5 Simple Ways To Become Financially Fitter
Okay ladies, it’s that time of the year…when patio season comes to an end and when nature starts to shed (I’m not always a Debbie Downer, I promise!). A time when we can’t help but resolve ourselves to discarding all those extra pitchers of rosés and margaritas we had over the summer that have silently latched on to our hips.
But while you’re gearing up for a brand new season and a ‘Fitter Fall’, why not make a few changes to your everyday lifestyle to become financially fitter too? Before your mental block kicks in and persuades you to stop reading this blog post, hear me out. Becoming financial ‘fitter’ is not as hard or stressful as it seems. It’s actually a piece of cake (CAKE, YUM!), if you approach it in the right way.
Here are a few tweaks you can make to your daily routine to help kickstart your journey to becoming financial stress-free (notice how I used the word ‘tweaks’ to make all this sound cute and not intimidating?)
1. Go easy on that extra cuppa
Okay, before you hate on me, be sure to understand that the key word here is extra. I'm not saying to cut out coffee from your life entirely (I'm not Cruella De Vil, gimme a break now). All I'm saying is that extra latte or cortado could be your first step to financial freedom. Let's do the math. A latte costs on average about $3.75 (if you go to most places, other than Timmies). If you drink one less cup a day, you would end up saving $1,368.75 a year! That's a vacation right there...all from one tiny cup of coffee. Now imagine if you cut out that second 'extra' cup...
2. Shop healthier, but smarter
Who said eating healthy and organic has to break the bank? Generally speaking, healthier foods are more expensive than processed foods or junk food, but that doesn't mean you can't save money or stay within your budget by eating healthy food. The trick is to plan well and shop smart. Instead of going grocery shopping on an empty stomach, make sure your tummy is satiated and your are prepped. Take a bit of time before you go shopping to plan. Make a list of what you need, and more importantly, where to get it on sale. I use apps like Flipp and the recently-launched Flashfood to help me score the best deals in town. This helps me save a significant amount of money each month.
Another great way to save moolah is to buy seasonal. Loading up on seasonal fruits and veggies is a great way to eat healthy produce without paying a fortune for it. Oh, and while we're on the topic, always try and buy in bulk. It saves a lot more money (some stats say about 86%!!), and if you aren't able to consume it all before it gets spoiled, I recommend freezing it and consuming it a week or two later. It tastes just as good and you save money while wasting less. BAM.
3. Piling on those extra costs
Now that we're done with the 'beginner' steps, let's get a bit more focused here. I know you can handle it. You're small but mighty, remember?
I recommend taking some time to evaluate what's causing those small costs to sneakily add up. One obvious example is: fees. Banking and credit card fees.
This is probably the most simplest way to save a few extra bucks. Annual banking and credit card fees add up to several hundred of dollars a year. And this is not even fees incurred due to penalties or service charges or interest charges on your credit card. These fees are for simply using said bank and said credit card.
A great way to save here is to choose a bank and credit card that does not charge such fees. Several digital or online banks now provide such services and products, giving traditional financial institutions a run for their money.
Moreover, try and find a credit card that gives your cash back on frequent purchases like groceries or gas. It all adds up over the year.
4. Swipe and wipe
Now most people will tell you to spend less in order to save more. Period. While that is true (as much as saying eat less if you want to lose weight), swiping is actually pretty beneficial...as long as you do it responsibly. What I mean is, swiping your credit card helps you build your credit rating, which in turn, makes you financially more suitable and a better candidate when applying for mortgages and such. But, it's crucial to also make sure you don't accrue interest charges on your credit card...coz that's a killer! My mantra is to 'swipe and wipe', ie. pay off your credit card as soon as possible. My rule of thumb is to clear all debt on my cards every two weeks (since I get paid bi-monthly it makes it easier to keep track that way). This way I ensure I do not end up paying hundreds of dollars on unnecessary interest on any overdue, unpaid amount. And you know what all this extra moolah means....more ICE CREAM!
5. Transfer and forget
This last step is the most important, and my favourite one. If there's anything you end up taking away from this blog post, let it be this right here.
