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February 2016 archive

How much are you charging for your work? Probably not enough.

How much do you charge for your work? If you’re a freelancer or just starting to build your business or launch a side hustle, the very thought of deciding on “your number” can paralyze you.

If you overcharge and you’re a newbie in your field, you can risk seeming arrogant and not delivering a solid return on investment. But if you’re a seasoned professional and undercharge, potential clients may not take you seriously.

The major issue I grappled with when I first started out really was, how much do I charge?

Sadly, at the time, I didn’t feel like I had much say in the matter. I worked as a freelance reporter for a major daily newspaper in Northern Ontario as my first “official” freelance job after graduation.

I was super excited. I covered a few local events over the course of a few weeks, submitted my first invoice aaannd… shouldn’t have been shocked by how small my paycheque was when it eventually came in the mail, but I was.

It was such a small amount (something like $150). For the time and effort I put into the articles, it actually cost me money since I also worked two part-time retail jobs as well and booked off those shifts so I could work for the newspaper.

To put the time and skill investment into perspective, I had to map out my route to the events (I was new to town and took the bus everywhere), attend the sometimes hours-long events and decide on the most compelling information to write about, find sources and interview them afterwards, then bus back home, and write and edit the article for an often extremely tight deadline.

It was a tough reality check. I’m all for paying my dues to break into an industry and build a career, but my time and skills were worth more. The sad part is that I didn’t even think of asking for a pay increase. Freelance reporters got paid a flat fee per article they submitted and received a bit more for writing feature-length pieces and taking photos.

After it was hammered into my head that print journalism is dying and newspapers are running out of money, I figured that I should be grateful to even get my foot in the door at all.

I semi-made the same mistake again at another newspaper I worked for over the course of two years. I brought up a pay increase just once and got shot down, so I didn’t ask again. It was regular work that I enjoyed, so I stayed while also working multiple side hustles and bridge jobs.

It has always been a point of pride for me to work my hardest and create my best work, not only with clients like big companies and the Canadian government, but also with start-up businesses, authors, and entrepreneurs with side hustles.

But now, things are different.

Over the past few years, my work experience has increased exponentially and I now create content for clients in many different fields. Yet, undercharging – or not knowing what to charge – is not a rare occurrence. My experiences are similar to stories I’ve heard from other freelancers.

So if you have trouble valuing your work, don’t worry, you’re not alone!

I belong to some amazing freelancer and Side Hustler communities. Recently, I shared with them this awesome tool called the Freelance Hourly Rate Calculator by Motiv, and ohmygawd, it’s super helpful.

It walks you through what you need to make a living wage, based on the life you want to live. Since freelancers rarely get health insurance, vacation time, and other benefits that a traditional employer would offer, it’s crucial to not undervalue yourself, so you can enjoy living like a human being.

Tell #TheSisterpack what you think of the rate calculator and share with us your experiences as a side hustler or entrepreneur in the comments below or on social media! We hear you.

High fives and good vibes,
– Monique

 

3 Steps To Get Back On Financial Track

I started this year absolutely KILLIN’ IT with checking in on my finances, living on a budget, and checking my savings account daily

But of course, “life happens.”

A few weeks into the new year, my career took a seismic shift. It’s a bit of a long story (for another day), but in a nutshell, I am no longer working at my full-time job and have transitioned to working for myself full-time.

It’s exciting, but also scary to go through such a huge shift in my daily life.

The day after I was no longer working at my full-time job, one of my amazing past clients hired me on a 30-day contract to help her with media/marketing/events which involved a really intense travel (and work) schedule.  

This new gig really changed up my schedule, and I completely fell off of financial track. I poured all of my focus into this new gig, and kind of dropped everything (from fitness to finances) to keep up.

Now that I’m finally coming up for air, I realize it’s time to get back on track. So here are the three steps I’m taking (that I’ve used in the past) to get back into a routine to help me have peace of mind when it comes to finances.

Top 3 Steps to Get Back on Financial Track:

  1. Willingness to change: Change can’t happen unless you are willing to make the change. It honestly feels so frustrating to think, “How did I do this AGAIN!?” But sometimes sh*t happens, and the key is that if I “fall off the horse,” when I realize it happened, I need to forgive myself, and get back on!

  2. Tell someone you love to hold you accountable: I am telling #TheSisterpack about how I fell off-track (and you, dear loyal reader) with the hope that you (and my sistas) hold me accountable and ask me about how it’s going with my finances.

