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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.


#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.


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.


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 We’d love to feature you on one of our posts!

Keep going. You can do this!


Karyn’s April Challenge: The Taxes Terminator/Procrastinator

We all have a hate/hate relationship when it comes to tax season. No one enjoys it, and if they say that they do, they be cray! Last year I decided to get some extra help on my taxes since it was so in-depth and I was out of my league. Little did I know that I would be seriously screwed over by H&R Block.


This year was going to be different. I planned on having a Tax Party with my super sibs and the BF and get my taxes done while having fun at the same time.


This DEFINITELY didn’t happen.


I got super swamped at work and had no time for anything, let alone planning a Tax Party. When I did have a spare second to myself I just ignored the fact that my taxes were due. I was procrastinating like a gawd dang pro.


I kept talking about how I still hadn’t done my taxes with my manager and he suggested I use a program called StudioTax. I said I would give it a shot, but ended up forgetting all about it… until two days before taxes were due (yikes).


This was go-time. I had to get this done now or I could be in serious trouble, especially if my taxes turned out to be anything like last year’s fiasco.


Fearful of having to read so much money jargon, I downloaded the free program and go to work… and 30 minutes later I was done. 30 FREAKIN’ MINUTES!!! I was shocked. I thought I was going to be at it until the wee hours of the morning.


Instead I ended up using a seriously user-friendly program that allowed me to instantly connect to my CRA account and instantly upload my T4s. It automatically filled in everything. IT. WAS. UH-MAZE-ING!!! The only thing I actually had to look up was what line I had to input my student loan interest. Other than that I was golden!


Now once I was finished I had to figure out how to send it to the CRA. I originally thought I would have to download and print the forms and then mail them out. Not the case with StudioTax! I was able to easily send my finished forms electronically via NetFile, which was included in the downloaded program.


My taxes this year were a freakin breeze!!!!


If you still haven’t completed your taxes or are looking for an easier program for next year, I HIGHLY recommend using StudioTax. My GAWD I suggest it!




<3 Karyn


Gwen’s April Challenge: Kickstart an Unconventional Side Hustle

At the end of last year, I felt defeated. I went from entrepreneur to employee and it was a very challenging transition. You can read all about it here. I had zero desire to ‘side hustle’ or even actually hustle at all!!

Though recently, my desire to work hard and earn dem bucks has shifted. I’m now over two months into my new job at Shopify. It is glorious and I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with smart, dedicated people every day.

One unexpected element of being an employee, is my entrepreneurial spark has been reignited. I found that once I started to feel stable again (in work and mindset) my interest to create returned.

While at Shopify, we have been challenged to start our own Shopify store. I thought it was a fun idea that I would do eventually, but didn’t have a fire lit under me to create one. However, when our growth team was encouraged to create a drop shipping store, I saw it as an exciting opportunity to perhaps kickstart a new side hustle.

Drop shipping is a retail method in which you don’t keep your own product in stock. Instead you partner with a wholesale supplier that stocks its own inventory. You choose a product (i.e. pins, stickers, floaties, shoes, etc.), choose your price and market it to the right people and apparently… cha ching!

You can watch a short video to learn more here:

The biggest benefit is you don’t have to worry about holding inventory, and you simply ship a product when a customer orders from you. You set the price, and it’s your marketing genius that sets you up for success.

Needless to say, I was very curious and excited to start. I had an idea to sell a product, and went to work creating a Shopify store. Though I realized I soon started to overthink what I was selling and question if drop shipping was ethical, and came up with a ton of roadblocks for trying it. It was all excuses, excuses, excuses.

My April challenge was to make my first sale with drop shipping. I did not reach this goal. Although I’ve picked a product and tinkered with my site, it is currently not live.

I still have a strong desire to see if I can make my first sale, so I’m going to continue to work on this challenge, though take a different approach. Going forward, I’m going to dedicate 30 minutes per day on working on getting my first sale (instead of putting pressure on myself to do it in a day). I’ve added 30 minutes to my calendar to work on the project every day of the week. There’s also a chance I will be partnering up with a colleague to create a store, so we can work on it together.

