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May 2016 archive

Paying for Guidance

Before I decided to quit my job I was in a rut. I didn’t know what my future held for me. I had no clue what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. I was lost. What changed for me was a simple email from the #finaciallyfab Shannon Lee Simmons.


I had signed up for the New School of Finance newsletter and was getting some rad information, but this one email stood out among the rest. It was titled “Want to leave your job in the next 6 months? Before you do…” As someone who was contemplating about leaving their job, this was definitely a sign.


The gist of the email was that there was a course called Guidance Counselling for Adults led by the amazing Kathryn Meisner (our May FFFOTM) that would help me really focus on what I wanted in a job and how I could go about getting it. Plus, there were these great tips on negotiating salary that I definitely wanted to learn.


The only thing holding me back from jumping up and down and cheering for my good luck was that this course would cost me some cash. You’re probably thinking, “Of course it’s going to cost you Karyn! Guidance this good ain’t free!” and I totally agree. This course was exactly what I needed, but I was hung up over the cost. Also, I need to mention that if I purchased the course I would be getting an amazing deal and it wasn’t even that expensive. I definitely could afford it, but I was still very hesitant.


Finally I decided to get all kinds of logical on this. I asked myself three questions:

  1. How would this course benefit me in the long run?
  2. Could I afford it?
  3. Why did paying for this bother me so much?

And after much thought my answers began to form:

1. It could help me narrow down my search for a job, teach me how to talk money with employers, help me decide if I should go back to school, or if I should make a complete career change.


2. Ummm, I defs could.


Now answering my third question took a little more time than the first two, but after a while I finally came to a conclusion.

3. If I can’t solve a problem myself I feel like I’ve failed. If I have to pay someone to teach me something that I could have figured out myself I would feel like I wasted my money. I was also worried what I would discover about myself.


Now that I had finally figured out what was holding me back I was able to move past it. Now that I’m doing this course I can easily say that this is one of the best personal investments I could have made in myself. I feel like I’m treating myself to a more successful future and that is worth every penny I paid.



Waiting for the Inevitable…

Ever since I moved to Toronto in 2009, I have never lived in one place for longer than a year… until now.


My current humble abode is now the first place that has housed me for more than 12 months. Though some of you may think this would be a time of celebration, I’m just sitting over here waiting for the inevitable. When am I going to move again?


Don’t get me wrong, I like where I’m living now. Good rent, awesome roomies and hydro is included (what whatttt)! But I don’t want to stay here forever.


I’m turning 25 in September and that has gotten me thinking about adulting even harder. I’m currently living with my S/O and his college bro (he’s an absolute gem).


The thing with having an extra roomie is you get to live with an amazing person (well, in this case, but some past roomies… ugh), but you also get to split rent!


It’s a good time for money-conscious-Mollies like myself, but when you have another person in the mix there are extra variables thrown in.

When I do decide to move-in with just the BF, what happens to Mr. Epic-Roomie? Also, what if I want to move and they don’t? What if they want to move and I don’t?


Also, I’ve become so accustomed to moving that now I feel as though something is missing. As though I’ve forgotten that I have a presentation at work or I’ve left the stove on.


I have this weird, panicky feeling and it’s all because I’ve been living in the same house for 14 months straight.


Usually around this time I would be searching for a cheap place, figuring out how to pay first and last month’s rent. But instead I’m just doin’ me; looking for a new job and figuring out how I’m going to keep paying my current rent.


The idea of moving to a cheaper place now that I’m soon-to-be unemployed is very tempting, but I have to keep things in perspective.

Moving isn’t really cheap, it’s annoying, and it takes A LOT of time to even find a place that you like. Then you still have to wait to see if they approve of you (and your credit score) and letcha move in.


So as of right now I’m trying to stay chill about this whole “not moving” sitch and keep myself occupied.


As long as I can stay away from I think I’ll be able to get through this.


How to Collect A Paycheck When You’ve Waited ‘Too Long’

For my freelancers out there, this topic may hit home… hard.

