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Archive of ‘Gabrielle’ category

Gabbby’s August Challenge: Become A Morning Person

It is one of my greatest missions in life to become a morning person. Every time I try, I get a little closer to understanding why it isn’t working out for me.

Last month, my goal was to wake up at 5 a.m. at least once a week, or more, if possible. But just ONCE was the bare minimum goal.

And I succeeded exactly: once. The first day.

The whole month, I woke up to a 5 a.m. alarm. And for the whole month, I kept hitting snooze.

So what happened?

  1. I’d let it become Future Gabby’s problem. I’d tell myself, “If I miss today, there’s always tomorrow.” I would push it off and off until, next thing I knew, it was Sunday, and a new week was starting. No more chances. That’s not to say I was sleeping in until 8 a.m. all those days I hit snooze. I would wake up at 5:15, or 5:40, or 6:30, which weren’t my goal, but were still great times to be awake.
  2. I didn’t have a plan. Part of the reason I wasn’t waking up was because I knew I was going to be bored that early in the morning. Whether it’s reading a book, or working out, or going for a walk, I never had an activity to keep me busy for three hours until I left for work.
  3. I wasn’t going to bed early enough. Let’s get one thing straight: you can’t expect to be Super Woman by going to bed at 12 every night and waking up at 5 a.m. That’s a recipe for disaster and a great way to crash midday. I needed to go to bed earlier. Like 10 p.m.
  4. I wasn’t unplugging from tech. I’d be scrolling through Instagram or binging Netflix until the moment I went to bed, which really took a toll on my circadian rhythm.

This was an overall great learning experience for me! I look forward to the day when I take my own advice, haha 😉

-Gabby

Gabby’s July Challenge: Keep a Food Diary

Hey duders!

How many of you have ever kept a food diary? Well, I never have, and I thought July would be as good a time to start as any! I learned some pretty neat things about what I eat – and myself – this month. Check it outttt:

  • The notebook is everything. If you’re not looking forward to writing down everything that you’re eating, you’re probably not going to. That’s why I spent $12 on this super cute notebook from The Paper Place on Queen St. It never failed to brighten up my day. Look at it. LOOK AT IT. Don’t tell me you don’t want to write your heart out in this thing.

The most beautiful notebook of all time.

  • Being more aware of what I was eating caused me to actually observe it, rather than just scarf it down. And, I hate to admit, but it turns out the more you pay attention to what you eat, the more you’ll find things wrong with it… I’ve noticed more hair in my food than ever before this month. BARF. Well, at least I know where not to eat anymore, LOL.
  • Being able to visually see what I was eating on paper for a whole month made me realize I usually get whatever is closest to my work during lunch, or whatever is fastest to eat. I’m disgusted to admit, but I ate 106 sushi rolls this month. Like, I probably have a mild case of mercury poisoning LOL. More towards the end of the month, I was spending about $5 more for this delicious salad from Flock, filled with all sorts of healthy goodies. It’s a little further than my usual go-to food spots, but always worth the walk. I can’t even explain it. This salad made me look forward to lunch and I actually took my time eating it – probably because I spent a little extra on it. For anyone interested, I got the BOHO salad with roasted chicken. #GAMECHANGER #HIGHLYRECOMMEND
  • Shockingly, by keeping a food diary, I realized I’m actually not eating enough. And none of it is homemade! It’s pretty much coffee, lunch, dinner, and that’s it. Maybe a few snacks or a beer here and there. But most of all, it was eye-opening to see that I’m not getting nearly enough fruits and veggies into my diet. So that’s something I hope to change. Lately, I’ve been going through a sort of food-making rut at home. Cooking is something I love to do, and I haven’t done it regularly in probably three months, which makes me think: how much money am I spending on eating out?! So I’ve already started to get back in the kitchen and make my favourite salads at home 🙂

For any of you who have followed Mo’ Money for the past three years, you may have noticed that it is my dream (lol) to become a morning person. I’ve tried many times, and failed many times. And I realized that it’s probably because I’m setting these ridiculous goals for myself. Well, change doesn’t happen overnight, so I’m going to take baby steps. My August challenge is to wake up at 5 a.m. at least once per week. Bonus if it happens more often than that, or even just waking up earlier than normal.

Wish me luck!

-Gabby

Gabby’s June Challenge: Cutting out Dairy – Panic Ensues

Over the past year, I’ve begun to notice that I’m having a hard time breathing. I wondered if it was because of stress, something I was eating, or even my level of physical activity. It got so bad that I was waking up in the middle of the night because I couldn’t breathe.

