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July 2016 archive

Spontaneous Fun

I like to plan things, no surprise there. I plan what I’m going to buy, I plan what I’m going to eat (even if it’s pizza), and I plan my fun in advance as well. I plan so that I can make sure I can get the best deal for what I’m spending my money on. This means that there isn’t much spontaneity in my life (shocker). I like routine and it keeps me sane. No surprises means no surprise costs.


Well, that all went out the window when I bought tickets for a Marilyn Manson/Slipknot concert less than two hours before it started!


Yep, I bought majorly last-minute tickets that probably cost more than if I had bought them when they first went on sale and because I didn’t plan on going to the show, I ended up spending $12 on a bottle of water and a slice of pizza. Dinner of champions, I must say.


This incredibly rare moment for me ended up in an amazing night. I was able to see bands live that I have loved for more than 10 years! It was beyond fantastic and seriously worth every penny.


Sometimes you have to just say, “Let’s get crazy today,” and do something a little wild. You never know what could happen (like Marilyn Manson singing Beautiful People right in front of you!)


And if you don’t believe me, here is a taste of my snapchat story of that night!





What will your spontaneous moment be?


Does Your Money Have Cancer?

The other day I was meditating and saw something quite shocking.

I had a visual of me lying on a bed in a hospital hooked up to an IV. Family was around sending me positive thoughts. At first I couldn’t move. I was stuck. Then after enough positive comments from family, and giving myself enough time to rest, I started to sit up. I started to sip on drink provided at the hospital. I started to feel better.

Then – without warning – financial expert Suze Orman ran in the room and like a coach, started barking financial orders. I couldn’t remember what she said, though it was intense. She was basically saying, I had my chance to rest, and now it’s time to get my ass in motion to start getting my finances on track.


And guess what happened. I listened to her. She’s the expert, right?! So I ripped out the IV, got up, and started ‘training’ to get back in shape.

It was intense… and I was running on adrenaline. I started to feel sick again, but I ignored it for as long as I could. Though guess what happened next? I started to feel sick again and was soon back on the bed, in worse shape than when I started.

This was an incredible wake-up call. This meditation experience reminded me of how I and  so many millennials live. Our finances are ‘sick’ and once we start feeling better, we listen to someone who’s lightyears ahead financially, we try to keep up and we then get sicker than we were before.

If you feel this way, you are totally not alone.

Luckily, there’s a way to heal your financial challenges, without having to listen to someone who doesn’t understand your sickness. YOU have the answers and can heal your own financial life.

The truth is, it’s possible to heal your financial challenges, though it’s going to require a remedy that you alone have. And it starts with feeling better and taking it slow. As much as it would be fun to receive a giant check to pay off student loans, it’s much more likely that it may take some time to pay it back.

One way I have implemented to start feeling better and starting the healing journey, is to pay with cash and debit. I realized that I was paying with credit cards (I had just gotten into this habit) and I realized it does not feel good to pay with everything on credit. So this is one small shift I have made.

Another small shift I’m making is to open bills when I’m feeling good, rather than opening bills when I’m in a terrible mood.

This is my ongoing lifestyle from here on in, and I’ll check back on how it’s going in a few months!

Here’s to taking it slow and feeling better!


Summer in the City

Summertime means patios, sun tans, and lots of fun-in-the-sun time! For those of you who are on break from school or just thrive in this maddening heat, I have created a lovely list of cheap and fun things for you to do!

*some of these may be Toronto specific*


1. Picnic with the pals

Grab some friends, make some noms, and meet at a park. Eat, chill, get some sun, and just enjoy each other’s company. You deserve a break from your busy life to just slow things down and have fun.

2. Free outdoor movie screenings

Go with friends or go by yourself and meet some new peeps. You can either choose to see the films you already know you’ll love or discover some new ones! Bring your own popcorn and have a blast under the stars!

3. Street festivals

There are two things that are certain in the summer: disgusting heat and free street festivals. Get to know your community, explore new cultures, and try something a little out of your comfort zone!

4. That live music life

Get jiggy with it at free live music events in your city! Listen to your fave jams or find a new genre that just blows your mind!

5. Game night

Grab some friends and play some boardgames! Relive your childhood by playing Sorry! or get real intense in a game of Catan.
If you don’t happen to own any board games check out Snakes and Lattes or look up your local board game cafes!

