How Much Are We Spending on Subscriptions Every Month?

How Much Are We Spending on Subscriptions Every Month?

Quick question: how many of you know the exact dollar amount spent each month on your subscription services?

‘Cause I don’t know about you, but it took me a few minutes to figure it out.

I feel like, in 2019 (and almost 2020!), there seems to be a subscription service for everything. Most subscriptions for premium content (music, news, tv, movies) come out at around $10.00 a month — give or take a handful of dollars — which doesn’t seem like a lot at face value. Over time, these can begin to add up without you realizing.

Capital One Canada challenged me to take a look at my monthly subscription spending and run a financial checkup to become more money mindful in 2020. Building and following a budget is the first step towards being mindful with my money each month, but it’s also helpful for reflecting back on how I did at the end of the year. In order to run my check up, I simply opened my financial institution’s mobile banking app, and took a look at the last month of subscription services. Tip: Capital One can spot double charges and notify you about subscription renewals.

So, turns out my monthly subscription spending looks like this:

Recreational (i.e. they entertain me, but aren’t necessary):

  • Music streaming platform: $10.00
    • Do I want to keep this? Music keeps me entertained during my workouts, and my workouts are positive for my mental and physical health.
  • News subscription platform: $10.00
    • Do I want to keep this? I find that I spend less time worrying about misinformation when I have a dedicated & trusted news platform.
  • Digital content streaming: $10.00
    • Do I want to keep this? Especially during the colder months, digital content streaming keeps me entertained.

Business (i.e. I need these to run my operations)

  • Premium cloud storage: $4.00
    • Do I want to keep this? For a small sum of money, I get 200GB of storage, which I think is great value.
  • Suite of editing tools: $45.00
    • Do I want to keep this? While I wish my editing suites cost less, the reality is that they’re pricey. However, I need these to effectively run my business.
  • Website maintenance: $7.00
    • Do I want to keep this? I need this to effectively run my business.

The biggest benefit I received from running a financial checkup was the total amount spent per month: $86.00! Personally, I wouldn’t want to increase that amount by more than $10 in 2020. At this current point, I can afford to spend $86.00 each month on subscription services, based on the value I’m receiving from their services.

However, if you run your own checkup and find subscriptions that you don’t need anymore, consider starting (or adding to) an emergency fund. In this way, you’ll be better prepared for any unexpected events in 2020!

To learn more about Capital One’s products and tools, visit the Capital One Canada website here.

-MR

HOW WILL CANADIAN CHARITIES KEEP UP WITH TECHNOLOGY?

HOW WILL CANADIAN CHARITIES KEEP UP WITH TECHNOLOGY?

Hey peeps! Ready to use technology for a good cause?

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Over the course of two days — November 17th & 18th — I attended Capital One’s Digital For Good Tech Jam & Summit. It was my second year attending the event, and every year I leave more motivated to use my knowledge of digital technology for the better.

The Capital One Digital for Good Tech Jam and Summit enables charities and non-profits to thrive in a digital future by providing them access to tech leaders and facilitating collaboration among like-minded peers. So, what does that mean, exactly? Well, Capital One pairs volunteer coders, developers, and designers with Canadian charities to determine a technology problem the charity is facing.  That problem is solved and developed over the course of a weekend at the Tech Jam. Not only do charities get to keep their team’s created solution, but this year, all tech solutions created at Digital For Good Tech Jam will be accessible to other Canadian charities and nonprofits.

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At the Digital for Good Summit, charities and nonprofits have access to tech leaders during a full day of thoughtful panel discussions and keynotes on how to use technology as a force for good.

Did you know that 74% of Canadian charities believe a growing tech gap threatens the long-term success of their organization? That’s NOT sustainable! Charities and non-profit organizations (including some fantastic LGBTQ+ organizations that helped many of us through-out our acceptance journey) are the bedrock of a healthy society.

I had a chance to briefly speak with one of the attending charities to get a first-hand perspective of someone at the forefront of a charitable organization.

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I’m here with Jody from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, and you’re one of the featured charities here at Digital For Good! How has your experience been so far?

It’s been an absolutely fabulous experience! We have such an incredible team from Capital One with a balance of marketing and tech skills. They are helping us build a learning platform for our agencies across the country. Their energy and commitment have been incredible. I’ve never taken part in a Tech Jam before, so it’s a new experience for me, and I’m really excited about the product being developed for our charity.

