Sign up for Mo' Money Monthly. The best of Mo' Money in yo' inbox.

        

Archive of ‘Monique’ category

Monique’s November Challenge: Eh, No Complaints. You?

After coming off the high that was my HELL YES October challenge, I couldn’t help but want to prolong it. And what you focus on, you amplify in your life. Clearly, this was a great way to feel even better.

So why, OH WHY, did I decide to focus on the negative for November?

My monthly challenge was to say HELL NO to all complaining. I wanted to identify my negative talk triggers and figure out a way to accentuate the positive 🙂 And, oh baby, did I find me some trouble spots. After spending a month monitoring my ups and downs, here are two of my biggest takeaways:

Observation #1: What vs. Who

Turns out that it’s not always the “what” that can bring me down, it’s the “who”.

Are you familiar with that famous Jim Rohn quote?

“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Yup, that’s right: I discovered I have a trigger person. After only a few hours with this individual (sometimes even just within minutes!), I noticed my blood pressure rising. Any particular grievances that would have been dealt with calmly and rationally were now standing center stage. Under a spotlight. With a microphone.

Luckily, it was often just the two of us around. She would start ranting about something and that would eventually send me into a foul mood. I’d find myself adding fuel to the fire. It was not a good look.

Action Shot #1: Box It Up

When I realized this person was a mega-drain on my energy and attention, I had to do some serious work to reroute this path. At first I tried keeping conversations on happier, more positive topics. Nope. She derailed that line of thinking. Next, I tried getting her to think constructively, to seek out solutions. If you’re gonna vent, that’s one thing, since it’s briefly cathartic. But if that’s all you do, it’s useless. She had literally zero interest in bettering her situation so that effort fell on deaf ears. Finally, I had to disengage. Compartmentalize and keep quiet. It felt rude at first, but then I realized she wasn’t really talking to me, more at me. I’ve been spending less and less time with her as a result and it’s definitely had an impact on how much I’m complaining. I’d call that a win!

Observation #2: Snark Attack

I hate being late. It’s embarrassing, makes me feel rude, and is unprofessional. I will go to extreme lengths to be on time. I will take expensive Ubers, forego breakfast (or any meal for that matter), and will pull all-nighters if need be. But lately, I realized I’ve been getting extra crabby when traffic is bad or I’m cutting it down to the minute. I’d snark about bad drivers, clueless pedestrians wandering across the street, and my general need to eat or sleep.

My reality check: I like to think I can do it all. And I can’t—especially when I’m not properly taking care of myself. I’d been treating my body like a machine (and not a well-oiled one) instead of my business. Pushing yourself to your limit usually means something’s going to give out—and soon. An early warning sign? My, ahem, charming personality gets less than sociable.

Action Shot #2: Pick Two

I’ve caused myself burnout before, two major episodes in the past seven years, to be exact. My productivity suffered, I wasn’t willing (or able) to work on new, exciting projects, and any personal or professional development took a backseat while I basically slept and recuperated my way back to being a normal human being. When you’re freelancing and you have a part-time job and a side project, you need to be excellent at multitasking, communicating, and self-care. Often, it feels like you have to pick two:

2

Burnout has been a recurring theme I’ve been writing about over the past few years. It usually happens right after I’ve burnt out or can feel myself on the edge of another one. This was a particularly surprising realization. It really crept up on me this time. I get ambitious and overconfident and, without the proper system in place, it’s incredibly difficult to level up in a healthy way.

Long story short, November has been heavy. It’s been an important month but I’m definitely taking the lessons learned and applying them to make sure I stay happy and healthy (and don’t infect others with negativity… it’s worse than the flu!).

A New Start to the End… Of the Year

With December—and the holidays—upon us, it’s important to realize that this time of year can either become super stressful or super festive and fun! I want to enjoy the snow, family, friends, and all the festivities this year. We all have responsibilities and obligations, that’s a given, but what if we could really make the most of the season and keep things in perspective?

I want to amplify the good and end 2017 on a high note. So for my December challenge, I’m going to do 31 acts of kindness! I’m going to make them as varied as possible and even keep track of what it “costs” me. Whether it’s time, money, extra effort, etc. I’m going to try to do one per day, and focus on family, friends, colleagues, and strangers.