6. Ice cream adventures

Summer wouldn’t be summer without ice cream. Go on an adventure and try to find the craziest flavours possible. To get you started on your quest, check out Sweet Jesus or Bang Bang Ice Cream

7. Free guided city tours!

Explore your city with a free guided tour. You may find your new fave spot or discover a hidden gem. For those of you residing in the 6ix, check out ROMwalks to get the low down on Toronto’s incredible history.

8. Get lost

Grab some water, a snack (or two), some sweet tunes, and just start walking. Get lost and discover your community. You can do this on your own or with some chums. All you need to do is simply head somewhere that is nowhere near your usual hangouts. If you have a metropass, pick a subway stop you usually pass by and just get out and roam about. You’ll never know what you could discover!

Do have any favourite cheap, summer activities that you like to do? Share them with us in the comments!

Have fun!



Breaking Down Before Breaking Through

I have always been very conscious about how much money I’m saving and how much I’m spending. This usually ties into how much I am earning at work so I can plan a budget around it. As of right now I am sitting in a kind of “employed purgatory.” I’m working, but not really. I’m making money, but not really. It’s a seriously crappy feeling.


What makes it worse is that I have begun to feel like I am caught in this endless cycle of being unemployed. Sure, I’ve survived the other times I have been jobless but after the third time it gets difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.


Usually when I have this much time on my hands I’m making lists and budgets, getting things in order so I can get back on track. Unfortunately, this time I have been seriously slacking. I feel like I’m trudging through sludge and all of my movements cost me all of my energy, but they barely get me anywhere.


The other day I finally broke down. My mom called me excited to hear about my new job and instead of hearing me be excited and happy, she was met with frustration and sadness. I ended up saying goodbye only after a 10-minute call and just lying on my bed trying not to punch all the things.


After lying in the dark for what felt like a million years I had a clear moment. I knew I was going to be okay. I just had to get back into the swing of things. My biggest issue was that I no longer had structure. When I am left to my own devices I get bored very easily. Having jobs that required me to plan and create order was what helped me thrive.


Now I am making my own daily schedules to help me look for new work and get back to my old self. It’s not going to be easy now that I have to budget like I’ve never budgeted before, but I know that with the incredible support of #TheSisterpack I’ll be able to get back to being my old self.


Wish me luck.


Gabby’s June Challenge: Making Benefits My B*tch.

I have work benefits but it’s been almost a year and I still haven’t activated my online account so I can start claiming expenses.  

I know what you’re thinking…


And that’s what I was thinking too when I first picked this as my challenge. I even voiced this to my sisters. I was hesitant because I didn’t think anybody would want to hear about how I’ve been putting off activating my benefits account, but after some talking, I began to realize just how important this challenge really is. So far, it’s saved me tons of money, but I still have so many questions.

So I bought something I can expense. Now what?

How do I make a claim?

Am I supposed to keep these receipts for taxes?

I have no idea what I’m doing. But I realized that if I’m struggling with it, chances are someone else is, so I’m going to make it my mission to make benefits my b*tch to help you get a better understanding of it as well.

I figured I’d start by going to the Manulife website to register for an online account.

It took me way longer than I thought. The website was incredibly hard to navigate, so then I jumped on the phone to see if I could talk to someone about how to set one up. I was on hold for 30 minutes before I decided to check out the site one last time.

After I finally found out how to register, it said that I would have to wait 3-5 business days to get an activation code in the mail so I can FINALLY log in.

Buuuuuut since Canada Post is now going on strike, who knows how long that will be 🙁

Since I’ll be waiting a while, here’s my favourite cat video to keep you entertained.

Sometimes you gotta do the boring stuff to reap the benefits (no pun intended) of the good stuff.

Keep at it,



Karyn’s June Challenge: Clothing Swap

My June challenge did not go according to plan. I forgot to take into account that I would be travelling to Kenya and that once I got back I would be starting a brand new job. This made things difficult when it came to planning a good time to meet with people to swap clothes. Also as June progressed it started to kick my butt even harder and I just lost the enthusiasm I had when starting this challenge.


So in short, I failed.


Now I’m not one to give up so easily, so I plan to complete this challenge in July. My goal is to organize all of the clothes I no longer want and have a clothing swap with my friends. Whatever clothes I have left over I will see if I can either donate them to the Kind Exchange and see what moolah I can get or trade them via Bunz Trading Zone. I want to see if I can actually get some sweet deals from people and have something to show for my poor choices in fashion.


