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Hello, all! Alyssa here. As you know, I’m currently taking a six-week hiatus to learn how to be a mother to my new child. Fortunately, for both myself and for my readers, I have some awesome female friends who love money just as much as we do and they’ve willingly shared some of their favourite blog posts. This week, Kara from Bravely Go has generously shared her personal story about financial anxiety and the effects it can have on someone’s life. 

If you’d like to still chat with me (even though I’m not as cool as Kara), you can join me on Twitter or Instagram for small life updates and cute pics XOXO. Now let’s get to the good stuff.
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Last night my financial anxiety woke me up at 4:00am and WOULDN’T LET ME GO BACK TO SLEEP. Anxiety, you’re a son of a bitch. I’m sorry for yelling, but I’ve been up since 4:00.

Financial anxiety has been a constant companion of mine for the last three years. And it’s kind of weird, because I’ve been crushing the last three years. I paid off all my debt. I’ve been investing consistently. My net worth has grown by over 100%, and I own my own damn business.

So why don’t I feel like a financial Wonder Woman? 

What Is Financial Anxiety?

Financial anxiety is a feeling of stress, concern, or worry around your finances. Raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten a knot in your stomach, or your heart started racing when you thought about money. (It happens to me at 4:00 friggen am).

This was not the first time I’ve been abruptly woken from my beauty sleep by financial anxiety. Sometimes I get the feeling of a cold hand wrapping itself around my heart when I think about just how much money I need to save for retirement, or the fact that as a freelancer if I get sick I can’t earn any money. And I am not alone in feeling this way. Here are some statistics to bum you out!

Y’all, I just came up with anxiety’s new motto…”Anxiety! It’s everywhere, all the time!”

But why do I, a personal finance professional and money nerd, feel so anxious? Don’t I know how to be good with my money?

My Personal Money Shit

First and foremost, let’s remember that no one is inherently good with money. I’ve accomplished a lot in the last few years, but I carry financial scars from my childhood. I’ve had to unlearn bad financial habits and educate myself on good ones.

I grew up pretty low income. I don’t have exact numbers on what we lived on, but I grew up in a single parent household with three children. My mom was sitting on a boatload of debt from her divorce, and for the earlier part of my childhood we were on food stamps for several years.

Money wasn’t ever discussed. It wasn’t like my mom, in between working multiple jobs and getting her Master’s in education ever sat us all down and said ‘hey, fyi you’re gonna want to avoid debt, invest early and often, and really pay attention to what you can deduct on your taxes.’

All I was aware of was that we didn’t have that much money and it stressed my family out. We were a leftovers for dinner, hand me downs for outfits, take the bus to school kind of family. We were never destitute, but we were never balling out.

I remember one time in middle school when I wanted to go on a school skiing trip. The price tag of $500 made me feel sick to my stomach. I didn’t even bring the trip up to my mom because I knew we didn’t have that kind of money.

I assumed the identity of ‘broke’ as a child and I haven’t shed it yet.

There was no reason to shed it. I paid for college with a combination of student loans, scholarships and family contributions from my grandparents. I worked all of my college career, holding three jobs my senior year. Work paid for all my school books and booze, but there was not much to put away. And besides, I didn’t think that saving more than $500 was really possible. Money was hard to earn, and I would never have any of it anyway, and that was that.

Post graduation I struggled to find a full time job, which further reinforced my identity as someone who had a hard time accessing money. This, plus my student loan debt and low income created a cocktail of anxiety that I’m still sipping on. The ups and downs of freelancing haven’t helped anything either.

What to Do About Financial Anxiety

I share all this because I believe that there is power in transparency around finances. It’s a core belief of mine, right up there with the fact that climate change is real and the cake is better than pie.

Voicing your fears and your anxiety helps you take power back from them. It also might help someone else who feels alone in the same fight.

I’ve dipped in and out of therapy to deal with my anxiety, and that has also been tremendously helpful. If for some reason you can’t get into therapy, here are a few other things I do to help with my financial anxiety.

  1. Track my money. Looking at the numbers can be really hard, but it’s the single most powerful thing you can do. (I’m sort of sick of hearing myself say that but it just continues to be the TRUTH.) Understanding what you have coming in and what you have going out is the first step to controlling your money, and adhering to values-based spending as a lifestyle choice.
  2. Exercise. Y’all, this is another thing that so many people preach. I want to hate it, I really do. But it feels so good! I always feel much better after I exercise. For me, my anxiety manifests as things speeding up around me. Pushing myself to a physical limit, getting away from computer screens, and forcing myself to focus on only my body helps me back away from an anxiety cliff I may otherwise fall off of.
  3. Talk it out. Share your feelings with friends or family, or shoot me an email! My inbox is always open. (info_at_bravelygo.co) Like I said, there is a lot of power in naming things, and you can work through a lot just chatting things out with a friend.

Anxiety ain’t easy. It doesn’t have to control your life though.

The post I’m a Finance Professional and I Have Hella Financial Anxiety appeared first on Mixed Up Money.

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Budgeting your money can be, hm, what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh right. Awful. It can be awful. Budgeting your money for a baby? Way less awful. Mostly because it’s exciting to start your planning and preparation to enjoy a financially successful time as new parents. But also because you know exactly how long you’ll have to achieve the perfect budget and savings goal. Although most people will tell you it’s impossible to predict how much a baby will cost or all that will be required during your pregnancy and first few months, the best thing you can do is to try everything possible to prepare.

Three weeks ago I announced my pregnancy, two weeks ago I touched on why we kept it a secret for eight months, and last week I gave you a list of every single thing we have bought before the baby arrives. I’m now just five days away from my due date and totally and completely unprepared to be a mother. Well, except for financially. Financially, I feel confident — and that’s because we made the perfect budget for our baby.

What did we budget for?

Initially, when my husband and I sat down, I made the most generic list of everything I thought we’d need at that point. When I did this, I was about 14 weeks pregnant and still digesting the news. I went back to check out the spreadsheet just five months later so that I could start to develop my full list of items we bought for our newborn, and I was shockingly pretty impressed. Although the actual products included and the estimated costs were random guesses, I only managed to be off by a couple hundred dollars.