So, I finally went to the doctor and she prescribed me an inhaler, which REALLY helped. But that’s a quick fix, and not a long-term solution. I wanted to find out what was causing this so I could get to the root of the problem and avoid this in the future.

Last month, I made an attempt to cut out dairy, since I’ve been hearing more and more that it could be what’s causing my asthma, or at least, making it worse.

Overall, what I learned is that a month really drags on when you deprive yourself of something delicious LOL.

When I started, I was successful for about half the month. And I honestly didn’t think dairy was the culprit anymore, because I was cutting it out completely and still wheezing.

On June 15, we had a work party, and I made a conscious decision to eat an AMAZING cookie my co-worker brought to a potluck. No regrets. Except for the fact it cost me the success of my challenge 🙁 lol

There was another instance when I was eating a pepperoni stick. I figured, there’s no way it contained dairy, but I decided to check the label anyway. “MODIFIED MILK INGREDIENTS.”

Noooooo! What the hell? Why do we need milk in a meat stick?! This continued to be a theme for the rest of the month. Like, why do we need milk in Miss Vickie’s salt and vinegar chips? Or sour cream in guacamole? Gahdamn, it’s in everything. My heart goes out to those with an actual intolerance to dairy.

From that moment, I started to feel like it was hopeless. In the back of my mind, I became more lax with my food choices. I stopped checking labels, and even adopted the mindset of ignorance is bliss. I started to lose sight of why I was doing this challenge in the first place.

But soon enough, I began to get back on track. Whenever I was having a craving, I’d gravitate towards more healthy foods that I love, like hummus, watermelon, chickpea salads, and avocados. Every time I noticed I had a mad craving, I’d just run away from the situation, and, more often than not, the craving just went away.

It sucks cutting stuff out of your diet. There’s no doubt about that. But I figure I should probably see a nutritionist or actually get an allergy test, which is something I’ve been putting off for a while. Seriously, who wants to willingly get stabbed with 150 tiny needles? But I’m going to suck it up, because I really want to get to the bottom of this and breathe easy again.

This month, I’m going to get a food journal and write down everything I eat, PLUS, every instance where I begin to wheeze, so I can see if there’s a pattern.

Wish me luck!

-Gabs

Gabby’s May Challenge: THE ULTIMATE MO MONEY SUCCESS STORY

BREAKING NEWS: THE ~ULTIMATE~ MO’ MONEY SUCCESS STORY (SO FAR)

When I graduated school, I owed over $23,000 on my student loan.

I paid every cent of it off in under two years, just before for my 24th birthday. So you could say, I was #23andDebtFree!

How did I do it? Listen closely, my child, and I will tell you all my secretssssss.

GABBY’S TIPS FOR BEING DEBT FREE, FAST!

#1. Set a Goal

When I started having to pay back OSAP, the first thing I did was figure out how many years I wanted to pay it off in. I just kept thinking, there’s no way I’m going to carry this debt around with me for the next 10 years. I decided that five years was reasonable (and motivating), and it kept me from biting off more than I could chew if I got in a pickle financially.

#2. Understand that your loan is not your money

I never forgot my mom saying those words the moment my OSAP was deposited in my bank account. And she was right–it’s not my money. It belonged to the government. And I’d be responsible for paying it back in full (plus interest!) one day. It was merely just a vehicle to getting an education, which would lead to making more money in the long run.

#3. Make sacrifices

Your loan is not meant for buying the latest trends, going on trips, or eating out at fancy restaurants on the reg. It is meant for you to support yourself while in school. Use it to invest in yourself, like getting a new outfit for an interview or a laptop for class. If you feel the slightest bit of guilt at the checkout, it’s probably an indulgence, and not an investment.

The second part of this tip relates to your lifestyle choices once you’re out of school. To pay your loan back faster, scrimp and save wherever you can. I’m talking rent, internet, phone plans, gym memberships, etc. Sure, I could’ve been living in a really nice apartment in downtown Toronto for over $1,000 a month. Instead, I chose to live in a more modest place–a co-op, actually. It’s an older building and has the occasional bug problem, but rent is only $535 a month. It’s definitely a challenge seeing all my friends living downtown in brand new buildings, but my current living situation played a key role in helping pay off my loan insanely faster.

*The sacrifices you make to pay off your loan should not be at the expense of your health or safety.

#4 Live a Little

Money is like a relationship. If it’s always take, take, take, you’ll feel like you’re getting the short end of the stick. Don’t deprive yourself, but don’t go overboard, either. The way I treat myself is by buying coffee. And because I don’t normally splurge on things like alcohol, the latest trends, or getting my nails done, I can justify $3.50 a day–especially when it helps me get my work done, too.

#5 HUSTLE.

Ask. For. That. Raise. DO IT. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but the only way you can pay off your loan faster is by MAKING MORE MONEY. When it was time for me to ask for a raise, I came prepared. Knowledge is power. Do your research. Know your value and know what other people in your position make. When I learned that I wasn’t even making the national average for my role, I brought it up in my performance review and I got a $3,000 increase in my salary. That’s $3,000 a year I wouldn’t be making today if I didn’t JUST ASK.

BONUS – YOUR SAVINGS ACCOUNT COULD BE WORKING AGAINST YOU

What I’m about to tell you is the reason why I decided to drop the remaining $16,000 on my OSAP in a lump sum (I was paying around $330 a month).

You’re paying more interest on your loan than you’re earning on the money in your savings account.

Duh, right? Wrong. This didn’t even occur to me for years. Why are we funnelling money into our savings when we’re LOSING money on paying interest? I paid over $800 interest in one year on my loan! Of course, it’s important to have some money set aside in the case of an emergency. Anything you have left over should be going directly to paying off your loan.

Note: I don’t have any credit card debt. If I did, it would take priority over my loan, because the interest rates are insanely higher.

All in all, I hope you learned something here today. I could go on forever with more tips on how to pay off your loan faster (Part 2, perhaps? ;), but if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out! Better yet, if you have a student loan success story, email us at momoneymoprogress@gmail.com. We’d love to feature you on one of our posts!

Keep going. You can do this!

-Gabby

Gabby’s March Challenge: Drop it like it’s Squat

After a pretty hectic February at work, my goal for March was to go to the gym at least twice a week.

Because I hadn’t decided on my challenge until March 5, that left me a minimum of six visits to the gym I had to accomplish.

The first weekend was… interesting. After not working out in forever I was really feeling it on my first day back, although I stuck it out and stayed for an hour. Boom.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.12.33 AM

#Dying. I make tomato face look cool.

My second day back was a little better. I managed to not throw up in my mouth, lol. Even though I could only stay for 40 minutes because I had to work, it was better than not going at all!

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.12.48 AM

#GetYourselfThere.

Unfortunately, midway through March, I really hurt my back somehow. Probably from constantly  being hunched over a computer. I made a conscious decision to take a break from gymming until it got better. There’s no use in forcing yourself to do something if it means you could risk injuring yourself further–especially when it comes to your back. But I knew I had to get some sort of physical activity, so I opted for stretching, walking, and light yoga 🙂

Fast forward to the week after that, and I’m back in the gym and crushing it. Let it be noted that I hate taking photos of myself at the gym. It feels so awkward!!!

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.13.01 AM

The next day I played in a dodgeball tournament for a few hours. It had been a while since I played, but it’s kind of like riding a bike–you never forget how to dodge, dip, duck, dive, and dodge. We came 3rd. (Single tear falls down my cheek) Still got some rust I gotta shake off, apparently.

As for my April challenge, I’m going through some pretty big transitions at work, and I have to figure out the next step to take. So instead of doing my taxes (that’s a given), I’m going to really work on what’s best for me and make a decision. (More details to come!)

Keep it real,

Gabby

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

GABBY’S JUNE CHALLENGE: LOOSE CHANGE

loose bright

NOT THAT KIND OF LOOSE CHANGE OMG!

So my challenge for June was to collect all my loose change and roll it up at the end of the month to see how much I banked. At the end of the day, the change in my purse, in my clothes, on the ground, and around my apartment all went into a jar. I was pretty surprised to see how quickly it added up! My jar even started to overflow!

jar books

Grab a jar and start collecting!

When the end of the month rolled around it was time to get counting!
GRAND TOTAL: $57!!!!

loose coins

That’s a lot for just a month. But I’m not complaining 😉

Hmmm…what to do with it? Maybe since I’ve been throwin’ hunnids (not really) with all these birthdays lately, I think the best decision is to just put it back in my bank account.

Next time you’re at the bank, ask the Tellers for some rolls, otherwise you’ll look like me and show up with several plastic bags full of coins…haha.

baggies

Drinks on me!! NOT.

…Then they made me roll them myself off to the side. So, yeah. Just grab some rolls whenever it’s most convenient for you, or you may get told that your rolling technique is terrible, like I did…

rolls

Just look at that form! #flawless

Happy savings!

