Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Woman Crush Wednesday- Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Since I've been (trying) to curb my spending lately, I thought now would be a great time to talk about one of my favourite tv personalities, Gail Vaz-Oxlade.
Gail is the host of three shows about personal finances- Til Debt Do Us Part, Princess, and Money Moron. Each show focuses on people who have lost control of their debt. Gail comes in to teach them and her viewers about how to properly manage their spending and debt repayment. That might sound a little dry but I love all three of her shows. Gail is a straight shooter, and I honestly feel like I've learned a ton about finances from watching her shows, and more recently reading one of her many books about money management.

 I think a lot of us-myself included, at times-have the attitude that we are going to be in debt our whole lives, so we might as well just really go for it. And a lot of norms in our society don't help break that mindset. Like how we allow 17 year old university-bound kids to take on $30,000 or more in student loans. Who at that age understands the true weight of carrying that much debt? Gail urges her viewers and readers to educate themselves about debt and other financial matters, and to take control of their own money.

I recently picked up a copy of one of Gail's latest books "Money Rules." I loved the format of the book. Rather than chapters, it's broken down into 261 rules that each take up no more than a few pages. So nothing gets too complicated. The book is full of awesome and useful information no matter what tax bracket you fall into. And a lot of her rules are just great life tips in general. I thought I'd share a few of my favourite rules to better illustrate the content and tone of the book.

Rule # 5: Figure out what's really important to you- Here Gail talks about setting goals and deciding what you want the most. And if it's not what everyone else wants, that's ok. But you have to figure it out, and then you have to work for it.

Rule # 7 Your banker is not your friend- This was a total revelation to me. I just never thought about the fact that banks are businesses, and just like any onther business they want your money. We often think that banks won't give us debt we can't afford to pay back-NOT TRUE. A bank will give you higher credit card limits, larger mortgages and huge lines of credit that could take you forever to pay back. It's important to know for yourself what kind of debt repayment you can afford and not just trust the bank.

Rule #158 Eschew Envy- This is probably my favourite rule and just plain great advice, money related or not. It's so easy to imagine that other people's lives are better than yours. But chances are, the person you are envying is envying someone else, and another person could be envying you. But the reality is everyone's life has good and bad. The best you can do is focus on making your own life better, and not worrying about how you measure up to others. I know this is easier said than done, but it's worth the effort to let go of envy.

I definitely recommend that anyone who is financially independent read one of Gail's books.  It's cool that we all learned Pythagorean Theorem in school, but I for one would probably have benefitted from a lesson or two in personal finances to go along with it. Gail picks up the slack though. I know that this isn't the most fun topic. But when you live in society it's good to educate yourself on its' rules and how to make them work for you. I'm not saying that I follow all Gail's rules. But I've gotten better with money than I have been in the past. Sometimes when I have a would-be impulse buy in my hands I picture a little Gail on my shoulder, reminding me that I haven't paid my phone bill yet and calling me an idiot (she is not reserved about telling the people on her shows what she really thinks)-and I walk away without buying. Because she scares me.

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