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August 2015 archive

Managing Your Latte Factor

First off, what is a Latte Factor? David Bach founder of FinishRich.com defines it as those unnecessary “little” expenditures that we waste our money on, without realizing how much they add up to. Whether it’s a coffee every morning, buying records, attending the latest concerts or going out to eat, our Latte Factor can really start to add up.

So instead of me telling you to stop indulging altogether, I’m going to give you the tools to help you to manage it!

1. Figure out what your Latte Factor is

We all have things that we love to buy, but sometimes there are things that we don’t even think twice about when we pull out our wallets. When you start to spend your hard-earned cash on stuff without even giving it a second thought, that is your Latte Factor.

For me it’s comic books and movies. I can’t justify spending 70.00 on shoes that I desperately need, but I will drop 100.00 on movies and comics without batting an eye.

2. Figure out how much you spend on it in a month

Yes, this will require you to give your finances a good hard look. This means looking at your receipts, looking at your bank statements and highlight how often and how much you drop on your latte factor in one month.

Sure it may vary occasionally, but when it comes to your latte factor it usually is pretty consistent. For example if your factor is coffee there is a good chance you buy at least one cup a day from the same place. It shouldn’t be that tough to track.

If you want to kick it up a notch check out David Bach’s Latte Factor Calculator. He’s even created an app so you can manage your finances on the go!

3. Cut the cash in half

This was one of the hardest things I did when it came to managing my Latte Factor. I would go to HMV and comic book stores daily and always walk out with an armful of things. When I figured out how much I was spending I knew I had to cut it in half and it wasn’t easy. Your Latte Factor becomes a habit. Breaking a habit is very difficult, but if you want your wallet you thank you, cutting the cash in half is necessary.

For you coffee drinkers this could be as simple as making your coffee at home and bringing it to work in a thermos. For me I decided that I would only buy comics once a month and would only buy movies that really meant something to me (instead of buying tons of campy 80s action movies because I just HAD to have them).

4. Put your saved moolah in a savings account

Now that you’ve made the conscious decision to cut down on your Latte Factor spending, put that money somewhere safe. Just letting it sit in your chequing account is just too tempting and so easy to get at. Put it in your savings account instead where you can watch it grow and eventually use it on something special like a trip or a golden statue of yourself (okay, maybe not the statue, but you get what I mean).

5. Indulge

The reason diets don’t work is that you cut yourself off from all the things you like and when you do allow yourself to indulge you go off the deep end and set yourself back. Managing your latte factor doesn’t mean completely stop.

After cutting the spending in half and watching your bank account smile because of it, allow yourself to indulge. This could mean going to see your favourite musician in concert or going to the fancy cafe for their famous orange mocha frappuccino.

Enjoy your Latte Factor, but don’t let it run your life. Indulge but be smart about it.

Cheers
Karyn

 

September Challenge: Cash-Only Diet

Hello Lovelies!

A few months ago, I went to the bank and was talking to a teller about credit cards. Concerned, he looked at me and said, “Do you have the Classic Visa? Please tell me you don’t have the Classic. It does nothing for you.”

Until that moment, I had never thought of what my Visa could do for me, so I asked to see a pamphlet of credit card options. I decided that since I don’t really travel abroad and don’t need gas money, those credit card options would be kind of pointless. I opted for the cash back credit card because who doesn’t love getting cash back for something you were going to buy anyways…

Basically, it has the same interest rates as my Classic Visa card, but depending on how much I spend, I get a decent chunk of money back at the end of the year. Sounds pretty great to me! Since I’m paranoid that I’m going to miss a credit card payment or end up buying something I can’t afford to pay back, I only use my Visa if I know I have the money to pay it back on time, which is why I’m not worried about the high interest rate that comes with it.

So for the past couple months, I’ve been using the new cash back credit card and it’s pretty sweet. However, I feel like it’s enabling me to spend more because it’s so quick and easy to just pay and go.

That’s why, for the month of September, I’m going to attempt to use only cash. I know…it’s going to be hard. But I’ve seen my parents adopt a system where they give themselves a budget for each week, and whatever they don’t spend goes into a savings jar. It works wonders, and I’ve had my eye on a pair of Hunter rain boots for quite some time.

There you have it! My September challenge. Stay tuned to hear all about my struggles and successes for the next month 😉

Keep it real,

Gabby

Follow These Three Fierce Female Finance Experts on Insta!