Based on that chart, I decided to be on the safe side that we should assume we’d spend $5,000 before the baby arrived and that it would be ideal to save $10,000 for the entire first year as new parents, to supplement diaper needs and also support any necessary purchases that we’d otherwise be stressed about due to the decrease in income. Fortunately, I am able to take a full year of financially-supported maternity leave that is covered by the Canadian government.

During that time, my husband will continue to work. However, we also lucked out in the fact that he has June 15th to mid-August off of his current contract before signing on as a permanent employee. Therefore, we’ll be able to enjoy the first three months of parenthood as a team — which is very rare. But what this great news also meant is that because we would both be off for the summer, we’d also need to save an additional amount to supplement a lack of income. To do so, we also saved for this expense over the past eight months. Our grand total savings goal was approximately $25,000 — because we are seriously becoming overachievers.

In other words, we had three separate savings accounts and financial goals to hit by May. In total, we planned to save around 27% of our combined income towards becoming parents, while still saving for our other financial goals such as retirement, a down payment and travel. We had from October to November to complete these goals.

How did we save the money?

The first thing we did was open a high-interest joint savings account. Every paycheck, we would pay our bills, wait for our automatic transfers to go towards other financial goals, and then we’d see what was left. Basically, whatever was left went directly into the family fund. During this time, my husband was working two jobs at around 60 hours per week and I was also working two jobs at around 50 hours per week. No, this is not me bragging about how hard-working us gosh-darn millennials are. This is me saying that we were willing to sacrifice a lot of time and freedom to achieve our financial goals and to explain how we could save such a vast amount of money in such a short amount of time. We were very fortunate to be able to find two jobs a piece. Does this type of lifestyle work for everyone? No. Is this type of lifestyle an option for everyone? No.

However, there are three things we did to save this money that might work for you:

1. Stop saving for other goals that are no longer important

I was saving a lot of money towards future trips and plans that were no longer going to be possible due to my pregnancy — such as bachelorette parties and an upcoming trip to Costa Rica — that we, unfortunately, had to cancel. However, on the bright side of things, this meant that I could put any of those savings towards the baby fund and save a ton of money and time. Having a baby dramatically changes your life and although you may think you’re not financially equipped to prepare for such a new event, you’ll also be surprised to see a quick change in your priorities. Perhaps you had $1,000 saved for a trip over the summer that you might now be able to put towards your baby budget instead.

2. Flip your typical spending habits to reflect newer needs

The not-so-great part of pregnancy is that you are suddenly required to avoid some of your favourite things. However, those not-so-great parts can become extremely great for your bank account. Rather than spend a ton of money on drinks with friends, on fancy dinners with food you “shouldn’t” eat and on a women’s soccer team fee that won’t be used — you suddenly use that money for other costs. Turns out, prenatal vitamins are pretty costly considering how often you run out. You may also need to splurge on some maternity clothes and health classes. Don’t forget that it’s not just the baby that you’re saving for. By using the money you usually spent on entertainment on your pregnancy, you avoid having to go over budget and continue to live almost the same lifestyle throughout the next nine months.

3. Don’t buy anything until after your baby shower

To avoid spending the full estimated $5,000 we figured we’d need before the baby came, we decided to wait until after the baby shower before buying all the gear. I knew everything that I would need for baby and want for the baby because I threw everything onto the registry long before we sent out invitations. Then, once a week I would go and check for sales to see if there was anything I should go ahead and purchase before the day arrived. Otherwise, I would leave the list there and hold my breath — which was honestly the hardest part of my entire pregnancy. I wanted to know what I needed and I wanted to see it right now. However, the wait was worth it. We received plenty of great items and hand-me-downs at our baby shower, and the next day I went through my registry and purchased everything that was left. For anyone wondering, I decided to use Babylist for my registry as you could put items from multiple stores on your list and they also had an awesome tool where you could add directly from any website to your registry.

To create the perfect budget for your baby, I recommend deciding your goals and then determining how best to save for those goals. But — every single person’s situation and needs will be different. The only thing that’s constant is that it’s expensive. According to Money Sense, It costs roughly $14,350 per year to raise a child in Canada. But I’ll have to get back to you on the reality of an Albertan personal finance nerd who seriously hates spending money before I can determine the facts.

5 financial tasks to complete before the arrival of your baby - YouTube

I’m ready to take a mini-maternity leave from blogging

At the end of the day, pregnancy has been great. But it’s also been exhausting. During the past nine months, I started a new job, tried my best to work at my side job, and also continued to blog. I finally burnt out about well, right now — as I write this last and final blog post until I take a six-week hiatus from writing. To be honest, I know I’m going to miss my job and my boss — who has been extremely supportive throughout the entire pregnancy — however, I’m sure these next 12 months spent with my bigger-little family will be absolutely wonderful.

If you’re wondering whether the blog will still have content and posts coming out each week you have nothing to fear. Some of my amazing female blogging friends have jumped on board to help out and supplied me with some of their favourite and always-empowering financial content that I’m sure you’ll love. As of now, I plan to be back with a life update and some, I’m sure, hilarious stories by July 3rd. Until then, I’ll still be on Twitter with some occasional 140-character updates and on Instagram with some super-adorable pictures. Feel free to follow along.

Let me know if you have any advice or stories to share in the comments. XOXO! See you in six weeks.

The post How Much Did We Budget For Our Baby? appeared first on Mixed Up Money.

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As soon as I found out that I was pregnant, the first thing I started reading was what we needed to buy for our future newborn. My spreadsheet was put together before I had even visited the doctor and I had already started a high-interest savings account to get the ball rolling on paying off all of these purchases. It turns out that people charge a hella-lot-of-money for baby products and accessories. Therefore, I assumed that if I had the financial side of the parenting life figured out that I would have a lot less to worry about down the road. And you know what? I was right.