The turbocharged goal is to do 31 different acts of kindness and make it a habit so that I can start 2018 off on the right foot. What are you going to do for your final act of 2017? Are you going to complain that this was just another dumpster fire of a year or are you going to do your part and actively try to make your little piece of the planet just a bit more pleasant?

I’ve made my decision and it feels pretty darn good, if you ask me.

<3 Monique

Monique’s October Challenge: HELL YES Nation

For my October challenge, I thought about what I wanted. Then, I went for it.

My rule was to only do things that made me say HELL YES

Everything else was a Noooope.

 

The goal was to get fired up about all the things in October. If I couldn’t get fired up and say HELL YES then the decision was a clear no.

…Or was it?

I don’t know about you but every time I decide to take on a new challenge, I immediately face an obstacle, inner resistance, or simply feeling as though the universe has conspired to make my goal seem insurmountable.

I got some fascinating results.

Following the Fun!

There were a few instances where HELL YES just seemed so obvious:

  • I got free tickets to a comedy show (and I love stand up!)
  • The hubz and I got free tickets to an NHL game
  • A wonderful friend invited me to coffee
  • I volunteered at an amazing conference that brings together and recognizes both entrepreneurship and government
  • The chance to go to my first Diwali celebrations at one of Ottawa’s Hindu temples

Of all these HELL YES moments, there were still some obstacles that made them difficult to achieve, and in one instance, some obstacles beat me to my moment (next year’s Diwali celebrations are totally gonna make up for missing this year’s!).

There were other obstacles that I overcame to make some HELL YES moments a reality, like the tedious act of coordinating schedules, making bookings, and doing advance prep work.

Why HELL YES can be Wrapped in a HELL NO

My obvious HELL YES moments were easy to pursue because they’re fun, exciting, engaging, and new. Yet there were other HELL YES moments that were quieter and less fun but no less important:

  • Pulling two (almost) all-nighters after taking on rush projects during an already packed week
  • Hitting the gym after a long day when all I felt capable of was crawling into bed
  • Taking on extra shifts at my bridge job because a coworker needed help
  • Braving the dentist for a root canal that’s going to be completed over the course of three. separate. appointments. #MakeTheDrillingStop
  • Going vegetarian – and alcohol free – for the month

So why say HELL YES to things that initially felt like a half-hearted, “Sure, I guess”?

Because I knew I was making decisions that were ultimately in my best interest.

Unwrapping a HELL YES

Saying HELL YES to something isn’t always driven by unbridled enthusiasm. Sometimes they’re driven by curiosity, other times by logic. Indulge me:

  • Those almost-all-nighters? They reinvigorated a relationship with a sometimes-dormant client. I’m now getting more and more work from them and reminded them how reliable I am, especially when they’re in a crunch.
  • Those near-exhaustion gym sessions? I’m feeling fitter, stronger, more energetic, and have been getting more definition in my typing muscles. Pretty sweet reasons to keep going with this good habit.
  • Taking those extra shifts? They help pay me pay off my student loan and build a savings account. Plus, they get me out of my house to chat with cool people while sipping on custom lattes and listening to great music.
  • A root canal? Let’s be honest. I’ve clearly been putting this off for a while. The motivation was there, ever so fleetingly, so I decided to commit before I wimped out. There’s no going back now.
  • A vegetarian diet? But what about bacon?? Truthfully, I started off nowhere close to wanting to go vegetarian for a full month. With a few mindful slipups, I did it! Honestly, I knew the lifestyle shift would be more difficult than changing my actual diet, and that proved true. Though the unexpected upsides include slimming down, a clearer mind, and a newfound curiosity to go veg at least three times per week.

So What Does This Even Mean?

I wondered if I was going to go all “Yes Man” a la Jim Carrey at the beginning of the month but that wasn’t quite the case, despite my best efforts to end up like this:

https://giphy.com/gifs/jim-carrey-jxdnxO9IJmpnG

It didn’t happen, which is totally fine, but I did discover that a HELL YES decision doesn’t have to be wrapped up in fireworks and enthusiasm to be the right choice. At first glance, this sounds super depressing but it actually makes me really happy. This challenge helped me to better understand why I do what I do, and what’s most important to me.