I’m guilty of falling down the Instagram rabbit hole late at night, looking at the glamorous lifestyles of the fancy and photogenic.

Honestly, it can be a bit defeating… and leave you wondering: “How the heck do they afford to live like that?!”

While we can’t stop you (or me) from living vicariously through filtered photos of life highlights, we can strongly encourage you follow these three women for money inspiration and a dose of reality!

  1. Shannon Lee Simmons at @therealselfies

Shannon, a certified financial planner and expert uses this account to show that behind every great selfie, is a bill. She encourages us to stop trying to keep up with the Joneses of Instagram!

  1. Sandra Hanna at @smartcookiesmoney

Sandra’s Instagram feed is a breath of fresh air in the finance space. The Smart Cookies have been featured on Oprah, The Today Show and The New York Times (to name a few) and their relatable and aspirational feed makes you feel like making smart decisions with your money can be fun!

  1. Alexa Von Tobel (@alexavontobel) CEO of LearnVest at @learnvest

LearnVest is an American-based program for your money. Their mission is to make financial planning affordable, accessible and even delightful! They share tough love, fun quotes and advice to help you make the decision to get control of your finances. BONUS: Add their founder, @alexavontobel. She’s incredibly inspiring – and recently had a baby!

Who do you follow for financial advice on Instagram?

Share with us in the comments below!

Oh and of course follow our finance posse @momoneymoprogress!

<3 Gwen

 

Gwen’s July Challenge: Tithing 10%

Hi friends!

My July challenge was to tithe 10% of my overall earnings to one lucky startup or blogger.

In July I made more money in one month than ever before. I just tallied it up, and I had to double-check the math to confirm that I wasn’t crazy.

The reason for the spike is I launched my group coaching course for $500.00 per person to join on top of various full-time and part-time side hustles.

Unfortunately, I did a bad job of promoting that I will be tithing 10% of my income (mostly because of a weird fear of sharing this number) so no one applied to receive the funds.

So I have decided to break it up and share the $$$!

I will be buying an all-access pass to Side Hustle Week and DYPB in Toronto to give-away, and buying books to give away that have made a big difference for me. I’m still thinking on other ways to spend dat cash for a good cause. If you have ideas – message me at ge@gwenelliot.com!

I really believe the way to make mo’ money and mo’ progress is to earn and share. (Warren Buffet know this! 😉

I will definitely try this challenge again later this year.

For August my challenge is to save 10% of each deposit I make into my bank account and actually put it into my savings account. Bonus points if I actually make this automatic.

Thanks for reading and I hope you join me for this challenge!

-Gwen

 

 

Monique’s July Challenge: Invoice Clients Within 24 Hours

Ah, invoicing: the bane of my freelancing existence. I really don’t enjoy it. It feels like boring busywork. I completed the project, isn’t that enough?

As a result, I put it off and ultimately wait for ages until I get paid for something I may have done two months ago.

My challenge for July was to invoice my clients within 24 hours of completing the project. Simple enough for the average person. I mean, who doesn’t like getting paid… and on time?! (I have fantastic clients who pay promptly.)

So here’s a shocker: I had a 90 per cent success rate with this challenge!

One of the greatest resources I used was the cloud invoicing and accounting platform, FreshBooks. *Sidenote: this is not an affiliate link. I just think every freelancer could benefit from this awesome resource.*

I signed up for FreshBooks in March and used up my free, 30-day trial, just kind of getting used to the platform while still sending out my PDF invoices made from Word directly to my editors and clients. My PDF system was cumbersome, difficult to keep track of, and, as you may have guessed, I got fed up with the process.

In May, I had completed eight projects for a client and did not bill them. I was swamped with other work and it felt unimportant because I knew the money was coming… eventually.

My next reporting project for that client was due in July, and all nine of those project invoices were sent within the hour of completion. I was all over this challenge!

Some projects were completed in-between my other jobs so I still got them sent within the 24 deadline, but a couple took about 72 hours for me to send the bill. Still, not too shabby! A marked improvement, that’s for sure.

The one moment that I’m most proud of is sending the invoice within minutes of completing a project. I’m so much better at navigating FreshBooks now and have become much more organized as a result. It’s one of the best tools that I now pay for every month. I’m definitely going to continue honing this awesome habit of getting paid on time.

It’s August and I’m taking these mindfulness habits to the next level!