You already know that having a child is expensive. People love to rub it in, tell you all about the fact that you won’t be able to buy yourself anything ever again and that you can kiss early retirement goodbye. Well — jokes on you, folks! I still saved a vacation fund for myself the entire time I saved for my baby and I don’t even want to retire early. So, there! *winks and flips hair*

But in all honesty, for the past six months, my husband and I have both been putting around 40% of our income towards our “family fund.” It’s been pretty crazy for us to see how fast we can achieve a goal if we seriously focus on it, and it’s opened our eyes to how responsible we can be if necessary. After doing my research, I had originally planned to save $10,000 by our newborn’s arrival date — and estimated that we would spend $5,000 before then to buy everything we could possibly need.

What did we buy and how much did we actually spend?

The amount of lists on the internet that tell you how many things you’ll need before your baby comes is quite overwhelming. I did a ton of reading, clicking and asking before I put together my list of items. I asked family and friends who had recently had babies if I was missing anything or if they felt any of the items I had chosen should be swapped and they graciously obliged. To be honest, people who already have children are more than willing to help, and it’s made the entire pregnancy seem a lot less hectic than it otherwise could be.

In total, we have already spent $3,324. Friends and family contributed an additional $1,570 of gifts and gear.

*Neither of these dollar amounts includes clothing. Why? Because having a girl means that you’ll likely get a ton of adorable outfits your child may or may not get the chance to wear. If this is a concern for you, I recommend asking friends and family to avoid purchasing clothing in your baby shower invitation. If not, enjoy. I tried to go through all of the clothes we were bought or were given as hand-me-downs, but instead, I’ll estimate that we have roughly $2,000 worth of clothes, which range from size newborn to 24-months. I assume we’ll have more than enough for the first two years, but what do I know?

For those of you who checked out the list and think I went overkill, sometimes I feel the same way. But considering I don’t have my baby yet, I can’t even tell you if every single one of these purchases was necessary. Some of them didn’t need to happen until much later — but I figured that since we had the savings and time, it was best to get them out of the way as soon as possible. I also had to resolve my anxiety in one way or another and buying literally everything I could think of helped with that feeling immensely. The last thing I’ll say about this list is that you do not need to spend what we spent on your child. We chose to buy the majority of items new — but there are a TON of amazing places that you can go to buy used baby gear at a reasonable price.

In short, for those that don’t want to check out exactly what we purchased, here is what we spent in each category of what you may need as new parents:

  • Post-partum for mom = $242
  • Baby gear and transportation = $1,295
  • Nursing and feeding = $662
  • Nursery and furniture = $1,526
  • Diapering = $147
  • Safety, cleaning and health = $603
  • Toys and books = $418
Every parent can decide how costly their pregnancy and child will be

Although we found that most items are expensive when it comes to shopping for a newborn, what we also found was that the amount of variety and options were vast. Not only that, but it helped to search several different websites for the same product to ensure that you were receiving the best possible price. Some of my favourite places to do online shopping (because yes, I literally bought everything online) were Babies R Us (sorry American friends), Well.ca, Best Buy and Wal-Mart. However, for those of you who aren’t interested in buying new, I’ve heard there are a ton of great buy and sell pages on Facebook for baby supplies and that Kijiji also has some great finds. Fortunately for us, my brother recently had a baby girl and my husband’s co-workers were also very generous in donating some used gear that we are truly thankful for.

If you are struggling to financially plan for your baby, I’d highly recommend only buying what you need and slowly collecting other items as you need them. Otherwise, here is an awesome post from Money After Graduation about how to manage your money during this stressful period.

There is no rule book on parenting. However, there are way too many opinions. 

What were the top ten items suggested to us by other parents?
  1. NoseFreeda Snot Sucker
  2. Medela Electronic Breast Pump
  3. Avent Infant Bottle Starter Set
  4. Baby K’tan Carrier
  5. Perineal Spray
  6. Tendercare Lanolin Nipple Cream
  7. Jolly Jumper Nursing Cushion
  8. Wipes Warmer
  9. Carseat Cover & Nursing Top
  10. Vitamin D Drops

*none of these links are affiliates because I’m not a super famous and super cool mom blogger — yet*

In the end, buying baby supplies can be seriously overwhelming and requires a ton of patience and research. I probably spent well over 60 hours hunting for the perfect items and trying to feel like I was a good mother. I realized it’s become a challenge to be a parent before the newborn is even here and I already fear the future of being mom-shamed. However, all that truly matters is that my child is happy and healthy. And also that I tried to buy literally every single item on our list on sale. 

Next week, my husband and I will share exactly how much money we saved for our “family fund” and how we plan to spend our maternity and paternity leave. Until then, let me know what your favourite baby items are, how much you spent on your child and whether or not you even have a child. Apologies for those of you who aren’t planning to have a baby or cannot relate to my current situation. However, I still appreciate having you in my corner and as a reader. XO!

The post Everything We Bought For Our Newborn (Before Her Arrival) appeared first on Mixed Up Money.

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I know what you’re thinking. It’s Wednesday. Which means I’m posting on the wrong day and also way too much. Twice a week? Alyssa, we can barely handle you the one day. And you’re so right. I apologize. However, I really needed to get some things off of my chest before leaving for a short maternity leave, and I didn’t want to shift my already beautiful schedule to do so. Therefore, here we are. On a Wednesday. Mentally preparing ourselves for a rant.

First of all, let me say that if you’re not a blogger or really hella-deep-into-the-world-of-personal-finance-blogs, this entire post will mean absolutely nothing to you. However, I can’t stop you from reading on if you choose to.

Oh, wow, really? Are you still here? Alrighty then.

First of all, let me say that Rockstar Finance truly helped launch my blog. It put me on the map in front of a ton of readers (both happy and mad) that I would have otherwise never had a chance to connect with online. They — for some reason — chose to acknowledge one of my very first blog posts about three years back and threw my website analytics into a full-on panic attack. It was the first time I had felt heard on the internet. It gave me that extra bit of motivation to keep on writing when most bloggers begin to taper off. To that point, I am eternally grateful for the old Rockstar Finance.

However, just a few months ago my opinion changed. And fast.

