On her quest to help people better manage their money while maximizing their happiness, Melissa Leong has become one of Canada’s best-loved authorities on personal finance, often featured in the media including CTV’s The Social, BNN, CBC Radio, Breakfast Television, CP24, Global News, and more!
As a go-to personal finance expert, as well as the bestselling author of feel-good finance guide, Happy Go Money, we asked Melissa to share some of her insight into how we can all cultivate a healthier and more positive relationship with our finances.
1. In your book and keynote, Happy Go Money, you combine happiness psychology with personal finance. Why do you think psychology and money are so connected?
Money is simply a tool, but we give it so much meaning. We equate it with self-worth, success, and happiness. We’re all just trying to buy happiness. We take the job with the higher salary but with more stress; we borrow money to pay for the beach vacation; we play the lottery. Yes, money and happiness are absolutely connected, but not in the way we may think. When it comes to money decisions, I would never order anyone to give up their daily latte or even give up their dream wedding. But if money is just a tool, let’s at least have a conversation about how to use it to get the joyful life you really want.
2. How can someone begin the process of creating a healthier relationship with their finances?
Years ago, my husband and I had a heated discussion about our finances.
“Why are you so hesitant to spend, even on things such as investing in your own business?” he asked.
In that moment, I felt like he was just accusing me of being cheap. After some reflection (and some deep breaths), I realized that my mentality around money was that you labour for this finite resource and then carefully guard it. I had not been aware of my default money mentality before, let alone how it was holding me back from opportunities.
You can, at any time, look inward at your own money mentality. First, identify whether your relationship with money is a positive or negative one? How do you feel when the topic comes up? How did your family talk about money when you were growing up?
Next, look at how you use money. Look at your last three unplanned purchases and think about the reasons you made them. Examine your bank statements — is your spending in line with your values? What are your habits — do you spend in times of stress or boredom or insecurity?
Finally, create a new strategy for a fresh approach. Write down some short-term and long-term goals. Take care of your money priorities first whether that be finding financial freedom in retirement or bulking up your emergency fund. Then create a budget to enjoy life — identify what you value most and allocate your resources there.
3. Not only a sought-after keynote, you are also often asked to emcee events. What do you enjoy most about hosting?
According to my parents, my first word was “hello.” Ever since I was young, all I’ve wanted to do was connect with others, through conversation and stories. I spent almost 17 years as a journalist because I was genuinely interested in what others had to say and passionate about sharing people’s insight, experiences, and wisdom with a broader audience.
What I love about hosting is that magic that happens when I feel fully connected to the audience and to the other speakers — when the energy in the room is palpable. But that doesn’t happen without a lot of work. I take the responsibility of being a host very seriously. In order to be myself, to be in the moment, to have the space for laughter, creativity, and fun, I over prepare. I was the journalist who would read an autobiography overnight ahead of an interview with the author. I am without ego; what matters to me is that the audience has a great experience, the guests/speakers feel heard and taken care of and that the event is a success.
On-stage, Melissa delivers high-energy, informative, and practical talks about behavioural economics, positive psychology, and personal finance in her signature frank and funny style.
Interested in learning more about Melissa and what she can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].