Does this scenario sound familiar?: You started working with a client and had exciting plans  for the work you would provide, and let’s be honest, you were excited to be paid! But as the work relationship may have shifted from the original contract or the timeline to deliver the work may have changed, you may have been left a bit confused as to when to invoice. Or perhaps you personally got incredibly BUSY when it was time to invoice.

So you didn’t do it.

And now, it’s months (or perhaps) a year(s) later, and you still haven’t collected.

You may feel embarrassed or ashamed and ask yourself, should I just let this go?

Well, you’ve come to this post for a reason, because I’d love to help you reclaim your self-confidence (and perhaps self-worth) and receive the money you earned.

Even if you are agonizing over how long it’s been since you contacted them, or even if the fee you’re invoicing for doesn’t seem big enough to go through the effort – I promise you it is. You deserve to earn the money and you will feel like a champion when you finally receive that money.

You may have seen me share his work before, and it’s worth it to check out again if you are feeling uber-blocked. Brad Yates is an emotional freedom technique teacher, with some great (and very simple) videos you can use to help you get unstuck.

Perhaps these topics may resonate:

‘You are Worthy’

‘Not Good Enough’

Also, here is a simple script you can use to reconnect with a past client and ask to be paid.

Subject Line: Hi [name of person] (Reconnecting and New Services)

Hi [name of person],

I hope all is well! Personally, I’ve been travelling quite a bit ….. [Add in an update here and perhaps even allude to why you’ve been “too busy” to invoice].

You popped to mind today, as I’ve been working through my 2015 taxes, and noticed I have an unpaid invoice from our work together doing [XYZ: the work you provided].

This is an oversight on my part, so I’ve attached the invoice from our work together. I’d appreciate it it you could provide payment at your earliest convenience, ideally within 30 days. [Share the easiest way they can pay you: i.e. Via Freshbooks, eTransfer, cheque etc.]

I had an amazing experience working with you, and I have new packages and services I’d love to share with you if you’re interested in collaborating in the future.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to work with you.

Sign off


So as you can see, YOU CAN DO THIS! Don’t give yourself time to overthink it, just go for it. And know that you are not alone. I was inspired to create this blog post as I was just at a business retreat for incredibly talented women entrepreneurs, and this was a common theme amongst so many of the attendees. Women shared about not collecting thousands of dollars, and had pretty great “excuses” why not. So the above process is exactly what they are doing, and what I encourage you to do as well!

Keep us posted on your progress!

<3 Gwen


 I’m taking some risks and making big changes in my life.


Yep, you heard me. Karyn, the TO-DO LIST Queen, the planning-for-every-situation lady is taking a risk. What’s the risk? Switching phone providers? Going to a different grocery store or changing shampoos? Nope.

I quit my job.




Yep, you’re lookin’ at a girl who decided that she needed to get a change of pace and leave her current work sitch (actually my last day is the end of May, but I gave notice last week).


If you’re wondering what made me decide to leave, well, there are a couple of factors. The main one (that I’ll share with you) is that my heart wasn’t in it. I was doing the same type of job for the past four years and I felt empty.


I decided that I needed a change. I’ve been applying to jobs that I’m passionate about. Things that make me excited, that give me something to look forward to while challenging me at the same time.


Now, as you may have read in some of my past posts (link up unemployment posts), I’m no stranger to unemployment. The only difference this time is that it is on my own terms.

As exciting as it is to become a free-agent again, I also know what’s waiting for me around the corner.


The money sitch is a very real worry for me. Of course I’m going to stress about making sure I have enough to survive on. The only reason I’m a little rattled is because after paying my taxes, I was left with a much lighter wallet.


Though this could be a great time for me to panic, I’ve decided to take it as a challenge (and as you know #TheSisterpack loves their challenges)! I’m already planning my unemployed budget, I’m going to start (Ask For) Tasking  again and I have a wonderful posse of peeps that have my back (famjam and friendos).


This time around unemployment is not looking so scary.

If anything, it should be afraid of me!



Gabby’s April Challenge: H&R Nope


Is what I wanted to shout at the man across from me at H&R Block. But I didn’t. Read on.

