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Monique’s January Challenge – Sparking simple change

The new year started off on a frantic, heavy note.

I didn’t get a job I wanted despite being qualified and a good fit (being rejected for something “intangible” stings in unexpected ways). My freelancing, side hustling, and part-time bridge job were picking up pace and I was on the verge of burnout… again. I didn’t write anything about my failed attempt at my December challenge, which was, in itself, as frantic and heavy as I was feeling.

So I decided to switch it up.

My Mo’ Money goal for January was surprisingly simple and largely symbolic:

I wanted to buy a yoga mat.

I’d been meaning to pick one up for so long (earliest musings began circa 2013). I wanted to save some cash by working out at home (I also own free weights and other gym gear). I’ve been getting stiff by spending so many hours at the computer, researching, writing, jotting notes, transcribing… and doing it all from my home office, the little nook that doubles as a mini library by the floor-to-ceiling window in our apartment.

But above all, I needed a return to center.

My center.

Why a yoga mat? Have you ever been to a yoga class? Yes, they can be full of trendy, bendy people who seem aloof, toned, and enlightened about the versatility of coconut oil but I’ve always enjoyed them.

The chill music, relaxed atmosphere, and emphasis on the connection between mind, body, and soul always got me breathing a little deeper and feeling a little lighter by the time I rolled up the gym mat and pack up to head out.

That’s what I wanted to bring home. I wanted it accessible, convenient, and, most importantly, mine.

Now, I haven’t attended a yoga class since 2013. It’s not really my prerogative to enroll in a class anytime soon.

Expressing my desire to buy a yoga mat sounded weird when I voiced my interest for the first time, as though it wasn’t really true, as though it was a frivolous purchase I wanted to make just for the sake of owning one.

Yet, trekking to the store and picking out the right one, the one that was just thick enough and soft without being too heavy to carry, felt right.

Despite all the setbacks and disappointments, I made mo’ progress in January.

Getting clear on something meaningful, no matter small it seemed, and then acting on it felt satisfying.

January is always the “new beginnings” time of year as most everyone hangs up their new calendars, take note of what worked and what didn’t within the past 12 months, and set new goals in an effort to start fresh.

It’s recently gotten some seriously cynical backlash for that. While buying a yoga mat wasn’t a new year’s resolution of mine, it reminded me on the importance of doing what makes you feel good, even if it doesn’t always fit into the big picture of your life.

It’s like buying a new piece of clothing you’re in love with, and realizing it goes with nothing in your existing wardrobe. But you wear it anyway, and eventually an outfit comes together.

Sometimes that simple change is the catalyst for hauling yourself back on the path to the happiest, healthiest, most awesome version you can be.

With that in mind, my February challenge is to actually use my new yoga mat, and see if I can inspire some more bawse-awesome, incremental changes.

High fives and good vibes,

Monique 🙂

 

My First Experience Selling Electronics Online

I am embracing a minimalist lifestyle. As you may have read in my last post, I am down the rabbit hole of learning about living with less (stuff) to focus long-term happiness unrelated to external possessions.

It’s been on my mind for months to sell my second laptop. I bought it earlier this year, as I had anticipated needing it for work projects, though I quickly realized it was ultimately a frivolous purchase. It was a gold MacBook with all the bells and whistles (okay it was just a fancy case because it’s TINY and a new USB cord). I knew it was something I could sell that someone would love to own.

I have friends who have sold things online, though I definitely felt a bit apprehensive about selling a laptop on the Internet. I had so many questions: would people really want to buy second-hand electronics? How much do I sell it for? What site do I sell it on?

I allowed these questions to cloud my mind, and avoided taking tangible action for far too long. My ultimate push to sell it was watching videos from financial expert Dave Ramsey who gives pretty outrageous advice to people looking to earn extra money and pay off debt. I heard advice that he gave to couples to sell both of their cars, their houses and literally anything they owned if they were ready to get serious about taking control of their finances. I figured if people could sell such personal items that they used every day, I could sell a laptop I barely used.

So I did it.

Here are the different strategies I used to make the sell!

THE ‘MARKETING’ STRATEGY:

I know from reading #GirlBoss (okay, and just general smarts), that the photo is key when selling anything online. After much procrastination, I cleaned the laptop from every fingerprint and used my ‘skills’ as a photographer to stage an iPhone photoshoot. I made the decision to list on both eBay and Kijiji at the same time (which you will later see was a mistake). I’ll be honest, this took me an afternoon to get the postings online. I had a steep learning curve of reading about how to sell on each platform. After I got it to the point where I would be interested as a potential customer… I posted. To my surprise, within an hour I had requests on both platforms, and in a few hours I was overwhelmed with requests. Clearly, I priced it correctly and took some good photos. It was officially ON!

