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December 2016 archive

Minimalism. I’m embracing it… you in?

“Get your stuff down to what you can carry on your back.”

This is the message my dad used to tell me and my sisters growing up. What he meant was get rid of everything in your life that is non-essential and only own a handful of important things. Apparently my dad is a bit nomadic, (and perhaps a tad on the radical side) though I realize that this is helpful training for a minimalist life; a tool for freedom and happiness.

Despite Instagram showing you that everyone is buying everything, minimalism is gaining in popularity for many Millennials. Joshua Fields Millburn one of the co-founders of the highly popular site TheMinimalists.com (which receives 4 million hits per month), recently shared some knowledge bombs in an interview with lifestyle entrepreneur Lewis Howes:

I found this interview to be incredibly inspiring to the point that I took action right after watching it. A few of the key ‘aha’ moments I discovered was how Joshua had an amazing job and made great money, though he kept buying expensive things to try to fill some kind of void in his life. Despite looking like he ‘had it all’ he was secretly struggling. He soon found himself $500,000 in debt and had to figure out how to get out of it. This is when he started to learn about minimalism and started his site with his good friend. On the site they share that  “minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom.” It’s about embracing a desire to own less and doesn’t have to be incredibly drastic.

Here are a few ways they share on their website how minimalism helped them create more freedom:

  • Reclaim our time
  • Live in the moment
  • Pursue our passions
  • Discover our missions
  • Experience real freedom
  • Create more, consume less
  • Focus on our health
  • Grow as individuals
  • Contribute beyond ourselves
  • Rid ourselves of excess stuff
  • Discover purpose in our lives

Overall, I felt sold on the big idea of lasting happiness. So often it feels like happiness is something you can buy, when in reality, I know that it is something that you must feel.

The one big change he made that shocked me was cancelling his home Internet access. My first reaction to this was I thought he was absolutely nuts. How could an online entrepreneur cancel his Internet? What the heck do people do without the Internet to keep them busy? Then he mentioned he used the Internet at his home office, though had to be creative to have fun at home. He picked up old books, had more dinner parties, actually went outside, exercised more, and overall got better sleep. As someone who has fallen into a routine of staying up too late trying to read everything created on the internet, I was intrigued by this idea.

As I live in downtown Toronto, I figured it was worth a shot to cancel the Internet for a month to try it and see if I can do it while avoiding going insane from boredom ;). I am also taking this challenge on for my December 2016 monthly challenge.

If you want to get started on owning less, I also highly recommend reading tidying guru Marie Kondo’s New York Times best-selling book and watch a few videos where she teaches you her game-changing tidy methods:

I find it fun to try something new and switch things up in life. Are you interested in trying out the minimalist lifestyle? Or perhaps uncluttering a part of your life? It definitely starts to get addicting in a good way! If you are, tweet us or email us to share your story!

-Gwen

Worth it? Or Naw?

Last month, Buzzfeed released a new series called, “Worth It,” where two pals weigh the value of certain types of dishes at drastic price points. At the end on their drive back, they decide on a winner!

Here are a few of my favourite episodes so far 🙂

Sushi

“My tongue is just livin’ in a sexy salt bath right now.”

Steak

“I’m like, embarrassed to be watched eating this, because it’s like, something so pleasurable shouldn’t be done in public.”

Pasta

“That’s a lot of flavurr.”

You gotta love the personalities on these guys.

I would totally do a food comparison like this myself, but, you know, who has $300 to spend on a steak?*

*Me, when I’m rich AF. One day…

Have you ever done a food comparison? Tell us about your experience! Or if you don’t have $700 to spend on different (delicious) dishes, do it on a lower scale, like comparing the price of a double Americano at three different coffee shops. Get creative! Find the best value for your dollar and tastebuds.

-Gabby

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

 

Gabby’s November Challenge: Get Swole for Less

Hey guys!

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re paying money for a membership you don’t use? Not a great feeling, is it?

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Make it raiiiinn, Kim.

That’s what the last 6 months was for me and my Goodlife Membership. Work got so crazy that I began to go less and less. And because I was going less, it was harder to start back up again.