One practice I started incorporating 7 years ago was to 'transfer and forget.' This means, with every pay cheque I receive, I try to put aside a certain amount (a rule of thumb is 10 percent, but 30 percent is always better than 10!) and then I forget it even exists! A great way to do this is to open a no-fee savings account at a bank (usually a digital bank would be your best bet here), and every pay cheque, transfer 10 percent (or more) into this account. Then, forget it exists and don't touch it. You'll immediately see the numbers accelerate. For example, if you get $1,000 bi-monthly, and put $100 into your new savings account, by the end of the year you'll have $2,400 sitting nicely and waiting for you. You could use this for a big purchase you've always wanted to make, or even better, invest it (don't worry, we'll get into that a few articles down the line. Baby steps. For now, let's just focus on putting the money aside, shall we?)
I'm sure if you try any (or ideally all) of these steps, you'll begin to start feeling less stressed and more in control of your finances. Try it out. And if you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to reach out to me.
Until then, stay crunchy.
Shop Fall Farmer’s Markets:
Social Connections + Inspiring Food = Happy, Healthy YOU
It’s Fall Harvest time - my favourite season! Actually, if you ask me what my favourite season is I will always say Summer, but when it comes to what my favourite food season is, Fall takes the prize. To me, there is nothing like going to the local Farmer’s Market and doing our weekly fresh produce shopping. The tables are overflowing with gorgeous greens, deep reds, oranges, and yellows….I almost always come across some vegetables, herb or green I hadn’t heard of or thought to use before…so to me, it is a total treat. I invariably stagger home having bought way too much (I always combine this visit with a dog walk so no hopping in the car for me!) and spend the next hour or so meal planning for the week. There’s no doubt that the freshness of the produce, grown with care by artisanal or organic farmer’s delivers better nutrient density to our meals. Nutrient density as many of you probably know refers to the actual nutrition contained in each bite of food you put in your mouth - sadly, much conventional produce is bred for appearance, ease of shipping and longevity - flavour and nutrition rarely enter the equation. Don’t get me wrong - if that’s all you can access conventional produce is still miles better than a pack of Dippables but if you can manage a visit to a Farmer’s Market you are way ahead of the game.
Having said all that, quality and variety of food along with the inspiration it can bring is not the only benefit of shopping at a Farmer’s Market…there’s the social connections that you make while you are there. Research has shown that strong social connections are linked to better physical and emotional health with some studies even showing that people with a strong social network live longer, have better outcomes from illness and have better overall immunity. No. This does not mean that if you eat junk food as a group you will get healthier but it is an interesting fact given how much easier it is to become more isolated in our fast paced e-world. The people who have slaved all season to plant, nurture and harvest all that gorgeous food tend to be a friendly chatty bunch, eager to share their tips and ideas - over time you get to know your favourites, they get to know you and voila! New friends! Plus, there are all the people you meet, friends you haven’t seen in a while, or, the chat about that cool mushroom with a total stranger as you wonder how the heck to cook a mushroom that looks like a large head of cauliflower (that was me in the Spring - the specimen in question was a Lion’s Mane Mushroom - try finding that at your local Big Box store!).
Are you convinced (or at least curious) but now wondering how the heck to find your way to such a place? I thought you’d never ask (lol) - click here for a listing of Toronto Farmer’s Markets - the great news is that they have sprung up in every neighbourhood - even in the Financial District!!
So - do something nice for yourself, slow down, step out and smell the parsley, the apples, the carrots…whatever your taste you will absolutely find something to love at the Market and you might just meet a few new friends or bump into some old ones while you’re at it!
The Most Important Self-Care Practice
“I got like, no sleep last night…” - sound familiar?
It’s no secret that sleep is extremely important for being a fully (key word: FULLY) functional human being, yet it’s a self-care practice many of us tend to neglect. With cups of coffee and energy drinks within arm’s reach, we’re a society running on caffeine. Rather than turning to a quick-fix, here’s are a few simple tips and tricks you can start incorporating right now for better sleep:
You can still have your morning cuppa joe but if you’re particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine, try to stay away from any caffeinated beverage after noon. Speaking of beverages, relaxing teas like chamomile, valerian, or “sleepytime” blends are great for winding down in the evening.
An hour or two before bedtime, turn off Netflix and stop scrolling through your feed. If you absolutely must be on your device, lower the brightness make use of night mode and blue light filters. The glaring blue light of your screen will keep you awake. F.lux is a great free tool for your computer - it automatically filters the blue light after sunset or after whatever time you set.
Lighting is Key
This rule isn’t just for taking the perfect Instagram photo, it applies to your sleep environment too! If you have a light switch dimmer, use it! If not, try turning off overhead lights and make use of table lamps and candles. Once it’s time to hit the hay, make the room as dark as possible; dark curtains to block out street lights and an eye mask.