For May, I’m choosing to take on a different official challenge though and that is: create a loving relationship with money. Okay, so this may sound a bit weird, though let me explain. I’m currently reading Jen Sincero’s book: You are a Badass at Making Money. One of the exercises in there is to write a relationship to money as if it were a person. It was a really eye-opening exercise, and really made me see how I can become obsessed with money one minute, then stand-offish the next. If I want to create a healthy relationship with money, I realize I need to approach it with the same attitude as I do a romantic relationship or exercising. There is no ‘silver bullet.’ It’s about consistent check-ins and acknowledgement! I will be documenting the relationship in a journal.

Please feel free to join me in my May challenge!



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


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,


Karyn’s March Challenge: Gettin’ Strong, Gettin’ Swole

At the beginning of 2017 my sisters decided to pick a word or a phrase that we would attempt to embody in the new year. For mine I decided on the word strength. To me this could mean finding strength in pretty much anything within myself. For my March Challenge I wanted to actually become strong. You have probably read some of my other posts where I gush about how I have joined Elite Martial Arts and I’m working my way to a black belt (fingers crossed) in Krav Maga.


What you may not know is that being involved in this amazing sport doesn’t really come cheap. But to have incredible instructors teach me how to become a dangerous woman… well I’d say it’s worth every penny! For March I challenged myself to make the most out of my Elite membership and go as much as I possibly could. They offer classes near where I live as well as downtown Toronto, so I had plenty of options.


My problem was that work was getting mad hectic and I kept missing classes. Missing class was no longer an option for me, especially since I was going to be dual belt testing in April which meant that I was going for my orange and purple belt. If I wanted to accomplish my challenge I would have to get my rear in gear and step my game up.


My goal was to go at least four times a week. Since I work Monday-Wednesday in the evening (when most of their classes took place), I would have to make up for missed time by going on Tuesdays mornings downtown, twice on Thursdays and then once on Fridays. Plus I would try to supplement my workout by doing some P90X with the bf at home.


For the first few weeks I was straight-up killin’ it. I was feeling strong and noticing legit improvement. Plus I didn’t feel guilty for spending the money for Krav since I was going so regularly. Everything was coming up Milhouse!


And then work hit me hard. I was only able to go once during the week, and then the next week I only went twice. I tried to make up for it with P90X, but I was frustrated at myself since I had invested so much of my time and money in this. Plus the stress of dual belt testing weighed on me, and I started to feel like a huge failure.


Luckily I have amazing managers that let me take a few nights off to be able to go to Krav and prepare, as well as fantabulous instructors that gave me extra attention and motivation to keep going.


In the end after a two hour test, I emerged incredibly sweaty, seriously out of breath and victorious!




During my test I was fiercely fatigued and almost gave up. My brain kept going over all of the days I missed and if I could have just gone to those classes I wouldn’t be feeling like I was going to simultaneously throw up and pass out. Amazingly, those negative thoughts were drowned out by the incredible support from my fellow students. They cheered me on when all I wanted to do was give up. My instructors demanded I continue and that stopping wasn’t even an option. I ended up finishing and feeling so proud of myself and so touched by how everyone had my back.


Choosing to take this on for my March Challenge, I never would have thought that it would have been this rewarding. Usually when I complete my challenges I just give myself a pat on the back and just move on to the next thing.This time it really made me reflect on the choices I have made and the people that I surround myself with.


I am so glad I chose strength as my word for 2017. I was able to discover that there is the physical and emotional strength that you can build by yourself, but also the strength you create by surrounding yourself with people who push you forward, who believe in you and who cheer you on when you think you can’t take another step.

As sore as I feel while writing this, I can tell you honestly it was well worth it.


Gwen’s March Challenge: A Meatless Month of March?

