Dear Diary

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We’ve already been over my personal 2016 resolutions, most of which are going quite well actually, but this post is all about those dollars. That’s right, RAOP is finally making bank (sort of), and this year our tiny team has some pretty big plans for the pastel empire. The only problem? We really need to get on top of proper money management.

A few months ago I was able to get myself out of credit card debt with the help of Mogo (aka my financial superhero), but now it’s time to move on to bigger financial woes. We finally set up RAOP as an actual business and got ourselves an accountant, but that doesn’t mean our personal money struggles aren’t still coming into play.

Making the move from working at a cushy full time job to working for ourselves here at The Pastel Palace was a tough call for Johanna and I, and though the payoff (not to mention the FUN) has been more than worth it, we’ve definitely got a lot to learn when it comes to budgeting and running a business. Freelance life can be difficult to navigate no matter what field you’re in, and we’re just starting to grasp basic concepts like knowing our worth, charging appropriately for projects, and keeping track of what we’re spending. On top of that, we’ve come up with a few key goals and money saving tips to keep us in the green this year, and we’re sharing them below!

Keep scrolling for our favourite tips and tricks

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Don’t Spend on small stuff // I am really bad for spending all of my money on pretty little things, and though a lot of them end up as props in shoots etc. I still can’t help but feel the need to scale down and rethink my approach a bit. Weekly fresh flowers and paper clips shaped like flamingos might look nice in the studio, but saving those pennies to invest in new photo backdrops makes a lot more sense (cents?)

What’s Old is New Again // Johanna is the queen of DIY, and she’s been doing a great job of repurposing and reinventing around the house lately. Old band t-shirt? Let’s make it a crop top and use the extra fabric to make macrame plant hangers! Backpack too stained from pen ink? Give it new life with a quick dye in the bath tub!

Plan ahead // One of our biggest shortcomings is budgeting and keeping track of what we spend, so the prepaid Mogo card is sort of a lifesaver. All you do is load the card with your spending money (ex. our entire budget for a shoot), and whether you’re shopping online or irl you can never overspend! It’s a really clever way to stay on top of budgeting, and the card designs are really pretty to boot.

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Don’t get Screwed by CC Debt // I may have gotten my credit card under control, but Johanna still has a handful of debt and student loans to pay off. We’re trying to work out a plan to help her get on top of it, and Mogo’s Liquid Loan is definitely a contender, but in the meantime she’s just saving whenever she can. As for me, I’ll be keeping a very close watch on our new business account visa- there’s something extra scary about falling off the wagon with that card!

Back to Basics // Since leaving our 9-5 life we’ve had to make a lot of little lifestyle adjustments, including but not limited to making tea at home instead of splurging at coffee shops, getting creative with cocktail recipes instead of overspending at the bar, and making more home cooked meals with friends.

Swap Meet // We love the idea of trading what you don’t need for something you do, and we try to do so as much as possible. We’ll often trade social media consultation for business advice and locally-made goods, and we’re really into Toronto’s trading group Bunz Trading Zone. Offering goods and services is a great way to get what you need for less, and it also helps build a really wonderful sense of community, even in the big city.

Dear Diary

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I have a bad habit of spending my weekends working nonstop since I started a 9-5 office job during the week, but I always try to put aside a bit of time for something extra special. Last weekend, that meant Mogo’s “Get the Shot” event.

Presented by my girls Kastor and Pollux, and hosted by local blogger Christian Thompson, this afternoon event was one of those dreamy moments where all my favourite things came together: friends, pizza, photography, and Skyzone! With the help of photographers Othello and Neva we learned how to get the best “in motion” shots, which basically involved jumping around like crazy people for a few hours in front of the camera. I can’t say I’ve really mastered the jumping skills like some of my peers (backflips were involved), but getting bounced around in a trampoline park was certainly a welcome break from my busy weekend.

Make sure you sign up to be a member to get the chance to attend future events! To find out more about #MogoPerks click here and scroll.

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092A0170 This post was sponsored, but all opinions are my own. To inquire about sponsored posts, please email jess@shineinfluencers.com

Dear Diary

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Well, today is a very big day- I’m officially 100% debt free, AND I’ve even managed to save up my 2015 goal before October, something I never thought would be possible. I mean, I’ll be honest… until this year I’ve been absolutely terrible when it comes to financial planning and budgeting. I’ve always overspent and under-saved, and the idea of living without constant credit card debt just seemed impossible ever since I first signed up for a visa in my early teens.

A few key factors helped me turn my financial situation around over the past year, some of which were conscious choices, and some of which were just good luck/timing. For starters, I was hired at a 9-5 salary job for the first time, which offered a new layer of security that I’d never experienced before. Having the promise of a steady paycheque made budgeting a lot more fun and approachable, but I was still way in over my head with debt and credit card interest rates. That’s when I got together with my new best financial friend, Mogo.

I mentioned a bit about Mogo in my last post, but I wanted to get a bit deeper into the details this time around. Mogo’s main goal is to take down credit card debt with their unique take on finance, and it really does work. To get a jump on my debt, I took out a MogoLiquid Loan, and received approval and funding within a week. With the money they provided I paid off my Visa debt instantly, and got to work paying back Mogo at a much lower interest rate.I went from borrowing on a credit card that could be dangerous and take me forever to pay back to a loan with scheduled payments that would get me out of debt in a few years. They sent me a monthly snapshot showing my progress, which essentially turned the whole experience into much less stressful game of sorts. The snapshots also showed me how many payments I was from levelling up to a lower rate (After 12 good payments, Mogo lowers your rate!) In the end I was feeling so motivated about getting out of debt that I made extra payments to my loan (penalty free) and ended up paying it all out!