Turns out it’s not bacon, after all.

So what’s next?

My November challenge will be saying HELL NO to all complaining.

I don’t think I’m a major whiner (LOL) but we’ll soon see if that’s the case.

My goal is to keep track of my complaints and uncover some trends about what bothers me most. Then I’ll come up with an action plan to make improvements in those areas.

Hell Yes, I am a genius.

What’s on your radar this November? Want to join the #Sisterpack in our monthly challenges? Let’s keep the convo going on our Insta! Follow us at and let’s chat!

High fives and good vibes,

Monique 🙂

 

Monique’s September Challenge: 4x the Fun

I took a different approach to my September challenge: I attempted to complete four unrelated challenges in four weeks.

Every seven days, I started a new challenge… each with varying degrees of success.

Let’s start with the successes, shall we? 😉

September Challenge #1:

The challenge I absolutely crushed was checking my bank balance online every day. To be honest, I’ve questioned the value in doing this on and off throughout the last few years as the Sisterpack and I embarked upon our Mo’ Money journey.

I couldn’t have picked a better time to check my accounts every day. I actually managed my money waaayy better. I made sure all bills were covered before they were due (not all my payments are automatic so I actually have to know these things)  and I had more productive conversations about money throughout the week!

The verdict?

Definitely keep doing this. If not every day, every other day. It can be so tempting to ignore the numbers and shout IGNORANCE IS BLISS while wearing Kanye glasses as I munch on a burrito with guac but these are the numbers that keep you alive, happy, fed, and fabulous. Why would you ignore anything so awesome? And if the numbers don’t look that great right now, no worries! Just keep working at them. Building mo’ money and mo’ progress is a journey.

September Challenge #2:

Meditate.

It seems simple: switch off your brain for a couple minutes every day. Press the reset button. Take a chill pill.

Seems I forgot that this mindset takes patience, discipline, and control. I haven’t used those dusty, atrophied muscles for meditation since I taught at Samurai school when I was 15 years old. (That’s right. I was essentially a child ninja. No, I will not take your lunch money. Sit down and… is that a Snapple?)

So you see what I’m dealing with?

Anyway, I had a decent amount of success with this challenge. I downloaded the Calm app and meditated for at least 1-5 minutes every day. I played around with the app and even did a few 10-minute meditations. I made sure to do a few extra because, at first, I thought I could meditate while walking to my bridge job. Oh man, big mistake. It was super loud with the traffic and I have a broken ear bud on my headphones so I couldn’t block out all the noise. While I didn’t keep a blank mind the whole time, the soothing nature sounds and calming music definitely kept my blood pressure down while I hustled in and out of traffic.

The verdict?

Make the time to meditate. Don’t try to squeeze it in just before you fall asleep (I just fell asleep instead) or while you’re performing another task. It’s just not the point and felt a bit futile. Otherwise, I definitely recommend setting aside time to actively chill.

September Challenge #3:

As a self-employed-night-owl freelancer who also has a part-time bridge job, it’s always a herculean challenge to be up and at ‘em bright and early. My sisters have been experimenting lately with going to bed at a decent hour and waking up super early.

My attempt? Be awake, coherent, and ready to rock at my desk by 9 a.m. the entire week.

…Did I mention that I’m a straight up night owl?

I leave my bridge job after 10 p.m. every night, and sometimes I’m up until 2 a.m. pounding out content for my clients and sending them emails using Boomerang for Gmail so it looks like I actually sent that note at 7:18 a.m. (night owls, take notes!).

I love it but it’s not always sustainable when I have an early morning commitment like a business call, coffee meeting, or just when I want to be awake to see the first half of the day.

I don’t often have a routine start or end time. When the coffee’s ready, that just means it’s GO TIME.

So this was pretty daunting.

This challenge was more difficult for me until I started scheduling morning commitments, trying to circumvent my own ingrained habits.

The verdict?

Lots of sleepy eyes, much less of an effort to look good at my desk (which is insane because my desk is located in my work nook. In my house. And I’m alone!), sweatpants until noon, and mucho cups of coffee… at first.