I’m dating a vegan.

He is quite wonderful, and often shares with me about his lifestyle and the benefits of not consuming meat products. He truly cares about what he puts in his body, and has an incredibly high level of compassion for animals.

His commitment to his lifestyle is truly inspiring. As I watched him, I thought, could I do this? Would I even want to be vegan?

The truth is… yes. In the past I have dabbled in altering my diet to be less animal-heavy. When I used to live in California a few years ago, my landlord was a hardcore vegetarian and didn’t allow meat in the house. I saw this as an opportunity and decided to go vegetarian (vegan wasn’t even on my radar back then). At the time, I had limited nutritional information. I soon realized I was eating my weight in bread, cheese (and donuts) to combat the feeling of missing something. Needless to say it was unsustainable and I ended up petering out and going back to meat. (The first thing I ate was a meat pie. OMG).

Flash forward to now… I have actively taken an interest in nutrition. I know of things like quinoa and lentils and tempeh and tofu… sources of protein that can replace meat.

So when I heard of the ‘Meatless March’ challenge on Instagram, I thought I’d try it out! Not only was I hoping to feel mo’ progress health-wise, I was also interested in saving a few bucks (as meat typically costs more than vegetarian options).

WEEK 1 & 2:

OVERALL: I gahdamn crushed it. No cravings for meat. No interest in meat. I was flying high on success.

FEELING: I realize I started a ‘diet’ at the same time I started a new job. At the end of each day, I felt quite drained, though chocked it up to the fast pace of my new lifestyle and learning so much each day that my brain needed a break. I also realized towards the end of week two, that although I wasn’t craving meat, I was eating waaaaay too many grains and my stomach kinda hurt most of the time.


OVERALL: I missed meat. I was proud of myself for giving it up, but at work (where we have catered lunches #yesiknowimlucky) I was sad to pass by the chicken and fish.

FEELING: I felt like I was missing out. I also realized I would feel hungry almost right after I ate lunch. This was a bizarre feeling. I realize I started eating more sugar, and reaching for things I never ate before like Pop Tarts and Diet Coke to fill a gap of cravings.


OVERALL: I caved this week. There was one day where I felt like complete poop. I felt sooo drained of life force energy. I tried everything. Water. Coffee. Fruit. Meditation. Walks. Nothing I could think of was helping to alleviate the drained feeling. I figured I was missing some serious nutrients (probably Vitamin B). So late in the afternoon that day, I went on a mission to get some meat. I got chicken shawarma and ate it alone, while trying to bring my body back to life.

FEELING: A little defeated, but proud of myself for doing whatever it took to feel a bit better. I don’t know if it was subconscious or what, but as soon as I ate that shawarma I started to feel life coming back into me.


OVERALL: I hadn’t succeeded in the challenge, so I ate meat once or twice this week.

FEELING: This week I suffered from a major burnout at work. On Week 4, I started to feel some serious pressure at work (all self-imposed of course) and it led to burning out this week. It kinda felt like adrenal fatigue. I couldn’t drink coffee without wanting to yack. I felt truly exhausted on every level. This doesn’t have to do with meat, I don’t think… I just believe it has to do with so many changes happening in life and me ignoring the small signs to take better care of myself.

To sum up, I was unable to successfully complete my meatless March challenge, though I’m incredibly proud of myself for living almost entirely vegan for 20 days. My hat is definitely OFF to people to live life this way. It’s definitely an adjustment and take quite a bit of self-compassion when you give into the cravings.

If this challenge interests you, I recommend starting with Meatless Monday or taking meat out of one meal a day before going alllll in!

Thank you for reading and happy eating!


Gabby’s February Challenge: EAT YO’ GREENS!

Around Christmas time, my office is a haven for sweet treats. Around every corner, there were boxes of chocolates, candied bark, cocoa-dusted truffles… You get the idea.

