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Gabby’s June Challenge: Cutting out Dairy – Panic Ensues

Over the past year, I’ve begun to notice that I’m having a hard time breathing. I wondered if it was because of stress, something I was eating, or even my level of physical activity. It got so bad that I was waking up in the middle of the night because I couldn’t breathe.

So, I finally went to the doctor and she prescribed me an inhaler, which REALLY helped. But that’s a quick fix, and not a long-term solution. I wanted to find out what was causing this so I could get to the root of the problem and avoid this in the future.

Last month, I made an attempt to cut out dairy, since I’ve been hearing more and more that it could be what’s causing my asthma, or at least, making it worse.

Overall, what I learned is that a month really drags on when you deprive yourself of something delicious LOL.

When I started, I was successful for about half the month. And I honestly didn’t think dairy was the culprit anymore, because I was cutting it out completely and still wheezing.

On June 15, we had a work party, and I made a conscious decision to eat an AMAZING cookie my co-worker brought to a potluck. No regrets. Except for the fact it cost me the success of my challenge 🙁 lol

There was another instance when I was eating a pepperoni stick. I figured, there’s no way it contained dairy, but I decided to check the label anyway. “MODIFIED MILK INGREDIENTS.”

Noooooo! What the hell? Why do we need milk in a meat stick?! This continued to be a theme for the rest of the month. Like, why do we need milk in Miss Vickie’s salt and vinegar chips? Or sour cream in guacamole? Gahdamn, it’s in everything. My heart goes out to those with an actual intolerance to dairy.

From that moment, I started to feel like it was hopeless. In the back of my mind, I became more lax with my food choices. I stopped checking labels, and even adopted the mindset of ignorance is bliss. I started to lose sight of why I was doing this challenge in the first place.

But soon enough, I began to get back on track. Whenever I was having a craving, I’d gravitate towards more healthy foods that I love, like hummus, watermelon, chickpea salads, and avocados. Every time I noticed I had a mad craving, I’d just run away from the situation, and, more often than not, the craving just went away.

It sucks cutting stuff out of your diet. There’s no doubt about that. But I figure I should probably see a nutritionist or actually get an allergy test, which is something I’ve been putting off for a while. Seriously, who wants to willingly get stabbed with 150 tiny needles? But I’m going to suck it up, because I really want to get to the bottom of this and breathe easy again.

This month, I’m going to get a food journal and write down everything I eat, PLUS, every instance where I begin to wheeze, so I can see if there’s a pattern.

Wish me luck!

-Gabs

Monique’s June Challenge: The Branding Do-Over

I have been freelancing for more than seven years now. As a solopreneur, a one-woman shop, I’ve been hustling to grow my content creation skill sets and client base. It’s been a remarkable journey so far, recently culminating with one of my clients hiring me on full-time for four months.

But at the time of my onboarding, I faced a crossroads: my website needed rehosting and fresh content; my branding was getting a bit outdated; I needed a new headshot; my business cards had my Liverpool, UK, phone number on them (so I never gave them out); and countless other, little business-related to-dos. Yikes! This four-month contract was going to take up valuable rebrand time – especially as I also have a bridge job.

The timing wasn’t ideal, but I was so excited to work with my client. In my desire to develop new skills and work with a team, that the choice was clear. The rebrand would wait.

So as my contract came to an end in June, I knew what I wanted that month’s Mo’ Money Mo’ Progress challenge to be.

My June challenge was to completely overhaul my freelance branding – from the name of my business to creating a new website and launching everything fresh online.

This, sadly, did not happen.

I have this bad habit of taking on huge projects (when I’m already swamped) and pushing myself to the max in order to achieve my goals.

This month’s challenge was a prime example of this behaviour. There is one silver lining in failing miserably this June: I gained some clarity. I saw this habit from a different perspective and would like to think I’ve made mo’ progress as a result.

It’s simple, really.

Prioritize to get sh*t done.

At this point, I can just imagine some people’s faces who just read that line and scrunched up their face, thinking, “Well, duh!”

Totally fair. It does sound ridiculously obvious.

