What’s the cost for the program? There is no cost. Participation is absolutely free. If someone tries to charge you to participate, tell ‘em to go to hell! I’m building the website from my resources. It’ll carry no advertising and the email list won’t go anywhere.
Watchers can use any resources that accomplish the objectives of each level. The levels on mymoneymychoices.com will have references to the various chapters of my books, but that’s so I don’t have to re-create the wheel. This is a big enough endeavor without having to also create the content. The content exists in my books and on my website.
Can I do the program on my own? MMMC is set up to be community based so you have people to whom you can turn if you’ve hit a tough spot. You can set up a virtual tribe — using skype, facebook or some other group — or you can do it within a family. If you are determined to go it alone, then you’ll need to rely on the books I’ve written and listed in the resources to guide you through spots you may not be familiar with. For example, while there are many ways to make a budget, I suggest a very specific set of steps in Debt-Free Forever that will help you create a budget you can actually stick to. Please use the program in the way that works for you. And please also share what you’re learning.
Do I have to buy your books in order to participate in the program? No you don’t. The books are resources you can use — buy a set for the whole Tribe as reference or borrow from the library — but there are other resources that are available and free. The point is to complete the activities. If you have someone who can guide you — your Tribe’s Watcher — without needing to use resources, great. If you need help, check my website. If you want it all in one place laid out for you, then look at the books.
It looks like the program was designed for Canadians. Can Americans use it too? I did design the program with Canadians in mind, but that doesn’t mean people from other countries can’t use it too. The steps themselves have very little “country” limits; the tools you use (Canadians use an RRSP, Amercians use an IRA) will be different. But the process and the levels will be applicable to you too. And the idea of using a community’s strengths to increase financial literacy has no borders. So I encourage you to look around the site and see for yourself.
How much time will this take? It depends on how you want to be involved. If you’re going to be a Buzz-Builder, it’ll be minutes each time you find a friendly ear. Start where you want and let your role evolve. Talk it up with friends and family. Mention it to co-workers. Bring it up in the organization to which you might belong. Plan to post it on Facebook or Tweet about it? Well, that doesn’t take much time either, right? Want to make a presentation to your local student council or club? That’ll take a little more preparation. And if you become a Watcher, you’re making a serious commitment to help a group navigate the program.
What about if my group doesn’t speak English? Great question. If you’re in a community that doesn’t speak English, getting a My Money, My Choices group started is even more important because once you’ve taught the first few people what to do, they’ll pass on their learning, spreading the knowledge and skills far beyond your personal reach. I don’t have the resources to translate what I’ve written. But there are other-language versions of some of my books. For example, Debt-Free Forever has been translated into French. And Money Rules is being translated into Korean. Until there are more versions of the resource material available, I’m counting on Watchers to bridge the gap between the material in English and the language being spoken in your community. See what a vital role Watchers will play?
Do I have to share my financial information with others? Not if you don’t want in. In participating in the My Money, My Choices program, you’re drawing on resources within your community to share knowledge and skills; there’s no need to share personal information if you don’t want to.
Why am I collecting points and badges? Most people want some way of meauring their progress. That’s what the points and badges do for you: they give you positive reinforcement for completing activities and let you share your success, if you choose.
What exactly is the Watcher’s role? The Watcher is the person who interacts with the website, setting up the group, and leading the first set of participants through the process.
Let’s say you’re planning to be the Watcher. You would ask for 4-6 people to be Tribe leaders within your community. Each Tribe would “name” itself and you’d ask each individual tribe member to register at mymoneymychoices.com. Then you’d lead those first 4-6 people through Level 1 of the program. That will include:
Completing a spending analysis
Completing a debt repayment plan
Completing a balanced budget
Completing a net worth statement
Level 1 involves the most effort, no question. But it’s the foundation on which everything else will be built. So your job is to make sure it’s done right. No guessing. No short-cutting. People have to be serious about this for it to work.
Once your first 4-6 members have completed Level 1, you would lead them through Level 2 (a walk in the park compared to Level 1, I promise) while they bring in 4-6 people each and lead them through Level 1. As each group moves up a level, they pay forward the learning to the next group. That’s the Learn One, Teach One system, which will allow your community to keep getting smarter about money.