Read or Write Yourself to Sleep
I don’t know why, but there’s something about being in a relaxed position while reading a book that is guaranteed to make me doze off. Try to stick to good old fashioned paper books. If you’re an e-reader, you know the drill: turn that screen brightness way down. Just don’t read anything *too* compelling, because you might end up fighting sleep to find out what happens next.
If your mind races as soon as your head hits the pillow, try keeping a journal on your nightstand. Whatever comes into your head, write it down and let it go.
Exhale the Day
Lavender is used in aromatherapy for its calming effect. Light a lavender-scented candle or use a lavender pillow/body spray. Better yet, make your own. Just fill up a small spray bottle with lavender and a few drops of lavender essential oil. If you want to get real fancy, look for a sleep or relaxing essential oil blend. Take a deep, relaxing breath and exhale the day.
Reframe Your Workouts
Early in the morning, or late at night you hustle to the gym. You just have to get there, get it done, and get on with your day. Ever felt this way before? I have, and I didn't even notice until I started training on my off days this past summer. The good news is that when I did notice, I changed my thought process and my workouts became 100% better.
When we think of our workouts as just another chore or task we have to fit into the day, we tend to rush through our training session, putting less effort into each rep and being less mindful of our form and purpose. We may lose sight of our goals, forget how awesome an intense sweat feels, and start to resent the time we have to spend at the gym.
So, how do you dig yourself out of workout slump? Here are a few tips to get you back on the path to loving and looking forward to your workouts!
1. Do Something You Love
Okay, so this is not an excuse to skip burpees or supersets, but rather a chance to give yourself a little HIIT of something you love. If you're finding motivation lacking, book yourself into your favourite MightyFit, spin, zumba or CrossFit class. Having an idea of exactly what you're going to get out of a class, knowing the instructor or really digging a playlist can take your workout experience from 0 to 100 real quick.
2. Schedule Your Workouts Ahead of Time
Let's be honest, trying to drag your butt to the gym when you're worried about getting to work on time, or getting home and preparing dinner can be a drag. But a little preparation and planning goes a long way. Sit down on Sunday and schedule your workouts for the week...and most importantly, WRITE IT DOWN! Block the time off in your day planner or iPhone, and even set an alarm if you need to. If you have an idea of when you'll be in the gym you can schedule your grocery shopping, meal prep time, social outings and Netflix benders around your workout time. Having and sticking to a workout schedule will also help you focus on yourself and your movement during your workout, rather than mentally listing or checking off other tasks you need to accomplish during your day. Scheduling your workouts in advance = No Excuses!
3. Plan Your Workouts Ahead of Time!
This tip piggy-backs on number two! If you're going to schedule your workout ahead of time, you're going to need to know how long your workout is going to take. To know how long your workout will take, you need to have an idea of what you want to do/accomplish with each workout. Planning your workouts ahead of time will help prevent you from wandering around the gym aimlessly for hours trying to figure out what you want to do, from doing 3 exercises and leaving to get a burger, and from doing the exact same movements every time you hit the gym. Pre-planning your workouts will help you create a balanced and well-rounded workout routine and achieve all the gains!
4. Take a Breath
Getting your butt to the gym is the first step, leaving it all out on the floor once you get there is a whole other beast. For me, walking through the doors at the gym is like stepping through the doors of a magic wardrobe. Immediately, my mindset shifts to all the amazing things I'm going to accomplish in the next 1-2 hours. However, on a busy day, centring yourself and focusing on your workout may not be the easiest task for everyone, so use this tip. Take a deep breath, set an intention and get moving.
5. Remind Yourself that Training is a Gift!
If you follow all the above tips, this last one should happen almost automatically. But just in case, take a few seconds now to try to identify the narrative that pops up when training starts to feel like a chore. It might be something along the lines of "I don't have time for this", "I'm bored", or even "What am I doing here". Now that you know what that narrative sounds like, be ready for, and create a counter-argument.
"Today I get to workout"
"Today, I get to dedicate time to my mental and physical well-being"
"Today, I'm taking one more step towards my greater goals of xyz"
Reframing your workout as a privilege will do wonders for your mental state and physical gains before, during, and after your workout!
So, this October, take some time at the beginning of each week to plan out when you're training, what you're doing, and what you hope to accomplish. Remember that training is a privilege, a chance to honour our bodies and minds, training them to be powerful, mindful and grateful!
Happy training friends! Do YOU!