But you may be surprised to learn just how easy it is to lose focus. This can happen in a team environment, when you’re working on a tough project with many moving pieces and multiple deadlines, or even when you’re trying to figure out whether you really need to clean your kitchen or if you’re just procrastinating.

Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle got me through the past few months where I would spend between 8 – 19 hours working per day. I assigned my tasks as one of these four categories:

  1. Important and Urgent
  2. Important but not Urgent
  3. Not Important but Urgent
  4. Not Important and Not Urgent

REBRANDING

This is the best way to tackle a to-do list. And it’s unfortunately why I didn’t complete my challenge. I had to make some tough choices, but I’m standing by my decisions.

Though it’s not all bad news in June. I laid some groundwork by making some calls, getting quotes, and doing research (moving quickly enough so as to not get stuck in analysis paralysis!). I’m making progress, and that’s key.

I’m not committing to re-doing my challenge again this July, as there are other projects and responsibilities that need my attention, so I’ll start small to accomplish something big.

My July challenge is to (finally) decide on a new name for my freelance business and register the domain name. I’ll be hosting family for more than two weeks while I also keep working with my current clients, so it’s going to be a packed month!

And I’m so up for the challenge.

High fives and good vibes,

Monique 🙂

 

Karyn’s June Challenge: Keepin’ it Positive Part 2

So for my May Challenge I attempted to write down the positive things that happened in my day-to-day life… and I epically failed. So for my June Challenge I decided to try again, this time yielding better results.

My first issue was that I told myself that I was only allowed to write down things in a book. Unfortunately, I didn’t carry it with me everywhere I went. This time I was more reasonable and used my phone instead. It’s always with me so I had no excuse to not write things down.

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I found that just jotting down very simple things that made me smile was easy enough. Pretty much any time I received a text or a notification I used it as an opportunity to reflect and write down something new.

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My notes ranged from waking up before my alarm to finding $10 in my pocket. I also used this as a chance to keep positive about my finances. I would note that I paid my bills on time or that I set up an easier system to check my banking.

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I know this may seem like a mundane task that doesn’t really result in anything big, but watching your list of positivity grow helps remind you of all the good that really does happen during your day.

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I did have some serious downs during the month of June, but when I felt like there were no ups coming my way I would peruse through my list and remember that even the smallest thing that brings a smile to your face can be all you need.

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I’m going to keep trying to update my list on the daily even though my challenge is over. I tend to be a Negative Nancy when the going gets tough, so I’m hoping that building this ever-growing list of good times will help me keep my chin up.

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-Karyn

Gwen’s June Challenge: Radical Financial Transparency

I am in debt and I want out.

I’m carrying some student loan debt as well as credit card debts from investments I made in my business and travel expenses (okay… and a few impulse purchases).

The day I am debt free will be a glorious one, and I can’t wait to get there. The challenge is that I don’t have a solid plan on how to do that yet. I know it’s possible (as I’ve read so many stories and watched so many YouTube videos from people who have shed the debt), so I am really approaching this journey back into the black with curiosity and a sense of adventure.

I’ll level with ya… it hasn’t always been this way. I used to be desperately ashamed of debt. I wouldn’t talk about it and definitely wouldn’t share how much I owed.

So in an attempt to take out the shame and literally just own it, my June challenge was to be completely transparent with my financials with my sisters. I decided to give them access to my Mint account which currently links up all of my finances.

This includes how much money I make to how much interest I accumulate each month.

It felt incredibly liberating to share this. Not all of my sisters took a look, however, I’m going to keep it available to them to check out at any time. My youngest sister decided to take a look right before my eyes. I felt a bit nervous when she said, ‘Let me check it out now’ however, she approached it with a compassion and understanding and ‘It’s not that bad.’

My intention of financial transparency, also lead me to share with my boyfriend my desire to get out of debt. As he is insanely good at being thrifty (and he’s debt free), he is fully supportive of me going for it. In fact, it’ll probably make him feel better that we don’t spend as much eating out and cook more at home 🙂 I haven’t yet shared with him exactly how much I owe, though perhaps that’s a challenge for another month.

