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October 2015 archive

3 Ways to Earn an Extra $500 on the Side

When I graduated from college in 2009 with a BA in French, I spent six weeks looking for a job.

Any job.

I needed to save money for my impending move to Paris, where I would spend a year working as a teaching assistant in an elementary school, frolicking in the City of Lights, and I needed to save money quick—$3,000 in the span of a couple months—in order to afford all of those baguettes and bottles of vin.

I don’t know if you recall, but the summer of 2009 wasn’t exactly the best time to find a job or graduate from college because of the…ahem…recession that had just hit the U.S.. Merci, economy! When June arrived and I still hadn’t found work, I started to panic. In my desperation, I posted an ad on Craigslist entitled “French Tutor: $15/hr”.

Two days later, I got an email and scheduled my first student: a Russian-American eighth grader with a deep love for David Bowie.

That, my dear reader, is how I got my first taste of how to earn money on the side. No, it wasn’t a ton of money (I eventually found a full-time job to save the money I needed for France), but I realized an important lesson: it’s just not that hard to get people to pay you to do things.

In the four years since I graduated, I’ve become more and more obsessed with the idea that I can earn money without getting a real job. In fact, while living in Paris, I continued to grow my tutoring business and offered up my services as a nanny. I made bank. I even moved back to France in 2011 and spent eight months living off of my side hustle, earning money “under the table” or “in the black”, as the French say, by tutoring ESL, babysitting, and even continuing to tutor American students via Skype.

Now, I even teach new entrepreneurs how to land their first three clients and start earning money on the side. (My “side hustle” has become my main income).

How did I do it? More importantly: How can you start earning extra money (at least $500) on the side, too?

Lemon squeezy.

You just need to try a few of the following things (as many as you can, really). It’s fun. Just think of it like a game!

#1 – Teach someone something

You, my friend, are talented. You have knowledge and wisdom that others just don’t have. You have knowledge that they need. Stop hogging it all!

Maybe you have an academic skill, like tutoring French or Math or Biology. Maybe you’re an amateur auto mechanic. Maybe you have a knack for cooking tapas or sneaky vegan recipes that even meat lovers will love. Contact the local high school, library, etc. to see if they’d refer you.

Whatever it is, there’s someone out there who is willing to pay you to teach them how to do what you do best.You have to get over the unwillingness to earn money for doing what comes easy to you, because, well… it doesn’t come easy to them. (I, for example, would love to hire someone to teach me how to sew or do my taxes).

Make a list of 50 things that you know how to do. You don’t have to be an expert. You just have to know how to do it better than the person who hires you. (I am not the best French speaker in the world, but I know way more than my students and have diverse teaching experience, and they get an incredible value from my lessons.)

Charge what you’re worth. Don’t do what I did and charge a measly $15. (My lessons are now triple that cost). If you do this right, this is the best and easiest way to make money on the side.

#2 — Sell something (not your body, duh)

Don’t even try to tell me that you don’t own anything that you can sell. I’m a minimalist, for crying out loud, and I still have things lying around that I can sell.

Do you have:

  • Nice clothes that you rarely wear?
  • Shoes?
  • Furniture?
  • An instrument?
  • An old computer, phone, or other electronics?
  • A designer purse?
  • Books?

Walk around your house with a pen and paper. Make a list of items that you see that you might be able to sell. (Note: the best places to sell things are eBay, Craigslist, and at garage sales).

I sold my piccolo from high school for $300. A few friends told me I was crazy—that I should keep the piccolo just in case. Just in case what?! The damn thing had been rotting on a shelf in my basement for eight years. Now that I’ve sold it, it’s actually going to get the love and attention that it deserves… and I made 300 bucks.

#3 — Get a J-O-B.

Last spring, after my house was hit by a tornado (yeah, that happened). It was cra-zy. In the midst of the madness, I craved normality. I decided to get a part-time job at the local coffee shop (I’m actually writing this post from that coffee shop right now, sippin’ on my chai).

Getting a part-time job is great because (a) it’s easy (b) you get to meet new people (c) you spend your time doing something that’s earning you more money rather than spending it.

Most people complain that they don’t have enough time to get a part-time job, even for just a few hours on a Saturday morning. Or—they think that having a part-time job would suck just as much as it did in high school.

