My name is Alyssa Fischer. Welcome to Mixed Up Money. Not only do I make money easy and fun, I do it in a way that allows my readers to relate. Made a mistake with your finances? Don't worry. Chances are high that I have too. The stigma of debt and personal finance is still alive & well, but I want millennials to feel comfortable discussing the last taboo.
Hi, yes, hello. Welcome to another blog post where we join together in loving all things money and chatting about our favourite parts of living a healthy financial life. There are many popular ways to learn about your personal finances, including the classics: books, blogs, podcasts, online courses and your family and friends.
However, the one way that some people forget is through video, and with Valentine’s Day and a long weekend headed my way, I am already planning all of the ways I can get some much-needed R&R. Those ways obviously include the best snacks, the biggest blankets, and a fully stocked Netflix account.
Most of the time, I spend hours (yes, literally) scrolling for a movie because my indecisiveness only exists in the black holes of deciding what toppings to put on my frozen yogurt and Netflix. Once I finally choose, it’s always a toss-up between an extremely creepy documentary or an extremely dark comedy. Then comes those special days when nothing spikes my interest more than a little financial insight that I’d otherwise stay in the dark about — and for much too long.
So, here is a *well-thought-out-and-seriously-perfect* list of documentaries, series, and episodes on Netflix that you need to watch if you love money as much as me.
1. Dirty Money (Series, 2018)
Dirty Money | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix - YouTube
This docuseries came out just this year, and I already binge-watched and battled sleepless nights over all of the controversial topics covered. If it’s not prescription pill costs, it’s the vehicle emissions I now cannot walk past without becoming extremely dramatic. Dirty Money will make you reassess everything you ever knew about some regular parts of life you’d normally not question.
What you need while you watch: a stress ball and a crunchy snack for when you get angry
2. Living On One Dollar (Documentary, 2013)
Living on One Dollar Official Trailer #2 - YouTube
I’ll never forget when I watched this documentary because it tugged at my heartstrings and opened my eyes to some crazy money ideas I’d never considered before. So much so, that it actually inspired an older blog post about a savings club to help one another reach our financial goals at the necessary time, together.
What you need while you watch: a cup of water and an apple so you don’t feel like a consumerist monster
3. Dog By Dog (Documentary, 2015)
DOG BY DOG DOCUMENTARY OFFICIAL TRAILER - YouTube
If you’ve seen The Cove or the even more famous Blackfish documentaries, you’ll know that some awful things happen to wildlife due to people trying to make a buck. This documentary, although difficult to watch, takes viewers on an inside look at the financial profit that owners of puppy mills benefit from while treating these animals extremely poorly. That’s almost all I can say before I have to break into another angry rant about how awful people can be when it comes to the greed ensued with money.
What you need while you watch: a full box of kleenex and a peanut butter treat to share with your precious pup
4. Schooled: The Price Of College Sports (Documentary, 2013)
Schooled - The Price of College Sports (Official Trailer) - YouTube
As someone who played a college sport and has a husband who is still heavily involved in college sports — this one blew my mind. It’s obvious that the price of school is unattainable and the debt loads students carry puts on the serious financial pressure once they become graduates. However, some of these NCAA athletes are unable to afford food after bringing the school millions of dollars in cash flow because of their talents as an athlete.
What you need while you watch: ramen noodles to take you back to your post-secondary days
5. Chelsea Does Marriage (Episode 1 of Chelsea Does, 2016)
Chelsea Does... Marriage [HD] | Netflix - YouTube
Although I watched the entire Chelsea Does series, I think just this marriage episode will have you cringing and boo-ing the wedding industry just as hard as I was. Though she mostly discusses her reasoning for choosing not to marry, Chelsea also takes a deep dive into what kind of expenses people spend on their weddings — and we all gasp for air.
What you need while you watch: a bottle of wine and your best girlfriend
6. The True Cost (Drama, 2015)
The True Cost Official Trailer 1 (2015) - Documentary HD - YouTube
As if I haven’t bared enough of my dirty laundry (pun intended) and how horrified I am at my wardrobe size, this movie takes a serious look into how consumerism has taken on a new meaning in the world of fashion. The much-ignored look into sweat factories and the effects large clothing manufacturers have in third world countries is insane. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll reconsider buying that new dress you’ve been dreaming of after watching this flick.
What you need while you watch: time to clean out your entire closet once the movie ends
7. The Money Pit (Comedy, 1986)
The Money Pit Official Trailer #1 - Tom Hanks Movie (1986) HD - YouTube
The first six suggestions were pretty, well — pretty intense. So, perhaps some of you recent homebuyers should take a chill night to watch an older comedy about a fixer-upper gone wrong. I mean, it will either remind us why we avoid DIY projects altogether or make us feel better about our own home renovation mishaps. Either way, it’s a less-aggressive movie about homeownership that isn’t going to end with you having to make the largest financial decision of your life. Just enjoy your popcorn and have a laugh.
What you need while you watch: classic drive-in movie snacks and a giant slushie
8. Planet FIFA (Documentary, 2016)
With the World Cup (that I so patiently wait for every four long years) just around the corner, it might be a good time to get into the financial side of the worlds most famous sport. Recent FIFA controversy has stirred up some interesting conversations about high-level league sport and the amount of money that these organizations have. Who is controlling what? Trust me, you’ll love the inside look into corruption — one of the most famous words in finance documentaries.