PRICING STRATEGY:

The laptop was in mint condition and was used only a handful of times. It was originally purchased for $1,549 CAD. As it was an older model, I noticed online the price had dropped to $1,349 CAD for a new one. Yikes. So I went with my gut and charged $900 CAD and also included the bonuses like the $50 case and an extra USB cord. I clearly wasn’t going to profit from this, though I appreciate the lesson learned. (And also an extra $900 cash is nothing to sneeze at.)

SELLING STRATEGY:

I originally chose to sell to a man who emailed me via Kijiji who had a very clear response to my ad. As we chatted back and forth, it was clear he was interested and seemed like a sane human who simply needed a laptop. Then suddenly, I checked my e-mail and noticed that someone had insta-purchased the laptop on eBay! Oh no :-(. I found out that when someone purchases on eBay, you have to send them an invoice to pay on PayPal, then ship it out. Even though I had built a relationship with the Kijiji man (named Adam) I figured ultimately it’s easier to send a PayPal invoice and get paid, vs. meet a stranger in person to get paid. So I sent the PayPal invoice. For two days there was radio silence. Then I emailed the eBay woman (Susan) to check in. Radio silence for a few more days. Realizing she probably wasn’t going to pay, I emailed her letting her know I was going to cancel the invoice (for a courtesy) then cancelled. I then went limping back to Adam from Kijiji, asking if he’d like to still buy it. He said yes, and we arranged to meet-up. In the meantime, I got a response from Susan who asked if I could send the laptop to Nigeria (seriously), and she’d take care of the shipping. IMMEDIATE RED FLAG. I ignored this, and a day later got an email from eBay saying this person was a scammer. PHEW! A good reminder to not send anything until you have cash in hand. Also, I found out Adam was no longer interested that same day as he found a better deal. So let’s just say I was feeling a bit annoyed, and wondering if it was all worth it.

I decided to give it another shot (electronics will only depreciate in value, and it would be such a shame for this awesome product to go unused). I listed on a Saturday, received numerous responses, and decided to go for it and meet up with a new potential purchaser the following day. We connected via texting and I figured I had nothing to lose, so we decided to meet up on a Sunday evening at a busy coffee shop near my place.

THE ELECTRONICS EXCHANGE:

The gentleman who was purchasing gave me a call before arriving at the coffee shop and ended up bringing his sister along as well (I guess in case I was an Internet murderer heehee). He was UBER prepared for the meet up. He had a checklist to ensure I wasn’t a scammer. He checked serial numbers, Apple IDs, speakers, charging ports, etc. etc. etc. It definitely gave me peace of mind that he was so prepared. After about 30 minutes of checking out the laptop (side note: I brought my own laptop along so I had something to do to keep busy), he was interested and wanted to buy. WOOHOO! Before meeting up, I asked him if he could bring cash. He brought nine $100 bills in an envelope and allowed me to count it. It kinda felt like being a drug deal or something when you’re counting $100 from an envelope in a coffee shop, though it was overall a great exchange. Turned out he had back surgery and needed a lighter laptop, and I was helping him in more than one way!

OVERALL:

Overall, I definitely haven’t caught the selling online bug, though I am grateful for the opportunity to sell. I would sell online again, though I would likely only sell things that are higher in value as it doesn’t feel worth the time to sell smaller items.

Have you ever thought of selling online? Or are you a pro at selling online? If you have tips share them with us below or on our Instagram post or Twitter! The sharing economy is the future, so I highly recommend embracing it – at least with baby steps!

  • Gwen

 

Karyn’s May Challenge: Investing in Myself

This month’s Mo’ Money Challenge was a little different as we were able to have an amazing group of people supporting us through our Mo’ Money Mondates! My challenge this month was to finally get myself looked at by a doctor, dentist, and optometrist to see how much each of them would cost since I don’t have benefits.

1

The first person I subjected myself to was the eye doctor. I haven’t had my eyes tested in a little over four years and I was definitely past due for an eye exam. My prescription had changed so much that I was constantly squinting, plus my glasses were on the verge of crumbling to dust because they were so beat up.

2

I decided to go to Clearly on Queen St. West. The people were so awesome and I was in and out in no time. The cost of seeing the optometrist was $95 for just a basic check-up. I also wear contacts so I had to get new ones fitted. This set me back an extra $35. I ended up paying $130 plus tax which I was totally down with now that I was able to see. Plus I went on their site http://www.clearly.ca/ to buy my new frames and ended up paying only $49.92!!!