I don’t agree with either of these claims. I’m sure that you could wake up a couple of hours earlier on a Saturday or trade some of that time that you spend surfing Facebook to get out into the world. You need to think about the benefits the job gives you: more money, more freedom (eventually), and a more interesting life!

So, what’s it gonna be?

You can absolutely earn $500 a month this way, but you have to make a decision. The mailman is not going to drop the money off at your door, though. You must get up and take action to get started.

– Courtney Johnston


Workin’ Hard For The Money

School is now in full swing with students hitting the books. In college and university, school can become an all-consuming thing and everything else is put on hold. Unfortunately for students that didn’t qualify for student loans or a loan just isn’t enough, they’ll also be working their way through school.


When I was still a student I was lucky enough to get a job with Ryerson University during the school year, but when class let out I moved back home where there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for work. So I made the decision to live in the city during the summer of 2012 and find a job in the Big Smoke.


This was the summer that I had not one, not two, but THREE jobs. It was also the summer that my boyfriend and I decided to try living with each other the first time. Can you say overwhelmed?


I was able to snag a job as a camp counselor for Ryerson’s day camp, I was hired to work concession at the Scotiabank theatre and I hired myself out to clean apartments for friends and fellow students.


My schedule was intense. From 8am-5:30pm I was running around with kids teaching them the basics of sports and teamwork, then I would rush to my second job from 6:00pm-2:00am scooping popcorn and getting people nachos for their movies. For my cleaning job it was only on the weekends. I spent about 3-4 hours per apartment.


To say I was busy is an understatement. The only thing that motivated me to keep going was that I was earning money. The more hours I took on, the more bank I was making. After a while I started to get incredibly run down. Little things started getting to me, I was no longer excited to go into work and I just wanted the summer to end.


Sure, I was making money but it wasn’t even that good. I was working myself to exhaustion for minimum wage and I was starting to hate every minute of it. Looking back at it now I know I bit off more than I could chew. I should’ve cut back my hours cleaning apartments or just gotten rid of that job altogether.


I know that for some of you money is tight and you feel like if you aren’t constantly working you won’t be able to achieve your dreams. That was exactly my mindset, but I almost ran myself into the ground trying to achieve it.

Make sure you are taking care of yourself, that is most important. You can’t be out there #killinthegame if you’re sick or about to faint because you only got three hours of sleep and ate half a banana. Yes, earning money is great, but don’t overextend yourself. You are your most valuable asset. Stay healthy, well-rested and keep your head in the game. It’s great to be incredibly ambitious and motivated but remember that you need to be looking out for number one.



DOs and DON’Ts of Halloween

October is a scary time of year, not just because of Halloween, but that it means your bank account may be taking a heavy hit. If you’re like me and LOOOOVE this spooky season you can sometimes get carried away. I’ve ended up spending waaaay too much on a costume that I only wear once and immediately regret my purchase on November 1st.

So for those of you Halloween uber fans I wanted to share some of the DOs and DON’Ts of this magical season to save you some moolah.

DON’T: Buy your costumes online
It may seem like a cheaper option, but after taxes and shipping fees it costs about the same as one of those pop-up Halloween stores. Plus, when you buy your costume online there is always that risk that it will look nothing like its picture.

Take it from me. I wanted to be Pikachu and dropped $50.00 on a costume because I thought I would wear it more than once. I ended up with a mutant version of the Pokemon and looked so shady I felt like I ruined some people’s childhoods.

DON’T: Buy your costume from the pop-up Halloween stores
These are the stores that magically appear in the darkest corner of the mall. They are filled to the rafters with super-expensive costumes that end up being made from the cheapest material. You usually find a lot of last-minute shoppers here who are willing to pay more for a cruddy costume because they waited until the last-minute.

For those of you who plan ahead I suggest steering clear from these shops. Their costumes are a one-time wear and sometimes not even that. I’ve had friends who’ve had their costume tear or fall apart before the night has even begun. The only reason you should be perusing the racks is to maybe get some inspiration for your own costume.

DON’T: Buy all the alcohol
If you are planning to have a party the majority of your budget usually will go to buying alcohol. this year to save some of your hard-earned cash, make it a BYOB. This way you won’t have to break the bank to have people get sloshed at your place. Instead of buying the alcohol buy stuff to mix the drinks. It’s not as expensive as booze, but it’ll be a nice touch for the people who are bringing their own.