What you need while you watch: orange slices for halfway through the film, duh
9. Goldman Sachs: The Bank That Runs the World (Documentary, 2012)
Goldman Sachs - The Bank that Rules the World promo - YouTube
One of the most highly influential banks, Goldman Sachs has a ton of interesting history behind their business. Of course, they were in quite a lot of scenes throughout The Big Short, but there is so much more to the world’s biggest bank. Literally, just watch and be amazed. Or disgusted. Your decision.
What you need while you watch: chocolate coins and a large glass of milk
10. The Pit (Documentary, 2009)
Okay, first of all. Can you believe it’s almost been 10 years since this film came out? Okay, now keep that in mind while you watch. Right after the big crash of 2008, this documentary gets close and personal with some traders. It’s more so interesting to see how far we’ve come in just 10 short years as far as trading goes. Might teach you a thing or two. It definitely did me good.
What you need while you watch: your high school yearbook and a stiff drink
For those of you who aren’t in the mood for a serious documentary or a sad docuseries, perhaps you can gently wade into the money pool with these finance-related episodes from two of my favourite sitcoms.
The Office, Season 4, Episode 4, “Money” or Friends, Season 2, Episode 5 “The One With Five Steaks and an Eggplant.”
What’s a financial film that changed your perspective on money? Have you seen any of these and what one was your favourite? Let me know in the comments.
Money and comparison. We are all guilty of measuring our lives with others. As interesting as it is to see how your financial life compares to others, the truth of the matter is that it probably doesn’t. We all (well, most of us) have to go to work, save money the conventional ways, and maybe most unrealistically of all — live a life that seems “normal.” We all choose to do different jobs, save for different things, and decide our own “normal.” So, when you think about others and try to compare yourself to them, can you even?
Your best friend with a four-bedroom home in an upper-class neighbourhood.
Your cousin with two sports cars and a motorcycle.
Your co-worker who wears new designers boots every week.
You literally can’t even.
For starters, a four-bedroom house for you and your dog is ridiculous. Two sports cars and a motorcycle? I mean, you hate driving. And sure, designer boots are cute, but, you already have a pair that you love so why buy another? A comparison is kind of crazy considering the fact that we are all different.
We all crave financial success at different points in life
Just five short years ago, I was completely financially illiterate. An influx of cash was thrilling in a different kind of way than it is today. I once perceived money as a temptation. Any money that I earned was spent almost immediately and on anything I could imagine. If I didn’t have something I wanted, I’d find a way to blow the cash that sat in my bank account anyways. In other words, money was meaningless to me. Its purpose was nothing but a form of bait.
Credit cards, or phantom money as I like to call them, were all the same. Within a few years, my debt became my existence. I would joke about how miserable I was and how I didn’t have a penny to my name in hopes that I would appear okay to everyone else who was more financially equipped than me. Low points were just something I’d worry about later, and high points were anytime I paid off a portion of my credit card so that I could go max out my limit — yet again.
Times change and so does your perspective
About a week ago, my husband won $300 from his fantasy football league. Yeah, he’s like, super cool you guys. He joked about how different life is now. His exact words were, “You know you’re growing up when you go to deposit your winnings into the bank, and it doesn’t even touch your checkings.” The money went straight into savings and straight towards one of our financial goals. It’s what we do with most of our disposable income. It’s not that we don’t like to enjoy the money on fun events or things we want — it’s just that now we take more enjoyment watching our accounts go up than spending disposable income on frivolous nights out. After all, five years ago if I got $300, it was likely gone before I could even get to the bank to deposit the funds.
Curious as always, I wanted to survey 100 other people to see what they would do if they had received an influx of cash. I wished to know if they would consider investing or saving. I made sure the survey was anonymous so that those who felt as though they’d spend it didn’t feel judged. It was interesting, as the way people choose to manage their finances usually is.
Who took the survey?
Age 20 to 25
Age 26 to 29
A disposable income breakdown
A survey taken by 88 women and 17 men revealed a lot about how unique, but similarly, we plan to spend our money. I received a ton of specific answers but categorized them based on their closest category whether that were savings or investments, entertainment or material items, travel, housing needs, debt or bills, and donations.
Breakdown by age group
Stop worrying about what others are doing with their money and focus on your own financial goals
At the end of the survey, I simply asked individuals whether they usually spend their disposable income or choose to save it. I was super happy to see that 70% typically save and unsurprised to see that 30% tend to spend. However, a small survey sample of 100 people shouldn’t determine whether you’re on the right track with your money. A small survey sample of 100 people should help you realize that not everyone is doing the exact same things or worrying about the exact same priorities. We are all continually evolving our money mantras as we grow, and some people take longer to grow than others. My only advice to friends who ask me how they can better their financial situations is to actually take time to discover where their money goes.
What would over 100 people do with $500? - YouTube
Once you know where you spend your money each month, you’ll start to understand why your financial situation is the way it is. Adjustments can only be made once you are ready. However, if you’re concerned about your finances, one can only assume that you already are.
What would you spend $500 of disposable income on today? Let me know in the comments!
Just over a week ago, I spent an afternoon cleaning and purging my closet. Was it eye-opening? Um, yeah. To say the least. For someone who avoids the mall, only spends about $600 annually on new clothing, and wears the same five outfits week after week — I have an astonishingly large collection of material items. In fact, I took inventory of how much clothing I do own so that we can all “BOO, you suck” at the computer screen together.
After donating 90 items during a recent closet clean out, I now own 349 articles of clothing.
For those of you trying not to cause a scene while you read this, I’m not done. I also did an inventory breakdown for you so that you could see how big of a consumerist I genuinely am.