My challenge is to check my main bank account balance twice per week. I’m following in my Sisterpack’s footsteps to simply be more aware of what goes in and goes out of my account on the regular. Knowledge is power. (Gotta love those cliches!)

Wish me luck! What money challenge have you tackled lately? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

-Monique

 

Karyn’s Monthly Money Challenge: Talking Future Finances With Your Partner

My July Money Challenge was to talk to my boyfriend of six years about our future finances. I was hoping that our discussion would lead to us getting a joint checking and savings account. Unfortunately I didn’t complete my challenge.

I could give you a ton of excuses why I didn’t do it, but the real reason was that I was scared. I was worried that once I brought it up he would dismiss the idea, or that we would have very different views about money.

These fears should have actually motivated me to complete my challenge sooner. If you can see yourself building a life with your partner you should talk about money once you start having these doubts. It could save you from oodles of grief down the road.

My goal for August is to have a real sit-down with him and talk about our future money plans. It could be as simple as going to the bank and getting advice, to actually creating a joint account. My main challenge is to put aside my fears and to really get down to the nitty-gritty of the issue. I want to make sure that we have like-minded goals. This way we can really start planning for our future together.

Wish me luck!

Karyn

 

Gabby’s July Challenge: How I Haggled My Way to a $77 Phone Bill Refund

Hey beautiful people!

So my challenge for July was to try and haggle my phone bill down a bit. Currently I’m paying $97/month for unlimited call time and 1G of data, plus all that other good stuff. Seems like a lot, right? Yeah, it’s insane.

As a loyal Bell customer, I simply told them that I would love to know if they could reduce my bill because $97/month is a little steep. I’m a student, and I’m going to have to pay OSAP fees soon. Just tell them your situation – it helps if they can relate.

The first girl I talked to was really nice and helpful. She said the best they could do was lower my bill to $65/month (WHAT? IT’S THAT EASY??) but I’d have to pay out the rest of my contract, so it would be better for me to wait until my contract is up and call them back to discuss the same deal in 3 months. Cool. I can deal with that.

TIP: Keep a record of your calls. On an Excel sheet, write a detailed description of who you talked to, what you talked about, and what they said they could do for you. That way, if you call back in 3 months to inquire about a bill reduction, you’ll know exactly what was said and can go from there.

So for kicks, I asked if there was anything they could do right now to reduce the bill. She mentioned I’ve been paying $7/month for a phone protection plan, and they could stop charging me that to make a bit of a difference. When I first signed off on an insurance plan about 20 months ago, I was told that if my phone was broken or stolen I would get a brand new replacement phone for free…which is the only reason why I opted in.

Sidenote: Don’t get insurance. It’s not worth it. Unless you’re really clumsy with your phone.

When I was talking to her about it, I asked for a quick refresher on what I’m getting out of my insurance plan. She told me if it was broken or stolen, I’d have to pay a fee for the new phone.

WTF. That is NOT what I signed up for. I mentioned that to her and she transferred me to the Insurance Dept., who then transferred me back to Customer Care because dealing with these fees are not in their department. Sigh.

So I called Customer Care back, explained my situation, waited on hold for 20 minutes…and they hung up on me. THEY HUNG UP ON ME. I called back, frustrated at this point, but still managed to be polite. I once again explained my situation and was told the best they could do was reimburse me for 3 months.

Not good enough. I went on hold. He told me that “I’m actually really lucky” because Bell is the only provider that will give you a brand new phone. I said that’s great, but I was given false information with the impression that I would be paying $7/month to get a new phone if needed, free of charge.

I went on hold again. He said the best they could do was reduce it by 50%. WOW. Clearly 3 months wasn’t the “best they could do.” At this point, I’m pretty happy, but I want to see how far I can push this. I once again explained my frustration, asked to speak to his supervisor, who also told me the best they could do was 50%. While I appreciated the 50%, I said I would love to go down to 75%, otherwise I’d like to be transferred to the Customer Retention Department (aka where people go to leave the provider).

He put me on hold, threw a bunch of logistical information at me like, there is a limit they can’t pass, something about reaching a threshold, and that he could add one more month onto that 50% for a total of a $77 refund. While it’s not 75%, I’ve been on the phone for 2 hours. I’m done playing this game, so I’ll take what I can get.

SUCCESS! I was reimbursed.