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Uh…

The few miraculous times I did go after work (not a morning person whatsoever), I was already exhausted, trying to push myself that little bit harder (which is never a good idea). But because I was going to the Goodlife within walking distance, that meant I had to take an hour-long streetcar back to my apartment, usually starving and lightheaded. Not a good combination, which deterred me from going even further.

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Probably the best use of a treadmill I’ve seen to date.

Every month, $56.50 was draining out of my account. And for what? Nada. It was time I made a change. Luckily, it was around last month that my membership was actually expiring. Perfect timing to give up! (LOL jk)

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Nooo Arnie! Nooooo!

That’s why I made it my November challenge to find a cheaper alternative to gymming.

Throughout the summer, Humber College (Go Hawks Go!) was renovating their gym space. They took over an old motorcycle shop, tore it down, and built a brand new one, three floors high. I always toyed with the idea of signing up, but I was locked into my Goodlife membership, and from what I heard, they’re pretty messy (and expensive) to get out of. Pass.

But now that I cancelled my Goodlife membership, I was excited to explore new options.

What’s amazing is that I used to work at the Humber gym before it was renovated, so I reached out to my former boss and asked if there was a staff discount I could use. Being the angel she is, she gave me a year-long membership for only $50. That’s almost as much as I was paying a month with Goodlife. Yikes.

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Yee. On that staff discount lyfe.

And am I ever loving this gym. It’s beautiful. It smells like new rubber. And there are machines in there that I didn’t even know existed!

It’s basically my workout heaven. Did I mention it’s only a seven-minute walk from my apartment? BONUS.

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More like seven minutes ‘til heaven.

Now, not only am I excited to work out – even on the weekends – I’m able to get some food in my belly within half an hour. I couldn’t be happier with my gym situation right now.

This is definitely one of the money highlights of my year!!

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There you have it: Woo.

If you attended, I encourage all of you to check out your post-secondary school’s gym pricing for Alumni, and if you’re a student, chances are it’s free! Even if you don’t know where to begin when it comes to the gym, ask the staff to show you a thing or two to help get you started. Your health is #1!

For my December challenge, I plan on finding the ultimate winter coat at a decent price. I’m looking for fashion, function, and value. I’ve been living in Canada my whole life – it’s time this girl got a decent coat!!

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What you knowin’ about wearin’ a fur fox skin?

Happy Holidays!

-Gabs

Karyn’s November Challenge: Celebrating the Small Victories

Lately my life has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I’ve had to deal with a lot of crap (I’m lookin’ at you H&R Block), but I’ve had some really amazing moments as well. The sad thing is that I am always focusing on the negative aspects of my life and it ends up weighing me down. So for my November Challenge I decided to focus on making #moprogress by keeping track of all of my small victories! By writing them down I’m acknowledging the positivity in my life and hopefully creating a system where I can eventually fully focus on the good and let the bad go.

Without further adieu, here is my list of goodness for November!

  1. Found a new apartment
  2. Got a sweeeet deal on internet (so fast. much wow)
  3. Received a magical raise at work
  4. Became NCCP trained (for archery!)
  5. I have been attending krav maga classes at least four times a week (and I have the bruises to prove it)
  6. Paid off my GST/HST to the CRA (FINALLY!!!)
  7. Switched phone providers and got an extra 2GB of data
  8. I watched Doctor Strange in theatres with amazing people
  9. Learned that I can do 10 continuous knuckle pushups (no pain, no gain)
  10. Finally went grocery shopping and pre-made meals for an entire week
  11. Was able to hang out with my magical friend Robin and rage out/shoot archery
    karyn and robs

Though this may not seem like a lot, just seeing it written down and allowing myself to soak in all of the good stuff while frustrating things were blowing up in my face made it all the more bearable. Any time I was faced with a difficult moment and it started to wear away at me, I just looked at this list of little #wins and it definitely helped me move past the negativity.

I really want to make this a habit. It’s so common for us to focus on all the tough stuff and ignore everything excellent that has happened in our lives. I want to create a more positive space for myself and I think this is a great step towards that goal!

-Karyn

Monique’s November Challenge: Digitizing your dollars

My November challenge was to take another step towards digitizing how I manage my money.

And I did it!

It may sound super simple, but I downloaded an app that is linked to my bank account, showing me what I’m doing with my finances at any given time.

Yes, I know that by now, everyone and their great-grandparents have online banking and apps but I resisted.