Yes, you see those numbers right. I do own enough underwear to go two months without doing any laundry. I could workout for 17 days in a row and wear a new outfit every single time. I can make over 2,000 outfit combinations with my clothes — yet I still have “nothing to wear” on a good day.
Purging my closet - YouTube
To be perfectly honest with you guys, I had no idea that I was hoarding that many items in my wardrobe. I’ve been carrying around over 500 pieces of clothing with me every single time I move, which is more than the average person. However, I’ve also had some of these clothes for over ten years now, because I’m one of those “sentimental” collectors who think that they’ll forget about that one time in the 11th grade where they won a free shirt at a soccer tournament if they were to donate the item.
By the end of 2018, I would like to have a capsule wardrobe. Meaning that I’d like to have a small collection of key items of clothing that are high quality and that make me feel like a real human adult. I’d like to go from 349 pieces of clothing to less than 150. In other words, I’d want to own a reasonable amount of undergarments and workout clothing. I’d like things to go from mayhem to magic.
Though this may still seem like a high amount of clothing to some of you minimalists out there, I think for someone who has been carrying as many material items as I have to go any more crazy in the first year is — well, for me, it seems impossible. I’d eventually like to get even lower than the 120 mark, but at first, it might be nice to dip my feet in the water to see how cold it really is.
Now that I’ve aired my dirty laundry (literally) about how much “stuff” I own, I want to talk about what really bothers me about this voluminous collection of clothing. No matter how many items I buy, whether it be cute tops or cute boots — I’ll never feel like I have the perfect wardrobe — but that’s not for the reasons you probably think.
The real reason is that I f*cking hate fashion
Yeah, I know how stupid that sounds. How does someone who owns four rompers get off saying she hates fashion? She gets off because she’s been desperately trying to fall in love with style for a very long time. My core group of girlfriends growing up then and still now are incredibly stylish. If there is a new trend on the horizon, they’re all in. The only one I’ve ever been able to jump on first is chokers, and that’s probably because it took me back to feeling like I was 14 again and I was like, come see how good I look in this impossibly tight necklace, you guys!
However, during a recent flight from Fort McMurray to Calgary, I listened to one of Oprah’s Super Soul Conversation podcasts (because I’m deep). It was called 8 Rules to Happiness, and it featured Gretchen Rubin, who wrote a book about her personal rules to make life more joyful. In that podcast, Rubin spoke about how she used to spend a lot of time trying to like things that made other people happy because she thought it would make her happy. She used the example of music, actually. How she wished she could love music because she saw how happy it made other people. And — yeah. Are you totally having a realization moment like I was?
I pulled up the notes app on my iPhone and furiously started typing about how much I hated my closet and why I was just pretending to like clothes and was a delusional freak. All the while scaring my seat buddy and forcing them in closer and closer to the window because they thought I was in a hate fight over text and they might be my next victim.
Other people love clothes and love fashion. I think I wanted so deeply to enjoy putting together outfits because it seemed to make other people happy. In fact, like most people, I still buy things thinking that they are going to bring me some sort of satisfaction. It has yet to work. What does make me happy when it comes to fashion is the comfort, a good deal, and neutrality. None of those descriptors exactly scream “fashionista.”
Accepting the fact that literally, no one cares about you more than they care about themselves
Another reason I am/was so obsessed with buying clothes is that when people look at me, I want them to see something. What is that something, exactly? I wish I could tell you. Because I know that some days that something is “well-put-together” and some days that something is “frumpy-athlete-who-never-brushes-her-hair.”
It’s taken me almost 28 years to realize that no one is looking at you. Sure, they might be looking at you with their eyes, but with their mind, they’re looking at you wondering what you think when you see them. We are so worried that people are always judging our every move and mistake (which, yes, sometimes they are), but it turns out that they are concerned about the exact same things. For example, when you follow someone on Instagram, and they follow you back, you creep their page and then 20 minutes later you creep your own page to see what they see when they creep you. Or that’s just me — because I am 90% self-involved.
Again, I somehow stumbled from being a cyborg mascot for consumerism to how society has tricked me into thinking I care about fashion
If cleaning out my closet has taught me anything this week, it’s that unless I had taken the uncomfortable amount of time to go through my wardrobe and take inventory, I would never have known how much of a problem my material-minded shopping was — and still is. Still learning about what I want to do to create the perfect capsule wardrobe, most of my 2018 will be spent understanding what I even want in a closet before I go out and buy anything new. Just because some people find joy in putting together a cute outfit for a night out doesn’t mean that you need to be the next Rachel Zoe.
Have you ever completed a closet clean out and realized you have way too much stuff? Let me know in the comments!
$200. It’s a lot of money. It’s a good chunk of my monthly rent, and it’s about how much my husband and I need to feed ourselves every 30 days. It’s also worth one hour. One hour of someone listening to me talk about my struggles and provide me with productive options for how to overcome those struggles. It costs $200 for one private session with a therapist. In other words, it’s $800 per month to maintain regular or weekly discussions with a certified professional about my mental health. That’s 20% of my monthly income — and I (a privileged white female) am a part of the upper middle class in Canada. Which means those that are not considered middle class would need to have over 20% of discretionary income every month just to seek help for their mental health.
Let’s talk about mental health. Yes — more. Yes — again.
It’s that taboo topic we used to avoid, and now we talk about as much as possible. We have finally brought some serious topics of conversation into the light, and I am thrilled. However, the one thing we have forgotten to talk about is the unaffordability of what those suffering from mental health issues need. Cost. It’s too expensive to seek help.