All in all, I’m looking forward to a $65 phone bill in 3 months, which is pretty exciting. If you don’t ask, you’ll never receive!

Tips for haggling phone bills:

1.) Stay calm and polite. These people deal with shitheads every day and they are just trying to pay their bills too, so try to be a decent human being. It will also make them want to help you more.

2.) Be firm. Go in with a goal in mind and stay focused on that goal. My goal changed when I realized I was paying for something I didn’t sign up for.

3.) Read your contract and know what you’re paying for. In my case, I mentioned how a Bell employee misinformed me and that I should be able to take the employee’s word, which worked, but you won’t always be able to get away with it.

4.) Realize that you could be on hold for 20 minutes, hung up on, or get transferred to the wrong department. These things happen, so try to keep your schedule fairly clear, because these things take a while.

5.) If you’re not a loyal customer, chances are, they won’t give you the moon. I’ve been with Bell for over 4 years and I still have to haggle like there’s no tomorrow.

6.) Know what other providers are offering. Call them up. Tell them you’re thinking of switching and ask them what they can do for you!

For an amazing reference, look up Ramit Sethi’s 6 Powerful Telephone Scripts here!

What are you paying for a phone plan? Any tips you swear by when it comes to negotiating? Let us know!

Happy haggling,
– Gabby

4 Steps to Take When You’re Freaking Out About Lack of Funds

If you’re freaking out about money right now, you’re not alone.

I went for a drink with a good friend of mine the other day. She’s a freelancer and is also starting her own company. Over Perriers on the patio she shared with me the truth: she’s in debt and she’s freaking out.

We had met to discuss her business idea, but something more urgent was on her mind, and she reached out to me for help. Lord knows I have been there with lack of funds.

I have tried to start businesses and twice failed (as I’ve revealed in a past post that I moved back home with my parents at age 25).

 Living through scarcity mode twice and getting through it, I was in a position to share advice.

 Here’s what I suggested you should do when you’re truly freaking out about lack of money.

  1. Breathe. Go somewhere quiet where you can be still. You need to come back to a level of sanity where your heart isn’t racing like crazy and you’re truly overwhelmed to take your first step.
  2. Reach out for help from someone you trust, or ideally a professional. You don’t have to figure this out alone. My good friend reached out to me which is a great start, but the way to truly get out is to get help from someone who focuses their work on helping people get out of debt. When I had moved home with the ‘rents, even though I was strapped for cash, I put down the money to work with Shannon Lee Simmons. Shannon helped me get over my shame and also be vulnerable enough to share that I truly screwed up a few things financially.
  3. Be willing to look at the numbers. One of the things that causes the most anxiety is when you simply don’t know how much money you owe. Student debt, credit cards, line of credit etc. etc. etc. It’s impossible to tackle something if you don’t know what you’re taking on. Know the numbers so you can make a plan.
  4. Forgive yourself. You made a mistake, but being extremely hard on yourself and beating yourself up will NOT help. Trust me on this one. You need to have compassion for yourself and find that ounce of strength to not give up.

Final words: you will get through this difficult time. Even if you are soooo overwhelmed and can’t pay off anything, I highly suggest starting small. Reach out to your credit card company and ask if you can have a payment plan. See if you can defer a student loan. 

Where there’s a will there’s a way. You’ve got this.

<3 Gwen

 

GET FIT IN THE FINANCIAL GYM

Going to the gym by yourself can suck. If there’s no class available, it’s you and the treadmill, baby. Or, you venture to the weights with all the outrageously fit dudes.

It can be so intimidating.

But going with a friend or a group of friends can make the pain bearable, and dare I say… fun?! And I can attest to it being 100% more motivating.

Now how about going to the Financial Gym?

Shannon McClay, financial planner and Stefanie O’Connell, millennial finance expert are collaborating on bringing financial training to the masses.

Currently, training is available in the US (classes start in NYC in the fall), but if you’re interested, tweet @financialgym and request that they come to your city!

Shannon believes wealth (much like health) is not a one-stop shop. You have to go back again and again to get fitter, faster.

The Financial Gym is a safe (fun!) place where you can chat with a financial trainer, so that you can get on the right track and start paying off debt, building wealth, and living the life of your dreams.

Sounds amazing!

And you know fitness bootcamps? She also offers financial bootcamps!

Instead of Drop 10 lbs, it’s Drop the Debt!