  3. Create a system to get back on track: I’m a true believer that you can’t earn the type of abundance you want if money doesn’t feel ‘safe’ to be in your hands. Do you respect your money right now? Are you a savvy spender? Do you ‘binge shop’ at Sephora or drop a couple hundreds bucks (that you don’t have) on clothes or shoes? Right now I’m going back to my system of checking on Mint.com (I created a budget there) and taking a moment daily to check in on my finances and be appreciative for what I have.

Also, a strong foundation for your life will require constant forgiveness when you fall off track. There’s no way that you won’t make mistakes – we’re human! The key is to take small steps to get back on track.

-Gwen

 

Current Money Mood: Rollin’ in the Deep (debt that is)

I’m in a pickle. I have a lovely new job, but it’s not sustainable. Each month a set amount of money is taken from my bank account to pay off my student debt and it’s where the majority of my pay goes. It’s literally half of what I’m paying for rent and a ⅓ of what I earn at my job. Each time I go to look at my account I cry a little inside.

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It seems like I’m not the only one who is feeling the pressures of their student debt weighing them down. If you type in Millennial Debt into Google there is an alarmingly high number of articles outlining how they are living with debt and how it’s affecting their lives.

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I know #TheSisterpack talk frequently about our student loans and how we are attempting to pay them back, so I don’t mean to bog you all down with another article about it.

What I want to do is share how it’s a hot topic in politics and an example used when Millennials are called lazy and greedy, but not much is changing in regards to how students are paying it back with LOADS of interest.

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When I describe student loans to people I say it’s a crutch. It keeps you upright and helps you keep moving forward, but once you graduate it’s ripped from you and used to hobble you all over again.

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For those of you lucky enough to go to attend post-secondary in a country that offers tuition-free schooling, well I must say that I am mad jelly. Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and our own Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are aiming to help debt-ridden students in the future and though that gives me the warm fuzzies, it really doesn’t help my current situation.

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All I can suggest is if you do get student loans, make sure you are saving away for when you graduate and the other shoe drops. You don’t want to be like me and graduate with debt that will take you nine years to pay off.

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I want to end this on a more uplifting note and I leave you with this magical song that can inspire you to keep on fightin’ the good fight.

#Screwyoustudentdebt

Please share your thoughts on student debt with #TheSisterpack on twitter @MoMoneyMoProg or leave a comment below!

-Karyn

How To Live And Finish Rich

Today I went to the gym (woo hoo small victory!) for a fitness class, and the teacher shared that 45 days into the new year, people start to fully give up on their new year’s resolutions.

I reflected for a moment – have I given up on my goals? I had a few intentions for the year and to be honest, they have become a bit unclear – so today I am making three new resolutions (focused on fitness, finance, and fun).

On that note, I recently saw a great interview with entrepreneur and author Marie Forleo, and financial education teacher and author, David Bach.

One thing that David said really inspired me as it’s a helpful tip for any area of your life.

He said, “When your values are clear, your financial decisions become easy.” I’m sure this is true with other aspects of your life.

The interview below is long, but totally worth your time to watch to re-inspire yourself to take control of your financial destiny.

You can watch the interview below, and I also shared a few “Aha moments” and #truthbombs that you can take a look at a glancegwen wants to to

Notes from the Episode:

3:07 – Start with your values. It is the most important thing. “When your values are clear, your financial decisions become easy. We don’t do what we know we should do, and that’s because there’s a disconnect. The way you break through the disconnect is through knowing your values.”

5:36 – Goals are really important, but they’re not where you start.

9:20 – Building wealth can free you to live your most authentic self.

9:58 – The power of automation

10:30 – “Budgeting” doesn’t work. In the real world, people hate budgeting. It’s like dieting.

11:45 – There are six or seven things that you automate. David’s dedicates only 10 minutes per month for personal finances. He shares six “baskets” to figure out where to put your money.

15:30 – The latte factor – the idea that we spend small amounts of money on little things.

18:53 – For seven days, track your latte factor. (And if you can’t do it for seven days, do it for one day). The only key here is to not change your behaviour. And to be honest with yourself.

We inflate what we earn in your mind, and decrease how much your expenses are.

22:13 – How do we start getting on the same page about money in a relationship? “Money issues break apart American families.”