Hopefully completing this challenge will make me more aware of what I purchase in the future. I will no longer buy things that I will only wear once and then hide in the back of my closet.


Wish me luck!


Monique’s June Challenge: The Absentee Tax Filee

It starts off so innocently:

“I’m busy this week.”

“Ugh, I’m missing that important piece of paper.”

“This *inevitably unimportant thing* is much more important to do today.”

“Why is this not where it should be?”

“…Wait, WHAT day is it??”

And that’s why I ended up doing my taxes.

In June.

Overseas. (Again)

This time, from Kenya.

In all fairness, my freelance filing is not due until June each year but that doesn’t exempt me from filing taxes for my traditional income on time.

I’ve spent much of this year (and all of the 2016 fiscal year so far) outside of Canada, and much of my attention has been focused on very few things remotely Canadian, save for my family and Canadian clients.

My challenge for the month of June was to complete my Canadian taxes. While the outcome is still in limbo (minor errors from both my financial advisor and on my end – no huge deal, almost fixed), it’s still basically done.

I emailed the person who handled my taxes last year from Kenya and within a week we had everything just about completed.

One of the benefits of being a freelancer is that you can work from just about anywhere (work visa, permitting) but it’s also super important to keep your home-country deadlines top of mind.

If you’re planning on working overseas this year, make a note of what you’ll have to file, by when, and in what currency. Do it early and keep on top of it. There’s no glamour in working internationally and then missing a deadline that will keep your records current and your home government happy.

If you’re like me, just know that with every year, every project, and every deadline, you’ll get better. You’ll improve to the point where things that required so much analysis and strategizing becomes second nature.

For me, this was a hiccup. A chance to say, “Whoops!”

Now that I’m back in the UK and have had a chance to reflect on my setbacks, I know that by tax time next year, this will only be a faint memory but one that has had a major impact on how I approach the month of April from this point forward.

– Monique

Gwen’s June Challenge: Pay In Cash

‘Sup peeps!

My ohhhh my June was an INTENSE month. I travelled quite a bit (from Kenya to NYC), started new work adventures, and finally caught my breath after realizing I have spent most of 2016 travelling.

This month, July 2016, is dedicated to getting grounded and nurturing relationships. One of those relationships is my connection to money. Imma be real here, I was quite mad in my relationship with money in June.

Why? Because I have big dreams and more adventures I’d love to pursue, though I feel held back by not having the money to do this (i.e. take off to Hawaii for a month to write my book).

Yet I understand this is happening for an incredible reason. With all of the travelling, I think I believed the answers to life’s big questions were on the next trip. They were somehow NOT with me right now. They were somewhere out there.

I actually got quite sick a couple of times in June (which is very rare for me), and it’s really forced me to take a hard look at the way I’m running my life. It’s also encouraging me to sloooooow down.

My June challenge was to write out – and get clear on – my expenses for February. Seeing as I was in a tumultuous relationship with money, of course, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It would have been a frustrating experience. So this is on pause for the moment.

My July challenge is to only pay with cash and debit, and to focus on building my relationship with money into a loving one. So I’m going to bust out a jar and put one act of love into it every day as a visual reminder of my July challenge.


If you’re working on rebuilding your own relationship with money, I highly recommend joining me!

<3 Gwen

Toast and Tea, Anyone?


In less than a month I will be moving in with my boyfriend of almost four years.

It’s a big step, and I know it. I also know that moving in with someone requires a lot of $$$.

And since I’ve had two previous roommates who pretty much had everything we needed, I never really had to go out and buy a duplicate for myself. Like, who needs two spatulas?

One thing I’m realizing, though, is that all my possessions consist of things I bought around five years ago when I first moved into college residence. My toaster, my kettle… and that’s pretty much it. I have a toaster and a kettle. And my toaster’s seen better days.

But as the clock ticks closer to August 1st (when my current roommate moves out), I’m starting to sweat a little.

I’m going to have to make a lot of big purchases, like a couch, cooking utensils, a TV stand; the list goes on.

Thankfully, I knew this day would come, and I’ve been conscious about my spending habits in order to save up as much as I can. That’s why, for my July Challenge, I’ll be pricing out exactly what we need and how much it’ll cost. It’s a lot of work, but I’m excited!!

Until then, feel free to come over for some toast and tea. I got chu.