Today Gloria is joined by her friends Stephanie and Alexandra. They discuss budgeting habits, how to save money while grocery shopping, and some tips and tricks to make the most out of the food you buy. Hope this inspires others to reduce food waste, price match, and shop local! Steph’s favourite non-hobby hobby is grocery shopping, so you know that she has the best tips.

Ten tips to save you money while grocery shopping:

  1. Go in with a list – know what you need to get and stick to the list
  2. Take stock of what you already have to make sure you don’t buy the same thing you already have
  3. Price match! Download an app like Reebee or Flipp to see flyers, and shop at a grocery store that price match
  4. Instead of ordering in, pick something up from the grocery store to supplement what you already have and cook a fun meal at home – it makes you more excited to cook at home
  5. If there’s a farmer’s market in your area, go late in the day for discounts
  6. To reduce food waste, prep and freeze produce you’re not going to use so it’s ready for use in the future. Listen to the pod to find out what you can freeze – you might be surprised!
  7. Use Flashfood to reduce food waste and buy reduced items
  8. Buy house brand/generic brand instead of brand name
  9. Don’t shop while hungry!!
  10. Keep herbs in water (and switch water out each day) to increase shelf life

Links
Steph on Instagram

Flashfood

Reebee  

Flipp

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Welcome to SEASON TWO of MI$$ FINDEPENDENT!! I’m so excited to share this with you. In season one, we learned the basics of how to get our finances in order. In season two, Gloria will be opening the floor, using the podcast as a chill forum to normalize conversations about money.

Today she is joined by her friend Sachiko, who is building a campervan from scratch. They discuss Sachiko’s motivation behind the project, her relationship with money, budgeting for the build, and also budgeting for taking a year off to travel in the van. Hope this inspires others to get started on the project you have been thinking of starting – whether it is building a campervan of your own, beginning that marathon training, or starting a side hustle. Just do the damn thing!

Links

Sachiko’s spreadsheet tools – have you seen her budgets?? You should take a look:
https://road-to-pitches.com/spreadsheet-tools

Road to Pitches on Youtube
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWZDNjCrCLHeFA9oSj4QSXQ

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Referrals
Sign up for no-fee banking with Tangerine or EQ using my referral code!

Tangerine – new accounts get 2.5% interest (first 5 months), use my Orange key: 40411403S1
https://tangerine.ca

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I have always been interested in mindfulness and meditation, but have yet to create a habit that stuck. Over the years, I have tried to meditate for a couple days in a row and be met with so much mind-wandering that I was discouraged from continuing. Since physical distancing measures were put into place, and we are encouraged to stay home, there are fewer things to distract me from meditation and a lot more reason to commit to it.

To tie this in with money – I begin all of my podcast episodes with asking my guests, “What is your relationship with money?” The answer is not always positive. Money can be stressful, money can be shame inducing. We work for money, we need money to sustain our livelihoods. Being mindful is being aware of the present moment, and I think that the practice of mindfulness and meditation can help us be more aware of many different aspects of our lives, including money.

It’s important to practice mindfulness with regard to your relationship with money so that you become more aware of your spending and saving habits, leading to a more positive relationship with money going forward.

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. I’ve heard this length of time in popular culture and seen a lot of “30-day challenges” around the internet. This is a myth. With a quick Google, 21 days to form a habit has been debunked countless times. According to a study done by Phillippa Lally at the University College of London and published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it took participants 18-254 days to form a habit. So the time it takes to form a habit is different for everyone, and it’s ok to miss a day or two. The key is to be consistent overall and commit to making your goal stick. It’s all mental game.

I’ve decided to meditate for at least ten minutes each day for 60 days to get me started on what will ideally be a lifelong practice. I’m proud to say that I have completed over 60 consecutive days and will continue to meditate each day. These are my reflections.

Meditation Practice
To guide me through my meditation practice, I use an app called Insight Timer. It has thousands of free guided meditations, a timer with different sounds you can customize, and some free courses. You can sort the meditations by the length of time and also search by keyword, for example, meditations for mornings, sleep, gratitude, etc. It took me a while to get into the habit, but now I meditate when I wake up and before I go to sleep. I like the guided beginner Vipassana meditation.