We interviewed Shannon a few months back on the podcast, listen here to learn more about her passion.

Also, we interviewed Stefanie O’Connell about her fascinating journey from actress to personal finance, which you can listen to here.

Training packages start at $250.00 with numerous payment methods available.

Learn more about the Financial Gym here!

<3 Gwen

 

New to Freelancing? Know Your Worth

It was late April. I had just finished up an internship that became a freelance contract. As if the idea of being called a freelancer wasn’t scary enough, I was on a month-to-month contract. I didn’t really know anyone else who was freelancing, especially in my field, and with as little experience as I had in the industry. I had done great work for the company– work that had been published, and work I was proud of. I was thinking about asking for a raise, or even better, full-time. I’m the kinda girl who likes to know if she has a job at the end of the month, ya know?

Then one day I got called into my boss’s office. I was thinking to myself, this is it. This is the moment where I can ask for what I want. I excitedly walked down the hall towards his office, much like Leo, here.

1

I sat down in a chair across from him, and his first words were, “Well, I don’t have great news.”

My heart sunk. He didn’t have to say another word for me to know my time was up there. For reasons out of my control, they couldn’t keep me on and I was immediately panicking about the future and if/when I would find my next job.

Luckily, everyone at my work loved me and helped me out as much as possible by recommending me to anyone they knew who was looking for a writer, but I knew I couldn’t rely on just them to get what I wanted.

Here and there I would have interviews or phone calls about opportunities, and on one particular occasion, I was actually offered a freelancing gig at a great company for one month to help a team out on a project. She asked me what my rate was.

And that’s when it hit me.

Oh God. I have no idea what I’m doing.

I replied back with a mid-range yearly salary that I was comfortable with and I thought I deserved.

She replied back asking what my daily rate was.

3

What the f*ck am I doing?? I need serious help here.

I don’t know much about freelancing salaries, but I knew they were usually daily, or if you’re more experienced, hourly. In the whirlwind of excitement, I had a few brain farts.

In the end, I really undersold myself by accident.

4

Here’s what I did. Suppose I wanted 40k a year:

$40,000/12=$3,333

That’s what you’ll make a month.

Take the monthly rate and divide it by 4 for how many weeks there are in a month.

$3,333/4=$833

That’s what you’ll make a week.

Take the weekly rate and divide it by a 5-day work week.

(DO NOT divide by 7. That is the mistake I made which resulted in almost no money.)

$833/5=$166

That’s what you’ll make a day.

Usually people charge for 8 hour days (even though we all know we end up working way later than that, especially in my field.)

$166/8=$21.

21 bucks an hour. Not too shabby.

When I divided by 7 I was confused about why it was so low. In all the panic of possibly getting a job, it didn’t sink in that I was doing the math wrong. I would have made around $15 a day. Not bad, but I know I deserve more for how hard I work. Thankfully, they put the project on hold to figure their stuff out and I was back to the job search.

Here are some tips to remember when looking for a freelance job:

  1. Don’t panic. Unless they say they need an answer ASAP, always give yourself time to think it over. And don’t divide by 7 (LOL).
  2. Know your rate before you get asked. You never know when someone will offer you a job, and it just looks better on you if you know your rate right off the bat. It makes you seem sure of yourself, like you know what you deserve. Know how high and low you’re willing to go.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for more. You’re almost guaranteed to get asked to negotiate. But remember, if nobody complains your fees are too high, you’re not charging enough.
  4. The shorter amount of time your contract is, the more you should be charging because you’ll need to put time and energy into finding your next gig. You should be charging more for a week-to-week contract than a month-to-month.
  5. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Ask around. Not everything you need to know will be found on the Internet. It’s best to have your questions answered by someone who is in your field and knows the ropes. In my case, I asked a professor how much I should be making and it really helped me get some clarity.
  6. Don’t let people take advantage of your inexperience. When I was freelancing month-to-month, I had no idea what I should have been making. It was one of my first gigs and I was just happy to have a job. What I didn’t really consider is that they were paying me diddly squat…and with no benefits. Freelancers charge more because they don’t get company benefits. I didn’t think it was my place to ask, but you should always question what you don’t understand.
  7. Give it your all while you’re there. Try to be part of the culture. If they like you, chances are they will hire you if they can! I’ve seen it happen before.

Keep your chin up,

-<3 An Anonymous Sisterpack Sister.