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September 2016 archive

Dear CRA…

Dear CRA,

Why? Why must you make everything so gosh darn difficult? I thought I was finished with you in April, but you still keep calling me. You keep asking me for things I have ALREADY GIVEN YOU!!! Why must you be such a jerkwad about everything? I called the right numbers, talked to the right people and yet we still have beef.

Oh and by “right people” I mean a person who just condescendingly told me all of the wrong things I did just to cover up the fact that they never sent me the correct forms. Thanks a bunch.

CRA you could easily avoid these issues by making your website less of a maze. Seriously, you click one link and then you have to sift through at least 10 more to find what you’re looking for. If I want to find information on your site I have to pretty much book the day off and pack a lunch because it is a trek and a half to locate the basics.

I consider myself a responsible adult. I try to stay on top of my finances, I try to get everything ready for the dreaded income tax time and yet I still get my butt kicked by you every year. It’s ridiculous.

This seems like a toxic relationship. It’s a lot of give from my end and ONLY take from yours (not just my money, but time, energy and sanity). I would love to be able to break up with you, sever all ties and just live in the woods far away from your reach. Unfortunately I have to be a contributing member of society stuck under your thumb. Guhhhh.

Before I end this I just wanted to give a shout-out to your equally annoying buddy H&R Block. Ever since I went to you for my March/April Challenge I have been regretting that decision every. single. day. You forgot to do so many things that I asked you to do. I still get calls from you wondering if I gave you the right forms. Dude… I saw you SIX MONTHS AGO!!! Why are you asking me about it now?! Also, yes I did give you all the things. Do you not remember? I do. I also remember me paying you an insane sum of money so the fact that you aren’t on top of this kind of blows me away.

So in conclusion…

YOU ALL SUCK!

Sincerely,

Karyn

Nothing Focuses the Mind Like Crushing Debt

Anonymous Sisterpack member here.

Time to get reaaaaal.

I owe a lot of money to a handful of people.

Though for the first time in my life, I’m not worried about it.

Why?

Because I hit rock bottom.

I realize that when you have $1.98 in your bank account and have nearly maxed (or OVER maxed) several credit cards, there’s not much further down you can go.

The descent is f*cking scary. When you don’t know how to get out of what you have created and don’t know who to talk to or where to turn, it’s terrifying.

When you have more month than money and are not sure about how you’re going to pay your bills, your mind creates insane stories. Perhaps I’ll live on the street, have to move back home or have to throw in the towel… AGAIN.

Despite this blog and having sisters to turn to and a community who understands, I still felt intense SHAME that I did this to myself… so I figured I had to dig myself out of this hole alone.

During the descent there was no love or compassion to be found. Only defeat.

I felt painted into a corner. And when this experience happens to you, there’s nothing more to do than to surrender. To start loving who you are and where you are. This is a choice, and in fact is the only one that will work.

So why do I share this now? Because it’s turning around.

The magical thing is when you start to choose love over hate, everything starts to turn around – including finances.

What does this ACTUALLY look like to turn it around?

  • Going for a walk in nature.
  • Meditating.
  • Journaling about everything that’s going RIGHT instead of wrong.
  • Listening to music that makes you feel better.
  • Telling someone who loves you no matter what that you’re going through a hard time and need a loving ear to vent to.
  • Reaching back out to employers or clients who owe you money and asking them to pay you.
  • Working out in a way that’s fun for you.

A few money miracles have unfolded over the last few weeks, and I’m slowly starting to get back into the game. Moment by moment I choose to be kind to myself instead of raging out. And if I do rage out I take a moment to realize this, and release the feeling.

I recently heard the quote: ‘nothing focuses the mind like crushing debt’ and WOW it is SO true.

I realize now that ‘failing’ financially leads to the only way to start focusing on LOVE instead of FEAR.

I will share more details of how I’m recovering as the journey upward unfolds!

<3 An anonymous sisterpack member 🙂

Monique’s August Challenge: Your Guess Is As Good As Mine

It happened innocently enough.

I set my challenge for August and committed to seeing it through. I had follow-up progress reports scheduled weekly with my sisters as we kept each other on track to complete our goals. I felt excited because I knew that I was on track to succeed.

Then, a month later, it came time to write about what I had achieved. I’d barely sat down at my laptop to type up my report when I realized:

I had no clue what I had originally committed to.

Literally.

No recollection of what I had deemed to be the most important financial goal I had set for myself last month. And no amount of scouring meeting minutes or quizzing my sisters on what they could remember about what I’d said could jog their memories nor my own.

In a way, it makes sense.

Over the course of a month, I’d moved homes, handled the logistics of travelling across continents, gotten new clients and even more freelance projects. My husband and I set up our new apartment, blazed through mountains of paperwork, spent hours on the phone, and drove more than 5,000 km to get it all done. There were friends to see, family gatherings, and heartwarming reunions years overdue.