Capital One found that 57% of Canadian charities believe their social mission is held back or at risk by falling behind in technology. Is this something your charity has faced?

At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we have over 100 agencies from coast to coast, so we really need to utilize technology better in order to have a consistent experience for young people in our programs across the country. That’s ultimately why we’re here — to serve young people better. If technology is going to help us — and we believe that it can — then we’re really excited to be here and leverage it to figure out the ‘how’.

What kind of tech solutions are you looking for at Capital One’s Digital For Good?

What we’re building is a learning platform for our agencies across the country. Having a platform that’s going to keep all of our agencies aligned around brand, mission, and vision is so important – technology is necessary for our organization to ensure we’re serving more kids and serving them better!

 

Feeling inspired? Pass it on! Have a conversation about digital technology with your family or friends this holiday season. Capital One found that 31% of Canadian charities feel staying up-to-date is a challenge — but it doesn’t have to be this way! If we can start having more conversations around technology and our digital world, it’ll start becoming less of an unknown, and more of an endless possibility.

If you are a Canadian Charity or nonprofit and would like to get involved in next year’s Digital For Good – visit www.digitalforgood.com for more information!

-MR

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Capital One Canada. 

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Tackling My Finances as a Millennial

Tackling My Finances as a Millennial

Hey peeps!

 

This week is Credit Education Week, which is intended to highlight the importance of talking about finances, feeling supported and being equipped to plan for a positive financial future. Now, I KNOW — no one likes talking about their finances. BUT! It’s Financial Literacy Month in Canada and I’m using it as an opportunity to start a progressive conversation about money.

Having Credit Education Week in November feels very fitting, as this time of year has historically been tough on my wallet. During this time of the year, my work in the entertainment space usually slows down. While most people earn their salary over 12 months, I earn most of my yearly income over the span of eight months. As such, I’ve had to work on budgeting and developing my financial literacy skills to ensure that I have enough funds to last throughout the year.

In 2016, when this “eight-month income” structure started — I was NOT equipped to deal with it. I managed to run out of most of my savings by mid-winter, so I had to really cut back on spending until work picked back up. Fast forward to 2017, with more of an understanding about income fluctuations, I made sure to scale back my holiday spending to avoid running into the same issue.

The cool thing is, I am not alone. Capital One and Credit Canada Debt Solutions surveyed Canadians this year to better understand their views on financial literacy, debt, and credit education. Here are the top three statistics from the survey I found most surprising:

  1. 57 per cent of Canadians said they felt overwhelmed and stuck with their financial situation
  2. Almost 6 in 10 Canadians (58 per cent) say they didn’t get the financial education they needed when they were young
  3. 49 per cent of Canadians admit they do not know their credit score. This figure is highest in Ontario, where a full 56 per cent say they do not know their score

 

So, what does this all mean? We could all benefit from support and education when it comes to financial literacy and credit education. Capital One and Credit Canada have partnered to bring Credit Education Week to life across the country. This year’s theme is #MyMoneyVision, and it’s an opportunity for all of us to envision and work towards a brighter financial future.  You can attend a session on credit education to talk about setting goals and being mindful about money. Visit the Credit Education Week Canada website to find an event near you. If you can’t attend in person, join the #MyMoneyVision conversation online.

 

To avoid feeling stuck in your financial situation, Capital One Canada shares the following tips:

 

TIP #1

Track spending and identify areas to cut costs on an ongoing basis. If I wanted to cut back on unnecessary spending, I would scale back my barber visits by 50 per cent (I love my haircuts, but they definitely make a dent into my wallet!) and opt for public transit over rideshare.

 

TIP #2

Get ahead of debt and scrap together savings (even if the amount is small to begin with!) to create an emergency fund so you’re better prepared for unexpected events. I know this is easier said than done but preparing a little emergency fund can make a big difference in the long run.

 

TIP #3

Make credit card payments on time to build habits that can help improve your credit score. Personally, I prefer to make credit card payments two times per month. That way, I can split my monthly bill in half each time, which makes tackling my debt a lot less scary.