I think one of the reasons so many people loved Rockstar Finance was because it was run by two very well-connected bloggers who appealed to a wide audience and demographics. J$ wrote with personality and often made you feel like you were his best friend with his witty and unique style. Cait Flanders made you think and made you feel like you could be and do anything you put your mind to — financially and otherwise. Both of these two still make me feel this way and I was reading their blogs before I even started my own, which means they’re still pretty much the greatest.

That’s when the Rockstar Finance takeover happened

I remember it like it was yesterday. Probably because it basically was. I logged on to Twitter, to start my usual morning routine scroll, and saw that the entire personal finance community was shooketh. J$ had sold Rockstar Finance to someone who (sorry if this makes me sound like a jerk) I had never heard of. Personally, as someone who felt a strong connection to Rockstar Finance, this transition came as a shock. To me, it lacked that connection I so wildly desired from the site.

How selfish of me, though, I thought. It’s a good time for J$ and Cait to step back, and I completely understand why they would. I immediately felt that I should become acquainted with the new owners of Rockstar Finance, so I found the new owner on Twitter. I then read that the Twitter would now be run by someone new — so I was looking forward to seeing this exciting social media game on my feed.

For the first month or so, it was obvious that J$ and Cait were still quite heavily involved in the post choosing and general vibe of the site. However, as soon as they started to step back, it was beyond obvious. Rather than being run by an impartial team that connected with every type of blogger and writing style, I noticed that the site was being taken over by bloggers who appeal to only one type of reader and one category of content. It was obvious that this change was going to be a big adjustment for a lot of us. But — as they say — change is good. Change brings in opportunities for new and powerful ideas. So, I kept a positive outlook. However, that didn’t last long.

There are many reasons that the new Rockstar Finance site has me feeling the need to speak out. I debated whether I should write this post at all knowing that in comparison to a shark like them, I am a minnow. But last week my newsfeed was plagued with upset readers, writers and viewers due to a sexist and otherwise inappropriate tweet. It started to also bring forth many other concerns about the entire world that Rockstar Finance had become.

It’s a boys club, and only a few have the password

For those of you who missed last weeks tweet that was a quote saying: “There is only three ways a smart person can go broke: liquor, ladies, and leverage.” If you’re here to defend this tweet for whatever you think you can sauce up — just don’t. In fact, for anyone who works with social media, if you ever have to question whether something you’re about to post is appropriate, just probably don’t post it. The amount of personal finance quotes out there is RIDICULOUS. So, I can’t imagine this was the best choice.

People immediately spoke their concern for this type of language. A lot of people. Mostly just women, though. Thankfully (for them), Rockstar Finance obliged by deleting the tweet and putting out this sentence: “Hi all – yes, this quote went against our better judgment, and we will remove it.”

Which to me, says a couple of things:

  1. I’m not sorry, but you seem upset.
  2. It went against our better judgement but we don’t care to understand why

What’s most concerning to me is that the website owner had not but one thing to say. He must have missed how upset people were. Too bad. If you hadn’t been labelled a boys club prior to this mishap — you most certainly are now.

I have a concern that content is chosen by payment rather than by merit

The second reason that my affection for the site that shares curated content has changed is that the content they share has dramatically shifted. On January 31st, I received a newsletter from the site sharing information about a new program. The VIB — or “Very Important Blogger” program. To be fair, this program existed prior to the takeover. However, I had honestly never heard of it. So, hearing of it now sparked my interest.

“I want to be very important,” I thought, as I read the email. That was until I realized that to be very important I had to pay.

The reason I loved the old Rockstar Finance so much was that I knew that the content they were sharing was well-written, chosen unbiasedly and from writers displaying stories and information through a wide array of income levels. Now it’s more like: “Hey millennials, where do you guys get off thinking you deserve anything? Psh — maybe if you pay for it. But don’t think just because you spent hours researching, writing and publishing an extremely strong blog post that you’re going to get noticed. Instead, you can check out a more detailed description of our VIB program here.”

I could honestly go on for hours picking apart all of my concerns with this program, but I won’t. At the end of the day, any site that asks for up to $150/month — yeah, A MONTH — so that you can be featured more prevalently does not have it’s users best interests at heart.

Name change suggestion: Rockstar Firenance

Speaking of content, has anyone noticed the dramatic change in how little variation there is in the category coverage that is shared? I mean, just one day this week, this is how many articles were featured that have to do with retirement:

To be honest, idgaf about FIRE. And neither does 95% of the readers who used to frequent Rockstar Finance. Sure, it’s cool and important to talk about retirement. But what about all of the other conversations that need to be had? Such as low-income households, the wage gap, mental health and your money, and literally everything else. This one isn’t even funny anymore. It started off where people were all “Hey have you noticed the increase in FIRE posts?” and now it’s like:

People don’t feel heard

And a lot of people are afraid to be. At the end of the day, Rockstar Finance holds a ton of power in this community — and it should. J$ did an excellent job creating a website for anyone and everyone who loved personal finance. I’m just upset that it no longer feels this way. For those of you who are here to pick holes in every single thing that my blog post has said to paint Rockstar Finance in a negative light — I’m sorry that you feel this way.

However, I feel so strongly about these findings, that I’ve simply unfollowed the Rockstar Finance accounts so I don’t have to see or read them anymore. If you feel the same strength towards me and my blogging style, I encourage you to do the same with mine.

I hope that one day I am able to jump back on the Rockstar Finance train for great, curated content. There are many reasons that I love the old Rockstar Finance — that sparked inclusivity and helped bloggers see different sides of the coin (so to speak). I’m hoping that one day the new Rockstar Finance will shed the same light on the personal finance community once again. It can be difficult to please everyone — yes. However, it can also be too easy to ignore the reality that you aren’t pleasing enough.

The post Dear Rockstar Finance appeared first on Mixed Up Money.

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If you read last weeks post, you would have heard our very amazing life update! If you didn’t, you’re in for one hell of a ride today, folks. We’re expecting! And we’re not like the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” version but more like, “The Baby Owner’s Manual” version. AKA — we are greener than a banana when it comes to knowing the ins and outs of childcare. However, we are thrilled!