3

Riding on a high from the optometrist I was ready to tackle my next challenge… the doctor. First I need to mention that I haven’t seen a doctor in a ridiculously looooong time. I would also like to mention that I HATE the doctor and it is a nightmare situation for me every time that I even THINK about going.

4

This time around I wanted to find someone that I didn’t loathe. With the help of the Mo’ Money Mondate crew I was given great suggestions for doctors in the city! Unfortunately I have not yet made an appointment mainly due to fear and the fact that I ran out of time. But I’m giving myself half points as I did have to go get my shots for Kenya! My shots only cost me $135, but if I had renewed my gosh darn Health Card sooner I could have paid $95! You live and ya learn!

5

Last up is the dentist. I haven’t had my teeth examined in ages. If there is anything I hate more than the doctor, it’s the dentist. So as you can imagine I have yet to see them. Though I have made progress and narrowed down my search to two places in the T dot.

6

So 1.5/3 isn’t too bad considering how long I have put off the majority of these tasks. I am challenging myself to complete the rest of my tasks before the summer is over!

7

Wish me luck and good health!

-Karyn

 

Keepin’ It Real

Scrolling through the Mo’ Money, Mo’ Progress Instagram feed I found myself noticing a common trend. There are a lot of posts of people with luxury items. Watches, cars, expensive clothes, vacations, and pretty much anything with a hefty price tag. Usually when I see these pics I double tap without thinking or just scroll by without really giving them much thought.

1

After writing my post about my Quarter Century Crisis I’ve started to really think about the things that I want to work toward and figure out my future. With a generation that is very social media savvy, it’s common to find our feeds saturated with the fancier things in life. Unfortunately I am one of the people who can’t (yet!) afford these things. Seeing them everyday surprisingly started to wear me down.

2

I began to envy these people who posted pictures of things I would never have. Looking at these photos made the green-eyed monster rage inside of me. I started looking around at the things I owned and began to resent them. Thinking back to all the money I have spent needlessly instead of saving it and padding my bank account to buy something Instagram-worthy began to eat away at me.

3

What brought me back down to Earth was when I purchased my Premium Pass to FanExpo. FanExpo is a convention of all things nerdy held in Toronto. This will be my fourth year in a row attending the con. When you buy your tickets you have a choice of Deluxe, Premium and VIP passes. After staring at a world of WANTS on Instagram I was incredibly tempted to buy a VIP pass that cost almost $600. I wanted to buy it, not because it was something that I would cherish and enjoy, but because I felt like it would make me feel better about my current situation.

4

Yep, I thought spending $600 would make me feel whole. That having an unfulfilling job, paying off student debt, and trying to figure out my future would all disappear if I bought a VIP pass. I was literally one click away from dropping $600 when I realized how ridiculous that was. Spending money wasn’t going to solve my #moneywoes and it definitely wasn’t going to help me figure out my quarter century crisis.

5

So instead I opted for the Premium pass, which was at a price that wouldn’t give me heart palpitations the next time I looked at my credit card statement. What I took away from this moment of clarity was that seeing all of these people living extravagant lives and being able to afford all of their WANTS can get to you. Whether or not you let your envy tear you down is a whole other thing.

6

Everyone is successful in different ways, and unfortunately we currently judge it by how many likes your picture gets. From now on, I’ve decided to keep it real. If I do post I want to make sure it’s something that brings joy and creates a dialogue between people that’s more than just, “Oooh I wish I could be there/have that.”

7

Let’s keep it real,
-Karyn

GABBY’S APRIL CHALLENGE: TAXES

So my April Challenge was to learn how to do my taxes. It was going really well until I realized I had some missing pieces, like my 2014 Notice of Assessment. To get it I had to log on to the CRA website, but since I never registered, I needed to be mailed this letter that would contain a code so I could FINALLY access my information. I was supposed to get it in 10 days but it took way longer than I expected and I only recently got to sit down and try attempt #2 on my taxes.

I sat down. I logged in. I clicked Notice of Assessment. And it turns out they didn’t process it. UGH. This means I have to call the CRA, ask them what the heck is up and try to do attempt #3 this month.

Welcome to my May Challenge, everyone!
I’ll keep ya posted.

Sprinkles and cupcakes,
Gabs

10 BOOTY SHAKIN’ SONGS ABOUT MONEY

Your bank account lookin’ a little empty? The pressures of debt weighing you down?
Well, let’s shake off our money woes together with these 10 songs about money that will get your rear in gear!