Fast forward to my hometown where I spent Christmas and you’re surrounded by Terry’s Chocolate Oranges, Ferrero Rochers, and Lindor everything.

It was overwhelming, but delicious. I had my fair share of sweets over the holidays. That’s why I really wanted to make an effort to consciously eat healthier in February. Not because I wanted to lose weight or anything, but because I could physically feel that all that sugar had taken a toll on my body. I was tired, sluggish, and had serious brain fog.

Most people dread making goals like this for themselves, but I was into it. Excited, even! I was totally ready to start treating my body like a temple.

For the first 15 days of February, I crushed it. I mean, all my meals were looking like this:





These are some of my fav go-to meals right now! Click the links to get the recipes 🙂

But then… work got crazy. I mean, really crazy. For the rest of the month (and even bleeding a little into March), I was at the office until 12 a.m. or working from home until then. And you know what that means – I was eating out. A lot.

It was the last thing I wanted after I worked hard to treat my body right for the first half of the month. And I was feeling good! But where do you draw the line when work gets crazy? I had literally no time to get groceries, let alone cook stellar meals like the ones above, so I was subject to whatever was available and filling, which usually meant fast food.

I tried when I could to get healthier foods like salads or buddha bowls from places like Kupfert and Kim and Fresh, but at the end of the day, sometimes a girl just needs a warm meal. Especially when life was feeling kinda crappy.

So I gave my body what it wanted, which was usually deep fried and came with fries. Not my finest hour(s). Sometimes I would be working out of Starbucks and my dinner would be a grande americano with an oat bar. Times were tough, people.

I started slowly giving up on my goal of eating healthy. I thought, what’s the point? I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I wasn’t sleeping properly which made me crave more junk. And I stopped trying to resist the snacks at my work. I just gave in.

But now that February is over, I’ve been slowly starting to get back on track. Work is getting a little better, and I sit here writing this on one of my vacation days I took (because I hella deserve some time off).

I was going to take another crack at eating healthier again as my March Challenge, but I realized there was something I wanted to accomplish even more: going to the gym. Ever since I got a membership a couple months ago, I’ve really gotten into it. But, as you know, February was crazy and I didn’t get a chance to go once.

For March, my goal is to to the gym at least twice a week. That seems pretty doable! But as I’ve learned from my February challenge, it’s important to adjust your goals when life (or work) gets in the way. It doesn’t make sense to force yourself to go if you’re really busy and sleep would be a better option. So I’m excited to see what happens! Let’s do this.


Karyn’s February Challenge: Me Time

When we started Mo’ Money, Mo’ Progress, I initially thought that my only focus would be on finances. But as we progressed, my sisters and I began to really look at the mo’ progress side of things. While watching my sisters take on personal challenges that helped them to become more well-rounded people, well, I decided to join them.


For the month of February my goal was to find more “Me” time. To some this may not seem that challenging. You probably have no problem finding ways to relax and take a moment to enjoy something you love. For me I have always had an issue with slowing down. If I wasn’t working I would feel like I’m failing. If I wasn’t going above and beyond what was expected of me, I felt like I was letting people down. So finding time to just do something that I found fun actually seemed kind of daunting.


Luckily for me, the month of February had me make some major changes to my schedule. My amazing managers noticed that my stress levels were through the roof and decided to lend me a hand. They talked to me about having time off to relax and recuperate. We tweaked my schedule and I was able to create time where I could have the opportunity to actually plan some me time.


Now that I had the ability to take a breather from work I had to start thinking about what I wanted to do. The first two things to pop into my head was of course Krav Maga and movies. Krav is literally all I do when I’m not working, so that was a no brainer. Movies on the other hand gave me pause.


Movies cost money. Right now I’m trying to stick to my 12-month budget and so far it’s been challenging to say the least. Paying for movies isn’t cheap, even if I am using Scene points. Just thinking about the cost of all the films I wanted to watch started to get me stressed out. That was the OPPOSITE of what I wanted for my February challenge! So I decided to say SCREW IT to my entertainment budget and I just watched any movie and every movie that came my way.