What makes this list remarkable is the knowledge that it is completely unremarkable. Everyone is busy. Everyone has priorities and obligations and personal interests.

It is so easy to lose track of your financial goals when it seems like everything else is more pressing; when deadlines are looming or you have a medical emergency.

Financial planning can seem like an “extra” – almost like a luxury when you’re hurrying from one “to-do” to the next. But that’s why it’s crucial to do things like make your saving automatic or to set reminders about bill payments. One crazy week, month or year can undo a lifetime of careful, systematic curation. Your financial well-being can – and does! – seep into all areas of your life.

So if and ahem, when, something like this happens to you, no need to completely freak out. Take a deep breath and remind yourself of what is most important in your life. Think about the big goals you’ve set for yourself and ask if whether how you’re spending your money is in alignment with those big goals. If not, and your circumstances are temporary, keep mindful from that point on about what expenses to which you can scale back, eliminate or redirect your attention and finances.

All it takes is a moment of clarity and commitment to what is most important to you.

For September, I’m happy to report that I’m on track to complete my challenge… and will actually remember what it is by the end of the next week or so.

What do you do when you lose track of your financial goals? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on social media!

  • Monique

Gabby’s August Challenge: Adding It Up

It’s official: my boyfriend has moved in with me!

And my challenge for August was to see how much everything would cost. In July, here was my breakdown of what I estimated we would spend.

Couch

$1,000+

Microwave

$200-$300

Cooking Utensils (Knives, etc.)

$200-$300

Dish Rack

$30

Pots + Pans

$500+

Plates + Bowls

$100+

Right off the bat, we saved around $900 just from my previous roommate letting us keep the microwave, his mom buying us pots and pans (bless her soul), and me finding some old plates and bowls I bought in first year of college. SCORE.

And here is what we actually spent:

$450 for a leather loveseat.

$80 for a gorgeous wooden dresser.

$379 at Wal-Mart for mostly kitchen and cleaning supplies.

$60 at Dollarama buying kitchen utensils, mats, a mop, and other odds and ends.

Altogether, that comes to $969.00, which means we only spent 484.50 each! So incredible. I did not expect to spend that little but I’m happy my estimate was way off.

One thing I did take away from this experience is that Dollarama is literally a haven for all things home. We found so much stuff in there that was double the price anywhere else. I would definitely recommend going there before you hit up a bigger store like Wal-Mart.

For my September challenge, I plan on making mo’ progress and challenging myself to wake up without hitting the snooze button on my alarm (something I’m notorious for). I can’t wait to see if I’m going to make a new habit out of this 🙂

Keep you posted!

-Gabby

Karyn’s August Challenge: Saving Money On Your Period

How much money is drained every month because you are on your period? It’s not something we really put that much thought into since it’s such a common occurrence. I for one never really spent that much time thinking about it until I saw this Buzzfeed video:

Around 2:24 they started talking about how much they spend a year on their periods and it just boggled my mind. Why isn’t anyone talking about this? Why aren’t we freaking the fudge out over this insane cost over something that just naturally happens to our bodies?!

1

Well, I wanted to find out how much I spent on mine, but I realized I would have to split it up into two sections. The first would be my early days of tampons and the second would be when I made the switch to Thinx and the Diva Cup.

So here’s my math.

2

The usual box of tampons I would buy would cost around $9 (so annoying). I would attempt to buy them in bulk when they were on sale, but it was always so rare. This would cost me about $108 a year.

3

That doesn’t seem like much, but when I calculated how much that was for the seven years I was buying these myself (thanks mom for fronting the cost for young Karyn), I’m looking at $756! This isn’t including the occasions where I ran out of tampons during my period and had to buy more, or having to replace underwear due to leaks (seriously. the. worst.).

4

When I was 23 I decided to start using a Diva Cup which I bought it online for about $40. At the time it seemed like a ridiculous sum of money, but it actually saved me $9 every month. I no longer had to buy tampons or pads. It was reusable and amazing.

5

I also decided to buy three pairs of Thinx, aka period underwear. This brought me to a whole other level of saving money and taking control of my period. I spent around $100 in total.

6

Now I spend zero dollars on my period. Yep, you read that right, NOTHING!

7

I went from $108 a year to $0. For a one time cost of approx. $140, I no longer have to spend a single penny on my obnoxious period! That is such a great feeling.

8

I can safely say that I succeeded in more ways than one for my August Challenge!

9

For those of you interested in making the switch to Thinx or the Diva Cup I seriously suggest checking out their websites. Not only will they save you mega bucks in the long run, but it will make your period a less uncomfortable time.

-Karyn

Gwen’s August Challenge: Pay in Cash x 2!

Hi there ma peeps!