As you know, (or see) pregnancy is an exciting time for couples

But it can also be an overwhelming time as well. Most people assume that there couldn’t be any reason to keep such a large life-changing moment a secret. However, our family and friends weren’t too surprised when we asked them to avoid posting anything online until we were ready.

You see, although I spend a lot of time on the internet and writing about my personal experiences, I’m actually not very open with most details of my life. I like to have my privacy and I love to share intimate parts of myself with only those closest to me. So, when we surprised our friends and family with the news, they were a little bit let down when we mentioned we wanted to keep yet another life update offline. Weeks went by before my mom asked for some exceptions, like telling aunts and uncles the news. Months went by before my friends asked if they’d ever see anything pop up on my Instagram. To be honest, I think it was harder for them to keep secret than it was for Nic and I. We felt it was comfortable and natural to only have to worry about pleasing ourselves.

At first, we thought we’d wait until after Christmas. But once Christmas passed we realized the more honest timeline that worked for us was “as long as possible.” If I didn’t plan to take some time off from blogging, I probably wouldn’t have even announced this news as early as we are. And I’m sure some of you are wondering the obvious question… Why?

It was nice to share this time with just ourselves and our family

I miss the days when the only people who wished you happy birthday were the ones you saw or that phoned you. I miss the days when only the people you wanted to know, knew that you were getting married. So, rather than miss those feelings yet again — we decided not to. We shared this special time without anyone else, and it felt so much more intimate and stress-free. We were able to do things on our schedule, to our own agenda and without any unwanted advice. It has been truly beautiful.

The social media avoidance removed all expectations

I swear that every pregnancy comes with a social media manual. But, unfortunately, mine must have gotten lost in the mail. Either that or my nurse forgot to give me mine with the government-mandated baby books.

Step one — post an ultrasound photo revealing the pregnancy as soon as you hit the second trimester
Step two — reveal the gender in the most over-the-top and outrageous way you can imagine
Step three — get maternity photos once your belly reaches the ideal size that makes no one (particularly men) uncomfortable

The instant we decided we were going to keep the majority of our pregnancy offline, an instant relief lifted directly off of my shoulders. These days, social media expectations are enough to give any millennial, tween or teen an ulcer. So, not having to worry about looking like Blake Lively in all of my pregnancy Instagram pictures saved me a ton of stress. Although for anyone who is still wondering, there wouldn’t have been many adorable baby bump photos given that I was able to hide my belly from everyone up until 8 months hit. Seriously, I was a bellyless pregnant woman.

People ask way too many questions and expect way too much information

In much the same fashion as our wedding, we kept details and plans between just the two of us mostly to avoid all of the questions. As someone who avoids being the centre of attention, anxiety is almost too much to handle when people are constantly asking you how you’re feeling or what you’re craving. By the way, are those the only questions we ask pregnant women? Is it because we assume that’s the only things they must have going on in their life? As someone who didn’t really have any severe pregnancy symptoms, it almost felt as though I was stuck on repeat every single time I had to say “good” and “veggie subs, but that’s my normal craving.”

I love my friends and I love my family — but what I truly hate is being asked personal questions about my body. What many people forget is that you are not entitled to any of this information. No one has the right to know who my doctor is, whether we plan to use a midwife or doula and how we feel about sleep training. If we choose to share that information, fair game. However, if we do not, there is, unfortunately, nothing you can do about that. I often think people we know better online than we do in real life might forget that it’s normal for them not to know this information. Because if social media didn’t exist, you wouldn’t. And still, for many, you don’t.

I don’t appreciate being treated as though I’m incapable of doing things

As any pregnant woman knows — as soon as you tell someone you are carrying human life, you are suddenly treated as though you are unable to complete any normal day-to-day activities. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told not to carry a box, to stop working out or to make sure I’m doing “A” so that “B” doesn’t happen. Guess what? I am currently 37 weeks into my pregnancy and still carrying boxes, still going to the gym and still living my life as normally as possible. The only thing I actually listened to was my doctor begging me not to play soccer anymore. Which honestly — sucks. But hey, that one seemed pretty logical. It’s completely understandable that some women in pregnancy are unable to do certain things due to risk level, health or based on personal preference. However, I do not appreciate being tossed under that same umbrella when I’m already carrying my own. If I had to stop doing some of the things I love and risk losing an ounce of my independence, I would not have enjoyed this pregnancy as much as I have. And don’t worry — the baby seems to be enjoying it as well.

I love being pregnant and I love the way my body feels. I love the movement of the baby when I lay still at night and I love how honestly healthy I have felt — for the first time in a long time. I’ve been in better spirits since being pregnant and my stomach pains and health issues have been non-existent. For eight whole months. So, thanks, baby. For making my 2018 start so wonderfully.

And also, thank you so much to everyone who submitted your questions. Now that we’re finally ready to share a bit more of our pregnancy story and experience so far, we loved answering each and every one of them. Next week, we’ll share our entire baby budget for anyone who is wondering how much we spent, saved and what you might need for a future child. Until then, ciao.

We answer your questions about our (my) pregnancy! - YouTube

The post Why We Chose To Keep Our Pregnancy Secret For 8 Months appeared first on Mixed Up Money.

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Me, again! Which, I guess you already know considering you came to my blog. If you haven’t figured out what this blog post will be about based on the title itself, SURPRISE! My husband and I are expecting! In one month, we will be welcoming a baby into the world and growing our family from two to three.

Yeah, you read that right. One month. I have been pulling a Kylie Jenner and completely hiding the news from the Internet. Last month, I tested the waters with one article that spoke about my college sports career and included a tiny announcement at the end. However, other than that my husband and I have been able to keep the news to our small circle of close friends and family.

Given that it’s getting closer and closer to the due date, it’s becoming difficult to keep the news secret and also to hide my belly from the world. Luckily, I was able to hide everything pretty well up until two weeks ago. So, I’ll consider myself lucky. Although right now we are choosing to keep many details between us and family, I wanted to provide my readers with an update before things got so busy and overwhelming there was no longer the time to sit down and write this post. Most of the information you might be looking for will be included in my announcement video which is at the very bottom. So, if you’d prefer that version — keep on scrolling.