My July challenge is going to be an ambitious one. I want to save half of what I make and put it towards debt. With my rent taking up a significant chunk of cash, this is going to be a challenge worth taking on.

Thank you for reading and I wish you an awesome month!

-Gwen

 

Monique’s May Challenge: Solopreneur Scheduling

Shortly after I started freelancing, I decided to make a conscious effort to develop my content creation skills as well as my business skills. I declared that every Tuesday would be my Business Development (BD) day.

This was a fabulous decision. It also turned out to be much more challenging than I thought.

Every Tuesday, I would wake up with a huge mug of coffee, don my comfiest work-from-home attire, and settle into my workspace (which definitely changes depending on where I am in the world). I’d sit in my (typically) soft, cozy, work chair and sip away at my coffee, absorbing the delicious caffeine while devouring the hours of blog posts, YouTube videos, and freelance newsletters that I’d been craving all week.

Tuesday was a catch-up day for all the business-related content that I’d put off consuming that past week.

And I loved it.

But it wasn’t always possible to keep consistent. Sometimes I’d be out on assignment, interviewing people for feature profiles or covering events. Other times, I’d be on contract, working out of my clients’ offices for weeks or months at a time (this has happened often over the past seven years).

Business Development Tuesday (BDT) got pushed back to the evening, or crammed into a weekend morning. It didn’t always work out the way I’d planned, but I have always been committed to honing my craft and developing my business on my own terms. Despite my love of, and talent for, working with teams, I definitely have the mark of a solopreneur.

The BD challenges of a solopreneur life definitely resurfaced in May. My monthly challenge was to complete an online marketing course I had purchased in March from one of my freelance role models.

First of all… Yikes! That’s a long time to be hungry for some useful knowledge at your fingertips and not be able to dive in. Worst of all, it’s now June and the e-course is still not completed. Ugh! Not good.

The good news is, the real lesson here hasn’t been lost on me.

I’d noticed that for these past few weeks, I hadn’t been feeling in control of my own schedule – an odd, and rather uncomfortable feeling for me. It’s partly my personality twinned with my work ethic: I don’t stop until a project is done, especially if it’s on a tight deadline. That’s led to some (no exaggeration) 20 hour workdays, including 4 a.m. nights; both in my employer’s office and in my own workspace.

Since that project has been completed, I feel that my schedule is again mine to manage. And BDTs (or whatever day of the week I now choose) are back on my radar. Now, I have no doubt that course is going to be completed and I am so excited to finally get to the good stuff. It’s going to be a good month.

What’s something you do to keep developing your side hustlin’ skills or a way you invest in yourself to keep making either mo’ money or mo’ progress? Let us know on social! Follow Mo’ Money Mo’ Progress on Facebook, Insta, or Twitter, and let’s get to chattin’!

#Hustle

Monique 🙂

Gwen’s May Challenge: Create a Positive Relationship with Money

My May challenge was to start creating a healthy, positive relationship with money.

The challenge was inspired by reading Jen Sincero’s #1 New York Times best-selling book: How to Be a Badass at Making Money. In the book she suggests that you write a letter to money as if it were a real person.

The idea is to get a sense of how you view money. At first, Jen had a ‘bat-shit crazy’ relationship with money! One minute she was in love, the next she felt there was not enough. It caused stress one moment, and pure joy the next. And her finances reflected the emotional ups and downs. Ultimately, this exercise helped her get clear on how she was giving money mixed signals which ultimately resulted in financial instability. In her 40’s she lived in a converted garage, dreaming of making more money. Today, she’s a millionaire who teaches millions of people how to be a badass at life and making mo’ money. Soooo I was definitely interested in taking on this challenge!

I started the challenge off strong at the beginning of May. I bought a journal specifically for the challenge and was an avid journaler for the first two weeks. I started with the initial letter to money and found my relationship was similar to Jen’s. Not a consistent feeling and a bit all over the place. I thought a good way to build the relationship would be journal daily to thank money for being there for me when I needed it and also check into my bank accounts daily. I was very consistent and excited to do this at first, though I soon found the familiar resistance popping up that lead me to completely stop the daily check in practice. I had fallen back into an old, defeating pattern.