My challenge in August was to pay in cash and debit (again). I decided to do this because I wanted to pay more attention to what I was spending money on. When I pay with cash, it makes me take a moment to think about my purchase before going for it.

Also, it’s a great way to be more present when deciding to spend. It encourages me to ask the question: “Does this purchase add value to my life?”

I paid in cash for 90 percent of the month. There were only a few times (when I was in Italy of all places) where I used my credit card.

This past month and this challenge taught me something invaluable: BE. NICER. TO. YOSELF. GURRRRRRL.

Italy is a country of love. And I quickly realized while being there how I wasn’t letting the love in (I’ll expand on this in a future blog post).

Though I’ve learned a few things I’d love to share about how I’ve started to become nicer to myself and let the love in.

This is now my mantra: IT’S OKAY.

When faced with stress about ANYTHING (from money to relationships to someone givin’ me the stank eye) I tell myself IT’S OKAY to feel the way I feel.

I know that sounds counterintuitive.

We’re bombarded with messages that it’s NOT OKAY to feel worried and stressed or frustrated or angry. Though if being extremely hard on yourself is not working (or simply not fun at all)… read on for a few hot tips!

Ze Top Two Hot Tips:

#1. Complete this sentence (on paper or out loud in a mirror) “It’s okay to feel _____________.

“It’s okay to feel frustrated”

“It’s okay to feel defeated”

“It’s okay to feel afraid”

“It’s okay to feel panicked”

“It’s okay to freak out”

Let yourself go where you’ve never gone before and watch the relief start to sink in.

#2. Treat yourself like you would an innocent child. If a child (that you totally adore) made a ton of mistakes, I’m willing to bet you’d still treat her with love and kindness. Now remember that you used to be that innocent child. How can you treat yourself with more love? If you’re like me, you’ve mastered being insanely hard on yourself… and guess what? That sh*t gets old and borrrrrring after awhile. I’m currently on a new trip where I’m focusing on building a foundation of love and respect for myself (which helps me love everyone even more: #winning).

This leads me to my September challenge: meditation.

I’ve dabbled with meditation this year, and I’m interested in being more consistent. So this month, I am focusing on meditating twice per day and tracking my progress on the Calm.com app.

I now believe that if you make mo’ progress (with loving who you are), you will receive more money.

I will report back on this at the end of the month!

Thank you for reading and be sure to subscribe to Mo’ Money monthly on our homepage for the monthly reminder to focus on building your finances in a fun way!

<3 Gwen

The best app for tracking expenses…if you know how to use it.

Today was the day I discovered my love for the Macbook Numbers app.

Today was also the day I discovered my hatred for the Macbook Numbers app.

I didn’t even know it was an app on my computer until I came across an article that talked about how the author used it to track her expenses and make budgets.

I was totally into it. A clean interface, bright colours, nice fonts…what could go wrong?

It seemed easy enough to use. Until I tried to make something other than what the templates offered. I wanted to visually map out my 50-20-30 rule budget. Aaaand it was a total shitshow.

I started getting flashbacks of my statistics class where we had to use Excel and algorithms.

God dammit.

This wasn’t the user-friendly budget calculator I had hoped it would be.

However, I encourage all you Mac users to give it a shot. If you can master it, Numbers could be a total asset to your financial organization.

When the trauma fades, I’ll give it another try. Only next time I’ll check out some tutorials first. And maybe brush up on my statistics skills. God help me.

Have you used the Numbers app before? Any tricks you could recommend? Let us know in the comment section below!

-Gabby

 

Swiper No Swiping! What to do when someone steals your credit card information.

The last time I checked online how much I owe on my credit card went a little differently than the others.

There were a few charges I didn’t recognize. Two of them for around $40 each.

It was a little odd considering I hadn’t bought anything with my credit card in days. Maybe it was a late charge from something I purchased in Kenya? It was hard to say. But there have been a few times where I didn’t recognize the description and it turned out to be something I totally bought. I always call VISA to be sure.

And that’s exactly what I did this time around.

When I was on the line with a VISA representative, he, too, was concerned about the charges. Specifically since they were made from within Moldova.

Where is Moldova, you ask?

1

Right there, sandwiched in between Ukraine and Romania.

Yep. Someone definitely stole my credit card information. This has never happened to me before.

The VISA representative said it was a good thing I called. Since I didn’t actually pay my bill for the charges, it was a lot easier for me to get reimbursed. I got my money back within days.

So, I encourage all of you to always be sure you’re paying only for what you bought. And if you don’t recognize the charges, it never hurts to call your credit card company just to be sure.

And obviously, don’t share your PIN 😉

-Gabby

What it means to be a “broke” Millennial

“I can’t go out tonight. I’m broke.”

1

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said this throughout my life. It mostly made its appearance during uni, but it’s started popping back up as of late.

