It’s a great feeling to clean up your home and reduce your clutter, but it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Where do you start? Here are a few tips to get you motivated.

 1. Ask yourself “Why?”

If you’re reading this article, you must already have a reason for wanting to initiate some spring cleaning, maybe you are prepping a home for sale, undertaking an annual cleaning ritual or simply getting tired & frustrated with feeling disorganized. Whatever your reason, keep focused on your “why” and how you’ll feel when you’re done. This will help motivate you to complete the task.

Where to start?

Pick one area at a time, like under your kitchen sink or your bedroom closet. Starting small won’t feel overwhelming and will actually get you in the mood to do more.  It feels so good to eliminate excess clutter to free up space!

3. Re-use, Gift vs Trash

Can you use, donate, sell, or fix up those items you’re considering throwing away? Try creating as little waste this season as possible. Instead of sending your unused items to the landfill, ask yourself if there are other purposes it may be utilized for or someone you could gift it to. Consider refinishing a dresser to make it feel brand new again, or paint your coffee table a different color to refresh the look and feel. Thrift stores are always looking for donations, and one person’s trash might be another person’s treasure. You’d be surprised at what gets claimed by another when you leave an unwanted piece of furniture on your front lawn with a free sign. The less we waste the smaller our footprint and the less impact we have on the planet.

4. Selling 

Are there items of clothing collecting dust bunnies in your closet? Or a storage unit that just takes up too much space (and holds more stuff you don’t use)? You can sell items you haven’t used in years to receive extra cash to treat yourself to something special or add to your savings for a future need! Consider listing your items for sale online or having a garage sale if you have lots of things to sell at once. Here’s a great article on the best places to sell online if you’d like to explore further.

5. Paperwork!

You don’t need to hold on to all your paperwork forever!  Understanding what you need to keep, why and for how long will make it easier to sort through your piles. Certain paperwork can be shredded after reading, while some documents are important to keep. For example, anything you can easily obtain a copy of online (ie. a bank or investment account statement) can be shredded after reading.  In fact, consider switching to paperless statements instead and you’ll avoid collecting the paper in the first place. For audit purposes, you need to hold onto tax reporting documentation for at least 5 years (sometimes longer).  That doesn’t mean it needs to be in paper form.  You can scan and save documentation online to a secure location for easy access in the future. Receipts for purchases can also be saved in digital form which not only reduces paperwork, but makes it much easier to locate should you need it at a future date.

With these tips, we hope that you will feel less cluttered and more organized going into your Spring season! Let us know how your organizing went!

Tag us on your social media posts about your decluttering experience - and include pictures for inspiration!

Creating a Home Office

Many of us are now required to spend our work days at home to avoid the spread of the COVID 19 virus. This means working more frequently in a space that is either already dedicated to a home office, or clearing out a corner of your home to use in the short term for your work needs. There are a few things that are required to make this transition a successful one and set you up for productivity at home. Both form and function should be considered to create a space that is comfortable to work in and creates a sense of enjoyment.

 Create the "corner office" feel Let There be Light!

Choose furniture pieces that are not too big, not too small, but are just right! 

Repurpose furniture pieces that you already own 

A few stylish art or decor pieces will give your space that personal touch

Words by: Amy McGeachy 

Self-care during a pandemic

This past year has been a challenging one for all of us. Not only have we had to change how we live, work and socialize, our health has come to the forefront as the result of this pandemic.

Stress comes in all forms and how we deal with stress most definitely impacts our health status. For some it can manifest as anxiety or depression, for others it can play out on the more physical level such as skin and digestive reactions.

It is under these more stressful times that we often begin to neglect our health.  We begin to ignore body cues to relax or rest and we will tend to eat foods we know we shouldn't or drink (or in excess). 

In order to manage and get through these stressors, the following is a ‘reminder’ list of what you can do to help your body adapt and recover. 

5 reminders to improve your health during stressful times 

1. Exercise

Our body produces stress hormones like adrenaline that cause our heart rate to increase and our nervous system to become heightened.  If levels of adrenaline remain in the blood stream, issues with sleep, anxiety and inability to relax and focus can occur.  Exercise helps to break down adrenaline and excrete it from the body. 

2. Sleep

Our bodies heal when we sleep, we produce hormones such as growth hormone and DHEA that encourage tissue and organ regeneration. To support sleep consider having a relaxing sleep routine to prepare yourself for good rest and avoid stimulating activities.  If sleep is a chronic issue seek medical (naturopathic) help.