How did we find out?

There is nothing unusual about our story as far as finding out that I was pregnant. I peed on a stick and the rest is history. Although Nic and I may seem like super dramatic and high energy people (lol jk), we literally sat at the kitchen table and started to make a budget the night we found out. I’m a little bit into planning, preparation and exploring all of my options before I start to get into the daydreaming and exciting aspect of things. Since October, we’ve been patiently awaiting the first day we’ll get to meet our baby girl. Also since October, I’ve been living an extremely glamorous life of leggings and sports bras.

How has pregnancy been?

My entire pregnancy has been extremely average, which as my boss pointed out is usually the only time in life anyone will ever strive to be just that — average. As someone who is completely superstitious, I will be knocking on wood throughout writing this entire paragraph so please bear with me. Thus far, I have not experienced any vomiting, severe pain, or any abnormal health issues — which is super great.

As for what I have experienced: a strong desire for smoothies, a need for afternoon naps and never sleeping through the night are all boxes checked yes. I’m also so excited to join the ranks of all of the new personal finance mom’s out there. It’s kind of wild we all are going through the same experiences in such a close timeframe. There must be something in the Twittersphere.

A special thank you to my amazing squirrelfran, Des from Half Banked for sending a lovely and instaworthy gift in the mail, to my beautiful boss babe, Bridget from Money After Graduation for the amazing gifts and advice throughout this entire pregnancy and to the always-funny, Amanda from Dumpster Dog for the most precious gift sent from one country to another. I feel so much love and support from the entire community.

We’ll be sure to force our baby and Bridget from Money After Graduations baby to be BFFs — don’t worry.

What is to come for this growing family?

We are currently in a one-bedroom apartment and will be moving into a townhouse the first week of May. If you think we’re completely crazy it’s because we are, but it’s also because we didn’t have a choice. Things will be a bit hectic for us over the next few weeks, but all of it is exciting and fun. Therefore, when it comes to the blog over the next few weeks, I promise to share our entire baby budget (including everything we bought and were gifted) as well as how much and how we saved for the baby before her arrival. I know that many of my readers are reaching this stage of their life soon (if they plan to at all) and are very interested to know. However, I totally and completely apologize if you’re only here for financial information that is child-free. There will still be many more of that to come mid-May.

Speaking of the blog, what’s happening?

Over the next three weeks, I’ll be sharing a ton of great information about the cost of having a baby — before the baby even arrives. During the six-weeks post birthing a child and trying to recover slash enjoy every moment, tear and challenge I will not personally be writing content. However, fear not! I have some awesome ladies in my life who have shared some of their best work for you to enjoy. Don’t worry, though as I will be back to you in July ready to update on my current life as a new mom who is just as obsessed with personal finance — if not more.

An exciting announcement! - YouTube

I know that you may be curious or have questions about this huge announcement because we have kept it under wraps for eight long months, and I fully expect it. So, I will definitely be filming a Q&A over the weekend to answer any of your questions. Please feel free to comment below, DM me on Twitter, shoot me an email or ignore this altogether. Before any more updates or information is thrown your way, feel free to check out my video announcing my pregnancy and giving a touch more information about what’s to come. Can’t wait to share more soon. XO!

The post Our Family Is Growing & So Is My Heart appeared first on Mixed Up Money.

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“Be kind” is all it took. A monthly reminder in my phone that popped up each month to keep me accountable for my mood. It started almost two years ago now. I was commuting to work each day and the drive was always a downer. If I’d had an okay day at work it would certainly be tainted by the traffic and if I’d had a bad day at work my mood would quickly go from down to down under.

Most people probably know what that’s like. It’s hard to work at a job that keeps you from your friends and family for more time than you’re able to spend with those people during off hours. On top of it all, the additional 10 to 15 hours per week you spend commuting can be heart-wrenching. Whether you want to get home for dinner or you worked late and need to get home to put your child down to bed, it’s never easy to admit defeat because one small part of your day is causing you to feel helpless.

It’s not just that, though. During a stressful time in my life, I was letting every small inconvenience and minor issue seep into my personal relationships. If I didn’t have a good day and there was an accident that would make my travel time 30 to 45 minutes longer I couldn’t bounce back once I got home. It would make me unable to have small talk about work, it made me disinterested in going out and doing things. So, I decided I needed to change something. But, how?

Step number one was adjusting my work schedule

Rather than working the typical hours of 9 to 5 or 8 to 4, I spoke to my boss to explain how this schedule was affecting my mental health. I asked if there were some way it would be okay to change my working hours from 7 to 3 instead. He agreed. Although I would no longer be able to work out in the mornings because I’d have to get up earlier (and mornings aren’t necessarily my favourite time of day), it seemed like the right move. Instead of driving in rush hour, I’d be able to get to work before the rush and leave before the nighttime traffic jams could happen. This small change cut my commute time by over 50%. Rather than a 45 minute drive each way, I was now only driving 15 minutes each way. Another reason this change helped with my mood was that it allowed me to carpool with my husband most days.

Step number two was using my time effectively

One of the best parts of working from 7 to 3, was that most people in my office didn’t start work until 9. Therefore, I had two hours of uninterrupted time to get my daily tasks done that would otherwise take much longer. But the really significant change when it came to my work hours was that I would get back home at 3:15. This was an extreme change that made my life so much more positive. I was able to pack my lunch, work out, prepare for the next day and make dinner before heading off to soccer games or practices. Prior to this change in work schedule, I was getting home around 5:30, and only had about 30 minutes to an hour to complete everything I’d need to before heading out to run any errands or attend any sporting events.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. What if I can’t change my work schedule as seamlessly as you could? That’s where step three comes in. The step that actually changed everything about my negative mindset, and still does to this day.