To be perfectly honest with you — I’ve been struggling to write this piece all month. I’ve been telling myself that it’s too personal, or too hard to explain, or that I’d probably say something wrong even though I have the best intentions. But then I remembered that writing about stuff like this is why I have a blog in the first place. Whether it helps or harms what my readers think of me, it’s important that I get it off my chest.
You see, if you’ve been reading my blog for the past year, you’ll know that I’ve touched base on my personal experiences with mental health. Almost a year ago, I started to face a lot of struggles. I was sad all the time, and I didn’t know why. Situations that I used to be comfortable in started to become difficult. I felt guilty because from anyone else’s perspective I should have nothing to complain about. However, it wasn’t going away. In fact, it was getting worse.
After seeking help from friends and being faced with the realization that I was putting myself in danger by avoiding the problem, the only option that felt right for me was therapy. I did some research, asked friends for suggestions, and booked an appointment that day.
My personal experience with therapy
The first thing I noticed when I booked my appointment was that one hour with a therapist was going to cost me $200. However, as someone who always has a little bit of cushion in her budget, I knew that the price tag was worthwhile. One week later, as much as I didn’t want to go to the appointment, I did. I spent an hour telling a complete stranger about all of the thoughts in my head that I would never tell anyone else. I left the appointment feeling drained, but relieved. Over the next five months, I had an appointment every two weeks to keep myself in check and also because it seemed a lot more affordable than once a week.
In total, I attended six appointments (after cancelling quite a few because I’m a chicken) and spent $1,200. Four of those meetings were luckily covered through my work’s health insurance program that I paid for. Two of them were not. I’m fortunate and thankful for that.
My experience with therapy - YouTube
However, at my sixth and final appointment with my therapist, I was told that she would be closing her practice within one months time. I played it off like it wasn’t a big deal when she told me, but as soon as we were done, I was devastated. Finally feeling like I was making progress, I realized that I couldn’t bear to start over with someone else and find another therapist who would understand what I needed. I also got angry. I had spent a lot of money building a relationship with someone who could stop our progress just like that. Within one of our hour-long sessions that I was paying for. Why is it so expensive to attend appointments that are clearly so disposable?
Why aren’t there more affordable options — for everyone?
Some important things to mention (before I go on another rant) is that there are more affordable options for those seeking help for their mental health issues. Some medical clinics and hospitals provide counselling at no cost. There are plenty of affordable options for students K-12 and also for those attending post-secondary institutions. There are some group counselling options available depending on where you are located, and there are some service-agencies that price their sessions on a sliding scale according to income levels. There are options.
I am also aware that I did choose the most expensive option. I chose this option because I could afford to. I chose this option because I wasn’t comfortable attending group sessions. I chose this option because I am not a student. I chose this option because I wanted to. So, why the hell am I (someone who can pay for this opportunity) still complaining? Great question.
Everyone should be able to access private counselling at an affordable rate. Just because I have graduated from school doesn’t mean that my mental health is secure. Just because I would like to seek help for my mental health doesn’t mean that my choice for help will be counselling or therapy. Just because I have an extra $200 in my bank account doesn’t mean it should have to be spent on an hour-long session that might not accomplish anything.
“Mental illness accounts for about 10% of the burden of disease in Ontario; it receives just 7% of health care dollars. Relative to this burden, mental health care in Ontario is underfunded by about $1.5 billion.”
“Only about half of Canadians experiencing a major depressive episode receive ‘‘potentially adequate care.”
“The economic burden of mental illness in Canada is estimated at $51 billion per year. This includes health care costs, lost productivity, and reductions in health-related quality of life.”
“In any given week, at least 500,000 employed Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems. This includes:
approximately 355,000 disability cases due to mental and behavioural disorders
approximately 175,000 full-time workers absent from work due to mental illness.”
What are some options you may not know about?
Thankfully, I’m not alone in seeing that mental health care is not as accessible or as affordable as it should be. Digital therapy is becoming more prevalent in healthcare these days. American companies such as betterhelp and talkspace offer online counselling by paying a monthly or weekly membership rather than a session by session fee.
Although super cool, I can completely relate to those who need the face to face contact or would prefer not to talk to anyone at all. For those of us who would prefer to do worksheets or modules on our own, heretohelp, a group of seven mental health and addictions non-profit agencies in BC has free information sheets, modules and journals that are all available on their site.
As frustrating as it is to see how costly it can be to seek help for your struggles or hardships, I can say from personal experience that it’s always worthwhile. I so badly want to work towards helping mental health become less of a buzzword and more of a real and accessible option for all Canadians. Not just those of us who can afford it.
I know that writing this blog post about it isn’t helping anyone find an affordable counsellor in an instant. But it is me providing another discussion point we tend to forget about mental health other than the fact that we need to talk about it. We also need to take action.
What is your personal opinion on the accessibility and affordability of mental health support in your city or country? Let me know in the comments.
Back in the 1980s when neon was life, cabbage patch dolls reigned supreme, and “E.T. phone home” was a necessary catchphrase — life for 20-somethings was pretty gnarly, dude. In fact, let’s try to paint a picture of life back in the 80s for those of us who have no idea where to start.
Imagine you’re a super cute and bubbly 25-year old. You have been married for five years, live and love the DINK life and spend a modest 7.5% of your income on your rent while living in the most popular area of the city that overlooks a beautiful river and a booming downtown.
Your outlook on life is carefree, you love to take road trips on the weekends, and you don’t have a clue what you’re doing with your money — but at 25-years old you think “what does it matter?”
You see, my mom doesn’t have to imagine — because this was her life just 35 short years ago.