3. Nutrition

Our bodies use up essential nutrients under excess stress.  Our main nutrients needed include B- vitamins, magnesium and vitamin C.  Consuming foods high in these nutrients or supplementally will certainly help.

4. Physical Relaxation

Schedule in a massage, acupuncture or yoga at least once a week.

5. Mental Support

Talking through our stresses often helps us gain clarity in how to manage as well as develop coping skills.  Seeking a good counsellor or practicing meditation are helpful ways to support our mental health.

We hope these 5 tips will help you practice self-care!

Words by: Dr. Kristen Bovee at www.hydrateiv.ca 

Why make a day about love, stressful?

Valentine’s Day is a day to dedicate to love, which can look many different ways. Time with your soulmate, close friends, or family. Society has made Valentine’s day out to be materialistic, which can cause financial stresses.

Here are 5 tips and tricks that can make your Valentine's Day special without breaking the bank:

1. Spending Time is The New Spending Money

Take some time out of your day to write a letter to your partner or someone you love. Nothing says ‘I Love You’ like preparing a good ol’ fashion love letter. The longer, the better!

2. Go Offline

Our world is filled with constant stimulation from the technology we place in our hands. Spend some quality time with your Valentine without your devices. Free and incredibly meaningful! 

3. Travel Down Memory Lane

Spend some time going through vacation photos, your wedding photos, or even pull out some childhood tapes from the archives.

4. Cook a Meal Together

Although not necessarily free, this can be a beautiful way to spend time together and do what everyone needs to do - eat! Beats the expensive Valentine’s Day restaurant reservations.

5. Dive into a Movie or Your Favourite TV Series

Snuggle up and appreciate down time. Snacks and tea encouraged!

We hope these 5 tips will allow you to relax and appreciate Valentine’s Day without pulling out your wallet.

Is 2021 your year of goal setting?

With the craziness 2020 had, why not get a bit more serious about your 2021?

Goal setting helps gain momentum in your life, triggers new behaviours, and helps guide your focus in the areas of your life that need it most. 2021 is the year to set goals and achieve.

Here are 5 tips to setting goals this new year:

1. Specify

Goals give you focus and allow you to narrow in on the task at hand. The more specific you are in your goals, the less room there is for idle time and wasted effort. 

Write them down and look at them every day!

2. Break it Down

How can you break down your goal into baby steps that give you confidence in achieving? To be able to see your goal slowly being accomplished allows for mini victories and ability to stay motivated. 

Say your 2021 goal is to learn how to run a marathon, but you’ve never ran over 5 km in your life! To expect to run the entire 42 KM’s your first crack at it, would be unrealistic. Start off with milestones and break your larger goal into steps that will allow you to celebrate the smaller victories while still working towards your larger goal.

3. Set an Action Plan

If you know your goal has a timeline, or required steps in order to succeed, make sure you are aware of the planning involved to achieve. If you need to put reminders in your calendar or create a strategic plan in order to stick with your goal, make sure you do so.

Setting goals is very powerful, but quite pointless if you don’t know the action steps involved in getting to the finish line.

4. Hold Yourself Accountable

If you know you are more productive when you have a teammate to work with, make sure to share your goals with those who can hold you accountable. Ask them to check in with you from time to time to ensure you're on the right track to achieving what you set out to do.

If you however are a solo achiever and prefer to get things done yourself, make sure to schedule check in’s with yourself and your progress to your goal.  Whether that be daily, weekly, or monthly check in’s, make sure you schedule these.

5. Celebrate

It is so important to celebrate the victories you accomplish when goal setting! If you complete your goal, make sure you celebrate before moving on to the next one.

You can even set up a victory plan for when you achieve your goal. If your goal is to do that marathon, make a mini vacation part of your achievement plan.

When training for that marathon gets tough, motivation will be more accessible if you know what’s waiting for you once you complete it.

Make 2021 the year you complete your New Year's Resolutions!

With holiday merriment in full force, it can be easy to ignore holiday spending mistakes and start your new year trying to pay off holiday debt. Make sure your holiday season is filled with joy and cheer instead of the guilt and anxiety that comes from overspending with these four expert tips to avoid the most common spending mistakes.