Although I didn’t complete the challenge the way I thought I would, today (in June) I feel a renewed sense of excitement to building a positive relationship with money. I recently had the realization that I need to plan for the long-term when thinking about money, and stop looking for quick fixes. I have been subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) dreaming that a chunk of cash will fall from heaven and cure my financial debt. Since this has not happened, I think the realization has finally hit me to create a longterm plan and make it as easy as possible to follow.

This realization came as I’ve started to make real progress on another (and totally different) source of shame, stress, and insecurity I’ve experienced over the last ten years: dealing with acne. I have always been supremely self-conscious about acne. It made me feel like hiding and totally defeated on countless occasions. I have been on a quest to figure out how to cure it, and I believe I’ve finally figured it out by being persistent and not not giving up after failing multiple times on ‘diets’ and pills and creams. The key is to find a path that can be a longterm lifestyle. This new path that I’m on for my skin is taking out meat and dairy. It has been a game-changer and my skin has never looked better. It’s a gahdamn revelation.

So in the same way that I am healing acne, I am also healing debt with a long-term strategy. This leads me to my June challenge: RADICAL TRANSPARENCY. In the month of June, I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I am opening up all of my finances to the Sisterpack. Through the mint.com platform I’ve added all debts, cash and credit to the platform and will be giving my sisters the password to login so they can see my money goal as well as everything I’m buying. They have access to it all. Why the hell would I do this? Well, living in secrecy and pretending everything is okay hasn’t worked. So I’m thinking the opposite may work. I want to keep it SO real and allow my sisters (whom I love and trust) to see where I’m at. I’m in a place right now where I don’t feel any shame about it, as all the money I’ve spent has lead me to where I am today… and truth be told I’m happier than ever! And I can only imagine I’ll be feeling even better, the more progress I make.

Wish me luck! 😀

-Gwen

Karyn’s May Challenge: Keepin it Positive!

I’ve noticed that at the end of the day, the stuff that really sticks with you is usually the most negative. As someone who works in a very high-energy job and has to have a great deal of patience while interacting with customers, there is always a chance that an interaction won’t end well.

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I find myself having stress dreams about not being able to give it my all at my job, or have fears that I’m letting people down. I found this incredibly frustrating because I adore my job, my bosses, and my coworkers. The negative feelings I was having was usually ones that I was projecting onto myself. So for my May Challenge, I decided to focus on the positive. During my day if I had a positive experience I would write it down on a scrap piece of paper and then put in a jar at home.

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This way I could see the positive moments building up. If I was ever having a rough time I could always go and read something to get me back in a jolly ol’ mood.

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This seemed like it was literally the easiest challenge on the planet. I didn’t have to make a crazy budget, I didn’t have to fuss over my life, I just had to keep on living it but write down the positive things that happened.

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Again, it seemed like an easy challenge and yet somehow I failed.

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Throughout the month I noticed awesome things happening, but I never wrote them down. I kept using the excuse that I would write them in a notebook once I got home, or that I never had any paper in the moment. I easily could’ve written them on my phone since I take it with me pretty much everywhere. I had no excuse.

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I was even so embarrassed about my failure that I lied to my sisters during one of our meetings that I was doing great. I thought that maybe I could make up for lost time, but ultimately I didn’t write down one single thing.

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I’ve decided to take this failure and turn it into a win. It has helped me realize that I tend to self-sabotage. Whenever I take on a challenge that forces me to look at myself, not my money, I tend to freeze up.

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I’m going to continue my May Challenge as my June Challenge. I really want to see the positives build up.

I can do this!

Karyn

Gabby’s May Challenge: THE ULTIMATE MO MONEY SUCCESS STORY

BREAKING NEWS: THE ~ULTIMATE~ MO’ MONEY SUCCESS STORY (SO FAR)

When I graduated school, I owed over $23,000 on my student loan.

I paid every cent of it off in under two years, just before for my 24th birthday. So you could say, I was #23andDebtFree!

How did I do it? Listen closely, my child, and I will tell you all my secretssssss.