*picks up jaw off the floor and reminds self this isn’t possible*
Have you ever sat down with your parents and discussed money? Have you ever asked them for advice or wondered what they would do if they were in your financial situation? If not, you probably should.
Before having a lovely chat with my mom about her life around my age, my perspective about generational gaps was pretty misguided. Generally speaking, I knew that the cost of living was a lot lower and that the housing market was much easier to get into. However, I had no idea that we literally experienced the same confusion and lack of education when it came to money. Only now — we can find that information within seconds, whereas our parents actually had to seek guidance from the people in their network.
20-Year-Olds Now vs. 20-Year-Olds in the 80s: Money Edition - YouTube
Wages in the 80s compared to now
When I asked my mom about her salary, wage or working life during her 20s — she joked about how she was likely making more back then than she does now. Within five minutes we both felt sick to our stomachs upon realizing that stagnant wages are real and that some people are still trying to get by making what my 25-year old mom was making over 35 years ago.
At her first job, my mom made $15/hr (the current minimum wage in Canada) — and at her first career she was bringing in around $1700/month. My first job working in the food-service industry was $9/hour — and my first career I was bringing in $2900/month. Although it certainly looks like an increase, salary wise — that $1200 bump doesn’t amount to much when you consider how much it costs to live in Calgary, AB back in 1980 and how much it costs to live in Calgary, AB in 2015.
Cost of living: then & now
According to a simple Alberta Inflation Calculator, something that cost $100 in 1980 would cost $303 in 2015. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) which calculates how much individuals pay for basically, like, everything from food to clothing was also a shock. You see, in 1980 the annual CPI was 44.1% — and in 2015 it was 133.7%. So, unless my salary in 2015 was increased by 90% compared to my mom’s salary in the 80s — it’s basically — how do I put this nicely? THE MOST DEPRESSING THING I’VE EVER WRITTEN ON MY BLOG. Tbh, I’m still not making over $5000 a month in 2018, and I’d be shocked if we ever got to a point where wages were equal to how much it truly costs to live in Canada.
In the 80s, my mom and dad paid $250/month to rent a duplex on Memorial Drive across from downtown Calgary. Which, for those of you who don’t know much about my city is basically the most beautiful community ever. For example — check out this apartment for sale and be equally as confused as I am on a daily basis about the current real estate market. In 2015, my husband and I were paying $1400/month to rent a townhouse in a less desirable but equally as adorable neighbourhood in Calgary. A few years later (still in the 80s), my parents bought their first home for $68,000. I’ll be lucky to buy my first home for anything under $500,000.
Facing the same challenges 35 years later
Although the differences in money are significantly different from one decade to another decade, some things still ring true. In the 1980s, my mom and dad had received little to no education about how to invest their money or how to save for retirement. While they did have pensions through work, had opened an RRSP, and invested in one company — they still ended up spending more than they saved. My mom’s one regret during our conversation was that they didn’t start saving for retirement sooner — making their later years in life more challenging and more restricting as far as income goes.
On the flip side, however. The one thing that my mom did not regret was choosing to stay at home and raise her children. Although she had to leave one of her most promising careers and then switch jobs several more times throughout her life — she felt that those days with her kids were memories and moments she could never get back if she were working full time. When I asked her whether or not she thought females taking years away from their career could be a detriment to their future working life, she agreed that it makes things much more difficult.
The ongoing battle for many females to decide whether you want to own your career or raise a family is still something to debate. However, the three months of maternity leave my mom was offered did not quite compete with our 12 or 18-month options (unless you have your own business).
An eye-opening conversation for both generations
Both of my parents are baby boomers — so, you can imagine the fun we have debating life now versus life then and also (of course) who did it better. However, conversations just like the one my mom and I decided to tackle regarding finances are what helps us to understand one another on a different level. Without reflection on what our lives used to be and comparison based on our lives now, we’ll never really respect one another’s challenges or successes as human beings.
So for those of you who have yet to approach your boomer folks or your millennial bots — maybe it’s time you did.
What was your first wage or your first salary? Let me know in the comments!
***don’t forget to check out my interview with my mom. and also be nice because she is the most sweetest angel buttercup in the world and I love her***
Your financial future. Surprise! It’s those three words that make you sweat through every layer of clothing until the people in line behind you at the Starbucks start to become concerned that you may be dehydrated and also a little bit weird.
Maybe you’re here reading this blog post because you’re ready to take the next step with your money. Maybe you’re here because you’ve already taken those steps but you’re just so gosh-darn out of ideas. I feel you, bro. You can only do so much with your money before you think “have I already hit a wall?”
Trust me — you haven’t. In fact, the wall is so far away that from here it just looks like a tiny piece of Hershey’s chocolate and now I’m drooling on my keyboard.
If you want to do something to better your financial future right meow, and can’t even imagine waiting until tomorrow because you’ve already scrolled every social media platform and watched every Netflix series in 24 hours because IT’S TOTALLY POSSIBLE. I have fifty ideas. Yeah, 5 friggen 0 ideas for ways you can better your financial future today.
You don’t have to thank me, though. You just have to actually do them. Then you can thank yourself, over and over again, with each passing year that you watch your retirement fund grow and your savings accounts flourish.
Let’s start with an obvious one. Automate your finances.
Invest money. Even just $100. You can ask a robot to do it if you’re scared. They’re pretty smart.
Toss an extra bonus into your savings account today. Just because.
Start to build up your emergency fund. You will not regret it. Car tires tend to find nails and phones tend to slip out of our hands into toilets. We are clumsy and adorable (and also extremely expensive).