1. Make a list of whom you WANT to buy for

Saint Nick isn’t wrong in making a list and checking it twice. With so many people in your life, how do you know where to draw the line on who to buy for? Feeling an obligation to buy gifts for an ever-lengthening list can negatively impact your holiday cheer and your finances. The bottom line is not to buy for people because you feel you should; if you’re going to buy gifts, do so for a select few because you want to, no because you feel you must.

Write a list of everyone you instinctively think you need to buy a gift for. Then, review the list and separate those you feel you WANT to buy for and those you feel you SHOULD buy for. Remember to be realistic who is in which category. With those you feel you want to buy for, consider facilitating a Secret Santa instead of buying for each person individually to relieve more financial pressure.

This is not an easy thing to do! Here’s an idea from Sybil to avoid overspending on co-workers without feeling guilty:

“Several years ago, I used to buy a little something for everyone in my office because I wanted to. I then realized it created a feeling of obligation for my co-workers to return the gesture which was not my intention. Instead of buying gifts for each other, we collectively decided to sponsor a family which provided a fun team-building activity while giving back to those in need. It worked with everyone’s budget and eliminated the stress of shopping for too many people.”

2. Don’t give away more than you can afford

It’s no secret the kind and giving human nature is amplified by the holidays (yes, there are a few exceptions to that statement but let’s leave Scrooge out of things). While good tide and cheer should be embraced, it will be beneficial to set boundaries on giving as it’s easy to give more than you afford during the holidays with many non-profit organizations asking for donations at shopping hotspots.

Be deliberate with your giving by setting an amount you know you can afford and dedicating it to an organization you want to support. This can help relieve feelings of guilt or resistance to saying no to other asks by allowing you to respond, “I already gave a lump sum to my charity of choice.” It’s also important to remember that money is not the only form of giving; donations of time or second-hand goods are also greatly appreciated by many non-profit organizations. Try organizing a volunteer experience or a closet clean-out with your friends!

3. Set a budget

While this is a great way to avoid overspending year-round, a budget can be especially helpful during the holidays to figure out how much you can spend and only spending that amount. Download our free, fillable Holiday Expense Tracker to get started!

Here are some ideas on how to make all of your holiday spending fit within your budget:

4. Focus on what’s truly important

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season it can be easy to spend more time at the mall than with loved ones. Don’t lose sight of what the holiday spirit is really all about; enjoying the company of friends and family. Perhaps instead of buying gifts, organize an activity for you and your loved ones to do together such as hiking, touring light displays, volunteering at a non-profit organization or a holiday movie marathon.

To get more tips on avoiding holiday money stress, see our blog post 5 Tactics to Minimize Money Stress Over the Holidays or contact us to ask Sybil a specific question!

Taking time off work to take care of family is becoming more and more common. It can take its toll on your emotional well-being, cause personal health issues and have significant negative financial implications. This may affect career goals, income levels, reduce savings and mean lost benefits which can be overwhelming to think about.

Simply avoiding the subject does not make it go away. Not thinking about it, and therefore not planning for it, can lead to dire consequences. Whether it is aging, an injury, or an illness, unexpected events do happen that are expensive and disruptive.

This is why planning early is so important. Here are some top tips from financial expert Neela White of Rennie White Asset Management at Raymond James Ltd. on being prepared to be a caregiver.

For more great tips on preparing to be a caregiver, watch Neela and Sybil’s full discussion on our YouTube channel!

Neela White is a Financial Advisor with Raymond James Ltd. The views of the author do not necessarily reflect those of Raymond James. This article is for information only.  Raymond James Ltd. - member of Canadian Investor Protection Fund.

With holiday merriment in full force, it can be easy to ignore holiday spending mistakes and start your new year trying to pay off holiday debt. Make sure your holiday season is filled with joy and cheer instead of the guilt and anxiety that comes from overspending with these four expert tips to avoid the most common spending mistakes.

1. Make a list of whom you WANT to buy for

Saint Nick isn’t wrong in making a list and checking it twice. With so many people in your life, how do you know where to draw the line on who to buy for? Feeling an obligation to buy gifts for an ever-lengthening list can negatively impact your holiday cheer and your finances. The bottom line is not to buy for people because you feel you should; if you’re going to buy gifts, do so for a select few because you want to, no because you feel you must.

