Money Talks with Gail Vaz-Oxlade

"If you're prepared to put a little work in - the peace of mind that comes from that, the knowledge that you are in control, is so satisfying."

Gail Vaz-Oxlade is my money guru. When I finished university, I started watching Til Debt Do Us Part, the TV show on Global/Slice. I couldn’t believe that people, making so much more than me, had managed to so mess up their finances. From the outside looking in, it was so obvious!

But I realized that, even though I didn’t have a lot, I wasn’t doing what I should be doing, either. I had no budget; no plan to pay off my school debt.  I wasn’t identifying ‘needs’ vs ‘wants’. I was spending willy nilly and getting myself into more debt.

So, I turned things around. I set a goal to pay off my debt making a budget that started with debt repayments instead of just using what was left to pay off the debt. I’ve been debt free for over 6 years and it is freeing!

I chatted with Gail about how to get back on track with your financial resolutions, how to start your journey to becoming ‘debt free’. You can hear the full audio below. Here are some highlights:

“When it comes to resolutions, we have to realize that the old behaviour, we have been doing it for a really long time so it’s natural for it to creep back in to our behaviour. You can’t take that as the reason for not changing your life to make it better.”

“The two big mistakes people make are that they underestimate what they’re spending and over estimate what they make. And, your bank statements and credit card statements are the solution to that problem.
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You have to do a spending analysis! You have to go back over the last 6 months of credit card statements and bank statements to see exactly what you were spending at the grocery store.  Because just pulling a number out of the air and sticking it in your budget will not work.”

“You spend a lot of time earning the money. You exchange your life energy for this thing called money that you want to use in the most reasonable way so that you life gets better, it doesn’t get worse.  And if you’re not prepared to put a little time in to managing your money, then you shouldn’t be surprised that things go awry and then you don’t get to complain. OK. You don’t get to NOT do the work then whine!”

On the time it takes: “If you’re prepared to put a little  work in – the peace of mind that comes from that, the knowledge that you are in control is  so satisfying.”

On budgets:  “We have portrayed them [budgets] as constraining. We have talked about budgets as if they were a pair of concrete shoes.  And they’re not.What they are is my decision for how I plan to use my money.”

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Her latest book, Money Talks, is a guide to how bring up the tough conversations with someone you love who is screwing up financially and maybe even putting you in the middle of it. What’s going to happen when you confront someone?

You should be prepared for the fact that there will be an emotional response. Know that there will be some emotion that shows up at the party but don’t be dragged into the emotional undertow. Know that your intent will be the most important thing. Everybody knows that intent is the most important thing. We don’t always address it but, intent is it . And you have to start the conversation with ‘I LOVE YOU… I love you bro. I love you like fire and when I see what you’re doing to yourself, it makes me so sad. And so I want to help you. I want to help you but you need to want to help yourself.'”

It’s worth it: for you to get your money in order and for you to help someone you love. Gail says, “Now money is doing the  job it’s supposed to do in your life. It’s not creating strife. It’s not the point of tension in your relationship. It’s simply the method of acquiring the things you need and want and you’re making the decisions about what to do with it.”

Here is our full conversation:

Find Gail online at www.gailvazoxlade.com and on Twitter @GailVazOxlade

Find her books at your local library or in any good book store.