2

I hate saying that I’m “broke” because it’s not technically true. I’m not showing zeros in my bank account, I’m not declaring bankruptcy, and I haven’t maxed out several credit cards.

3

When I say that I’m broke I really mean that I just can’t afford to go out and spend money on things that aren’t necessities. Rent trumps going out to dinner and paying back student debt is definitely higher on my list than going to the movies.

4

When I talk to my friends or just overhear convos on transit the phrase, “I’m broke” comes up very often, especially with millennials. Sure we have higher incomes than our parents did 30 years ago, but we also have more debt than them.

5

When we make the decision to go out we have to take our finances into consideration. If I go out tonight will I be able to make next month’s car payment? Will I have enough to pay back OSAP next month? Sure, some millennials are all about living in the moment and not thinking about their future finances and their growing debt (they should be), but they definitely will have to face it soon.

6

The fact that many of us are constantly exclaiming that we are too “broke” to be able to do anything is usually met with rolled eyes and annoyance. Don’t get me started on what happens if you say that phrase to a baby boomer. Good lawd, the conversation that follows most likely starts with a, “back in my day…” and goes on and on.

7

I want to pose a challenge to all millennials who have used the phrase, “I’m broke.” My challenge for you is to try to change your dialogue. Instead of just throwing around the word broke, try to actually have a conversation about why you really can’t go out. Change “I’m broke” to “I’m on a budget” or “I need to save for income tax time.”

8

If we start real conversations about our money situations we can begin helping each other. Just knowing that you aren’t alone in your situation can make it feel less overwhelming.

Good luck!

-Karyn

 

Financially Fab Female of the Month: Carrie Smith Nicholson

At the virtual office that is Mo’ Money HQ, we’re obsessed with learning new ways to make mo’ money and manage what we’ve already got. That obsession, combined with our burning desire to share what we uncover with the rest of our millennial peers, pushes us to confront what we don’t know on a daily basis and ask the experts how they got (or are in the process of getting) their own financial shiz together.

This month’s Financially Fab Female, Carrie Smith Nicholson, founder of Careful Cents, has done just that and has helped more than 7,000 freelancers on their own paths to financial freedom. But Carrie has accomplished more than simply making mo’ money: she’s also made mo’ progress towards creating a happier life. Read on to see how she created a “life-centered business” and why she helps others to do the same.

FFFOTM - Carrie Smith Nicholson

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

My name is Carrie Smith Nicholson and I’m an ex-accountant turned financial advocate for freelancers and small business owners. Over the past five years I’ve created a blog and community to help people overcome the financial mountains that come with quitting a day job to launch a business.

These are all obstacles I personally faced as I went through a tough divorce at a young age, ended up quitting my accounting job and became self-employed. Now, I’m on a mission to help small biz owners and freelancers establish business systems and organize their finances so they can stress less and earn money on their terms.

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?

I’m a savings account hoarder! Seriously, between my husband and I we have 17 bank accounts – most of which are separate savings for each financial goals we’re working towards. I’m a terrible saver by nature, and in fact classify myself as a bit of a spender, so I have to put systems in place that automatically save for me, and divide my goals into different accounts. That way when I’m tempted to spend money I have to pause before swiping my card, otherwise it just feels wrong pulling from the “travel fund” to pay for a new pair of shoes!

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

My parents were very big influencers on me as a kid, especially my mom. I was blessed to have parents who talked openly with me about money, budgets, and even how to write a checkbook (old-school style). My mom had an awesome entrepreneurial spirit and launched many of her own endeavours, like jewelry making and tutoring. She taught me that you should never use credit as an extension of your income, but only use it when you have the funds in your account to cover it, or else save up for what you want instead.

My dad taught me the importance of balancing my career with my calling (which aren’t always the same thing), as well as taking time off for important family time and self-care routines. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time. Both of them had large impacts on my mindset with money today and how I view my career goals.

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

If you would have asked me this question a few years ago, I would’ve shared a completely different answer. But today, the meaning of “financially stable” means having enough income in my accounts to cover a few months of expenses, including our outrageous rent bill, while being able to take off work at a moment’s notice.

Since I’m self-employed I have the freedom to work on weekends, take days off in the middle of the week, or even go on a last-minute workcation. Being able to have a flexible schedule, while still being able to cover all my bills gives me the sense of financial security I crave.

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?

The American dream is dead. Don’t get sucked into working a job you hate, buying a house that’s too big or being trapped in a loveless marriage. I was guilty of all those things and it cost me a lot of heartache and years that I can never get back. Find out what you truly want your life to look like and then follow it with boldness. Create your own job if you can’t find one. Live in a smaller house with less stuff. Find a partner who can match your enthusiasm for a life-centered career. Focus on consuming less and giving more! That’s what this world needs, not the American dream.