DO: DIY (Do It Yourself)
Making your own costume or decorations will be waaay cheaper than buying them. Plus, when you make things yourself you get a great sense of accomplishment once you’ve finished. If you don’t have super creative tendencies, but you have a wonderful friend who is a costume wiz see if you can employ their services.

For some DIY costume ideas check these out:,
And for DIY decorations give this a gander:

DO: Go to thrift stores
Thrift stores are beyond awesome. You can find some amazing stuff for costumes and decorations that are cheaper than cheap. The only thing about thrift stores is that it can be a tad overwhelming if you go in without a theme or a general idea in mind. Make sure you have a plan and possibly a posse of people to help you sift through the mountains of clothes and cool knick knacks that will be everywhere.

DO: Dollar Store it up!
I am a HUUUGE fan of dollar stores, especially during Halloween. You can get some great candy for parties on the cheap and find some finishing touches to your costume as well as single-use decorations. The only problem is that EVERYONE loves the dollar store too. Make sure you are prepared to wait in line, because it will be looooong. Also, just like the thrift store, make sure you have a plan of attack when going to the dollar store. Some of them can be pretty big and you don’t want to start your Halloween off overwhelmed.

DO: BYOC (Bring Your Own Candy)
It’s not a Halloween party without candy, but ‘tis the season for crazy high snack prices, so your choice of goodies may be limited. Instead of paying for all of the candy have a kind of potluck party where you get your guests to bring their own. This could mean people bring home-made noms or go to the store and buy a value pack of candy bars. Definitely suggest to your friends to head over to bulk food stores. This way they can avoid the expensive boxes of candy and can pick and choose their faves. Having people bring their own goodies will mean your party will have a greater variety and your wallet won’t die of fright once your credit card bill comes in.

DO: Buy decorations that will last
If you are a person who loves to decorate for Halloween each year I would suggest spending a little more on decorations that will last longer. Some of us only decorate if we are hosting a party, so buying single-use decorations make sense. If you are a person that goes all out each year, buying stuff that can handle wear and tear and can be reused year after year is something you should invest in. Sure, it may be a bit costly now, but this means you won’t have to spend money on decorations next year. Plus if you shop for your Halloween goodies once it’s over you can save mega bucks on clearance sales!

DO: Group Costumes/Costume Swap
Have some fun with your friends and do a group costume. Pool your resources and find out if you can create a costume with stuff that you all already have at home. If you need to supplement your sweet ‘stume have everyone chip in $5.00 and head over to the thrift store or the dollar store. Whatever money you have left over can go towards candy or drinks.

If you can’t create a group costume try swapping your old Halloween outfits with your friends. Trade your Supergirl costume for someone else’s Harry Potter uniform. This way you don’t have to buy a costume, and you have oodles of things to choose from.

DO: Skip the costumes and have a scary movie night
If you don’t want to go out and get dressed up, but still want to keep with the Halloween spirit, get your friends together and have a scary movie night. Have everyone bring their fave horror movie and some popcorn or candy, turn off the lights, and have a super fun fright night! This way you don’t have to spend oodles on a costume or the insane entry-fee for a club (seriously, don’t go clubbing on Halloween unless you want your wallet to cry).

I hope you all have a happy Halloween!

Trick or treat!


Unemployment Desperation: How I Almost Signed Up For Clincial Trials

When I was unemployed I had this fear of never being able to find a job again. If felt like nothing was available except for unpaid internships that wanted me to work eight hours a day, five days a week. I became so desperate that I started to look up ways to earn cash fast.


I was tempted to accept a job as a telemarketer, but my conscience wouldn’t let me take it. I also snagged a job selling hot water tanks and heaters, but declined because I felt so shady barging into strangers houses trying to sell them stuff they didn’t need.


I was at the end of my rope and was sitting on the subway coming back from yet another interview when I saw a sign for clinical research trials. For some crazy reason this actually appealed to me and I decided to look up the website once I got home.

What made my decision to pimp my body out for medical trials so strange was that I prided myself on not drinking alcohol, smoking cigs or doing drugs. Heck, I didn’t even take Tylenol when I had a headache, yet here I was willing to let pharmaceutical companies use me as their lab rat for scary drugs.


Why was I even considering this? I had money saved in the bank and had enough of a cushion that I would be comfy for more than three months even if I had no income coming in.

The reason I was willing to do this was that I was afraid. I was afraid that something terrible would happen and I wouldn’t have enough money to survive. When you’re unemployed your brain goes into extreme panic mode and you feel like anything that could go wrong will go wrong.


The thing about these trials is that they seem somewhat glamorous. Sitting around watching TV, eating free food, and helping test drugs that could really benefit people? Sounds like a blast. Plus you can get paid incredible amounts of cash. The trial that caught my eye was for a week and I’d earn $1,500. Seeing that much money offered made my mouth water and my bank account tingle with joy.


When I finally got home I was so excited to sign up and get on my way to earning some money, but the rational part of me demanded that I research the negative effects that doing these trials could have on my life.

The results were scary. Some people had incredibly severe reactions and were hospitalized, other people were fine at first but had complications a few months later. What actually scared me the most was that I found interviews of people who did clinical trials as a full-time gig. On many clinical trial sites, it states that you cannot participate in a study if you are involved in another one, but there are people out there who do 2-4 trials all at the same time. This is just plain dangerous. I didn’t want to head down that road so I put an end to that idea.

As I kept looking for jobs during my five months of unemployment I would Google fast ways to make money and the websites that popped up would keep suggesting that I do these medical trials, or that I should sell my blood or my hair to make a quick buck.


The fact that these are options for people who are in financial trouble worries me, but what I noticed more often than not was that they were marketing for millennials. So many people were signing up because their work contract ended and they needed to pay rent and their student loans.


That was one of my main reasons for even considering medical trials. Not having a job and being weighed down in debt from school can make you desperate. I hope that you start looking at your finances now and making changes and creating healthy money habits so you won’t be tempted to do these things just so you can earn some fast cash. It’s not worth it if you end up hurting yourself in the long run. You are worth more than that.


Let’s get #financiallyfab the healthy way and start planning our financial futures today!
– Karyn

How I Paid $20,000 of Student Loan Debt One Week After I Got Married

Normally, I hate headlines that make it sound like I am some super human when I am really just a nerd who sits behind a computer all day.

When my wife and I got engaged, we had accumulated $21,500 in subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans and we were both finishing up our last semester of school before we would drop out. We were each going to have to pay off half of a degree that would never be used.

I got married at 19, so when we got engaged we had about $200 between my wife and me. We were the definition of young, broke and in love.

Four months before our wedding date, I knew I had to buckle down because I didn’t want $21,500 of student loans hanging over our heads. I thought the pressure of student debt and being broke would cause a split in our marriage.

I was freaking out and worrying about $21,500 we had to pay off collectively, which is less debt than the average student graduates with.

My fear of debt and wanting my marriage to succeed drove me to pay off all of our student loans in just over four months or exactly one week after our wedding.

I will never forget the day I made that last payment and the joy I felt (almost more joy than my wedding). I made my student loan payment the day I got back from my honeymoon, which was one week.

Here are the four strategies I took to paying off my student loans in just over four months.

They work really well when combined, but be careful how much you take on. I was working close to 70 hours per week trying to pay off my loans.

Strategy #1: Let the Money Roll, Baby
Before my wife and I got married I was going to school full-time and had a part-time job as a day labourer for a construction company, meaning I was the young muscle because all of the older guys have bad backs from years of construction.

In the winters I would work shovelling snow and in the summers I would carry various tools and supplies like shingles, drywall, and plywood.

The five months before my wife and I got married, I was fortunate enough to be able to turn my part-time day labourer job into a full-time job and get a raise.

Being able to go to full-time was luck because they needed more men and had plenty of work.

But getting a raise was done strategically. Here are the steps I took to get a raise in roughly 30 days:

Step #1: Hustle for Mo’ Money
In the 30 days before asking for a raise, I hustled like I never did before. I broke my back (not literally – though it felt like it at times) and made myself look extremely valuable.

I jumped at any opportunity to work late, work hard, and take on new projects. I began working on projects rather than just hauling supplies like a mule.

My goal was to create more value for the company and make myself look extremely valuable so my boss did not want me to leave.

Step #2: Collect Your Negotiating Chips
While I was hustling I would go home every night and apply for new jobs. I would apply to other day laborer jobs or factory jobs that offered the same or more pay.

I did not want to leave my employer, but I needed negotiating power so that the only response my employer could give was, “Yes Alex. I will give you a raise.”

I interviewed at a couple places and was extended an offer at a manufacturing plant that would increase my hourly wage by 20 percent.

Now I had some bargaining chips and knew I was going to get at least a 20 percent raise.

I sat with my employer and asked for a raise. He told me, “The company cannot afford to at the moment”. So I told him as collectively and respectfully as possible that I had another opportunity that he would need to beat for me to stay.

I ended up getting a 30 percent raise.

Between becoming full-time and getting a raise, I was able to bring in an additional $1,500 monthly.

Strategy #2: Start a Side Hustle
I have always had an interest in owning my own business.

I did not have very many skills, but I spent some time as a janitor and cleaner when I was younger so I thought I would start a cleaning company.

With a low cost to start, I was up and running within a week. Since I started my cleaning company while still in college, I figured I would market to college students. This was hard and tricky because they did not like to pay you sometimes, but I managed.

I marketed to Frat and Sorority houses and specialized in “after party clean up”. I spent most of my Saturdays and Sundays cleaning houses, but it turned out to be pretty lucrative business idea.

I was able to generate an extra $500 per month before my wedding. In my effort to increase my income I was able to generate about $8,000 more than I was making.

Strategy #3: Keep Your Money in Your Pocket
All of the extra money I generated would have been useless if we spent it all.

Did I go out to eat a little more than I did when I was making less money? Sure.

But we kept our expenses to a minimum. My wife and I lived with our parents until after our wedding. We basically lived off of Ramen Noodles. I still shiver just thinking about that.

We slashed and questioned all of our expenses. Spending less money was not too hard for me because I was working 70+ hours a week so I did not really have time to spend it.

Strategy #4: Keep Things Simple and Cheap if Possible
The average cost of a wedding is $28,000. Most people say they would never spend that, but there are so many other people whose input matters, like your parents.

It is hard to have the wedding you want, especially if your parents are going to be the ones to foot the bill.

My wife and I got lucky by having a large network and a large family. Between my wife and I, we have 27 uncles and a lot of cousins. We were able to get the church, the venue, and catering all for free.

The only expenses we had were the clothes and the rings. Our total cost of our wedding was $3,645 and there were 212 people there that gave us a total of $14,000 in wedding gifts.

Defeating a mountain of student loan debt can feel impossible. It is possible to pay it all off and quickly, but it requires hard work and sacrifice.

I know most people are not willing to delay buying a home, are afraid to negotiate a raise, and spend time watching too much Netflix rather than starting a side business.

Anything remarkable is achieved because it takes effort. It’s not easy. By definition, to do something remarkable, it takes doing the things most people are unwilling to do.

If you want to pay your debt off faster than anyone else, then you have to work like no one else.

Alex Craig


Passive Income: The Future of Getting Paid

“Woohoo! I just made $700!”

I heard an entrepreneur say this to me while sitting in the audience of a conference. She was literally just sitting there, when she received a message from PayPal that someone bought her product. No effort required.

If you’re wondering: how the heck did she do that? The answer lies in the new (and clearly exciting way) to get paid: passive income.

Passive income is “income received on a regular basis, with little effort required to maintain it.” This is the opportunity that is becoming more mainstream and possible at any stage when you create an online business.  

So what are some different ways to earn passive income?

Sell an eBook or eCourse, an online meditation, your music, a software product, become an affiliate of an online program, or have a sponsor of your podcast or blog series, to name just a few options.

Also, there are tons of entrepreneurs who share about how to create this new stream of income. Below are three amazing entrepreneurs who are killin’ the game with passive income streams.

1. Pat Flynn
Pat Flynn is the founder of Smart Passive Income. He has an amazing story of going from making $38,000 per year to multiple millions. Learn more about his story on a Forbes article here.

2. Amy Porterfield
Amy runs a highly profitable online business, and one of the core ways she makes passive income is with online webinars teaching entrepreneurs how to use Facebook for their business.

3. Gabrielle Bernstein
Gabrielle is an author, speaker and entrepreneur. Gabrielle sells quite a few passive products from her meditation downloads to her monthly membership subscription called ‘Get More Gabby.’

Truly, the sky is the limit with this opportunity.

Are you currently making passive income? Or do you have an idea about how you want to start?

Share in the comments below!

<3 Gwen

5 Fundamentals of a Stress-Free Financial Life

Money has always been my greatest source of stress.

You’d think after a lifetime of dealing with this stress, I’d have figured it out by now. But the truth is, I haven’t.

As a gal with big dreams, I know that it will take money to build the life I truly want. In the last two years alone I’ve hired more than 10 freelancers to help me build my side business. And as it grows I know I’ll need to hire more people (at a higher cost to keep building).

Needless to say, I’m always on the lookout for ways to stay zen when thinking about money.

In my inbox today, I received an email from Amanda Steinberg of DailyWorth sharing the 5 Fundamentals of a Stress Free Financial Life.

Here’s the audio so you can listen in detail:

Here are the Top 5 at a glance:

  1. Release All Shame and Guilt.
  2. Know Your Net Worth
  3. Believe: ‘I Am A Saver’
  4. Budgeting is not the only answer.
  5. You Are Not Alone.

If you’re interested in getting money clarity yourself, Amanda and her DailyWorth team are offering a five-week online program that helps you take control of your finances. You can learn more here!

If you’re struggling with money clarity and take the course, let us know how it goes! Personally, I’m working with my fave financial planner Shannon Lee Simmons for money clarity, but always want to share new, trusted resources to help!

Sending you all the love to live stress free when thinking about money!

If I Had A Million Dollars…

Sometimes life gets so heavy.

When you’re bogged down with bills, figuring out your career, pleasing your parents, trying to stay up-to-date with friends, relationship drama… the list goes on, and it’s hard to be inspired.

It feels like you’re on a hamster wheel, and you honestly forget to dream. (Remember when you used to believe in the ‘dream big’ idea?)

You forget that it is truly a gift to be alive, and it will get better.

Right now, I’m building a side business and investing a ton of money and energy into it. I’ve financially failed twice in the past when trying to build businesses, so the fear definitely still lingers.

It’s important to step back every once in awhile and dream of what’s possible for your life, if money truly was not a problem at all.

So, I encourage you to take an hour today to be distraction-free to imagine what you would do if you had a limitless supply of funds, discovered your purpose, and are eager to have a bit of fun!

Here are the Top 14 Things I would do if I had a million dollars (or honestly, unlimited funds):

  1. Pay off student/life debt for my sisters, parents, friends, family.
  2. Go on vacation four times a year. Like really, why not?
  3. Treat everyone to coffee/drinks/food when we go out. It feels amazing to surprise people by picking up the cheque. (And I promise to allow others to do the same once in awhile so they can feel the same joy).
  4. Wardrobe update! I’d love for my clothes to match the way that I want to feel. More power blazers please!
  5. Try out all the different spa-like experiences in every corner of the globe. I am THE WORST at taking time to relax. I would love to give myself the space to breathe.
  6. Spontaneous acts of kindness! (i.e. $1,000 tips for the hostess)
  7. Try a ton of different creative classes. Makeup, cooking, salsa dancing… why not!?
  8. Become an angel investor. It would be an incredible honour and thrill to invest in the next generation of founders.
  9. Learn to code. Really though. I’d love to immerse myself in a class for a few weeks with a hoodie and strong coffee.
  10. Go to every inspirational, self-helpy-type conference and seminar under the sun. I’d love to learn from anyone who inspires me. (Most people who inspire me charge a HUGE amount to learn from them).
  11. Learn to surf in Bali or Hawaii.
  12. On the Hawaii note – own property there! I’ve never been, but it calls to me 😉
  13. Invest. Now that I have mo’ money, it’s time to make mo’ mo’ money!
  14. Teach millennials how to make mo’ money. I would truly immerse myself in how it’s possible to create a living that inspires you and teach this to millennials. We all deserve to thrive.

This is my fun list (with a couple of serious items on there). I highly encourage you to do the same! It’s honestly so fun!

What would you add to your list? I encourage you to create it or share a few ideas in the comments below.

<3 Gwen

Monique’s September Challenge: UK Visa

My September challenge was to apply for my UK visa so that I could join my husband for his final year at law school, sooner rather than later.

Did I do it? Unfortunately, no.

I needed to have a minimum equivalent of £1890 in my account. The amount must be easily accessible, so savings don’t really apply in this case. I truly needed to have more in order to cover my living expenses in Canada (like, you know, food and bills) while that minimum just chills in my account as the visa gets processed. That was on top of all the fees associated with applying. Needless to say, this was a behemoth of a goal and something I have been working towards for a while.

Life always throws curveballs at you when you least expect it (and that totally happened within the last month, this summer, and this past year!), so that’s why it’s a good idea to have a financial cushion.

Previous experience has taught me that simply meeting minimum financial requirements is never a good idea. You never know what might happen.

The interesting thing I learned this month as I was saving up and prepping my paperwork to apply, was that while yes, the financial aspect was challenging, it was also totally doable because of what I’d learned from my past challenges:

1. I basically had a credit-free month

I didn’t use my VISA card for any trivial purchases in September. (Remember that time I froze my VISA in a cup of water in the freezer?) While some bigger purchases had to be put on my card initially, they will all be paid off sooner rather than later because…

2. I practised money mindfulness

About 90 percent of my purchases were made using my debit card, five percent was with cash, and the last five percent was with credit. Using my debit card wasn’t really an issue, because I had gotten into the habit of checking my bank balance more than once per week. This also applies to my credit card statement until it’s paid off (again).

3. Making mo’ money on time

As soon as a project was complete, I created the invoice and sent it. Some of my clients send payment through online banking, and others send cheques. Factoring in the “buffer” time between Done and Paid, getting this completed ASAP was a major accomplishment for the #girlboss who struggles to enjoy bookkeeping.

4. Keep #Husting

Staying focused on your goals sometimes runs the risk of putting blinders on and becoming unable to see lateral opportunities that you could jump on and take you a giant leap closer to your goal. Luckily, I keep this in mind so I’m always on the lookout for opportunities. Facebook is viewed as a huuuge time-suck for a lot of people. For me, it absolutely can be (hey, I’m human… and possibly lurking your profile right. now.), but I also view it as a tool for networking, learning, and motivation. When one of my friends posted a vague status update about an opportunity for Ottawa-based writers, I shot him a text right away. Long story short, I secured my most lucrative freelance contract to date, with an opportunity for growth. Woot!

So, overall, I can’t really say that September was a bust. I now have all the required documents and necessary financial resources at my disposal. It’s time to complete that challenge.

In October, I’m recommitting to keeping that cash in my account and completing the actual visa application. I know my #Sisterpack will hold me accountable. What’s your strategy to recommitting to a goal you didn’t quite attain the first time? Let us know in the comments below or share with us on Facebook (the awesome resource/time-suck) and Twitter!

<3 Monique


Gwen’s September Challenge: Book My Place on Airbnb

My September challenge was to book my vacant place on AirbnbI was travelling to San Francisco and Mexico in September, and my place was empty for almost two weeks.

Did I book?


I got the Airbnb photos taken and uploaded a profile, then the requests started flooding in. I just couldn’t keep up with them.

Quite honestly, I got completely overwhelmed, and I was overthinking that it may be a bit weird to have a stranger live in my place.

I did not complete my challenge, though I learned a few things that will help me for my October challenge which is again: book my place on Airbnb.

The lessons I learned:

1. Start small.
I had a dream of finding the perfect person to book my place for two weeks solid. This did not happen. I had a ton of people who wanted to book for only a day at a time. This caused the overwhelm. So when I’m in London in October, I’m going to only allow people to book if they’re willing to stay for at least three nights.

2. Get help.
I didn’t have a solid plan for how I would get the key to the people who wanted to rent. I now have my sister onboard to help me with this.

3. Just go for it.
Ultimately, this is outside of my comfort zone. But as an avid renter on Airbnb, I know it can make a huge difference for travellers and also be a ton of fun.

So, dearest reader, I hope you hold me accountable. And if you have any tips as a renter, I would love for you to share them with me! You can comment below or tweet to me @gwenelliot!

<3 Gwen

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