I’ll be honest—I feel really, really lucky that I get to do what I do. It involves a ton of work, I don’t really take time off and I’m fairly certain I’m starting to develop a permanent forward neck tilt from spending so much time on my laptop, but would I change it to work any other gig? No!
While my job as a full-time travel and lifestyle blogger offers so many incredible positives and benefits like setting my own schedule, getting to travel as much as I want to, working on projects that I’m truly passionate about and having to only answer to myself, it goes without saying that there are some struggles that inevitably go along with being your own boss. I’ve been really lucky that some of those self-employed issues have been mitigated by having Matt work at home with me (namely, waking up in good time and having company, two things that I absolutely need in my life), but there’s one glaring issue that every self-employed person deals with that it’s hard for any entrepreneur to escape from: you don’t have a steady salary and you have to hustle every day.
I’m lucky to make a good living from blogging but because of the ever-changing quality of social media and the media industry in general, I’m a big believer in being strategic about finances. It’s critical to feel like you have security not only from a purely financial perspective, but from a creative angle—it’s hard to do your best work when you’re fixated on money always! As you guys know, I’ve been with the Royal Bank of Canada quite literally since I was born—both my parents were lifelong customers so they opened accounts for all of us when we were born. They have been so good to me my whole life, and particularly during critical life transitions, whether that’s in university as a struggling student or as a new business owner.
I’m sharing some of the super easy ways that I save my hard-earned moola that allows me to invest in my travels as much as I do, in addition to some of the incredibly easy tools that RBC offers to help you be the most financially empowered person you can be (which is honestly just important for anyone, not just the self-employed). Without further ado, some of my top tips!
Bike—save the environment & your wallet!
I bike literally everywhere. I not only don’t have a car (which I will admit is a bit easier for me because I live in the city and am on major bike routes), but I also make a point of not doing car sharing services or cabbing either. My friends know to expect me slightly out of breath and mildly sweaty for any meet-up (I like to think it gives me a nice glow) and not only does it mean that I’m doing good for Mother Earth and working on my fitness, but it costs quite literally nothing and it’s really incredible how much you can cover by bike.
Prioritize what you value most, save on what you can
There are a couple things that I prioritize as far as budget, and usually it’s because they either allow me to connect more to my loved ones, bring me the most joy or benefit my career. So in no short order, these “priority buckets” include travel (for my career and for visiting my loved ones, who have generally often been scattered around the world or because my friends also equally value travel and this allows us to do incredible trips together), the occasional nice dinner (my friends, partner and family are all foodies and we like connecting this way), select clothes and beauty (for the blog, but also because I love style and skin care specifically) and last but not least, my health. Having said that, for each bucket I figure out within each one where I can save, and what’s more important for me to prioritize. As a quick example, when it comes to health I spend quite literally hardly anything for my gym membership (I got in on a corporate rate thanks to my business and they had a grand opening promotion, love my gym!) but I do every few months go see a personal trainer to get new programs for the gym and to make sure my form is correct since I don’t want to injure myself. Long story short, I believe that if you work hard, you should enjoy the little luxuries that you value most—but since you need to factor savings in too, it’s all about cutting back in certain areas with a bit of thought and strategy!
Take advantage of built-in saving tools
On that note, I opted for NOMI Find & Save (a saving system from RBC that analyzes your saving and spending to help automatically set aside money for you) some time ago and it is actually shocking how intuitive this tool from RBC is. I’m not someone who is financially minded naturally (I’ve always said I like making money but not managing it) so I am a big believer in working smarter, not harder. This is a philosophy I try to apply to everything, but especially to the things that can not only be more complex, but that are most impactful on your life. And like it or not, very few things can impact your life as much as money, or the lack of it if you’re not careful about saving it smartly! If you want to learn more about this amazing tool, stop by here to discover more about NOMI Find & Save!
Breakfast and lunch are homemade, always
I’m so happy that Matt is on board with this, because having your partner on the same page as you when it comes to financial philosophies is really important. I make us a smoothie every morning, and Matt always makes dinner (unless we’re out, see above—both of us really value our social circles and families!). Those dinners or food prep are then always our homemade lunches, and whether we’re at home or if I’m at my studio, I always have a healthy lunch that I packed. Not only is this important for me health-wise because I’ve got a few dietary sensitivities and this makes things so much easier knowing exactly what’s in each meal, but it’s also such a money-saver. Oh, and coffee! That’s another thing I have at home or bring in my Yeti—such an unnecessary expenditure otherwise, unless I’m doing a meeting or coffee date.
When I first got NOMI up and running a year or so ago, I was shocked to see how much we were spending on food delivery because we were “so busy.” Honestly, the prep that goes into a simple but yummy lunch is very minimal and it was pretty embarrassing how we kept justifying spending so much on lunches that took just as much time to get delivered as they would to prep (not to mention I never felt that great after eating them). One thing I also set up was NOMI Budgets, which allows for a more limited contingency budget for those odd nights or days when life is crazy and we have to get delivery. To make sure we don’t just get sucked back into the vortex of doing it all the time—you get notifications when you hit 50, 75 and then 100% of your budget so that you always know where you’re at.
I used to get genuine anxiety every time my friends would bring up investments—I felt like the one person who didn’t seem to understand this complex world of investing and was already just trying to make strides as far as saving for our first place (more about that here), let alone navigating investments. I really trust RBC and always have—they’ve been there for me every step of the way in my life, so naturally, when it came to finally tentatively dipping my toe into investments, I wanted to go to my trusted source first. MyAdvisor is yet another incredible (and a new one, at that!) service that RBC offers to connect their customers to a financial advisor, allowing you to not only manage a dynamic dashboard with your savings and investment goals, but that you can access easily at any point digitally. It’s the perfect bridge of human touch meets digital ease, allowing you to connect with advisors by video, phone or if you’d rather meet in person, face to face!
At the end of the day, it’s really all about just trying to be as smart and ahead of the curve as I possibly can be—being self-employed is amazing but you do need to be looking out for yourself when it comes to your finances, particularly because there will always inevitably be some ups and downs with it when you’re not on a steady paycheque. Self-employed or not, being generally financially empowered as a woman has always been something so important to me. I’ve been super lucky with my mum as a role model because she’s always been exactly that and it inspired me growing up—knowing you have a cushion with savings and growth with investments allows you to make more empowered decisions, invest in the things you care about most and in short, live your best life! I really hope some of these tools are ones you can investigate more ASAP!
This post was created in partnership with Royal Bank of Canada but all opinions are my own