1. Independent Woman – Destiny’s Child

2. Gold Digger – Kanye West ft. Jamie Foxx

3. Money Ain’t A Thang – Jermaine Dupri ft Jay-Z

4. Rich Girl – Gwen Stefani ft. Eve

5. It’s All About The Benjamins – Puff Daddy ft. Notorious B.I.G, The LOX & Lil’ Kim

6. Glamourous – Fergie ft. Ludacris

7. Whatever You Like – T.I

8. Ride Wit Me – Nelly ft. St. Lunatics

9. I Get Money – 50 Cent

10. Money (That’s What I Want) – Flying Lizzards

 

 

MOVING BACK HOME WITH THE ‘RENTS FOR THE SECOND TIME (AT AGE 25)

 

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I’m 25 and just moved home with my parents for the second time.

If you were to tell me that last year I would’ve politely laughed and then proceed to show you out (perhaps followed by slamming the door behind you and yelling ‘AND NEVER COME BACK!’)

You see, I truly love being independent.

My first taste of parental freedom was at seventeen, when I moved away for university. It was pure bliss. I grew up in a small-town sharing a room with my three younger sisters, so to say I appreciated having my own room with cable television was a huge understatement.

But after graduating from university at twenty-one, feeling crushed under the weight of student loans, and dealing with a nasty case of ‘analysis paralysis’ I admitted defeat. I moved home.

That was a dark time for me as I was so frustrated with myself. I also got into the toxic habit of constantly comparing my life to my friends on Facebook (pre-Insta era) wondering what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t get it together.

Needless to say when I moved out for the first time a few months later I vowed I’d never do it again.

And yet, here I am. Moving home with the parents…again.

So what’s the deal?

The reason for this is two-fold:

1) The lease on my apartment was abruptly coming to an end, so there was a fork in the road: find a new place and move out in less than a month (in mid-January in Toronto) or move home.

2) I’ve come to realize that I’ve built my life on sand rather than rocks. Working on various contracts as a mediapreneur, in positions that require a constant state of ‘fight or flight’ lead to burnout. When I didn’t care about setting New Year’s intentions, exercising, eating healthy and felt ‘meh’ towards all social opportunities – I knew something was wrong.

Initially, my plan was to keep my new home life quiet. I figured I’d move home, get it together, and move back out without anyone knowing. A blip on the radar that I’d soon forget.

But over the holidays, I couldn’t keep it quiet with close friends and extended family.

And to my surprise – it was such a relief to be honest and not be heckled for it. And further, I’ve started to notice a trend with friends, that they have had to move home too.

It’s freakin’ hard out there nowadays so it’s becoming more accepted. Well.. as long as you have a plan to ditch the home cooked meals and childhood bed sooner rather than later.

So here are my top three tips to get back out there while still embracing home life:

1) Set a date to leave. This helped my parents agree to take me back in too.

2) Get to know your parents again. As it turns out parents are real people! I appreciate this so much more as an adult, and actually listen to their advice now (well… some of it ;)

3) Stay in your lane. I’ve taken Instagram and Facebook off my iPhone. I’ve installed ‘Self Control’ on my computer. When in a vulnerable place, work hard to not compare yourself to others!

 

**This blog was reposted from ChelseaKrost.com. Written by Gwen of The Sisterpack.

WHERE THE F*CK DO I START?

grumps

Girl, we’ve been there.

You are overwhelmed and frustrated at f*ck at society, your parents, and yourself.

What not to do (*actually happened*):

Drink a bottle of red wine and start watching ‘A whole new world’ on YouTube while crying to try to ease the pain.

Clean your entire house instead

Snapchat an ex. Ya know…to distract yourself.

Eat an entire bag of brownies. Followed by 2-3 beers.

Essentially: DO. NOT. NUMB. OUT.

We know if can be incredibly painful to take stock of exactly where you are. In fact there may be raging tears of sadness and feelings of failure.

You will get through this.

What to do:

Choose a day/time when you feel your best. Are you a morning person? Do it then. Night hawk…girl you got dis.

Turn on Self Control on your computer. Aim to eliminate the distraction and temptation of Buzzfeed and Jenna Marbles.

Breathe. You will get through this.

What to do when you get the truth.

It could actually be not that bad! PARTY!

You could be EXTREMELY ANGRY. I strongly suggest finding the nearest pillow and screaming into it as well as punching it until you feel better. Seriously.

Cry. Do not hold onto these emotions. I have had many epic meltdowns that involved my tears ducts just saying ‘we’re breaking up.’

Once the emotions are out.

Start small.

Choose one area to focus on.

Maybe you noticed that you buy a fancy coffee everyday on your visa bill and it’s completely racking up.

Choose to make your coffee at home for ONE DAY a week and put the $5.00 in a jar.

Apps like LIFT or PINE can help you build the habit.

You can do this. Let us know how it goes in the comments below or email us your story at momoneymoprogress@gmail.com