It would definitely require a lifestyle overhaul. The jury is out. Don’t hold your breath on this one.

September Challenge #4:

No eating out. For seven days straight. During a workweek.

Ummm, yeah. I totally failed.

I mayyybeee did three days, not even close.

The verdict?

I need to reevaluate my lifestyle. Even if it’s just a small purchase like a coffee or bagel. Will a meal prep challenge be in my future? Most likely. (Ugh.)

Overall, this was a cool experiment. Not only did I get a chance to make up for a couple monthly challenges I’d missed out on in the past, but I really got to see what type of challenges get me pumped and where I need to shell out a little extra effort.

I wanted to experience more excitement, confidence, and conviction in my decisions, so for the month of October, my challenge theme is HELL YES. I am going to be living, riding, and dying by these two, short words all month.

When making any decision, it’s either a HELL YES or it’s a no.

I’m not sure where this will take me but I’m damn sure that I’ll be excited no matter what direction I go.

– Monique

Monique’s August Challenge: Hydration Nation

It’s September! The days are getting cooler, the air is getting fresher, and the days are starting to get shorter.

But it was only a short time ago that the air in Ottawa was muggy, the heat was intense, and I was constantly dehydrated. That’s why for my August challenge, I set out to drink three litres of water every day. To put it in perspective, that’s about an extra litre compared to the recommended eight cups per day. That’s a lot of water.

To build this habit, I broke it down:

I was to drink at least six 500 mL bottles of water per day. I have massive mugs at home, so any tea or coffee would be considered as a bottle of water. (I didn’t want to get bored with only drinking water.) This way, it was much easier to keep track, I could stash my full bottles anywhere I needed them to be – like my bedside, in my backpack or in the fridge – and I could see visible progress every day. A growing pile of empty water bottles strewn across my desk and in my bag became a common sight throughout the month.

I kept track of how many I drank throughout the day in my notebook, checking off each bottle as I downed it. At first, it was tough. I didn’t feel like drinking so much because, truth be told, I wasn’t sure I even needed so much. People are always advised to consult a doctor or health professional before making a radical dietary change… but I didn’t do that. Oops.

I dropped the habit of tracking each bottle by mid-month. I was travelling and busy and lost the discipline to keep it going. Instead, I did mental calculations to keep myself on track, which is why I’m very confident that I achieved my goal. I only wish I had kept track at the end to know for sure.

Drinking extra water is meant to boost mental clarity and alertness, flush out toxins, and clear up your skin, among other benefits. By the end of August, I was feeling bright, alert, and less hungry, despite the fact that I felt a bit bloated when I started the challenge.

I’ve been keeping up the habit of drinking more water in September. I want this to be a healthy habit I integrate into a healthier lifestyle!

Here’s to September – where healthy living is really getting a boost.

High fives and good vibes,
Monique 🙂

 

Monique’s July Challenge: Master of My Domain

VICTORY!

My July challenge was to decide on a new name for my freelance business and register the domain name.

And I did it!

It’s such a small thing but in reality, this took forever to accomplish. For the past seven years, my freelance biz went by Monique Elliot Media. For a while, I liked it: it’s a super simple name and super clear.

At least that’s what I thought.

It’s a pretty meh name for a freelance journalist and content creator’s small business. It reminded clients of my actual name, told them that I was a one-woman shop, and… then told them virtually nothing about the services I offer. “Media” is simply too broad. And kinda boring.

I had to admit it: I was one of the 71 per cent of Canadians who knew “not much” about domain names, according to a recent research by the Canadian Internet Regulation Authority (CIRA).

Well, no mo’ of that! The work I do is anything but boring! I’ve worked for startups, scale-ups, corporations, and government departments across five industries and counting.

Fresh Ideas, Fresh Content, Fresh Start

My challenge, which I chose to accept and then push to the back burner about 12 times, was to choose a name that defines my business, will grow alongside my services and skills, and suit my personality.

The most hilarious thing was that I came up with the perfect name nine months ago – I just didn’t know it. I was building a website as a short-lived online resume for a potential employer and used the hashtag #ContentChameleon to describe my services – I can write in a variety of “voices” to suit my clients’ needs.