GABBY’S TIPS FOR BEING DEBT FREE, FAST!

#1. Set a Goal

When I started having to pay back OSAP, the first thing I did was figure out how many years I wanted to pay it off in. I just kept thinking, there’s no way I’m going to carry this debt around with me for the next 10 years. I decided that five years was reasonable (and motivating), and it kept me from biting off more than I could chew if I got in a pickle financially.

#2. Understand that your loan is not your money

I never forgot my mom saying those words the moment my OSAP was deposited in my bank account. And she was right–it’s not my money. It belonged to the government. And I’d be responsible for paying it back in full (plus interest!) one day. It was merely just a vehicle to getting an education, which would lead to making more money in the long run.

#3. Make sacrifices

Your loan is not meant for buying the latest trends, going on trips, or eating out at fancy restaurants on the reg. It is meant for you to support yourself while in school. Use it to invest in yourself, like getting a new outfit for an interview or a laptop for class. If you feel the slightest bit of guilt at the checkout, it’s probably an indulgence, and not an investment.

The second part of this tip relates to your lifestyle choices once you’re out of school. To pay your loan back faster, scrimp and save wherever you can. I’m talking rent, internet, phone plans, gym memberships, etc. Sure, I could’ve been living in a really nice apartment in downtown Toronto for over $1,000 a month. Instead, I chose to live in a more modest place–a co-op, actually. It’s an older building and has the occasional bug problem, but rent is only $535 a month. It’s definitely a challenge seeing all my friends living downtown in brand new buildings, but my current living situation played a key role in helping pay off my loan insanely faster.

*The sacrifices you make to pay off your loan should not be at the expense of your health or safety.

#4 Live a Little

Money is like a relationship. If it’s always take, take, take, you’ll feel like you’re getting the short end of the stick. Don’t deprive yourself, but don’t go overboard, either. The way I treat myself is by buying coffee. And because I don’t normally splurge on things like alcohol, the latest trends, or getting my nails done, I can justify $3.50 a day–especially when it helps me get my work done, too.

#5 HUSTLE.

Ask. For. That. Raise. DO IT. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but the only way you can pay off your loan faster is by MAKING MORE MONEY. When it was time for me to ask for a raise, I came prepared. Knowledge is power. Do your research. Know your value and know what other people in your position make. When I learned that I wasn’t even making the national average for my role, I brought it up in my performance review and I got a $3,000 increase in my salary. That’s $3,000 a year I wouldn’t be making today if I didn’t JUST ASK.

BONUS – YOUR SAVINGS ACCOUNT COULD BE WORKING AGAINST YOU

What I’m about to tell you is the reason why I decided to drop the remaining $16,000 on my OSAP in a lump sum (I was paying around $330 a month).

You’re paying more interest on your loan than you’re earning on the money in your savings account.

Duh, right? Wrong. This didn’t even occur to me for years. Why are we funnelling money into our savings when we’re LOSING money on paying interest? I paid over $800 interest in one year on my loan! Of course, it’s important to have some money set aside in the case of an emergency. Anything you have left over should be going directly to paying off your loan.

Note: I don’t have any credit card debt. If I did, it would take priority over my loan, because the interest rates are insanely higher.

All in all, I hope you learned something here today. I could go on forever with more tips on how to pay off your loan faster (Part 2, perhaps? ;), but if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out! Better yet, if you have a student loan success story, email us at momoneymoprogress@gmail.com. We’d love to feature you on one of our posts!

Keep going. You can do this!

-Gabby

Karyn’s April Challenge: The Taxes Terminator/Procrastinator

We all have a hate/hate relationship when it comes to tax season. No one enjoys it, and if they say that they do, they be cray! Last year I decided to get some extra help on my taxes since it was so in-depth and I was out of my league. Little did I know that I would be seriously screwed over by H&R Block.

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This year was going to be different. I planned on having a Tax Party with my super sibs and the BF and get my taxes done while having fun at the same time.

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This DEFINITELY didn’t happen.

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I got super swamped at work and had no time for anything, let alone planning a Tax Party. When I did have a spare second to myself I just ignored the fact that my taxes were due. I was procrastinating like a gawd dang pro.