I’d already signed up for online banking and that was a no-brainer. But why was I resisting using an app (which I have already used more than I ever thought I would) when it is essentially the same thing?

Ever since I got my first cell phone when I graduated high school, I continuously told myself that I wouldn’t be like “those people” who were attached to their phones. You know the kind: people who get articles written about their phone addiction in big feature write-ups because they now have neck problems or carpal tunnel syndrome, proving that ours is an anti-social, digitally-obsessed, and never-present-in-the-moment generation.

A good number of my friends who had that obsessive love for their phones were often the ones in my friend group who didn’t listen when we were all hanging out, instead buried in the minutia of Facebook or Twitter updates or interrupting conversations for texts that weren’t urgent. I saw all this and was horrified at the idea of getting too attached to my phone too, lest I develop habits that I felt ruined many otherwise beautiful moments.

So I resisted.

And eventually got the Facebook app to scroll through during my long commute.

And resisted.

And then signed up for Instagram.

And resisted.

And now live-tweet events that I attend (for fun!).

And eventually caved.

And what did I learn?

Downloading the banking app was, to me, the final step that showed I could open the digital door and make my mobile device work for me instead of against me.

I’m still not super keen on updating my life in real time on social media and my personal brand as a freelancer could definitely use a lot of work thanks to that mentality. But by making these small changes, I am hopefully moving from the category of late adopters to early majority when it comes to innovations that can make life so much more comfortable and convenient.

All that being said… if you have a smartphone, download a banking app stat! It’s a convenient, super simple way to keep on top of your finances and remind you of your savings goals.

Going into the final month of 2016, it’s a good time to remind ourselves of what we have accomplished all year and where we need to refine our strategy and goals for the future.

My December challenge is going to be tying up the financial loose ends of 2016. This means looking into what subscription services I no longer need, maybe renegotiating my cell and internet plans or chasing down clients who haven’t yet paid their invoices.

All this may be easier said than done – so many changes have happened over the past year with major leaps forward and a couple missteps along the way. Here’s to ending 2016 on a high note!

– Monique

Gwen’s November Challenge: Sugaaaaa begone!

I am a couple of weeks away from testing for my orange belt in Krav Maga. Krav is a self-defense system developed for the Israeli Defence Forces that focuses on judo, boxing, and street fight training. Let’s just say it’s an unexpected obsession.

To become really good at Krav Maga you much become mentally prepared as well as physically. I was noticing that I would get nervous before classes sometimes and literally want to eat sugary foods to simply deal with the stress. And as you can imagine, eating a bunch of donuts before working out doesn’t usually end too well.

My November challenge was a sugar-free month. I wanted to curb my donut eating habit (which was becoming a ‘latte factor’) for more mental clarity, feeling better overall, and to save a few bucks!

My goal was to kickstart getting back into healthy eating by cutting out added sugars from pastries, bread, and alcohol.

Here’s a link to a documentary that got me interested in cutting back:

One of the ways I wanted to cut back was by tracking my eating on One Sweet App.

I’ll be honest, I realize I don’t like tracking things on apps. I’m inconsistent with looking down at my phone so many times a day to reflect on what I ate. So that strategy didn’t work.

The great thing about this challenge, is although I didn’t have a donut-free month, I only bought them once (the day Trump was elected)… which is a clear reminder that I lean on sugar for emotional support.

I found that this month, I ate at home way more times than I ate out. This was tremendously helpful in cutting back on junk food overall. And in moments of sugar weakness, my go-to was dark chocolate, so it wasn’t as bad as breads and cakes.

I am proud of the progress and am going to keep it going in December. It feels great to have less sugar in my system.

My December challenge is going wi-fi free. That’s right… I’m pausing my home Internet access for the month. I am fiercely committed to being present and not ‘numbing out.’ This year I’ve gone on challenges to be alcohol free, sugar-free, getting in the zen zone, and now cutting out unlimited Internet, in an effort to be more present. I was finding that I was starting my day in a terrible way by watching YouTube videos or mindlessly scrolling on Instagram when I first woke up. So at the end of this month, I will share my discoveries on what life is like when I don’t have unlimited access to entertainment and am forced to be more creative to have fun! Wish me luck!!

  • Gwen