How do I find a Watcher for my Tribe? Finding a Watcher means looking for someone who has the time, expertise or self-direction to guide a Tribe through the process. If you are doing it on your own or as a couple, you will have to be your own Watcher and will have to rely on the books I’ve listed in resources.
How can a Watcher sign up the Tribe as a group? You sign up individually but come together as a team to support each other and share your ideas. The Watcher tracks how the team is progressing. There is a Facebook page set up for Watchers to share their ideas and work through challenges, drawing on each other’s experience. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with Watcher in the subject line to be added to the group.
What else can I do to help? If you’ve got advertising or promotional talent, we’re looking for volunteer media people be Master Buzz-Builders. We want to reach across Canada so I’d love people familiar with all types of media across the country to use what they know to spread the word as quickly as possible.
If you have other ideas you think will help to spread the word or benefit the program, send an email to email@example.com with “Ideas” in the subject line.
How long does it take to complete the program? The first 8 levels of My Money, My Choices are about learning and making changes, implementing strategies and laying the foundation. From Level 9 to Level 22, the program is about making incremental improvement: saving more, getting rid of debt, making that foundation rock-solid. At Level 23, all the Is are dotted and all the Ts are crossed.
How long it takes to get from Level 1 to Level 9 depends on each person’s current financial strengths and determination. From Level 9 on, it’s a matter of keeping on doing what needs to be done. I’m still on my financial journey and will be till I drop!
Can my friends also get involved? Absolutely. The more the merrier. We want as many people in as many communities to be involved in becoming smarter about money. My Money, My Choices is about drawing people together to help each other achieve financial stability and independence. What could be better than friends and family working together to achieve the common goal of financial literacy? That’s the ONLY way we’re ever going to have a society that makes smart choices about what to do with their hard-earned money. And it’s the only way we’re going to eliminate the ignorance that leads to people being “talked into” options that aren’t right for them. This is about empowering people to make the right decision for their individual needs.
Can your program be used in schools and at home with children? This program is meant for adults who have an income and must learn how to manage that income to their advantage. I’ve written a book called Money-Smart Kids about how to teach children about money. You should use that resource for children up to the age of 16 or 17. For young adults who are managing money for the first time while in school the skill sets are slightly different. There are resources on my website tailored to students under the “students” category on my blog. There is also worksheets under “resources” created specifically for students.
What do I do if an activity does not apply to me? For example, I have no children so Activity 11 doesn’t apply to me? If you do not complete an activity because it does not apply to you, don’t worry about it. Just hit the “Mark Complete” button at the end of the activities and move on to the next level.
Can’t I just keep hitting the “Mark Complete” button to get to the end and skip the pieces I don’t want to do? My Money, My Choices is about becoming financially literate and building a rock solid financial foundation. If you skip something you should have done just because you think it’s too much work or you can’t be bothered, why are you in the program? My Money, My Choices isn’t about MAKING you do the right thing. It’s your choice to use to the program to your advantage or not. Just don’t whine if you decide to short-cut and then the caca hits the fan!
If you have already done a spending analysis, debt repayment plan, balanced budget and net worth statement, would you still need to complete these tasks again? There is no need to redo work you have already done. If you know what you’re spending, have a plan for debt repayment, are living with a budget and know your net worth, good for you.
Do the people in your Tribe need to be located in your city or neighbourhood? Will you need to meet with them face to face on a regular basis? The people in your “community” can be linked in any way you wish; it does not have to be geographical. As long as you have a way to communicate, support and encourage, you’re set to go.
How can I help you spread the word more about the program? To be a Buzz Builder, you’ve simply got to talk up the program: tell family and friends, post on Facebook or twitter or anywhere else you communicate regularly. Talk about how important financial literacy is. Encourage people to become involved.
How should a couple work through the program? When it comes to working through the program as a couple, it’s important that both people are involved in the steps along the way. Partners who abdicate financial responsibility usually come to regret their lack of understanding about what’s going on with the money.
If you have other questions about the program please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Questions” in the subject line. If you have a question, someone else probably wants to ask something similar and this will help me build the FAQ for the site.