23:31 – Create a money date with your partner to discuss finances. Have a time when you’re both ready. You will likely not want to do it, but at least start. Perhaps start with the positive, and not go right to what your partner is doing wrong.  

25:57 – What are mistakes people make once they’ve made some money and want to get to that next level? “The hardest thing to do is make your first million, and the easiest thing to do is lose it.”

31:30 – The power of taking a sabbatical. David took a “radical sabbatical.”

37:34 – You don’t have to be rich to live rich.

38:42 – We need to get more life in our lives.

40:19 – The Challenge

I was truly inspired by the end of the interview, when David was sharing about his radical sabbatical and how we need to start living more. It was truly inspiring and I hope you can implement a few of the ideas in this episode!

-Gwen

What is the Pink Tax?

Have you recently heard the term, “Pink Tax” being thrown about on the news? I had heard bits and pieces of it, but never really fully understood what it was. Recently Gab posted an article on the Mo’ Money, Mo’ Progress Facebook Page and I decided that it was high time I learned what it was.

So here is what I found out:

PINK TAX: The pink tax refers to the extra amount women are charged for certain products or services. Things like dry cleaning, personal care products and vehicle maintenance.

Now if this doesn’t frustrate you, I don’t know what will. I’m definitely miffed that for certain products I buy cost more than if I bought a similar product that was aimed at the male demographic.

After reading the article I started noticing the price difference on shampoos, face washes, and razors. The only difference in many of the products was that one said FOR MEN and the other FOR WOMEN.

For those of us (definitely me) who are very aware of the prices of things and always on the hunt for sales, hearing that just because a product is advertised for women means it will cost me more is beyond redonkulous.

So I’ve decided for my February Challenge that I will only be buying products that are the male advertised equivalent and I will report back if I have saved money, spent more or there was no difference.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about this ludicrous taxation, check out this article or give this video a gander.

What are you thoughts on the Pink Tax? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @MoMoneyMoProg.

-Karyn

Gabby’s January Challenge: Reevaluating My Expenses

Hey peeps,

This year, I’m super committed to finding out where the heck my money is going and how much I should actually be spending. I have a lot of new and different expenses coming up (like a gym membership, repaying student loans, and a potential trip to Kenya) so it’s crucial I know how to manage my income before it’s too late and I’m suddenly drowning in latte debt.

First, I should say that I was actually really excited to sit down and map everything out. That’s right… really excited. The key is to not be intimidated by money, but to embrace what money can do for you. I followed the simple budgeting tool called the 50-20-30 rule which Gwen previously touched on in this article. Mint also published this article, on which I based my own budget.

The breakdown:

50% of your income should go towards ESSENTIALS
-rent
-groceries
-transit
-utilities

20% should go towards FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS
-savings contributions
-retirement fund
-student loans
-debt reduction

30% should go towards PERSONAL CHOICES
-cell phone*
-internet*
-cable*
-travel
-gym membership
-eating out
-coffee
-clothes
-cosmetics (& other)

(*It’s interesting to note that, yes,cell phone/internet/cable bills are monthly expenses, but they’re also not fixed. You could easily downgrade, upgrade, or cancel altogether if you needed to.)

When I first started calculating, I realized that my paycheques didn’t add up to my salary. To my complete horror, I realized I was getting more than $8,000 in taxes taken off. OMG. That’s so much money to take off for someone who doesn’t even make a lot to begin with! But I guess that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Goes to show that what you think you make is definitely NOT what you actually make. Adjust accordingly.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was under budget for my essentials (50%) and personal choices (30%). One thing I was really excited to discover was that I was putting the perfect amount away into my savings (20%), and that’s including my new OSAP payments.

It was interesting to find that I had just under $1,000 left over in my budget, but somehow I feel that my bank account would grow substantially if I was banking almost a grand each month. I’m determined to find out where that $1,000 is going—even if I have to track every single purchase again.

Make 2016 the year you take control of your finances. The hardest part is sitting down for the first time, but after that, things become less scary and you actually become MORE excited!! I know, it’s insane to be excited about budgeting, but it’s also equally insane to not know where your money is going, am I right? 😉

Take the 50-20-30 challenge and let us know how it goes it the comment section below!

Keep it real,
Gabs <3

Karyn’s January Challenge: Healthy Eating on a Budget

Food is my jam. I look forward to eating like it’s nobody’s business. You may count down the seconds until work is over, I watch the clock for when it’s lunch time.