For the month of April, I took on the challenge of getting my taxes done. Since I started filing a few years ago, I either had no part in it or my mom helped me along the way. I decided that it’s now time for me to figure out how this stuff works on my own since I’ll be doing it for the next 80 years or so.

In total, I had 13 papers to file and there was just no way I felt comfortable tackling all this by myself.

What if I mess up?

What if I get audited?

What if I don’t get back as much as I could’ve?

What if I missed something?

These are just a few questions I asked myself before deciding that I should get someone who knows what the eff they’re doing to file my taxes. So I went to H&R Block.

Once I got there, I sat in the waiting room for 45 minutes. Not awesome, but not terrible.

Finally, I had someone call me in to get started. He said it would be around $160, but then quickly changes it to $180-$200. Alright, cost of doing business. I trust him because it’s what he does for a living.

Everything seemed to be going fine, but it was still taking a long time. He inputs numbers for the next 45 minutes, and then we start to wrap it up.

Then he notices something.

“Have you filed with us before?”

“No, I literally have never stepped foot into an H&R Block.”

“That’s weird. It says you’ve been filing in Cambridge since 2011.”

“Umm….what? I’ve never even been to Cambridge…”

Great. He figures someone may have stolen my identity or something. I probably spend another hour sitting there in silence waiting for him to get a call from the headquarters to patch things up.

Of course they don’t call. So he tries to do some more digging. Turns out they mixed up my SIN with another Gabrielle from Cambridge, born in 1956.

Well, that’s reassuring.*



Ok, so everything works out. Then he said it would be $260.

Wut. No. There’s no way. The entire time I was cool as a frikken cucumber with everything: the waiting, the mix up with my name—I didn’t get frustrated or anything.

But this? This I can’t take. How did $160 go to $180? And how did $180 go to $260?! Once this happens, I’m so over it. It’s been three hours now and I want to get the eff out of there.

I calmly say, “So, this is kind of frustrating. You said it would be around $180, and now you’re saying it’s more like $260? Where is this number even coming from?”

He couldn’t give me a straight answer.

“Alright, well I’ve been here for three hours. I should’ve been here for half an hour, tops. Is there anything you can do to make this a happy ending for both of us?”

He says there’s nothing he can do. Now I’m pissed.

“So you’re telling me that you do nothing to compensate your customers when this sort of thing happens?”

He fumbles his words a little before going to speak to his manager about the situation.


He comes back and says the best he can do is give me $25 off.

Eh. Better than nothing, I guess.

So I left H&R Block paying $214 and feeling super over it. Overall experience? 4/10.

This is why millennials hate doing taxes. Because even going to a place where you can hand off your papers, sit back, and twiddle your thumbs, shit can still go wrong and you didn’t even have anything to do with it! But I guess one good thing came out of it: I can’t wait to take taxes into my own hands next year.  

I took some time to process everything, and considering both Karyn and I had AWFUL experiences there, I realize I’m not satisfied with $25 at all. This week, I’m going to call H&R Block to see if there’s anything more they can do about this. Wish me luck!

Peace out homies!

Karyn’s April Challenge: Income Tax Assistance Part 2

My challenge this month was a continuation of my March Challenge, which was to pay someone to do my taxes. Unfortunately I was unprepared last month, but for April I made sure I had EVERYTHING ready. I had a folder with all of my pay stubs from my freelance gig, I had my T4E (it finally came in), my GST/HST number, and literally everything I had regarding my student loans. I wasn’t taking any chances.


When I arrived at H&R Block I was ready to kick some income tax butt. I told them that I would be doing my personal and sole proprietor (freelance/self-employed) taxes when I booked my appointment so I arrived feeling good about what was about to go down and felt like it was going to be an absolute breeze.


That was not the case.


I ended up sitting for half an hour waiting to meet with someone even though the office was literally empty. You could seriously hear crickets it was so dead.


Then when I finally met with my income tax expert, he seemed very uninterested in what he was doing. Maybe he was having a bad day or whatnot, but when it comes to my taxes I kinda want you to be on point.


