The name Gail Vaz-Oxlade is synonymous with financial know-how. This money-maven has become the voice of reason for many, thanks to 13 books and hundreds of articles that she has written for countless publications. And I haven’t even mentioned her television successes! She has hosted three prime-time shows for Slice TV: ‘Til Debt Do Us Part, Princess and Money Moron, with each episode drawing an enormous following thanks to her wise, tough-love tactics. A straight shooter, and not one to sugar coat the truth, Gail Vaz-Oxlade has brought life-changing transformation to countless individuals’ lives, as well as their pocketbooks.
The financial guru and well-known Canadian TV personality spoke with me about her path from hardworking financial columnist (she wrote twenty-seven columns a month, at one point!) into the world of television, where she mentored the masses for nine years.
“Many years ago I was a consultant, developing training material for bank branch personnel, teaching them their products and how to sell them. I worked seventeen hours a day for 7 days a week. I literally rolled out of bed and worked until 10 or 11 o’clock at night and I would fall into bed and go to sleep, then get up the next day and do the same thing all over again. So, clearly this wasn’t going to work for me. I decided to toss my hat into the freelance ring. I was very fortunate because Chatelaine had just approached me to see if I would become their money columnist. I did that for 8 years and along the way I picked up a whole lot of gigs. [At the time, I was] one of Canada’s only women personal financial writers. That’s how I got more and more gigs. Some were corporate gigs and some were media gigs.”
After her children reached a certain age, Gail decided to cut back on work to spend more time with her family. Over time she began to realize that the point had come for her to get back to doing what she loves, apart from her incredible children.
“While out in the paddock mucking around with my horses, I threw my arms out into the universe and said ‘Okay, I know I need to get a job but I have no idea what I’m going to do next! It would be nice if you would send me a sign.’ Within two weeks I had two emails asking me if I wanted to host a T.V. show. That’s how I got into TV; just total fluke!”
— Invest Wisely (@investwiselyca) August 3, 2016
The “Super Nanny of Money” has given extensive and very pertinent advice, which has helped millions to get their financial houses in order. Vaz-Oxlade admits that over her years in the spotlight she has found certain sought after advice to be somewhat repetitious. What information does Gail find herself sharing over and over again? She reminded La Vie Chic of exactly why they call her Canada’s favourite financial guru when she gave us her answer.
“The big thing is that nobody knows what they’re spending their money on. So my biggest challenge is to get people to come to terms with where their money is going. Like ‘I want you to go back and do a spending analysis for the last six months. I want you to look at where you spend your money because until you come to the black and white reality of it you’re not going to believe that you need to change anything about what you’re doing.’ It’s all very well and good to say ‘Well I made a budget but it didn’t work,’ but the reason it didn’t work is the numbers put into the budget weren’t representative of what’s being spent. ‘It was YOU that didn’t do the work to meet the budget.’ “
Gail’s most recent book Money Rules focuses on taking the time to figure out exactly how money works, and how it impacts everything from “relationships to RRSPs.” Vaz-Oxlade shared important insight about what the first step should be for anyone determined to figure out where their money is going, and how to make it work for them.
“We work so hard for it! It’s a multi-stage process. You need to get a receipt for everything that you spend and put it into your spending journal. At the end of the month you take all those entries and you post them against the budget. People say ‘Who has the time for that?’ Well it takes me an hour a month. That’s two minutes a day. That’s the time it takes to make a tweet.”
To illustrate, Gail offered this very relatable example to help fully grasp the concept of tracking and budgeting.
“It’s your money. It’s your business. So, you get to do anything you want with it. If you have a coffee line [in your budget] and you say ‘I’m gonna spend $30.00 on coffee,’ [but] when you’ve entered your 97th coffee entry for the month and you see that you’re actually spending $112.00 a month on coffee, then you see ‘My intention is in no way reflected by my behaviour, but only do I know that, because I’m paying attention.’ You need intention and attention.”
This master of money has found herself working with a wide cross section of society from all walks of life. She has acted not only as a fiscal mediator and motivator but also a kind of relationship therapist, trying to unearth the root of financial difficulties in others. In doing so, Gail has come to understand her own perceptions on the importance of money.
“I have a very unique take on money. My daughter finds it very amusing because people think I’m all about the money, because that’s what I write about and that’s what I’m known for. The thing is I [don’t care so much] about the money. I’m about doing the details so that I don’t have to think about the money.”
By working out those details Gail has been able to find the necessary balance when it comes to career and family. As a busy mom, Gail shares that she had to get down to the nitty-gritty and come to terms with what was really of the utmost importance to her.
“You have to know what your core values are. You have to know what’s most important to you. For example, when I was first introduced to the idea of going into television I made it clear to the people that I was working with, I only had two days a week to spend away from home because I had, at the time, a 12-year-old and almost 10-year-old. When they first sent me the schedule, they had on down to shoot 4 days a week. I turned it down. I said ‘I’m not interested. If I can’t do this in 2 days, find someone else, because I’m not leaving my kids. I didn’t have my kids for somebody else to raise them.’ In the end they agreed to 2 days. As people who have conflicting goals and priorities, you have to decide what is most important to you and always stay true to it. You have to have an open mind.”
The wisdom that Gail Vaz-Oxalde has accumulated over the years has worked its way into the numerous enlightening books she has written, often found on bestseller lists, with essential tips for those who struggle with money. At the moment, Gail is in the midst of promoting her recent piece on helpful how-tos.
“[My latest book was released in] December called Money Talks. Money Talks [outlines] when to say ‘yes’ and how to say ‘no.’ These are all the conversations that people haven’t had, but need to have, about money. When it is a person who keeps saying ‘Save me!’ how do you avoid the role of rescuer and how do you have a conversation with the person so that they understand that you’re no longer in the saving business. They’re the people who say ‘You owe me.’ And this can come from ‘princesses’ and it can come from parents. It’s a hard thing to push back on, the whole ‘You owe me’ thing, because very often that comes attached to deep emotion. So what I do is, I outline scenarios where the ‘You owe me’ raises its head and then I talk about how you deal with this; how you have these conversations.”
Sometimes the most important conversations we need to have can be the hardest. With Money Talks, Gail Vaz-Oxlade once again comes to our rescue, helping us navigate a very difficult situation with knowledge, understanding and real-life recommendations. Stop by her website http://www.gailvazoxlade.com/ or blog: http://gailvazoxlade.com/blog/ for more about Gail and her books, along with other relevant information and details about the financial expert.
By Jessica Ashley Dafoe
Photography reserved by La Vie Chic (Book cover images via Amazon/Indigo)