For my January Challenge I wanted to focus on my food obsession by making healthy choices. I had this terrible habit of getting Shopper’s Drug Mart sushi or grabbing a burrito for lunch and ordering out for dinner. Not only are those awful choices, but it also ended up costing me oodles of money. To avoid breaking the bank I decided to give myself a budget of $50 a week for food. For some this may seem like more than enough, but remember that healthy food isn’t as cheap as buying KD.

So just like my December Challenge I made a spreadsheet to monitor what I bought and how much I was spending. Here are my results.

Week 1-3

Week 4-5

Now at first glance you may be thinking that I only ate popcorn and candy all month since I spent so much at the movies. What you don’t see is that when I did go to the grocery store I was buying food for the entire week (or longer). Also, I live with two guys and we split the grocery bill. So when my chart says that I paid only $15.30 at Loblaws, that’s the total after it’s been divided by three.

I have to say that I’m pretty proud of myself. I was able to abstain from eating out and focus on making my own food. I also didn’t end up breaking the bank. I stayed under-budget consistently and that deserves a pat on the back.

The only thing I didn’t think about when taking on this challenge is the fact that I would have to be making my meals. Of course I started out with good intentions and bought leafy greens, fresh meats and all that good stuff for you. Yet I forgot that I would have to make brekkie, lunch, and dinner.

I’m notorious for forgetting to eat food or just waiting until I get home, but I couldn’t do that anymore. I had also personally tasked myself with doing 2-a-days at the gym and that really required that I eat consistently. No one wants to go to Body Combat on an empty stomach. to keep me on track I wrote down everything I ate and the time that I ate it. Some days I was good, others… not so much.

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The good…

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The bad…

Also, my meals would usually start out fun and creative, but as the month wore on I started getting sick of eating what I was feeding myself. It was boring, tasty but boring.

boring
It’s tasty, but I wanted something a bit more substantial…

I was having a bit of a crisis, but I didn’t let it stop me and started getting creative with my food again.

In the end I am well-fed with a happier bank account and delighted taste buds. I am going to keep up with making healthier choices, but I’m not going to say no to the occasional pizza.

Would you take on this challenge?

Let #TheSisterpack know in the comments below!

-Karyn

 

Monique’s January Challenge: Self-Investment

“What’s with the saggy-ass bra?”

That was the subject line of an email newsletter I received this month from Denise Duffield-Thomas, the Lucky Bitch!

Lucky-Bitch-Denise-Duffield-Thomas
She’s from Australia… Definitely a Lucky Bee 😉

Now, if that seems like a weird way to start talking about money and business… you’re not wrong. It is weird. And that’s why it’s so awesome. Keep reading for a liiiiiittle more context:

Well, there are so many ways that we women fake our level of self-worth – we’re excellent at putting on a smiley face and a slick of lipstick, and pretending to the world that we’ve got it together.

But our underwear? Well, unless you’ve got a hot date planned, most of us don’t give it a second thought – no one’s going to see it, so it doesn’t matter, right? So we bum around in our daggiest, saggiest ‘nanna bras’ because if no one else is gonna see it, then we think it doesn’t matter.

But what kind of message is that sending to our subconscious?

That our nice clothes are just a façade.

That underneath it all, we’re not really worthy of nice things.

That we don’t care enough about ourselves to wear well-fitting, supportive undergarments.

That we’re not worth the $29.95 it costs to buy a new bra (or whatever)

That we only value things that impact others.

That we don’t really value ourselves.

All of which undermine our ability to attract money and abundance.

Woah. That really made me reflect. And the timing of that email was amazing because my January challenge was to “do something” to invest in myself. It definitely convinced me that I was on the right track.

After some thought, I initially decided to invest in myself by finding a local gym and signing up. I took this investment seriously, too. I took tours of three different gyms before deciding on one that best fit my needs and goals.

But that’s not even the best part.

I went above and beyond what I hoped to achieve this month:

Before I even joined the gym, I started small. I started stocking up my fridge and pantry with veggies, healthy protein, and rich spices. I cooked (delicious!) meals at home, and looked up even more recipes to try out. I replaced my old makeup and bought waterproof mascara and eyeliner (a necessity in rainy Liverpool). I bought a beautiful, fluffy bath towel and a clothes rack so I could hang up my dresses and stop living out of my suitcases (our flat is short on storage).