 

TIP #4

Ask for help when you need it. Surround yourself with a network of people you can depend

on during times of hardship to provide emotional support and advice during difficult times. Whether it’s a parent, friend, or family member, find someone that you can communicate your thoughts to. It’s a great way to ensure that you’re always receiving a second or third perspective on your situation.

 

TIP #5

Ensure you have access to credit, especially for emergency situations. Establish and repair your credit with a card such as Capital One’s Guaranteed Mastercard.

 

Do you have money management tips that you swear by? Leave them in the comments section!

 

-MR

Traveling Safer in FIVE Easy Steps

Traveling Safer in FIVE Easy Steps

Ad Disclosure: this post was created in paid partnership with Capital One Canada. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Over the last 7 years as an online digital creator, I’ve had the unique experience of traveling to many different locations around the world. When I was 19-years-old, I traveled to Anaheim, California to meet fellow creators and subscribers at YouTube’s VidCon. By the time I was 21, I found myself working alongside Taiwan’s travel board, and at 23-years-old, I covered a 3-week Spain excursion with a top adventure brand. While my travel experiences have been one-of-a-kind, I’ve only recently come to the conclusion that I still have a lot to learn regarding safe travel.

Safe travel? What does that mean, exactly?

We all talk about taking certain precautions while traveling. These things are great in theory, but in reality, life has a way of throwing curve balls at you.

This month, I’m partnering with Capital One Canada, to share personal travel tips and stories to better prepare you for your next adventure. For instance, using a credit card like the Capital One Guaranteed Mastercard provides you with a series of priceless benefits that give you a sense of calm while traveling. Through my many travel adventures, I’ve come to realize how helpful it is to be able to rely on these credit card benefits. However, it’s not enough for me to list what a Capital One credit card can do for you, so I’m going to share personal stories to highlight why they’re so important.

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Benefit #1– Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance

I’m going to be very honest with you – I’ve traveled to many places without common carrier travel accident insurance, and I truly regret it. Especially as a young person, it’s easy for us to ignore the realities of our health and travel without accident insurance. Just recently, I was traveling through Germany when my partner, Christian, accidentally cut his finger relatively deep. Luckily, we were able to find a first-aid kit and properly cover the wound until we arrived home in Toronto. However, what if something happened? What if some dirt or bacteria got under the band-aid and infected his cut? Now we’d be in a foreign country with the pressure to seek a doctor without common carrier travel insurance.

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Benefit #2– Car Rental Collision or Loss

Back in 2017, Christian and I traveled through Spain for three weeks. During our trip, we visited the beautiful island of Formentera, where we rented a car and explored the terrain. Looking back, I really regret not having proper car rental collision coverage. New locations mean different kinds of roads, rules, and surprises. Our day in Formentera was beautiful and everything we wanted it to be – why take the risk and possibly ruin that without the necessary protections?

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Benefit #3– Baggage Delay

WELL, do I have a story for you! Back in 2015, Christian was doing an internship in Peru for three months. I decided to visit him for a week during his internship, so that we could visit Machu Picchu. The plan was for me to land in Lima, Peru, and six-hours later take a charter flight towards our Machu Picchu adventure. Unfortunately, I landed in Lima with the realization that my bag did not arrive with me. I was lucky to be traveling with my partner, who let me wear his clothes for the week, but it was a huge eye-opener for the risk that baggage delay and loss poses.

Benefit #4– Travel Assistance

This is a big one, as traveling often leads to a sharp time difference between home and your adventure. Luckily, Capital One offers 24/7 assistance for medical referrals, emergency cash transfers, lost documents and ticket replacements, lost luggage assistance and legal referrals when traveling outside of your home province. When all your associated costs are charged to your Capital One credit card, you can keep focusing on the adventure at hand!

Benefit #5– Mastercard Zero Liability

After you’ve fully utilized benefits 1 through 4, there’s still a chance that someone may attempt to fraud you – this is the reality of life and travel, as sometimes there are things we cannot foresee. Luckily, Capital One has Mastercard Zero Liability and you’re protected against unauthorized use of your card.

 

Let me leave you with this thought: travel is one of the most lifechanging experiences anyone can ever go through; understand the features your credit card offers, and opt-in to services (like two-way fraud alerts!) ahead of your next trip.

 

Happy traveling,

-MR

The Year of Extremes: Life Update, March 2019

The Year of Extremes: Life Update, March 2019

Howdyyyyyy, friends!

This is going to be a recurring blog theme every month or two, where I lay out some fun things going on in my life, and give you some insight into projects that are in the works. As my YouTube channel & Instagram page have become more centred on certain kinds of content, I wanted to have a place to touch base and discuss both mundane & interesting things going on in a 24-year-old freelancer’s life.

It’s the year of getting shit done, HENNY.

Sooo, where to begin with 2019?! Well, I always try to “theme” my yearly goal at the beginning of January. 2017 was all about trying new experiences, like moving to a new city (moving back in with my parents!), and testing out content creation as a full-time gig. Buuuut, I ended up working a lot of hours in 2017, which took a bit of a toll on my relationship and social life — so 2018 had to pivot. 2018 was focused on self-improvement, which involved working more closely with my agency, Fourth Floor Management (love them!), and passing off administrative tasks that were getting in the way of creating actual tangible content.

So, what’s my theme for 2019? Bare with me… but 2019 is the year of extremes! I’ve spent the last couple years working on my platforms and voice, both online & offline, but I’m ready to start doing more. For instance, throughout January & February, I uploaded TWELVE videos to my YouTube channel. I’m tired of saying to myself, “oh, I’ll just do that tomorrow” — I want to take ~life by the balls~ and make my goals a reality. Last week, I decided that I wanted to start creating colourful style videos for Instagram; 7 days later, and I’m 90% done creating the set in my apartment, and I’ll be publishing style videos later this week. 2019 being the “year of extremes” just means that I’m done being on the fence about life. If I want to do it, then let’s get it done.

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Mid-20s? Shantay, you can STAY.

If you’ve been following my platforms enough, you’ll know that I’ve been on a pretty regular fitness routine since I was 19-years-old. Over time, I’ve learned so much about fitness and nutrition, and creating tangible & reachable goals for myself. For the most part, ages 19 – 23 was all about sustaining my fitness level — maybe I gained a bit of weight here, lost a bit of weight there, but my overall shape didn’t change much.

After turning 24, I started noticing a lot more changes with my body. I literally feel like my body is producing more testosterone than it ever has, which has been an interesting feeling! My strength and endurance have been peaking over the last year, and I feel more motivated than ever to continue my fitness regimen and push for results.

One noticeable change is that ‘ya boy has been working out his legs + glutes two times per week. It’s not that I used to skip leg day… it’s just that I used to avoid leg day at all costs!!! But not anymore! As I’ve been building more muscle on my legs, I’ve noticed a general weight gain throughout my entire body — which makes sense, considering our legs have so much muscle tissue. Pass me the booty shorts because ‘ya boy is ready for a peachy summer 2019!

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Pass the champagne!

Next month, I’ll be kissing goodbye to the first half of my 20s as I turn 25-years-old on April 25th — which just so happens to be my champagne birthday. Admittedly, I don’t often celebrate my birthdays with much passion or energy. Throughout university, my 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd birthdays were overshadowed by university exams. No one had much time to go out for a birthday drink, so I haven’t prioritized my birthday in YEARS. So this year I’m having a bunch of my friends over for a ‘lil house party as we ring in my 25th year!

I’m really looking forward to 25. I’m ready for new experiences & challenges!! I’m considering doing a boudoir photoshoot, which is basically a tastefully naked photoshoot, once I turn 25. I’m aware of the fact that I’m in the ~peak of my youth~, and I’m sure I’ll want my ~glory years~ captured. THESE WILL NOT BE INSTA-FRIENDLY LOL. They will be for my eyes, and my eyes only (plus Christian xo). He’s actually the one that’s been pushing me to do the photoshoot, but no surprise there!

Lights, camera, action!

Part of my 2019 career goals is to diversify myself beyond social media. Social media and content creation has proved to be an incredible asset in my life, but I never want to feel like my worth is tied to a platform. I’ve seen first-hand what can happen when a platform begins to define your success (namely, the YouTube LGBTQ+ ~ad-pocalypse~ of 2017 & 2018). As a freelancer in the digital space, it’s important to remember that platforms will continuously change, and you must be able to adapt & diversify yourself.