I started asking him questions about what he was doing and he just ignored me. I also showed him my folder full of my sole prop stuff and when I kept mentioning my freelance gig, he didn’t listen to me at all.


How do I know he wasn’t listening to me? Well, when he was telling me how much I made last year, the total was just barely over $4,000. As a person who worked full-time hours for 9 months that number just didn’t make sense. When I asked him where he got that total he said it was money I received from Employment Insurance.




Okay, so as I internally screamed I took out my overly-prepared income tax folder AGAIN and showed him all of the pay stubs. I guess it finally clicked because he looked a tad frightened.

He then said, “Sorry, this is too complicated. Someone else will have to do your taxes.”


WHAT?!!! I’ve been here for an hour and now you tell me this?! GUHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

I was then shuffled over to someone who could handle my “complicated” taxes and we got to work. I wanted to know everything he was doing since I wasted the last hour of my life learning nothing.

Want to know what I learned in the hour I spent with my new guy?



He barely said a word to me and wouldn’t answer any of my questions. When I mentioned my student loans he didn’t even acknowledge me. I just wanted some verbal confirmation that he understood what I was asking, but no luck.


At one point it felt like we weren’t even on the same planet, let alone sitting right across from each other

When he finally told me the amount that I owed the CRA, I was a tad shocked, but I was prepared (thank you savings account). I was curious why it was so much and he just brushed it off and said, “You were freelancing. What did you expect?”


Wow, thanks champ.

After two hours of awfulness it was time to get the heck outta there and vow never to return.

I guess you could say I completed my challenge, but ultimately it felt like I failed. I paid so much money for two people to “help” me with my taxes and I left feeling seriously ripped off.


To those of you reading this article and thinking, “Oh God, I have an appointment next week!” I just want to say that my experience may not be the norm.

My time spent getting income tax tortured could have been an isolated incident. There are probably other H&R Blocks out there with people who are incredible at what they do. People who will be happy to answer your questions and show you what they’re doing.


However, my time was a bag of butts, so I learned that I’d rather just do my taxes myself. It was an interesting experience, and one I would definitely not want to repeat.

So to those of you still finishing your taxes, I wish you mad amounts of good vibes and hope you get a great big tax return!



Monique’s April Challenge: Keeping It Simple

This month I had a major breakthrough.

I’d been struggling to rebuild my website where I showcase my reporting and editorial work, and offer my writing and editing services to potential clients. My old website had mostly been a blog and it was cringeworthy. With a URL and previous work and blog posts languishing in stale, online perpetuity, I made the site private and set up a placeholder landing page that instead redirected potential clients to my LinkedIn page.

My challenge in April was to finally buy web hosting for the theme I’d purchased in November.

It’s such a small thing, but I’d been struggling with deciding on the options for web hosting: what company offered the most perks? What features would actually be useful to me? What was my budget?

I’m not really an indecisive person, so this inability to just. make. a. decision. was getting to me. I finally took action when, after talking to Gwen, was reminded to just choose what would be the simplest option for me.

And so I did it.

That was the best advice. When it comes to making decisions about making mo’ money and mo’ progress, it can be really overwhelming when you want to make a change that will definitely make an impact on your day-to-day life… especially when it comes to what’s in your wallet.

But sometimes the best decision you can make is to just keep it simple. By overthinking the endless options available – in any and all aspects of your life – you can lose sight of what’s most important to you.

Just keep it simple.

It was advice I kept in mind throughout the process of buying the web hosting. I had a good experience chatting online with the web hosting provider’s customer service representative, just double checking some of the last-minute questions I had about some of their plans.

Finally understanding the core value of what I wanted and needed allowed me to ask direct, clear questions and filter out any potentially unnecessary upsells that I knew would be offered.

And wow, were they offered. The rep even pushed hard to complete the transaction on her end because they get “recognition” for sales made. Hey, I get it – people have quotas to hit. So I told her, “Sure,” and followed along with the checkout process on my end so that I would have a better idea of what to expect when I (likely) renew my hosting contract.

Here’s where knowing what you want and keeping it simple really came into play.