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With my credit card debt instantly demolished, Mogo helped me alter my habits to improve my credit score (which I can now conveniently check free of charge on my Mogo dashboard) and get my financial situation under control. First they sent me a *macaron print* MogoCard, which is basically a credit card that you pre-load so you’re only actually spending money you have. I started to put my spending money allowance on the MogoCard when I went out, and in case I wasn’t sure how much I had left in my budget I could text Mogo to instantly get a balance update.

And what became of my old credit card?

Mogo didn’t make me cut up my credit card or melt it in lava, but instead they taught me how to use it more strategically if I did want to keep the account open. Their Financial Fitness Coach Chantel told me to set up my account to automatically pay my internet and music subscription bills with my credit card, and then automatically pay the same amount off of the credit card every month with my bank account, so I’d be covering what I was spending almost immediately and earning good credit points at the same time. Brilliant, right?

With Mogo’s help my debt quickly became something more manageable, and eventually something I was able to erase from my life- hopefully once and for all! In the spirit of keeping my bank account in the green, I implemented some money saving tips into my life that were long overdue (some of which I’ve shared on Instagram over the past few weeks). Here are my top tips:

Sweat for Less // Instead of spending a bunch of your income on a yoga pass you’ll only use twice, take advantage of all the free workouts around the city. There are a whole bunch of run clubs, NTC classes, yoga classes, and so much more here in Toronto, and with a bit of research you can easily stay fit for free.

On the Mend // I have a really bad habit of damaging my clothing or shoes and leaving them unwearable in the closet for ages and ages. This season I took all of my favourite neglected pieces and had them cleaned and mended so they were just like new. I cropped dresses that had shrunk too short into cute tops, and finally had the zipper on my ankle boots replaced. It was like buying a whole new wardrobe, but for half the price!

You Earn What You Eat // Just like everyone else in Toronto, I spend way too much money on food. I buy more groceries than I need to, and I eat out all of the time, which means I’m never actually using the groceries when it comes down to it. Though I still eat out a lot, I’ve started to be more conscious about what I spend on where, and I’ve almost completely phased out buying perishables for the time being because I’m just too busy to cook right now and I want to minimize wastage.

Make the Splurge Worth the Spend // Sometimes you have to spend and there’s just no way around it, but make sure those special moments are worth it. Buying a black silk shirt dress that you can wear both to work and out later that night for years to come? Okay fine. Buying three pairs of sneakers that will essentially wilt off of your feet in the rain from H+M? Put the shoes down and walk away!

Did I leave anything out? let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to get all the details to you.

This post was sponsored, but all opinions are my own. To inquire about sponsored posts, please send me an email at alyssa@randomactsofpastel.com

Dear Diary

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I have to admit, I’m terrible when it comes to finances. I’m very big on instant gratification, which means collecting pretty things has always won out over building up a savings account or putting away my credit card. I consistently overspend on everything from weekly groceries to photo shoot props, and there have been a few times when I honestly got in super over my head with debt.

As fun as mindless spending can be every once and awhile, it definitely adds up over time, and when this new year started I decided enough was enough: it’s time to be a responsible adult, at least when it comes to my bank account! The first step I took was changing my Visa over to an Avion card so that when I do have to spend I also gain travel points- a decision that helped make my recent trip to Mexico a whole lot more affordable. I also set up a tax-free savings account that I vowed never to touch (not even for a pair of glittery Miu Miu shoes!), and started to make bigger payments on my visa debt every paycheque.

But even with those steps in place, I found I was still struggling with debt. The interest rates on my account were pretty out of control from building up over the years, and no matter how much money I put toward the balance it always seemed to catch right back up with me. Overwhelmed and frustrated with my lack of progress, I turned to Mogo.

Mogo is a new Canadian financial services company that aims to help people like me “Uncredit Card” their lives. First, I signed up for one of their “liquid loans”, an instant loan system with interest rates significantly lower than my actual credit card, and a really manageable payment plan to pay it back. I used Mogo liquid to pay off my Visa in full so that I could put a stop to their sneaky monthly interest charges once and for all, and now every paycheque I make payments on my Mogo loan instead, which meansI pay significantly less interest and I will be debt free sooner! Better yet, if I have the loan balance after 12 months, Mogo will lower the interest rate even further as a reward for good payment history (for example, 9.99 could drop to 6.9). Pretty cool right? Mogo also helped me set up my Visa to pre-pay bills and improve my credit score, but I’ll save that bit for my follow up post when the loan is all paid for.

But wait- there’s more!

I also signed up for a Mogo pre-paid Visa card to use as a Visa replacement during the month. Basically this card acts just like a Visa, but without the fees and high interest. You pre-load it with your allocated spending money, and it even comes in crazy cute prints (I went for macarons- duh!). I’ll report back in a few weeks on this feature!

Last but not least, I started making contributions to my savings pot every paycheque. Now that I have a stable full-time job, putting money aside suddenly feels more important than ever, and it’s nice to watch the money I’m investing in my future slowly grow.

Want to learn more? Stay tuned for my update post when the debt has been totally paid!

This post was sponsored, but all opinions are my own. To inquire about sponsored posts, please send me an email at alyssa@randomactsofpastel.com