I was going through old projects recently (okay, okay, I was doing a digital clean up and reorganizing old files. Who actually reminisces about past projects?) and found a screenshot of the site.

The Lightbulb Moment

It’s a total cliché (and, in my opinion, totally permissible alliteration) but the lightbulb went on: ChameleonContent.ca

Now, depending on when you read this, the website may or may not be fully up and running, which is why my placeholder site is a lifesaver in the meantime.

I spent literal days trying to decide on a name – something unique, that hadn’t already been registered, and didn’t cost crazy cash to buy. The most epic solution had also been chilling in plain sight: I went to CIRA.ca to purchase my domain name with a .ca ending.

I recently edited a series of articles for CIRA through my work with non-profit Startup Canada. The series profiled Canadian small business owners (SBOs) about how a .ca suffix improved their businesses online.

While I can’t believe it took me so long to finally complete this challenge, it doesn’t have to be the same for you. Check out CIRA’s free e-book about how to choose a domain name and some basic information about how to get started.

Mo’ Progress, Mo’ Hydration!

Now, my August challenge? Mo’ hydration!

I don’t know if you’ve realized this yet but Canadian summers are HOT.

I’ve been steadily increasing my water intake all summer (a telltale sign that someone doesn’t have A/C) and August promises to be extra hot and humid in Ottawa, despite all the rain we’ve been getting. So my goal is to drink three litres (just shy of a gallon) of water every day.

Why choose drinking water for this month’s challenge? August is World Water Month! Plus, I want to see if there is an actual difference in how I feel now compared to the end of the month. I feel like I’m on the verge of big changes, and it’s important to maintain basic health and wellness while going for epic changes professionally, mentally, and (obviously) physically.

High fives and good vibes,

Monique 🙂

Monique’s June Challenge: The Branding Do-Over

I have been freelancing for more than seven years now. As a solopreneur, a one-woman shop, I’ve been hustling to grow my content creation skill sets and client base. It’s been a remarkable journey so far, recently culminating with one of my clients hiring me on full-time for four months.

But at the time of my onboarding, I faced a crossroads: my website needed rehosting and fresh content; my branding was getting a bit outdated; I needed a new headshot; my business cards had my Liverpool, UK, phone number on them (so I never gave them out); and countless other, little business-related to-dos. Yikes! This four-month contract was going to take up valuable rebrand time – especially as I also have a bridge job.

The timing wasn’t ideal, but I was so excited to work with my client. In my desire to develop new skills and work with a team, that the choice was clear. The rebrand would wait.

So as my contract came to an end in June, I knew what I wanted that month’s Mo’ Money Mo’ Progress challenge to be.

My June challenge was to completely overhaul my freelance branding – from the name of my business to creating a new website and launching everything fresh online.

This, sadly, did not happen.

I have this bad habit of taking on huge projects (when I’m already swamped) and pushing myself to the max in order to achieve my goals.

This month’s challenge was a prime example of this behaviour. There is one silver lining in failing miserably this June: I gained some clarity. I saw this habit from a different perspective and would like to think I’ve made mo’ progress as a result.

It’s simple, really.

Prioritize to get sh*t done.

At this point, I can just imagine some people’s faces who just read that line and scrunched up their face, thinking, “Well, duh!”

Totally fair. It does sound ridiculously obvious.

But you may be surprised to learn just how easy it is to lose focus. This can happen in a team environment, when you’re working on a tough project with many moving pieces and multiple deadlines, or even when you’re trying to figure out whether you really need to clean your kitchen or if you’re just procrastinating.

Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle got me through the past few months where I would spend between 8 – 19 hours working per day. I assigned my tasks as one of these four categories:

  1. Important and Urgent
  2. Important but not Urgent
  3. Not Important but Urgent
  4. Not Important and Not Urgent

REBRANDING

This is the best way to tackle a to-do list. And it’s unfortunately why I didn’t complete my challenge. I had to make some tough choices, but I’m standing by my decisions.