Check your credit report. At the least to make sure it’s not a new year, new fraudulent you.
Make yourself a DIY piggy bank and then laugh at your arts and crafts abilities.
Fill a jar with $ amounts on small slips of paper. Take one out each week and throw that amount towards your debt. Throw it like you’ve never thrown before.
Barter. Even if you feel cheap — you’ll probably never see that furniture salesperson again.
Update all of your online banking passwords because hackers are coming for us.
While we’re at it — remove any saved credit card information from websites. It shouldn’t be that easy to spend money.
Go vegetarian and don’t speak to me or my son ever again.
Be honest with people about your money situation. One time I told my dentist I couldn’t afford a service and they flagged my account to ask me about all charges for future appointments. Best thing ever.
Find a coupon app like Honey, or sign up for Drop (because they have helped me to afford my Starbucks habit).
Make your lunch and eat dinner at home. It’s basically good for your wallet and your beltline.
Say no. To everyone and everything that costs you money. Lol jk, but no I’m not joking I’m totally serious.
Try using a budget. I know it seems super annoying (because it is). But you’ll finally feel in control. Or my name isn’t Dolly Rebecca Parton.
Call your credit card company and ask them what they can do for you as far as interest rates, discounts on annual fees, or you know — for being loyal.
Sell or donate all of your old things and clothing.
And donate more period. More money, more time, more kindness. If you’re thinking about donating later when you have more money — forget it. You’ll never have “enough money”.
Remember Nelly Furtado? Neither. But she did say it best when she sang Turn Off The Lights. Let’s all get a little bit more energy efficient. Especially because it’s free in Alberta meow.
Take care of your vehicle. That oil change might save you from a much higher bill down the road.
Do something for extra money. I do stats at college sports games on the weekend because I’m already there watching my husband coach. Might as well get paid, am I right ladies?
Cancel that membership you never use. Please. World Health Club has enough money.
Embrace the capsule wardrobe. Honey, neutrals have never looked better.
Read more books about money. And let’s not be ironic. Check your library first.
Take a financial course to help you better understand your money or investing. Some are free, some are not. They’re all worthwhile.
Don’t park your car somewhere you might get a ticket. We’ll never learn, will we?
Do something you love. I tend to spend less money when I have hobbies to keep me happy and stress-free.
Consider health insurance. The younger you are when you get it, the better.
Ask for a raise. You’re a total boss, after all.
Force yourself to look at your bank account regularly. Although I know most of my readers already do this, some people don’t. It’s better to be aware than guess when it comes to cash flow. Those money memes joking about being broke are only mildly funny.
Don’t judge others and you’ll automatically feel less judged yourself. It’s magical science brought to you by a twenty-something female on the interwebs.
Reflect on your last three months of spending and earning. How much did you make and how much do you spend? It’s important to know.
Avoid having money sit in your checking account. You work hard for your income and it should work hard for you by earning interest or paying dividends.
Learn one money term a day. For example, dividend.
Calculate your networth. If not for anything but to pat yourself on the back for being an awesome person.
Think about your retirement and what you want. If it scares you — all I said was think about it. Get those wheels turning, sucka!
Now that you’re thinking about it, you should totally open an RRSP. Already have one? Up your monthly contributions.
Prep for tax time. It’ll sneak up on you quick.
Attend a networking event. It never hurts to find new professional friends that could help you move up on the career ladder.
Buy a latte. COME AT ME, HATERS.
Always use the per-dollar-per-use rule before you buy something. If a pair of shoes will cost you $100, ask yourself if you’ll wear them 100 times.
Think about appreciation. Are you buying something that will benefit you later in life or will it decrease in value the second you drive it off the lot?
Use wifi everywhere you go. Ain’t no shame in my ask-for-your-internet-password-game.
Find ways to encourage yourself and celebrate the little successes that you gain from being more money-conscious. Saving $1,000 is a HUGE DEAL.
Also, please just stop smoking. Now I am your mother.
Care. Your financial future needs you to care.
Well, would you look at that! We just rolled through that list of fifty small ways you can take control of your money, pronto. However, don’t forget to also take care of the big picture things you need to do when it comes to your financial future.
In fact, I spent a few minutes chatting about my money resolutions and goals for 2018 because I saw my Internet BFF do it and I couldn’t resist. So what if we’re two weeks into the new year already. I do what I want. And you can, too.
2018 Money Goals & Resolutions - YouTube
Have any money goals for this year that you’d like to share? Attempted any of the ideas on my list? scrolled to the bottom because you got sick of me? Let me know in the comments, cuties!
It just wouldn’t be a New Year if you didn’t read thousands of posts about resolutions, successes, and memories. Normally I’m the last person to rave about my year and all that I did or accomplished. However, there was something very different about 2017.
It was draining. It was exhausting. It was painful.
Those really difficult times, though — they made me struggle to remember all of the great ones. You see, in 2017 there was a lot of unexpected health issues, loss, and realizations. For the first time in my life I had to focus more on my personal well-being than ever before. Sometimes it’s hard to do that. It’s hard to admit that you’ll have to invest time into something you never thought you’d need to. I had to take a lot of time away from Mixed Up Money to focus on mediation, therapy, and personal relationships.
Having a ton of plans and business goals is commonly what we spend our entire year focusing on. You want to outdo everything you did the year prior, and you’ll do anything to get there. However, as you know — life often has other plans. 2017 was the year that those plans totally flipped my projects and goals on their side. But I wouldn’t change a thing.
So, for the first week back from my winter vacation from writing, all I wanted to do was reflect on my last year and all of the things that happened or changed my life for the better.