-Gabby <3

Make the Most of Birthdays (Without Breaking the Bank)

Ahh summer…don’t you just love the sun, the parties, the patios and the…birthdays??

Why does it seem like everyone has a birthday in the summer? Well, statistically, the months of July to September are the most popular times to have a birthday, it seems. Take a look at this chart:

birthday rank

(Looks like November is prime time to get busaaayyy! Oh god, sorry for the visual.)

 If you’re like me, most of your friends have summer birthdays, and as we all know, birthdays can get pretty expensive. But don’t worry– I have a foolproof plan when it comes to giving (and receiving) gifts, especially on a student budget.

 We all have that friend who’s been drooling over a Michael Kors watch for months, or maybe that Urban Decay Naked eyeshadow palette. To her, it’s just another one of those things that she can’t afford, but desperately wants.

“The best birthday gifts to receive are the ones you’re too cheap to buy for yourself.” -Gabrielle Elliot (LOL)

 You need a secret weapon if you’re gonna give the birthday girl the gift of a lifetime. Introducing….THE POWER OF FRIENDS!

giphy

That’s right.

Band together with your friends and split the cost of that MK watch or Naked eyeshadow!

My friends and I do it all the time, and it’s foolproof. We spend maybe $30-$50 each on splitting the gift, and then we all go out and have a really good time at a club, restaurant or something super fun! The cost of the gift is fixed, but you can control how much you spend when you go out. For example, ordering 2 drinks instead of 4, or maybe not buying dessert, etc.

 TAKE IT FROM ME.

For my birthday this year, my friends knew I desperately needed a new wallet. It was time my mustard yellow one with the cute bow went into retirement (RIP). To my utter surprise, they pooled their cash and bought me a GORGEOUS wallet from Fossil…talk about BESTIES!!

fossil wallet

 

(Happy birthday, indeed!)

Then, we went to this amazing restaurant called Guu… if you haven’t been, I highly suggest it. And as if that wasn’t enough, we all moseyed on over to the Drake Hotel for a night filled with dancing. Since we each take care of our own bills when we go out, I chose to save some money and not buy drinks at the Drake (probably saved $25 bucks just from not drinking).

So you see, birthdays don’t always have to be about one person. Make it a group celebration and do something you all love! It’s good to take a break from your studies or job and remember to have some fun once in a while. And if you all chip in together, you’ll be buying her something she really loves and will probably end up saving money in the long run!

Happy birthday to all you summer babies!

<3 Gabs

GABBY’S MAY CHALLENGE: TAXES ARE TAXING

To continue my (failed) April Challenge, my task was to do my taxes before the end of May. Sadly, this did not happen.

FAIL.

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If you remember, my Notice of Assessment didn’t come in on time because I needed to register online for the CRA first (which took like 2 weeks to get my password in the mail).

Now that I have all the tools, June will be the month of getting my taxes done. And because I’m SO OVER TAXES, my additional June challenge will be to rustle up all my loose change for a month and put them into rolls for my savings account!

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– Gabby

 

SHOPPING ON A BUDGET: A TRUE TEST OF WILLPOWER

The other day, I went grocery shopping armed with nothing but my debit card and a rumbling belly. First off, let me say that it is never a good idea to shop hungry, because your eyes are always bigger than your stomach and you’ll leave with things you don’t even need.

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5 minutes into my shopping, an announcement comes on the P.A. stating that their debit and credit machines were down and that they were only accepting cash. DUN DUN DAH. That was a problem. I had zero food at home, and no cash on me. I made the quick decision to withdraw some cash at the nearest bank (service charges ensued) and shop with what I could take out. Usually, I buy a lot at once because I hardly ever go shopping, so I can sometimes spend over $100…YOWZERS. But when I went to withdraw cash, it would only let me take out $100. Sure, I could have put my card in again to withdraw more money on the second round, but I’m not about paying $10 in service charges. No. Way.

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So I trekked back to the store, freaking out that I would go over budget. I’ve never really shopped on a budget before…I’ve always been smart about what I bought, but I’ve never walked in and paid attention to how much I should actually be limiting myself.

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$100. That was it. The entire time I was shopping, I was constantly questioning the difference between need and necessity. Sure enough, I rolled up to the cash, and it turns out I SPENT HALF of what I originally thought I would spend. It was an amazing feeling. Limiting myself to a budget helped me save money that I definitely would have spent– I was really proud to know that I could do it if I had to.

4

I encourage everyone to shop on a budget. Don’t get sucked in with your credit or debit card. Just because you have the money, doesn’t always mean you have to spend it!

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Keep it real!

-Gabs

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