Day One
I lay on my yoga mat in savasana and tried to inhale for four seconds and exhale for six over the span of ten minutes. It was difficult because various thoughts of my day kept on popping into my head. I had to visualize them as balloons filled with helium, acknowledged, and then let them go up into the air. It was hard to breathe deeply through my belly, I found that my chest was restricted and they became shallow breaths instead. Not sure if that is a function of the anxiety I was feeling at the time, or because I haven’t practiced deep belly breathing in a while.

After that, I decided it would be better to create a habit beginning with a trigger. That would be waking up, getting ready for the day, meditating before eating breakfast, and also after getting ready for bed. This made it easier to get into the habit of it, and also helped with reducing my screen time at night.

Day Thirty
It has become kind of habitual to meditate in the morning and night, and my mind wandering has decreased although there is still a long way to go. Some days are easier than others, and that is perfectly ok. It is my personal meditation journey and whatever I feel is valid. Something I’m also practicing is being kinder to myself. We are our own worst critics, but we can train ourselves not to be.

One of the guided meditations that I have enjoyed guides the listener through a breathing exercise that is based on counting the breaths – inhale for a count of four, then hold it for a count of seven, then exhale to a count of eight. It was pretty hard for me to hold my breath for a count of seven, so that really kept me focused and in the moment.

Another kind of meditation that helps me focus is mantra meditation, where you inhale, silently say a mantra, exhale and silently say a mantra. This helps keep the mind from wandering.

Some nights I listen to a chant meditation and fall asleep to it.

Day Sixty
Meditating every day has made me more aware of my breathing patterns as well as my thoughts. It has taught me to breathe through the difficult moments and live more in the present moment, be absorbed in my current state as opposed to worrying about the future or ruminating about the past. It has taught me to be more kind and patient with myself. This is key for me, as someone who has always been tough on myself. It has reduced my mind wandering and increased my overall sense of well being.

All in all, I’m really glad that I made the effort to incorporate a meditation practice into my daily life and think that it will continue to be part of my life into the foreseeable future. Though it was off to a rough start, getting into the habit of meditation really became a game-changer. I would recommend that anyone and everyone start meditating, I think we could all use a bit more zen in our lives, especially through this weird, challenging time.

My Thoughts on FI…


There are a lot of financial independence/retire early (FI/RE) blogs out there. There are even more personal finance blogs. Although there are fewer Canadian ones, what I think are the most interesting ones are personal journeys to reach FI. Is it cliche to say that it’s about more than money? Rather, it’s about changing your life. There has been a movement, albeit a small one, toward minimalism and away from consumerism. This all ties into financial independence because when you spend less than you earn, and invest the difference, that is how you get on your merry way to FI.

When I was in university, one of the first things that my finance professor said to us was, simply put, “compound interest”. This is also what Warren Buffet believes in. A few years later, I came across Mr. Money Mustache and it all clicked. Invest 25x your annual expenses into ETFs and you’re FI. But putting it into practice was another story. Live by these tenets: spend less than you earn, time in the market will always beat timing the market, and continuously educate yourself. There is no lazy way to earn money, everything has a cost – usually, it’s your time. 

 

Many FI bloggers I’ve seen are high salary earners. Many of them worked in big tech. Many of them American. House hackers, living for free. I’m fortunate to not be considered low income, but I definitely am not in the top snack bracket by any means, and in Canada we pay a heck of a lot more in taxes, and in the larger metropolitan areas, real estate is certainly not cheap. Now maybe I’m just making excuses for myself, but I strongly believe in moderation. I choose not to squirrel away 80% of my take-home pay because then I would be living in a sunless basement apartment and eating beans and rice every day. Is it possible to have nice things and also work towards FI? That’s the question that I want to answer. Personal finance is exactly that – personal. It’s your money, so do whatever you want with it. You don’t know what will happen tomorrow so you might as well enjoy today – within reason.

I know of so many people who have worked so hard for so many years and then haven’t had a chance to enjoy it. And then there are the people who have achieved FI and are living their best life. There are also people who have reached FI and have fallen into a depression because their life lacks meaning. Everything is a spectrum. Balance and moderation are key. Don’t deprive yourself, but it’s important to remember not to spend beyond your means. But can this moderate lifestyle attain FI? I guess we’ll see.