As for resolutions, the only thing that matters for me this year is being happy and staying healthy. It doesn’t always have to be specific, overwhelming, or unachievable when you plan a goal for the year. It can be as simple as letting yourself be happy and doing everything possible to keep things that way.
Never the less, here are my monthly highlights for 2017:
Spent New Years in Phoenix with the family
Started freelance writing
Started uploading to YouTube regularly (as “regularly” as possible)
Flew to Manitoba to celebrate brother in law’s last university game
Hit 200 subscribers on YouTube — which is literally the biggest accomplishment ever
Spent a month in Calgary over the holidays and with my family
Spent a few days in Kananaskis pretending we weren’t completely frozen
Had my first ever fondue dinner on New Years
Decembermas 2017 | Mixed Up Money - YouTube
Mixed Up Money had over 130,000 visitors in 2017 with the best month being November (thank you)
I crushed my side hustle income goal by September
My husband and I saved over $40,000 in 11 months
I was published on some amazing sites such as PopSugar and Lowest Rates, featured in some amazing sites such as Flare and Globe and Mail, and was interviewed by some of my favorite bloggers and companies
Met some amazing Internet bloggers and seriously boss women at FinCon
Was nominated for a Plutus Award — still shocked people think my blog is worth nominating
Got to communicate with some of my readers and hear their comments about my writing (which was truly the greatest highlight of all)
So, cheers. Cheers to a New Year filled with plenty of positivity, exciting surprises, and moments you’ll never forget. I hope that 2018 allows me the ability to spend more time on Mixed Up Money — but if it doesn’t, I still appreciate having the opportunity to write about my financial goals and share my seriously embarrassing and real mistakes that go along with those finances. There will always be a new story to tell and another Tuesday to post.
What were some of your favorite highlights from 2017? Let me know in the comments!
Do you and your partner combine finances? Better question — do you want to, but not know where to start?
This past summer, I wrote a blog post about how marriage changed my finances. In that post, I talked about how my husband and I work together financially by splitting everything 50/50 and keeping most of our money separate.
However, in just 4 short months — those plans have changed.
Relationships and money are tricky mostly for this reason. Things change quickly and the discussion about what to do with your money is constant. Talking about it once and hoping that everything will work out is not going to end well. Regular financial conversations with your significant other are important, whether you want to have them or not.
*she says, like a stern mother that consistently tells you to make good choices*
You see, if you haven’t been reading for awhile, you might have missed that we moved cities, both changed jobs, and both increased our incomes. So — our financial situation has dramatically changed.
We went from making the exact same income to my husband making significantly more than me. Which (I’ll be honest), makes me extremely jealous.
As stubborn as I am in wanting to pay for everything and insisting we split things 50/50, it really doesn’t make sense for us anymore. By changing from even split to something more 60/40 — we’ll both be able to save a good amount for retirement and short-term savings goals.
So, how do you go about actually making this change?
Step one — talk about it
After crunching some of the numbers on my own, and determining what a fair split could be, I brought the conversation up with my husband. It’s never easy, even if you do discuss money on a regular basis, so don’t worry if things don’t come out exactly as you’ve planned. They probably don’t know what to say either. The important thing is that you’re willing to have the conversation in the first place. The more you do it, the easier it will become.
Step two — decide where the splits will be
Logically, we looked at the three top spending categories in our budget. Those end up being our rent, vehicle payment, and savings. Right now, we are trying to aggressively save and invest about 40 to 50 percent of our income each month.
One of the suggestions I brought up was having one person pay the larger living expenses and the other person focus on the savings. If we both spent the same amount on each it would be easy for both of us to feel equally apart of achieving our common goals. However, one person would take on more of the financial responsibilities that can’t change based on our monthly spending.
Step three — update your budget and implement the changes
Once you’ve agreed upon an expense split that makes sense for you and your significant other, it’s time to input the numbers into your budget. I always suggest giving things a trial period of about two to three months to see if these changes are working and everyone is still happy. Combined finances only work if you’re completely honest.
Don’t have a combined budget? Honestly, who does? UNTIL NOW…
Now that you’ve got your budget, and the holiday season is upon you, it’s a good time to chat all things money and income splits.
As for me? I’m about maxed out when it comes to all things money at this time of the year. In between traveling, working, and focusing on my family first — it’s time for Mixed Up Money’s annual December vacation.
This will be my last post of 2017, with the first post back being January 2nd. I know it’s long, and I’ll certainly miss you, but that’s what social media is for.
Have a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year, all! xoxo <3
Today I wanted to do something fun. Not that a 1200 word post on why you need a will or how much money you should have by retirement aren’t fun — it’s just that sometimes my extent of wanting to learn about finances is wanting to read something relatable, laugh, and move on.
For those of you who don’t know literally everything about me (what do you mean you’re not my stalker?), I am obsessed with Twitter. I spend hours a day on the app — probably better defined as “I am addicted to a social media platform that cuts people off in 140 characters, why doesn’t real life do the same?”.
So, I often find a lot of funny things that I normally just screenshot and send to my BFFs. However, lucky for you, today I wanted to share those tweets with my Internet BFFs.
Let’s laugh, cry at the realness, and take a week off from serious money talk that makes you want to scream “I NEED A VACATION BUT IT’S NOT IN THE BUDGET” extremely loudly. You also better believe that I shamelessly plugged some of my own tweets because if you’re not following me I’m pissed.
I used to want a super flat stomach but then I realized it would have zero impact on my day to day life, so now I just want more money.
It was a normal Saturday afternoon. Well, normal as in the weather was okay and I was being my “normal” self. Otherwise it was pretty unique. I was leaving Dallas, Texas to catch my evening flight back home to Calgary after spending four days at FinCon talking about blogging and money.
After looking at the hotel sign that said a sedan could take me to the airport for $70 USD, I scoffed and immediately opened up my Uber app, which generally sits unused because we don’t have that amazing luxury where I live.
Immediately, I got a notification that Barbara was 3 minutes away in her Chevrolet Malibu. She had a 4.95 star rating, so I was expecting this ride to be everything and more. And by everything and more, I merely mean “safe“.
When she pulled up and popped the trunk for me, I threw my suitcase in and headed for the front seat.
Her purse was sitting there and I then realized that I was the socially awkward Canadian who felt like it was necessary to sit in the front seat so that Barbara didn’t feel like a chauffeur.
She quickly moved it and I apologized, eh.
“Sorry, is this okay? I don’t have Uber at home so I don’t get to use the app often. I can totally sit in the backseat too,” I say in my mousiest voice ever.
Barbara is super sweet and tells me to sit there, asks where I’m from, and the small talk (that I normally despise) begins.
When she finds out I’m from Canada, she’s curious to know why I’m in Dallas, Texas. I tell her I was at a financial conference for people who love money, and write about it regularly.
She’s immediately intrigued. Either that, or confused. Whichever the reason — she continues asking questions.
I tell her that I have a blog where I write about money, and that I started because I had a lot of debt. I explain that I’m now debt free because of it, and encourage others to try and attempt the same.
That’s when it happens.
“You were meant to get in this car for a reason,” said Barbara. “Just this morning I had a conversation with myself about how I need to get my money in order.”
I laugh, and she starts to get really animated telling my about her financial background. Of course, I’m way too excited and am hoping this car ride isn’t over for awhile. I want to hear more about this woman who thought me being in her Uber was a “sign”.
Barbara tells me all about her love for shopping, her bought-lunches, and a divorce that really damaged her financial plans. The craziest part about all of it? Anytime I said “I’m so sorry you have to go through that” or “That sucks so much”, Barbara immediately cut me off and said this:
“It’s hard, but it could be worse. I’ve got this, and I’m doing great.”
It was inspiring to say the least.
Not only did I learn that Barbara was a badass babe with confidence to boot, I learned some other extremely valuable life and money lessons in that 25 minute car ride.
Here are those lessons in writing:
I thought the things I did to get out of debt were easy and possible
When Barbara asked me how I did it, I told her what I always tell everyone. I told her that I put half of my monthly income towards my debt, didn’t step foot in a mall for two years, and stopped going out for dinner and drinks with friends. In fact, when I write it down now and read it aloud (yes, I read blogs posts out loud) it honestly just sounds crazy.
While it worked for me, it seriously is not possible for that exact same plan to work for someone else. Especially someone who can’t find a place to rent for under $600, or someone who works in a shopping mall, or someone who desperately needs dinner and drinks with friends to keep themselves sane. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: there is no one size fits all plan for someone’s money. So, I guess it’s a good thing there are so many financial blogs where you can grab bits and pieces of ideas to create your own.
I am lucky to live in the country that I live in
In this Uber ride, Barbara and I managed to touch on literally every financial topic you could think of — including healthcare. When I explained to her that I could go to my family doctor or the hospital for free, she was blown away. “So, it’s free for everyone?” asked Barbara, confused.
I explained that yes, basic healthcare was — but that I had to play a small amount into my works’ health insurance plan to get further coverage. Then I explained that at my new job I wouldn’t even have to do that. I sometimes forget that it’s not like that for everyone. It saddens my heart and it hurts my soul, but I’m certainly grateful for what I have. This car ride was a reminder of that. To be grateful is important.
Sometimes financial struggle is out of our control
Barbara and I talked about how sometimes relationships can be the downfall of our personal finance. She spoke to friends whose families had fallen a part due to one persons’ gambling addiction, how divorce can truly ruin your success, and how sometimes these things happen and you have no control over anything, but are still forced to clean up the mess.
We preach about how important it is to have an emergency fund, a f*ck off fund, and some kind of fall back plan in case of these unexpected downfalls — but so many people assume it will never happen to them. Money is not always within our control. There are times we have it, and there are times we don’t. It is so important that during the times that we do have it we try everything in our power to make the best of those nickels and dimes.
“I started with a quarter”
The last part of our conversation was had just as we pulled into the airport, and is by far my favorite lesson Barbara had taught me thus far. Barbara told me that her financial inspiration had always been her mother. She said that her mother always knew how to save, take care of family, and make each dollar count.
When she reached out to her mom for advice about how to start saving money and pay off her debt, her mom simply told her: “I started with a quarter”. Barbara was laughing hysterically about how both silly and sad it sounded to start with twenty-five cents in your savings — but she also realized the meaning behind what her mother was encouraging her to do. We all have to start somewhere, and somewhere is better than nowhere.
I really do think that I was meant to get into Barbara’s car that day.
One stranger was the reminder I needed that everyone comes from a different backstory financially. Some of us get head-starts, while others have to struggle through to even get a start at all.
As much as money is the centre of our universe, it also carries many factors that are sadly out of our control.
Thank you Barbara, and if you ever find this story, I hope you’re in the place you want to be financially. Although, I know you’ll be looking directly into the bright-side if you aren’t.
An Open Letter to Those Struggling Financially - YouTube
Have you ever had an encounter with a stranger that changed your views on money? Let me know in the comments!