I was somehow fortunate enough to get a magical 82% discount automatically applied to my transaction when I went through the checkout myself. Meanwhile, the rep was pushing hard to get me to confirm my order to her at the standard rate.


I quoted the magically-discounted rate and promo code to her and said I would only confirm at that rate because that was what was being offered to me.

Bam! Keeping it simple FTW!

When I shifted my focus to simplicity and didn’t hone in solely on the cheapest plan or saving money, I got more than my money’s worth. And, most importantly, I got peace of mind knowing that a goal that I’d put on the backburner for months had finally been accomplished.

I’m going to keep the theme of simplicity going this month and take on the minimalist mindset! Join in the fun by participating in the Mo’ Money Mondate: for the month of May, we’re inviting our #MoMoneyPosse to participate in a monthly challenge with #TheSisterpack. Pick your money goal, big or small, and we’ll support you each Monday when we all check in with updates.

If you’d like to get support for a money goal you have (and join us in person or via Skype Toronto for the celebration party at the end of the month!), let us know that you’d like to be added to the Facebook group on the public Mo’ Money Mo’ Progress Facebook Page and we’ll invite you!

See you on Social!
<3 Monique

Gwen April Challenge: Tax Party Prep Take III

Ladies… I’m stuck.

My challenge for the last couple months has been proactive tax prep for next year, though I’ve fallen flat and haven’t completed my challenge.


I have a couple of ideas.

#1) There’s no urgency. This would be the most proactive I’ve ever been in my life for taxes. I usually don’t have this much space when I’m doing my expenses, so this is a new experience.

#2) I’m “busy.” Yes, this is a BS excuse. We’re all busy.

#3) Taxes aren’t FUN! I have been on a fun bender lately. I’ve realized that the more fun I have, the happier I am. It’s awesome. I think I’m afraid to burst the fun bubble by getting into the number crunching and spreadsheets.

So what am I going to do to turn this around?


This month in May we’re running the Mo’ Money Mondate. We’ve created a Facebook group and invited our friends to take on a money challenge that will help you make mo’ money and mo’ progress. I will be taking on this challenge again, though I will be infusing more fun into the mix. I will be starting small. And I am now accountable to a group of people who I think are awesome! They’re also coming to my house for the celebration partayy at the end of the month, so I’ve definitely gotta step up and make progress this time.

Thank you for reading, and if you want to join the Mo’ Money Mondate add me as a friend on Facebook (Gwen Elliot) and I’ll invite you to join! We officially start on Monday May 9th!

<3 Gwen

Starting To Slack

Being smart with your money is all about developing healthy money habits. Such as creating a rainy day fund, putting part of your paycheque into said fund. Things like outlining budgets, managing your (student) debt; all that good (yet boring) stuff takes time to turn into a healthy habit.


I’m currently trying to save money for our famjam’s trip to Kenya to see super sib #2, Monique. This means I should be spending less and my rainy day fund should be growing. Unfortunately, this is not the case.


I’ve been mad stressed at work lately due to a very big film festival that has taken up all of my time. When I’m stressed I sometimes forget to focus on an important aspect of my life, namely healthy eating habits.


That means a pizza here, some fries over there, oh and all of the chocolate you could possibly imagine. What makes this whole situation worse is that the food I’m eating is being delivered to me.


This is costing me so much unnecessary money that could be going towards a doctor’s visit or buying essentials (SO. MUCH. SUNSCREEN) for the trip.


I started out with treating myself at the end of the week, but soon it turned into an almost everyday thing. Plus, I would meet up with peeps on the weekend and we would go out to eat as well. While I was gorging myself on chocolate chip pancakes for the third time in a week, my wallet had begun to look pretty thin.


To combat this unhealthy money habit I’m going to take a page from my own book and use what I learned during my January Challenge. I found that when I wrote down what I ate during the day I was less inclined to buy something quick and easy and made the habit of making my food.


I’m sad that I stopped because it was a good habit to keep, especially if you are like me and sometimes forget to eat and then think it’s okay to treat yourself to stuffed crust pizza the next day.


Hopefully this will form new healthy habits for me and help me stick to my Kenya budget!