On the seventh episode of MI$$ FINDEPENDENT, Gloria wraps up Season 1. She is joined by her friend Vickie, they discuss emergency funds, avoiding bank fees, and short to mid-term investing for those financial goals. We will be talking about what an emergency fund is, how to set one up, different types of bank accounts, how to find the right bank account for you, as well as investing for short to medium term and some safe places to put your money.

Homework
Task 1: Set up and optimize your emergency fund
Task 2: Get rid of those pesky monthly bank account fees Task 3: Consider opening a high-interest savings account to save for your short term financial goals

Links/Sources
Canadian Financial Capability Survey 2019
Gov’t of Canada bank account tool
High interest savings accounts
Personal income spending flow chart
Canadian Banking Basics from the Canadian Bankers Association
CDIC – How deposit insurance works

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Thanks so much for tuning in! Catch you on season 2.

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On the sixth episode of MI$$ FINDEPENDENT, Gloria is joined by her friend Lucy, they discuss all these fun acronyms – tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs), registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and non-registered accounts – what they are, what their benefits are, what to invest in them, contribution limits and when to use each. One thing I wanted to mention that we didn’t talk about is employer-matched retirement savings. If your employer will match your RRSP contribution, definitely sign up – it’s free money!!

Homework
Task 1: Determine whether you’re in the financial position to invest right now
Task 2: Open up that TFSA if you haven’t already! Determine whether now is a good time for you to open an RRSP based on your current tax bracket and earning potential
Task 3: Check your TFSA and RRSP contribution limits and contribute what you can!

Links/Sources
2016 Canadian Census data on registered accounts
2019 RBC Study on Canadian TFSAs vs RRSPs

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On the fifth episode of MI$$ FINDEPENDENT, Gloria is joined by her friend Albert, they discuss debt and credit scores – different kinds of debt, strategies to pay them off, what a credit score is, how to figure it out and factors that affect your credit score and why it’s important.

Homework
Task 1: If you have debt, create a repayment plan by listing our all of your debt from largest to smallest (sum or interest rate). If you need help, credit counseling is available: https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/debt/debt-help.html
Task 2: Find out your credit score and determine whether you need to take steps to improve it

Links
Where to check your credit score:
Borrowell
Credit Karma
Mogo

Sources:
Gov’t of Canada Financial Consumer Agency Debt Free Plan
Gov’t of Canada Financial Consumer Agency Credit Score Info
Common Credit Score Myths

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On the fourth episode of MI$$ FINDEPENDENT, Gloria is joined by her friend Martin, they discuss budgeting – what a budget is, tools to help you budget, our expense tracking in the last month and what we learned from them, the social aspect of saving, habit creation for budgeting, and how to make budgeting not feel so restrictive.

Homework
Task 1: Calculate and categorize your expenses for the last 3 months (or maybe 2019 to get an accurate pre-COVID picture)
Task 2: Create a spending plan

Links
Canadian Financial Capability Survey Highlights
Government of Canada Budget Planner
Mint

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On the third episode of MI$$ FINDEPENDENT, Gloria is joined by her friend Wendi, they discuss having multiple income streams – from formulating ideas, to starting a side hustle, to gaining traction and staying motivated.

Homework
Task 1: Think about something you like to do that you can capitalize on
Task 2: Dare I say, get it started?

Links
Support local businesses by buying gift cards for their products/services at Support SME – Support SMEs
tala, an awesome new Filipino restaurant in downtown Toronto – Tala Restaurant/

Teaching online platforms:
Teachable
Udemy
An article from OEDB that lists out different platforms

Teaching English online:
Magic Ears
VIP Kid
An FAQ from GoAbroad about teaching English online

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On the second episode of MI$$ FINDEPENDENT, Gloria is joined by a friend and they talk about some of the topics that will be further covered in depth over the course of this season, like things your bank isn’t telling you – there’s money you could be leaving on the table. Bank fees? Interest? Investments? We’re talking about it all today.

Sign up for no-fee banking with Tangerine or EQ using my referral code!

Tangerine – new accounts get 2.5% interest (first 5 months), use my Orange key: 40411403S1
https://tangerine.ca

EQ Bank – all accounts get 1.7% interest:
https://join.eqbank.ca?code=GLORIA1867

Listen now: