Earning Less and Spending More: A Reflection of the Times

It all started with FOMO…

I was coveting a house. Renting a townhouse, I wanted a place to call my own. I have owned houses before, but life changed, and I had to let those go. Despite the fact that I desperately wish I could turn back time, I am still a renter. 

Over the last few weeks, I have been, self-admittedly, experiencing FOMO. I have a fear of missing out. It’s not fear of not receiving, but a fear of not having a choice. 

Home Ownership and Renting

There’s a lot of controversy about homeownership vs. renting. Many people believe owning a house allows you to build equity, but it comes with a cost. Appreciation is never a sure thing, and as the owner, all repairs and maintenance belong to you. 

Renters claim expenses are lower than owning a house. Renters never need to replace a furnace, pay for a new roof, or pay realty taxes. A two-month notice to the landlord means the renter is free to move anywhere, without having to wait for a house to sell. A smart renter who invests the difference between owning and renting will often come out ahead. 

This is not a debate about which is better or worse. That’s a topic for another day. 

Back to my FOMO. I was scouring the real estate sites, looking for the “deal” or a diamond in the rough. I was shocked to see houses had more than doubled in cost over the last 20 years, and it led me to a comparison that was shocking. 

The Year: 2000

In the year 2000, I rented a two-bedroom apartment. It was close to amenities and downtown, but still located in a residential area. The building was an actual apartment building with laundry facilities and an elevator. People were friendly, and we were allowed pets. That apartment was my all-time favourite. When the sun set, the bedroom walls would glow a soft orange. All windows faced a city park that featured the old canal, and a large totem pole. It was big enough for two, and for a time, it was perfect for one. 

I paid $650 a month for this apartment. 

In the same year, I worked for a call centre where I made nearly twice the minimum wage. I had started in an entry-level position, working full time and receiving raises fairly regularly. Walking to work or taking the bus was an option, therefore I did not need a car. Grocery shopping was a bit more difficult, but it meant I purchased less, and supported smaller vendors when shopping downtown. My only real expense was my rent. 

My rent was only 33% of my gross income. 

By the time I left that employer, I was making 2.5x the minimum wage. Minimum wage did increase slightly – I believe it increased by $0.60 cents. I was earning a decent income for a position that was available to anyone with a high school diploma. Also, I had medical benefits, and paid vacation. 

The Years: 2005 – 2008

Unfortunately, and ultimately, my position was reassigned to Manila, and I was on the hunt for my “career”. After working for a couple employers, I decided that it was time to get educated for my new career, so I went back to school. 

It was a difficult two years, as my marriage ended shortly after I had started school, and I was not working during the school period, as our course was intense. Did I say intense? INTENSE.  After I graduated, I applied myself to working in the field. 

That was almost 13 years ago. 

The Year: 2019

So, I was reminiscing about lower-priced houses, and apartments of the past, and I decided to look up the rental cost for that apartment I rented. Then, I calculated my income and made the same comparison as above. 

The same apartment rents today for $1,450.00. It’s scary to think that rent has increased so significantly over the last 19 years, but it’s a fact. It’s just like food, transportation, utilities, cost of licences and everything else. 

Then I looked at my wage. I am now in a position where education is mandatory, and I am considered to be a senior staff (not based on age! based on experience). Ready for this? 

I earn $4.00 more today than I did 20 years ago. I have no medical benefits.  

That same apartment would eat up nearly TEN PERCENT MORE of my income! It would be approximately 42% of my current gross income. 

Let’s consider minimum wage as a scale: Today I make less than 2.5 times the minimum wage. It’s less than 2 times the minimum wage. In fact, I earn 1.5 times the minimum wage. 

So, the apartment now costs 223% more than it did in the year 2000. But my wage has decreased to being 1.5 times the minimum wage. My wage, with education and without benefits, has only increased by 21% in 20 years. 

How can this be real? When minimum wage was increased to a more reasonable amount (it jumped from $11 to $14 very recently), a relative few received an equal increase while still earning above minimum wage. Most of us did not get an equalizer increase. In fact, when I asked my previous employer if considerations would be made for the increase, I was informed that “no one in the company makes minimum wage, so it doesn’t affect anyone”. 

Did they not understand that the increase in minimum wage (and no increase to our wage) created a situation where costs significantly rose, and in turn, we were actually making less than we were before?

The New Norm

All of this is part and parcel of my FOMO experience, as I am not sure if I should try to purchase a house to stop the cycle of housing increases. Perhaps I should continue to rent, as it would be cheaper … or would it? I have no idea anymore. What I see is a new norm: the working poor. 

I know I live in a first world country, and I have heat, hydro, water and food. I am grateful for all that I have, and know things could be much, much worse. Yet, I still work a 40-hour work week, and when my wage does not increase to match the increases of the cost of living around me, I am losing ground. I feel like I am failing.

I must admit: I panicked. What if we have to move? What if we need to find a new place to live? How are we going to afford it? Why can we not afford a house when others around us are buying and selling? How are we going to save money, afford to have a roof over our heads and feed ourselves? What will retirement look like?  

Then I wondered where all the money has gone. If we (employees) are not receiving adequate increases, and the cost of living is demanding more money, who is the lucky winner of this windfall?

This is the new norm. We are making less money every day, and every time that someone increases the minimum wage, small business owners are shut down, and we, as the former middle class sector, make less and less. 

Yet those entry level jobs now pay $14/hour … it almost makes you wonder if it’s worth the $25k in student loans.

One day, I’d love to address employers and governments. I’d love to shout from the rooftops that we need something done to adjust the gap. It’s getting too wide of a divide. 

What happens if that divide increases? 

We are earning less, and having to spend more. This is our new reality. 

23 Ways To Save For The Holidays



The holidays, or Christmas, is coming up quick, and with that will be some hefty bills if you do not plan accordingly.

Here are some ways to save money quickly for the holidays!



Save Money

  • Make a budget. Start by deciding how much you think you can afford to spend, and work from there. Make a list of the people you need to buy for, and establish a value within the budget.


  • Change banking institutions or change banking plans: do you really need the premium plan with free everything? When was the last time you used any of the specialties they charge you for? Consider downgrading your plan and bank the savings for the holidays (pun intended!).


  • Do you have a credit card that offers cash back, or cash refunds for particular stores? In Canada, our credit card hacking is more difficult, but some stores that offer credit cards for use anywhere and give you a percentage back to spend at their stores are Canadian Tire, Walmart, Costco, etc. Others offer reward options that you can redeem for gift cards. Gift cards make great gifts, or you can use them like cash at those stores.


  • Do a luxury audit. Do you watch TV or movie channels during the fall/winter, or are you too busy at work? Do you use the cross-border or international calling on your cell phones? Do you need all the gigs of internet you are paying for? Can you cut back on a service or two for a few months (or for good!)? Bank those savings for the holidays.


  • Make your gifts this year. Think about an assortment of baking goods, gifts in a jar, an event in a bowl (like popcorn, drinks, chocolate, and a small gift card for the movies or a movie network), or other creative ideas instead of spending big bucks on something that the stores would overcharge for.


  • Double up on your gifts: make a donation and gift the donation to your recipient. Calendars for charities are popular – it’s an inexpensive gift that donates to charity and still provides something for the recipient to open and look at throughout the year.


  • Have a few challenge weeks leading up to the month you need the savings for: Meatless Monday, Soda-free week, bring your own coffee to work week, bring your own lunch to work week, etc. Make it a game and set aside the extra grocery savings.

Make Money

  • Do you have an extra room in your house? The next few holidays are centred around family (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, etc). Consider listing a room in your house as an AirBnB rental. If you are planning to be away for a week or more in the upcoming months, you could also rent out your home to a family on AirBnB. With the right insurances in place, you could earn more than your Christmas budget.


  • Drive for Uber or Lyft. You can make up your own shifts (choose times that are safer for driving strangers, if you are concerned), and make a few bucks while carting others around.


  • Sell old and unwanted items around your house. Electronics that no longer have a place in your life might be welcome in someone else’s (think replaced cell phones, iPods, etc.). Do you have clothes that you no longer wear and could be sold? Bridesmaid dresses can often be repurposed into Christmas party gowns, prom dresses, convocation parties, etc.


  • Watch for great sales or clearance at your stores. Check places like eBay, Craigslist, and Kijiji for current values, and try selling them online. (Check the return policy in case they don’t sell, or repurpose into a gift!)


  • Sign up for survey sites, like Survey Junkie, Swagbucks or PanelApp. You can earn cash from some, and others you can earn Amazon dollars. With just a few hours a week, you’d be surprised how much you could earn.


  •  Write a book and self-publish. By using Kindle publishing, you can have your work of art online and selling within 72 hours. Choose a niche that is popular and write. Fiction may take you a little longer than non-fiction, but it may sell better.  Want to learn more about self-publishing? Read this.
Here are some of the books I’ve published on Kindle:

MLM & Network Marketing: 30 Days of Tips, Tricks and Hacks, How To Grow Your Brand

MLM & Network Marketing Book 2: 30 MORE Days of Tips, Tricks and Hacks on How To Build Your Brand

Love Reconstructed: Love in Pine Meadows

If I can do it, so can you!


  • Direct Sales. Sign up for a company like Avon, Arbonne, Scentsy, Pink Zebra, Thirty-One Gifts, Stella and Dot, J.R. Watkins, Melaluca, etc. Many of these companies do not require a kit for start up, and if you are thinking about gift giving, that means others are as well. Why not be their source for gifts? The days of signing up your families to sell, or being designated sales areas are virtually over, and you can sell anywhere to anyone.


  • Get a part-time job. Now is the time that stores are looking for seasonal help. Some stores will work with your schedule without complaint, and the added perk is a discount for most stores you work for! Make money and pay less for the items you buy. Win win!


  • Sign up for a service on demand site, like Fiverr or Upwork. Do you have special media skills, design or editing prowess? People are always looking for affordable matches to help them out.


  • Become a freelance writer. More and more content will be consumed with advertising and discussion of the best of the best this holiday season. Seek out advertisements online, like ProBlogger, to see who needs writing assistance.


  • Start picking up odd jobs. Call friends who have businesses, and ask them if they need an assistant for a day or two. Offer to babysit (for money), walk the neighbour’s dog, and housesit for the snowbirds (people who go somewhere warm for the winter). Think like a teenager who needs cash: all the little jobs are still out there, and waiting for you to ask to do them!


No-Spend Ideas

  • Offer to provide a service for your time: babysitting, cleaning, or something else that the recipient could use. Oftentimes, the idea of a “coupon” is deemed as cheap, but sometimes a gift of time or doing something for the recipient is priceless. A single mom would love a couple hours to herself, a senior would appreciate a couple hours of cleaning (moving furniture for a vacuum for example), or a friend who is tight on cash would appreciate an indoor spa day at your house, or dinner made for them.


  • Consider making a date of it instead. If you regularly go for manis or pedis, consider making a deal with a friend that you two will go together and spend the day/afternoon together instead of spending money on each other. Memories are more special than things.


  • Regift. I know this option has an “icky feeling” attached, however if you have something that you do not use or like, and and it’s brand new, why let it sit and be wasted? So long as the giftee was not the one who gifted it to you, no one is the wiser, you have not spent any money and cleared out some space in your house, and they are happy.


  • Give with love: do you have coveted items in your home that you no longer care for? Example: My mother-in-law has a beautiful Christmas tree with all glass ornaments that I drool over every year. If she decides she doesn’t want those ornaments anymore, I would appreciate that gift so much more than anything store bought.


  • Check the free section of your local classifieds, Craigslist, Kijiji, etc., for re-givable gifts. Sometimes people just give perfectly good things away because they are moving, don’t have the time to sell it, or simply can’t be bothered.


There’s Still Time

I hope some of these ideas come in handy for you, especially since the holiday season can creep up on us really quickly! Good luck, and remember to stay on budget.



Do you need a few extra dollars each month? Try a direct sales avenue, like Avon, Mary Kay or hundreds of others. Learn where to start with my MLM & Networking books, now available on Amazon

make money with direct sales affiliate income passive income




This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites. 

How To Make Money with Passive Income and Virtual Services

How To Make Money with
Passive Income and Virtual Services


So you want to make some more money? Who doesn’t? Some of the most popular ways to make money these days is freelancing, virtual services and passive income.

Freelancing can be in many different forms: writing, social media, artistic design, etc. The hustle I chose to explore was Virtual Assistant, personal blogging and passive income.

Now, as you may know, I have many years of experience in working in offices, and for lawyers, so I am very familiar with administrative work. However, that’s not all the parts of a VA.

Make Money Online the Easy Way

Becoming a Virtual Assistant


In order to learn more, I signed up for Kayla Sloan’s TenK VA course, where she shows you the ropes of how to build a virtual assistant business, like she did, and how to earn $10,000 a month.  If you want to do the same, you can sign up here

Some of the ways you can be a VA are:

  • Blog management
  • Social media management
  • Data entry
  • General Administrative tasks
  • Bookkeeping
  • Translation and transcription

And there’s a million other tasks that people need and want.

Kayla also gives you contracts and other documents you will need when working for yourself.

In just over 6 months, I have been a research assistant, a blog manager, a social media designer and manager using Pinterest and Tailwind, data entry clerk, freelance writer and a few other tasks. I’ve been able to find enough part time work to make $500-$1,000 a month so far, and that’s with a full-time traditional job. 

I’ve found clients by becoming a member of the Canadian Association of Virtual Assistants and through Kayla’s wonderful program (she has a closed Facebook group just for sharing her job resources and referrals), as well as through networking with other personal finance bloggers.

Passive Income through Affiliates


Maybe you don’t have enough time to freelance, or you aren’t interested in the hustle of finding clients to do a lot of the piece work, and that’s ok, too. Have you discovered Passive Income?  

Since you are on my blog, you know I enjoy writing. While I can tell you it’s hard work, and a fun creative outlet, it’s not an instant money-maker.

If you want to blog, I recommend reading this post about Siteground. 

If you choose to monetize your blog, the easiest way is through affiliate income, and I recommend Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course, which teaches you how to find affiliate partnerships and build your income.  Michelle Schroeder-Gardner makes over $100,000 a month in affiliate income. Yes, a month! 

Passive Income Without Blogging


But don’t stop there! Passive income is also a genuine way to build income. If you want to make money while you are sleeping, eating, vacationing, etc., then there’s one more course I’d recommend. Michelle Jackson’s Quit Your Clients is about replacing piece work (or not getting into it at all) with passive income, using channels you already have. She offers to work one-on-one with people during their course, and you can find more information here

If you’ve been following my Side Hustle Showdown close ups, you are familiar with different ways to make money outside of a traditional employment. One of the featured methods was Kindle Publishing, and Michelle Jackson has mastered this hustle. She’s earned over $1,000 in two months with two self-published novels. Interested? Learn more here with her course on how to write for self-publication and to earn money passively.

side gig summit how to earn money through side gigs virtual assistant affiliate income

Finally, if you are still looking for that passion project, I recommend watching the Side Gig Summit (Aug. 24 – Sept. 4). [If you’ve missed it, there’s an option to sign up for replays.] The Side Gig Summit explores all kinds of side hustles. I speak about property management, and there are 24 other speakers who share their stories. You can sign up here.   

I am sure there is something here that will spike your interest, and I want to hear all about it. Comment below or reach me here and let me know how it’s going!

Is there a side hustle you want to hear more about? Let’s talk!



Do you need a few extra dollars each month? Try a direct sales avenue, like Avon, Mary Kay or hundreds of others. Learn where to start with my MLM & Networking books, now available on Amazon

make money with direct sales affiliate income passive income


This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.