I’ve gotta say that it was awesome!


I felt like I was in uni again, just going out with friends and catching a flick. It kind of felt freeing.


Yes, yes, I know I’m just talking about going to see some random movies, and it shouldn’t seem this dramatic. For me, it was an opportunity to indulge and have fun. I really missed that because I was adulting so freakin’ hard.

I’m really glad I had the chance to take on this challenge. It forced me to take a good look at myself and see where I was going. I’m so lucky that I have my super sibs that inspired me to start making mo’ progress in my life and start enjoying it!



Gwen’s February Challenge: Getting Prepared for Taxes…Take 2!

Happy March! I am so so so excited for spring. New beginnings, warmer weather and overall a feeling of relief that a new season is upon us. I’m officially ready to shake off the heaviness I’ve been feeling here and there and embrace the light, joyful energy of spring.

My February challenge was to get all of my documents in order, whip out the ol’ Google Spreadsheet and get my 2016 taxes ready to be filed at a meeting I scheduled with my financial planner. I made progress on this goal, but did not complete it this month.

Why? Well… I’m about to bring out the excuse parade, but I think it’s interesting to reflect on my reasoning, especially when in reality there was no reason other than feeling that fierce resistance to sitting down and number crunching. When I do the number crunching, the truth is in black and white. There’s no denying the wins and failures of the year before. And frankly, I’m a bit hard on myself and kinda always wish I did a bit better with organizing my expenses and earnings – so the whole process would be easier. I’m definitely working on self-compassion 😉

I will say, I made tremendous progress on organizing all of my receipts. They are now organized into one accordion folder (instead of two that also housed random things like post-it notes and some haphazard papers). My meeting with my financial planner got changed to mid-March about a week before the meeting, so I found that I also used that as an excuse in my mind to cut myself some slack and wait.

I will be meeting with her the second week of March, and know I will get it done (ideally having some fun along the way!) My plan is to book off a couple hours in the afternoon this week, grab an almond misto and take it slow – doing the number crunching for each month, possibly taking a dance break in between each month to celebrate!

For my March challenge, I’m going meatless! For the month of March, I’m taking meat out of my diet (including fish) and focusing on living off of a mostly vegan diet. Why? Well, it seems I’ve attracted a ton of vegans and vegetarians friends into my life lately, and when we talk about food, I always find myself agreeing with many of their reasons for not eating meat. I’m definitely always up for a food challenge (I’ve given up sugar, bread, and dairy in the past), and am interested to see how I feel whilst being off meat this month. A few years ago I did go vegetarian (as my landlord in Santa Monica, CA didn’t allow meat into his home), though at the time I wasn’t educated on what to eat. Instead of eating quinoa, lentils, tofu, nuts, and tempeh I lived off of bread and cheese (and all the donuts). So, I’m excited to take on this challenge to make progress in my health and perhaps save a few bucks by buying less meat at the grocery store!

<3 Gwen

Gabby’s January Challenge: Look Into A New Bank

Hey dudes,

So my January challenge was to look into other banks to set up an account with.

*Cue the sad trumpets*


I didn’t even bother to look into it. Why would I? Nobody my age actually likes banks. We don’t trust them. And I have a good thing going with CIBC. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

One thing I realized is that I need to pick challenges that actually interest me. Take my February Challenge, for example. I really wanted to start treating my body better by being more consciously aware of what I’m fuelling it with. So I decided to make this month all about eating healthier. And it’s working. I’m passionate about this. Once I made the decision to start eating better, I don’t even want sweets anymore. Sure, I’ve had a couple slipups here and there, but it’s all about forgiving yourself.

And I’m not even worried about being surrounded by sweets on Valentine’s Day. Bring it on.

The lesson here is to fill your time with things that actually interest you or will make your life better. It’s all about being honest with yourself. The rest is just noise.



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