Write a list of everyone you instinctively think you need to buy a gift for. Then, review the list and separate those you feel you WANT to buy for and those you feel you SHOULD buy for. Remember to be realistic who is in which category. With those you feel you want to buy for, consider facilitating a Secret Santa instead of buying for each person individually to relieve more financial pressure.

This is not an easy thing to do! Here’s an idea from Sybil to avoid overspending on co-workers without feeling guilty:

“Several years ago, I used to buy a little something for everyone in my office because I wanted to. I then realized it created a feeling of obligation for my co-workers to return the gesture which was not my intention. Instead of buying gifts for each other, we collectively decided to sponsor a family which provided a fun team-building activity while giving back to those in need. It worked with everyone’s budget and eliminated the stress of shopping for too many people.”

2. Don’t give away more than you can afford

It’s no secret the kind and giving human nature is amplified by the holidays (yes, there are a few exceptions to that statement but let’s leave Scrooge out of things). While good tide and cheer should be embraced, it will be beneficial to set boundaries on giving as it’s easy to give more than you afford during the holidays with many non-profit organizations asking for donations at shopping hotspots.

Be deliberate with your giving by setting an amount you know you can afford and dedicating it to an organization you want to support. This can help relieve feelings of guilt or resistance to saying no to other asks by allowing you to respond, “I already gave a lump sum to my charity of choice.” It’s also important to remember that money is not the only form of giving; donations of time or second-hand goods are also greatly appreciated by many non-profit organizations. Try organizing a volunteer experience or a closet clean-out with your friends!

3. Set a budget

While this is a great way to avoid overspending year-round, a budget can be especially helpful during the holidays to figure out how much you can spend and only spending that amount. Download our free, fillable Holiday Expense Tracker to get started!

Here are some ideas on how to make all of your holiday spending fit within your budget:

4. Focus on what’s truly important

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season it can be easy to spend more time at the mall than with loved ones. Don’t lose sight of what the holiday spirit is really all about; enjoying the company of friends and family. Perhaps instead of buying gifts, organize an activity for you and your loved ones to do together such as hiking, touring light displays, volunteering at a non-profit organization or a holiday movie marathon.

To get more tips on avoiding holiday money stress, see our blog post 5 Tactics to Minimize Money Stress Over the Holidays or contact us to ask Sybil a specific question!

Whether your spring cleaning philosophy is “get behind the fridge” or “oops, maybe next year,” giving some special spring cleaning attention to your finances is essential. Money is a leading cause of stress but people who shy away from organizing their finances wind up with even larger money problems are less in control and feel more overwhelmed than ever. Ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to your money.

Make the time to take charge and minimize, or even eliminate, money stress this spring with Sybil’s 3-step plan to spring clean your finances.

Step 1: Take control of your cashflow.

Gather your bank and credit card statements and make a list of your income and expenses. Don’t forget the periodic expenses that often take you for surprise such as annual car insurance or emergency repairs on your home or vehicle. To make things easier, record your income and expenses in our free, downloadable Cashflow Snapshot template!

Next, identify any deficits. Do not spend more money than you have! If your expenses are higher than your income, you have 3 ways to solve that problem:

  1. earn more money
  2. spend less by eliminating non-essential expenses or
  3. a combination of the two.

This exercise should be done at least once every 3 months, ideally every month until it becomes second nature and your finances no longer scare you. Don’t under-estimate how powerful this seemingly simple exercise is. The majority of financial stress usually stems from not feeling like you have enough money to cover your expenses. Listing your income and expenses will help you uncover any shortfalls and help you begin to take control of your cashflow.

For more on taking control of your finances, read Sybil’s 5 step plan to reduce anxiety and frustration around your finances.

Step 2: Get organized.

Now that you have a handle on your regular expenses, there are a number of things you can do to get your finances organized. Here are Sybil’s top recommendations:

Step 3: Reward yourself.

You’ve done good! Getting your finances organized can seem daunting but you’ll reap the benefits going forward. Reward your good behaviour with a treat occasionally, but ensure you achieve the basics above first. Spending more money than you have for something you want right away often leads to buyer’s remorse and feelings of guilt and disappointment. To avoid this, don’t treat yourself until you have the money to do so. If you pick something you really want, that desire will fuel your motivation to stay on track to achieve your financial goals and dreams.

Have a question or need more advice? Contact Us to send Sybil an email to learn more!