Though it’s not all bad news in June. I laid some groundwork by making some calls, getting quotes, and doing research (moving quickly enough so as to not get stuck in analysis paralysis!). I’m making progress, and that’s key.

I’m not committing to re-doing my challenge again this July, as there are other projects and responsibilities that need my attention, so I’ll start small to accomplish something big.

My July challenge is to (finally) decide on a new name for my freelance business and register the domain name. I’ll be hosting family for more than two weeks while I also keep working with my current clients, so it’s going to be a packed month!

And I’m so up for the challenge.

High fives and good vibes,

Monique 🙂

 

Monique’s May Challenge: Solopreneur Scheduling

Shortly after I started freelancing, I decided to make a conscious effort to develop my content creation skills as well as my business skills. I declared that every Tuesday would be my Business Development (BD) day.

This was a fabulous decision. It also turned out to be much more challenging than I thought.

Every Tuesday, I would wake up with a huge mug of coffee, don my comfiest work-from-home attire, and settle into my workspace (which definitely changes depending on where I am in the world). I’d sit in my (typically) soft, cozy, work chair and sip away at my coffee, absorbing the delicious caffeine while devouring the hours of blog posts, YouTube videos, and freelance newsletters that I’d been craving all week.

Tuesday was a catch-up day for all the business-related content that I’d put off consuming that past week.

And I loved it.

But it wasn’t always possible to keep consistent. Sometimes I’d be out on assignment, interviewing people for feature profiles or covering events. Other times, I’d be on contract, working out of my clients’ offices for weeks or months at a time (this has happened often over the past seven years).

Business Development Tuesday (BDT) got pushed back to the evening, or crammed into a weekend morning. It didn’t always work out the way I’d planned, but I have always been committed to honing my craft and developing my business on my own terms. Despite my love of, and talent for, working with teams, I definitely have the mark of a solopreneur.

The BD challenges of a solopreneur life definitely resurfaced in May. My monthly challenge was to complete an online marketing course I had purchased in March from one of my freelance role models.

First of all… Yikes! That’s a long time to be hungry for some useful knowledge at your fingertips and not be able to dive in. Worst of all, it’s now June and the e-course is still not completed. Ugh! Not good.

The good news is, the real lesson here hasn’t been lost on me.

I’d noticed that for these past few weeks, I hadn’t been feeling in control of my own schedule – an odd, and rather uncomfortable feeling for me. It’s partly my personality twinned with my work ethic: I don’t stop until a project is done, especially if it’s on a tight deadline. That’s led to some (no exaggeration) 20 hour workdays, including 4 a.m. nights; both in my employer’s office and in my own workspace.

Since that project has been completed, I feel that my schedule is again mine to manage. And BDTs (or whatever day of the week I now choose) are back on my radar. Now, I have no doubt that course is going to be completed and I am so excited to finally get to the good stuff. It’s going to be a good month.

What’s something you do to keep developing your side hustlin’ skills or a way you invest in yourself to keep making either mo’ money or mo’ progress? Let us know on social! Follow Mo’ Money Mo’ Progress on Facebook, Insta, or Twitter, and let’s get to chattin’!

#Hustle

Monique 🙂

Monique’s July Challenge: Invoice Clients Within 24 Hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Monique

 

MONIQUE’S JUNE CHALLENGE: READ & REVIEW A FINANCE BOOK

This month I got to unleash my inner bookworm and devour a national finance bestseller. Debt-free Forever by Gail Vaz-Oxlade is the sassy slap in the face most of us need when it comes to our finances. You may remember Gail from the 21-Day Interac Challenge Gabby and I completed in April.

Debt-free Forever is literally a step-by-step process about how to get clear on how much you owe and how much you spend. Gail breaks down this process into five chunks:

  1. Figuring out where you stand
  2. Making a plan
  3. Changing your habits
  4. Preparing for the future, and
  5. Staying on track

This is not the first finance book I’ve read, but it definitely stands out because there is so much personality to back up the content, making it almost too easy to breeze through instead of doing the challenges.

…But I went back and did them. For science! And your wallet.

1

Gail is like a stern aunt who knows better than you. She only talks to you with tough love because there are no money morons allowed in her family.