Step number three was adding a monthly reminder into my phone

I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to try to remind myself that these small interruptions or negative thoughts were just that — small. To make them seem insignificant, I wanted to put a reminder in my phone that would be able to snap me out of any funk I was in without annoying me. It sounds silly. But as you see with many humans these days, it doesn’t take much to set us off. Rather than add in an everyday reminder or weekly reminder, I decided to try it out monthly. I set the alarm to go off mid-week and around the exact time I would be getting home from work. Around 3:15 of the 15th day of each month, my phone would buzz. All that the screen would light up with were two words: “be kind.”

At first, it made a huge difference. I was able to look at it, laugh to myself and move on. It seemed to always come when I needed it most. After about 7 months of the same routine, I started to notice it was losing its effect — but not in the way you might think. I was noticing that I didn’t need it anymore. I had automatically reminded myself that around this time of day I should be excited about the rest of the evening and the time I had to spend doing the things I loved.

Whether you need it for financial success, personal behaviours or general relaxation — it’s worth it

Now over two years later, I still have the reminder in my phone. It’s a slow and steady adjustment to replace my negative thinking to a positive outlook, but it’s working. Whether you need a reminder letting you know that you will eventually pay off your debt, that your day is going to get better or that you have a great support group — it’s important to let these small adjustments turn insignificant downfalls into significant wins. Reality check: some people need to work harder to be happy than others. And there is nothing wrong with that.

3 ways to change your money mindset - YouTube

What’s something you do to lift your spirits when you’re having a bad day? Let me know in the comments! 

The post How A Monthly Reminder In My Phone Changed My Negative Mindset appeared first on Mixed Up Money.

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Does anyone remember the good old days? I’m talking the days when you had to go to an actual ticket booth to buy concert tickets, or when you actually had to walk the grocery store aisle to find what you needed. Yeah, those days. I remember them like they were yesterday. Mostly because I’m getting older and the years just seem to blur together. I legitimately thought that a Juicy J song (yes, I like Juicy J) was from 2008 when in reality it was from a 2013 album. IT WAS WILD, YOU GUYS.

Over the weekend I realized that it had been an extremely long time since I actually had to communicate with a human while buying an item. Other than the occasional dinner out I make most of my purchases online, which is pretty typical of anyone between the ages of 18 to well, 60. I’ll include some real statistics though because I know my super scientific research of personal experience doesn’t make everyone buy into what I’m saying. Also, I think we all know millennials excel in this category, but the millennial storyline is kind of played out, so I’ll let the numbers do the talking for me.

All this graph demonstrates is that I’m probably not alone. I mean, let’s think about it together…

When was the last time you:

  • Didn’t go to self-checkout at a grocery store when you had less than 20 items?
  • Went to the mall or to a store to buy a new outfit or electronic?
  • Booked a dinner reservation over the phone?
  • Ordered takeaway food without an app?

For me, it’s been about four months since I didn’t do self-checkout or online pick up for groceries and it’s been about 8 months since I bought clothing or electronics in store. It’s not hard to avoid human contact when it comes to spending our money anymore, which often makes me wonder whether or not this is why people seem so grumpy all the time.

It takes little to no time to have or get the things that we want

There are many areas of life that have gone from a reasonable level of expectation to a stress-filled level of demand. Your work expects you to be available at all times and customers and clients expect to be treated as though they are entitled to what they want and when they want it. At the end of the day, the fluidity of spending money and receiving goods has become insanely fast. If you need diapers for your baby, you can have them delivered to your front doorstep within 24 hours. If you want your coffee ready before you even arrive at Starbucks, you can order with just three quick taps. We have been conditioned to feel that because we are comfortable spending the extra money, we should receive things on demand.

People have an unrealistic idea of what they deserve because when they spend their money on something that offers quick and painless customer service they cannot comprehend why anything will go wrong. “How did they mess up my order? It’s 2018” is a common saying in the English language these days. Not only is this type of spending making us grumpy because its given us the crazy idea that because things are able to be done in a short period of time, but because if it isn’t done in the time we expect, we immediately get mad at the person who has little to no control over the outcome.

The lack of human interaction has affected our feelings towards others

A study that estimates how consumers will behave by 2020 found that 86% of shoppers are willing to spend more money for a better customer experience. However, the ability to measure that customer experience doesn’t really stand. I mean, I for one know that depending on what my purchase is, I find it difficult to have a comfortable and meaningful interaction with the client or customer service representative I’m dealing with. It doesn’t take much for me to feel as though there is no common courtesy left whether it’s something as small as a please and thank you.

It used to mean so much for someone to spend their money on material things, but these days the spending is expected. Go to a coffee shop to work? Not within spending $6 on a latte you won’t. Have someone look up a size in another store for you? “Oh, you can actually just look that up on our app.” Due to the fact that we rarely communicate with strangers anymore, our desire to do so makes it easy to negatively view an interaction before it has even occurred.

People no longer get the answers they need

Because we cannot simply ask a question about a product, service or experience, many people will do their best to find a general answer within the FAQs or by pulling up the online chat box. However, when the answer they need isn’t available, accurate or easy to find — they become upset. I mean, hey. It’s understandable. If you are going to market your product online, it’s a good idea to have your website up to snuff or a wicked customer service team who is available to answer questions. But on the flip side of things, it’s perfectly normal to make a phone call or go into a store if you need questions answered. In fact, it’s good to do research and determine whether this purchase is right for you. It might take your anger level from a 10 to a zero — which is (math) 10 whole levels of less anger in your life.

Consumers feel invincible — and they kind of are

The number of restaurants I can get a cheeseburger from, the number of stores I can buy my favourite type of mascara from, and the multiple brands of clothing I can choose from that carry similar styles are unlimited. There are not many one-of-a-kind products left in our world today. Therefore, when we don’t get what we want and become grumpy consumers, we know that we are able to threaten to leave. The problem? Stores know that although you may leave, another consumer will come to replace them within seconds. When you are upset and nobody cares, you get grumpy. In fact, a Salesforce survey found that 75% of consumers expect consistent experiences across multiple platforms, and 73% of those people will leave if they feel those expectations are not being met.

