m talking about truly owning an idea and pitching it in an effective manner. After reading “5 Ways To Do Good In Any Job” from Fast Company, I was inspired to think bigger than changing my company’s paper from regular to recycled (which you should get on changing if your company hasn’t done it already).  But dig a bit deeper.  Have you ever considered reaching out to a community group that is working to change something in your industry and presenting yourself as a translator willing to help them?   Dev Aujila, author of Making Good, a book on finding meaning, money and community, encourages you to take charge of creating change and make things happen in your job.

Personally, I think it’s all about your approach.  Consider communicating your message by identifying the problem while offering the solution that you want to help the company achieve.  Chances are your organization has thought about changing a few things but haven’t due to lack of the time, resources or people that take action and see things through.  I am a firm believer that anyone is possible of creating change; all it takes is a kind approach and an encouraging tone.

For more on Making Good check out http://makinggood.org or @mkngood on Twitter.