Financially Fab Female of the Month: Kathryn Meisner

Hey there, #MoMoneyPosse!

In this series, we highlight our financially fab fam who have learned how to make mo’ money and manage what they’ve got… and who then generously share their hard-earned wisdom with us! (Now that’s spreading the wealth.)

Kathryn Meisner is a career coach who specializes in salary negotiation, how to kick a$$ at work while actually loving what you do, and teaches her clients how to become both confident and competent when on the hunt for their dream job.

Kathryn knows that one of the fastest and most effective ways to accomplish your financial goals to simply make. more. money. As someone who has made the most of her own career changes, Kathryn is offering the #MoMoneyPosse a short and sweet bonus for the new course she’s launching! Check out her advice about how – women, specifically – can be proactive and take control of their finances… one negotiation at a time.


1. Hi! Who are you and what do you do?

I’m a career coach, aka “the guidance counsellor for adults.” I help people find and land the job that’s right for them.

I also help women earn more money through salary negotiation strategies that are specific to women (and actually work). I’m doing my part to decrease the gender pay gap, one woman at a time!

I offer one-on-one coaching sessions and a few times a year, I open the doors to my aptly-named online course, Guidance Counselling for Adults.

GCA is actually open right now until May 2nd and there’s a special promo code for Mo’ Money Mo’ Progress readers so you can save money while figuring out your career.

Use the coupon code “MOMONEY” and you’ll get 20% off when you enroll in the Foundations level of GCA.

2. Do you have a money habit you practice that has made a big impact on how you made mo’ money or manage what you’ve got?

Negotiating my salary while keeping my expenses low is the financial practice that has given me that biggest bang for my buck (pun intended)!

I had to pay for my own education which meant that I had over $65k of student debt when I finished university. I lived extremely frugally but saving a few bucks here and there wasn’t adding up as fast as I needed it to. That’s when I realized that the impact on my budget (and debt repayment) was going to come from my salary.

So I became “a student of negotiation” and learned everything I could about negotiation – especially negotiation for women.

I started by doubling my salary within 1.5 years while I was working at a charity. I negotiated a $10k increase when I was hired for a non-profit, grant-funded role (folks who have worked in this sector know this is not easy!) I then made a $50k jump in one job change.

All of this was because I negotiated my salary. Nobody was going to offer it to me. I had to ask and know how to negotiate.

When I merged finances with my husband, the $65k debt became over $80k… Through the practice of salary negotiation and keeping expenses low, we were able to pay off our debts when we were 30 (super proud of that!)

And when I say salary negotiation is a practice – I MEAN IT. It’s a skill, and like any other skill, it can be learned and requires practice. Negotiating as a woman can often require specific skills and extra practice because we tend to undervalue ourselves or not even try to negotiate.  

Now, I get to help clients do the same (some have negotiated salary increases over $55k).

3. Who taught you to manage your money? What was their best advice?

My parents! Starting at age 4, I had an allowance. They always shared our financial situation with me and my brother. While it was sometimes stressful, it really gave me insight into managing money. I learned the value of a dollar at an early age.

Also – Shannon Lee Simmons is my financial fairy godmother. She has helped me me build upon my good financial habits and has helped me learned the financial side of my business.

4. What does being “financially stable” mean to you?

Paying my bills, saving for the future, having an emergency fund, travelling a few times a year (considering going to Iceland for the second time soon!), and having the flexibility to do things like leave my job and start a business.

5. What is the main lesson that you think Millennials need to learn, or hear about, when it comes to making mo’ money and mo’ progress?

This one goes out to all the ladies: ASK FOR MORE. Negotiate your salary. It will immediately impact your finances. The more you earn now, the more you can save now, and the more you can earn later.

In case you missed it, Kathryn is giving a special gift to the Mo’ Money Mo’ Progress fam! Enrollment for her new Guidance Counselling for Adults (GCA) course is closing super soon, so if you’d like to sign up and take advantage of a sweet 20% discount, don’t forget to input the coupon code MOMONEY.

Woo hoo! Thanks, Kathryn!