I wanted to make investing in myself a fun process. It didn’t have to be overly expensive or super cheap to be effective. Focusing on the overall cost was not my goal because I felt like that would distract from the point: to feel good. Any savings would just be a bonus, but I also didn’t feel like a splurge would be a setback. It would be worth it because I’m worth it.

But you know, the one thing that made the biggest difference in how I felt was by simply giving myself a manicure and a pedicure. Oh. My. Gawd. 

i feel pretty

It’s unreal how fantastic you’ll feel when you invest in yourself in little ways. By making a conscious effort to change my money mindset and invest money directly in myself and living space, it’s paid off in ways I couldn’t have anticipated.

Denise is on to something. You may be the only one who will really notice your self-investment in the beginning but, like she said, how you value yourself affects your subconscious – and that vibe will project out into the world.

Underneath it all, we are all worthy of nice things. So let’s do something about it today!

Share with #TheSisterpack how you’re going to invest in yourself today in the comments below or on social media!

If you want to learn more about Denise, check out the awesome interview she did for Gwen’s Your Big Break podcast here, or visit luckybitch.com!

High fives and good vibes,
Monique 🙂

Gwen’s January Challenge: Dryanuary

My challenge this month was taking on Dryanuary: aka zero alcoholic drinks in the month of January.

The intention behind this challenge was to live healthier, as well as trying to save a few dollars that I would’ve otherwise spent on alcohol.

My original plan was to put a coin or a post it note in a jar every time I thought about drinking to be able to track how much money I saved. I quickly realized that this system would be unsustainable for me as I was travelling quite a bit and knew I’d forget, so I cut myself some slack there and purely focused on not drinking.

Here is a glimpse at my experience:

The Beginning: I honestly felt exhausted the first week. I was definitely detoxing from alcohol, but also from excessive eating and sugar over the holidays. It was also the first week back to work which always take a bit of energy (I mean, way more than sitting on the couch). There were a couple of opportunities to drink that week. The first and perhaps hardest time was the day after I got back from a trip to NYC. I was pretty exhausted, and my go-to when I don’t have plans on Saturday night would be to chill out with a glass of wine. Well, no wine this time – I got kombucha instead. The second week I had SEVERAL great opportunities to drink (while out for dinner with a guy friend and a girls’ night at a beautiful Italian restaurant).

The Middle: I started to gain confidence. I no longer craved alcohol, but started to lean on sugar as my go-to when life got a bit stressful. Replacing alcohol with donuts totally defeats the health purpose. There were surprisingly fewer opportunities to drink in the middle of the month. Though there was one night where I was celebrating with my ex-co-workers at a local bar (known for their craft beer) that was quite challenging to say no. I ended up drinking probably seven bottles of Perrier over the five hours we were there. Sounds excessive, but I realize that could’ve been beer!

The End: As I write this, I’m in Boston and I’ll be travelling to four cities over the final week of January. I will be alone quite a lot, and there are definitely a ton of opportunities to drink. Today was an especially gruelling day of travel (and I normally would’ve sought out a beer), and yet – I am not craving alcohol. I’m drinking a green juice at the moment, and I feel so excited by the thought that I won’t wake up feeling the slightest bit hungover.

Next Step: Honestly, I want to spend the entire year sober and celebrate on my champagne birthday in December. To ease myself into the entire year, my February challenge will be Dryebruary (wow that sounds ridiculous). My new 30-day challenge is to not drink in February.

Thank you for reading, and perhaps join me on the no-drinking challenge this month?

  • Gwen

Carve out 60 mins to Watch this Interview on Abundance

Ladies,

Today I’m excited to share an awesome interview with you.

Denise Duffield Thomas, Money Mindset Mentor (and past podcast guest) and Natalie MacNeil, creator of She Takes on the World have an inspiring and highly informative conversation about abundance, that I recommend you watch.

Yes, it’s 60 minutes, but it’s the perfect opportunity to give yourself the gift of learning (in a fun way) about how to make mo’ money!

Denise interviews Natalie, and she also shares money manifesting tips and rituals that have help her over the years to build a seven-figure business.


You can also listen to the audio on Denise’s site if you prefer!

What was your biggest take-away from the interview? Comment below or let us know on Twitter @momoneymoprog!

-Gwen

 

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