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I kept talking about how I still hadn’t done my taxes with my manager and he suggested I use a program called StudioTax. I said I would give it a shot, but ended up forgetting all about it… until two days before taxes were due (yikes).

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This was go-time. I had to get this done now or I could be in serious trouble, especially if my taxes turned out to be anything like last year’s fiasco.

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Fearful of having to read so much money jargon, I downloaded the free program and go to work… and 30 minutes later I was done. 30 FREAKIN’ MINUTES!!! I was shocked. I thought I was going to be at it until the wee hours of the morning.

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Instead I ended up using a seriously user-friendly program that allowed me to instantly connect to my CRA account and instantly upload my T4s. It automatically filled in everything. IT. WAS. UH-MAZE-ING!!! The only thing I actually had to look up was what line I had to input my student loan interest. Other than that I was golden!

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Now once I was finished I had to figure out how to send it to the CRA. I originally thought I would have to download and print the forms and then mail them out. Not the case with StudioTax! I was able to easily send my finished forms electronically via NetFile, which was included in the downloaded program.

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My taxes this year were a freakin breeze!!!!

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If you still haven’t completed your taxes or are looking for an easier program for next year, I HIGHLY recommend using StudioTax. My GAWD I suggest it!

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#effyoutaxes

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<3 Karyn

 

Gwen’s April Challenge: Kickstart an Unconventional Side Hustle

At the end of last year, I felt defeated. I went from entrepreneur to employee and it was a very challenging transition. You can read all about it here. I had zero desire to ‘side hustle’ or even actually hustle at all!!

Though recently, my desire to work hard and earn dem bucks has shifted. I’m now over two months into my new job at Shopify. It is glorious and I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with smart, dedicated people every day.

One unexpected element of being an employee, is my entrepreneurial spark has been reignited. I found that once I started to feel stable again (in work and mindset) my interest to create returned.

While at Shopify, we have been challenged to start our own Shopify store. I thought it was a fun idea that I would do eventually, but didn’t have a fire lit under me to create one. However, when our growth team was encouraged to create a drop shipping store, I saw it as an exciting opportunity to perhaps kickstart a new side hustle.

Drop shipping is a retail method in which you don’t keep your own product in stock. Instead you partner with a wholesale supplier that stocks its own inventory. You choose a product (i.e. pins, stickers, floaties, shoes, etc.), choose your price and market it to the right people and apparently… cha ching!

You can watch a short video to learn more here:

The biggest benefit is you don’t have to worry about holding inventory, and you simply ship a product when a customer orders from you. You set the price, and it’s your marketing genius that sets you up for success.

Needless to say, I was very curious and excited to start. I had an idea to sell a product, and went to work creating a Shopify store. Though I realized I soon started to overthink what I was selling and question if drop shipping was ethical, and came up with a ton of roadblocks for trying it. It was all excuses, excuses, excuses.

My April challenge was to make my first sale with drop shipping. I did not reach this goal. Although I’ve picked a product and tinkered with my site, it is currently not live.

I still have a strong desire to see if I can make my first sale, so I’m going to continue to work on this challenge, though take a different approach. Going forward, I’m going to dedicate 30 minutes per day on working on getting my first sale (instead of putting pressure on myself to do it in a day). I’ve added 30 minutes to my calendar to work on the project every day of the week. There’s also a chance I will be partnering up with a colleague to create a store, so we can work on it together.

For May, I’m choosing to take on a different official challenge though and that is: create a loving relationship with money. Okay, so this may sound a bit weird, though let me explain. I’m currently reading Jen Sincero’s book: You are a Badass at Making Money. One of the exercises in there is to write a relationship to money as if it were a person. It was a really eye-opening exercise, and really made me see how I can become obsessed with money one minute, then stand-offish the next. If I want to create a healthy relationship with money, I realize I need to approach it with the same attitude as I do a romantic relationship or exercising. There is no ‘silver bullet.’ It’s about consistent check-ins and acknowledgement! I will be documenting the relationship in a journal.

Please feel free to join me in my May challenge!

-Gwen

 

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