2

Thanks to that stern aunt, I actually now have six months’ worth of spreadsheets documenting how much I spent and on what.

Hold up. Yes, I did write “spreadsheets”.

3

The book focuses heavily on budgeting. Now, before you start rolling your eyes, I challenge you to track your expenses for at least a week, ideally one month. You’ll see what I mean. Your eyes will pop out of your head! A lot of financial experts like to go on and on about how much people spend on their daily coffee. I thought I was in the clear since I don’t really drink Starbucks.

Holy delusional.

I spend a lot of time working in my favourite cafe and realized that I spent more on both food and coffee there than I did on groceries for a few months in a row! That has definitely changed. It feels amazing to eat healthier (and more regularly) and save cash with a fuller belly now.

I won’t lie – it was a bit tedious to do some of the challenges, but so worth it. This is definitely a book for visual learners. You’ll get to see lots of examples of spreadsheets that are actually engaging and Gail challenges you to keep on top of your cash by using jars to hold your spending money for each category she breaks down.

Now, this is where some Millennials might have a bit of trouble – we’re the card-tapping, non-cash carrying, money-tracking-app generation. It’s all electronic to us except when it comes to paying cover!

Clearly, the jars did not work for me (but oh, how I tried).

That’s just one strategy offered but the real takeaway from this book is to actually know how much you spend and on what, and then putting it towards the right things, like paying off your most expensive debts ASAP. That means your biggest debts or the ones with the highest interest rates. (This tip was reinforced at our launch party by finance expert Shannon Lee Simmons.)

If credit card debt has got you down like our guest poster last week, Gail offers some sweet strategies for negotiating your debt. Gabby is about to haggle down some of her bills as her challenge this month, so we’ll keep you posted on how that goes!

Debt-free Forever covers just about all aspects of becoming debt-free, leaving you with positive money habits and more time for focus on making mo’ money and mo’ progress.

In that spirit, in July I’m going to make sure I send out all invoices for my freelance work within 24 hours of completing the project. That clears the space to focus on securing new contracts and completing current projects. It’s a little detail that makes a big difference.

…Kind of like knowing exactly how much you spend on coffee.

<3 Monique

 

MONIQUE’S MAY CHALLENGE: GETTING EXPERT ADVICE

My goal for the month of May was to book an appointment with a financial strategist to learn more about the best practises of being a freelancer. Somehow it’s just more comforting to know from an officially-certified person that, yes, I can expense those staples as an office supply, y’know?

Tax season is long behind us, but that doesn’t mean it’s vacation time for all financial planners and accountants. They are side-hustlin’ too.

I thought it would be easy-peasy to reach out to – and set up an appointment with – a financial strategist I’ve been excited to work with for a while now, but she’s been swamped with new financial courses she’s launching, so her team is in the process of helping me book a meeting with an equally awesome expert. Gotta love those referrals. I can’t wait to share what I learn!

In anticipation of the meeting-that-has-yet-to-happen, I did some research to see who would be the right fit for me, financial planner-wise. During this awesome financial journey I’ve been on with the Sisterpack this year, I’ve realized that no matter what your income, your savings, or your expenses, everyone needs to get their sh*t together when it comes to their cash flow.

While it’s fun to DIY some parts of your life (Pinterest, anyone?), creating an action plan and sticking to it is the best way to reduce stress and feel financially free!

Shannon Lee Simmons was our keynote speaker/interviewee at the Mo’ Money Mo’ Progress Launch Party in April, and damn, did she have some sweet advice! She hosts Money Awesomeness on Coral TV and, in my search for the best advisor for my needs, found her video about how to find the right financial planner for your personality and needs.

Check out her video below:

http://www.coraltv.ca/2013/07/08/money-awesomeness-how-to-find-the-right-financial-planner/

Remember to ask yourself those key questions to find the right financial planner for you!

Now that we’re into June (it’s summah time!) my monthly challenge is to read a finance book cover-to-cover and implement at least one new strategy. Get ready for a book review like you haven’t read before.

1

Questions or comments? Y’all know you can comment below or find us on Instagram @momoneymoprogress or on Twitter @momoneymoprog 😉

– Monique

1 2