Being a customer that is left less than satisfied due to our unrealistic expectations is the reality of what this style of spending has done to human beings. It takes very little to cause us to become upset and it takes a lot to impress us. To be perfectly honest with you, it’s almost unsettling.

So, what is our takeaway today?

Spending money is a privilege and we should not allow the variety of ways we are able to do so affect our emotions as much as we do. We are fortunate to be able to receive things as quickly as we do. We are fortunate to be able to find multiple versions of one product at a wide range of pricing. The next time you’re feeling grumpy because of the way you’re spending your money, remember that just 10 years ago you would have been able to get that same product — but it wouldn’t have been quite as simple as it is right now.

Have you ever let your expectations get the best of you? Share your story in the comments! Xo

The post Has How We Spend Our Money Made Us Grumpy? appeared first on Mixed Up Money.

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Yes, I know. Reading the title of this blog post makes you feel like you’re stepping back into 2002 when Cosmopolitan was life and doing 100 situps a night seemed like a great way to get in shape. However, before you get all angry at the fact that I’m counting calories (because it sounds awful), my reasons are probably not the ones you’re imagining.

Raise your hand if food is the Bonnie to your Clyde. Raise your hand if the first thing you imagine buying when you get your paycheck is every type of carb in the world. Raise your hand if you love avocado, hot sauce, eggs and toast. Raise your hand if you particularly like all of those items as one delicious meal.

If any of these categories are you — welcome.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared all of my unnecessary purchases so far this year. It’s safe to say that number will continue to rise because I’m all about enjoying the finer things in life. Like, say, a Friday night in my pyjamas, one hand covered in orange Dorito dust and the other hand sipping on a glass of the most affordable vino I could find. Just me and the Riverdale gang repeatedly asking ourselves (out loud) why we are still watching teen dramas at 27-years-old.

I spend a majority of my “wants” category dining out at local cafes or grabbing a variety of meals on the weekends. During the week, I’m pretty well-behaved, and I eat relatively healthy for someone who loves a good dessert after, well, every meal. To be honest, part of the reason I work out as much as I do is that I want to be able to enjoy all of the foods I love while still living an active lifestyle. It’s a work in progress, but we’re getting there. I’m healthy, I’m happy, and I am living my extraordinarily average but best life.

So, why the hell am I counting my calories?

It all started a few ago while I was binge-watching YouTube videos about people trying to eat 10,000 calories in one day. I know right, I have found some really incredible ways to spend my free time. Anyways — as I was watching these videos I noticed that most of the fitness buffs who were going overboard on their cheat days were using the My Fitness Pal app to track the foods they were eating. I had a flashback to 2010 when I was trying to become my own version of a fitness model (before the Instagram kids were doing it) when it hit me. I had that app at one point, and it was seriously… awful. So, why were all of these seemingly intelligent and nutritionally conscious people using it now? I had to check it out.

After downloading the app for the second time in my life, I found that much like Map My Run and some of my other favourite workout apps, My Fitness Pal had been purchased by Under Armour, and it was BEYOND better. I could scan all of the foods I was eating within seconds, enter my workouts, track my fitness goals and also keep myself in check when it came to sugary sweets.

Keeping a food diary has always held me accountable. I’ve typically kept a food diary during times I was dealing with illness, my many allergies or just to see what I actually eat in a typical week. Every time I do it, I tend to eat healthier and avoid a lot of bad foods. I also found that it revealed my insecurities of eating things that I thought I shouldn’t be eating. This time, and with this app, things were different. I was tracking literally all of my snacks (even the cherry blasters, popsicles and cookies I tend to slip into my daily snacks) without embarrassment. Does this mean I’m growing up and starting to accept that if I restrict myself, I won’t feel satisfied?

That’s when it hit me. This app could seriously change my spending habits.

Over the last week, I tracked everything I ate to see if I would keep myself from dining out as often as usual. One of the reasons this task was easier than I thought is because tracking calories and nutritional information is much more manageable if you’re aware of what’s in your food. Another reason that this task was particularly successful was that I was finding that I need to be more conscious of sugar consumption and focus more on my protein intake. Because my husband and I eat vegetarian at home, it became apparent that although I was saving a ton of money on not buying meats, I also lacked some serious proteins.

In just one week of using the My Fitness Pal app, I only purchased two meals out of the 35 breakfast, lunch, dinners and snacks I ate. I also attempted to increase my proteins while still eating a mainly vegetarian diet. In fact, I only had one meal that included meat over the full seven-day-period. In the week before this, and during a period when I wasn’t tracking my calories, I ate out an average of three meals per week and anywhere from four to five snacks per week.

Why did I choose to calorie-count over keeping a food diary?

I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who are reading this post and thinking to themselves that counting calories is not a good idea or not an option for them. I totally understand that point of view as well. Counting calories can be a dangerous game for some individuals.

The reason I personally chose to calorie count over keeping my typical food diary is for three reasons:

  • I need to make sure I’m eating enough on days that I do physically exhaustive workouts
  • I would like to continue to eat vegetarian meals at home while still getting enough protein
  • Food diaries don’t provide you with data and data is what I need to convince myself of things

Writing down that I went to Freshii for dinner three nights one week doesn’t seem as bad as me attaching a number and ingredients to a meal that I eat. While I realize that this kind-of-crazy-idea isn’t for everyone, it’s been an eye-opening experience for me both health-wise and financially. Some people need to track their shopping trips, and clothing hauls — but all I need to track is how many lemon loafs a girl really needs from Starbucks before she can just make her own damn lemon loaf at home (and actually know what’s inside).

I’ll obviously still go out for dinners, enjoy the occasional latte and splurge on my favourite smoothies from Booster Juice every now and again — but I’d like to continue challenging myself to see if I really need to spend as much money on food as I currently am.

To see exactly what I ate in one full day, check out the video! It also includes a small grocery haul courtesy of my hilarious and charming husband. Enjoy!

Full day of meals & mini grocery haul - YouTube

Would you ever consider counting calories to help yourself stay on budget? Let me know in the comments!

The post I’ve Been Counting My Calories To Save Money appeared first on Mixed Up Money.

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