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So what does that mean for me? Well, since 2016 I’ve co-hosted a red carpet segment at the Much Music Video Awards, and I’ve learned how much I love being a host. It’s led me to co-hosting various digital series, such as MUCH PRIDE (which was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award!), and creating lifestyle television segments for Canadian media. Recently, I put together my first on-air lifestyle segment for a local television station, Inside Durham, and I’m hoping to do more on-air segments in 2019. ‘Ya boy is just trying to be the gay Martha Stewart!! I’ve learned that I love sharing my passions with the world, and inspiring people to insert more colour into their life.

 

Sooo, that’s my life as of late! A lot to accomplish, but I’m feeling more motivated than I’ve ever felt before. It’s all about setting ambitious, yet attainable, goals.

Have a lovely week, and I’ll see you somewhere online v v v soon, xoxo.

-MR

Colourful & Instragramable Spots in Kissimmee, Florida (includes DisneyWorld!)

Hey humans!

If you’re like me, you like to scope out fun & Instagramable spots before you travel to your destination. Recently, the Experience Kissimmee team invited me to experience everything that their city has to offer — and I was not disappointed! The city is *filled* with colourful & picture-worthy spots, I decided to compile a handful of the best Instagramable locations (with photos!).

SPOT #1: Margaritaville Resort Orlando

Located in the heart of Kissimmee, Margaritaville Resort Orlando has both hotel accommodations and colourful cottages for larger groups! I was instantly drawn to the beauty of their cottages — hundreds of colourful homes in the cuuuutest community of other vacation-goers. Their end-game goal is to build over 900 colourful cottages, which pretty much amounts to my DREAM community.

If you plan to stay here while traveling in Kissimmee, Florida, be sure to bring your camera, because this will be a spot you won’t want to miss!

SPOT #2: DisneyWorld Magic Kingdom

SO, I know it’s pretty common knowledge to snap a picture in front of Magic Kingdom’s castle, but placement is key! If you plan to visit Magic Kingdom, don’t fuss over snapping a shot with the front of the castle. To be honest, there’s so many people trying to do the exact same thing, it’s quite difficult to capture the beauty of Magic Kingdom. Instead, cross over to the right side of the castle on the bridge, and you’ll capture the side profile of the castle with gorgeous greenery & water. AND don’t forget — always strike a pose!

SPOT #3: DisneyWorld Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom has some incredible photo opportunities, and to be honest, you don’t need to prepare much before heading into the park. You’ll see plenty of beautiful trees and organic structures as you naturally walk through the park. However, a little known spot allows you to capture their Expedition Everest ride with a beautiful mountain in the background. Right after you’ve finished the ride, you’ll exit next to a line of shrubs — this is the prime spot to snap a picture (see photo above!).

SPOT #4: Disney Springs

Best known for being the go-to shopping, dining, and entertainment destination for Disney lovers, Disney Springs is a gorgeous place to bring your camera for some eye-turning shots! We ended up arriving at Disney Springs later in the afternoon, so there wasn’t a whole lot of time to shoot, but I can assure you there are plenty of photo opportunities. Everything from their hot air balloon ride, to bustling cobble-stone streets, to their picturesque bridges & ponds, you’re bound to find something you’ll like. Personally, I was just amazed at the beauty of Disney Springs’ greenery & lakefront!

SPOT #5: Celebration, Florida

If you’re traveling in the Orlando area, you have to visit it’s neighboring town, Celebration. The land that Celebration sits on was originally bought by Walt Disney, but was later sold to developers in order to create a picture-perfect town, with white-picket fences and all! I’d recommend taking a tour with Celebration Bike Rentals, and snapping shots of the picture perfect town along the way. From perfectly aligned palm trees, to white-picket fences and tripped hedges, to a 1-mile long boardwalk in the middle of the forest, you’re bound to find a shot that speaks to your creativity!

Happy Traveling!

-MR

Easy Jumbo Meatballs (COMFORT FOOD!)

Easy Jumbo Meatballs (COMFORT FOOD!)

Whenever the weather gets chillier around this time of year, I always find myself craving comfort food. Dishes that are hearty, satisfying, and fill my apartment with the yummiest aromas! Today, I wanted to share my recipe for easy-peasy weeknight Jumbo Meatballs.

NOTE: If you’d like to make a tomato sauce to accompany your meatballs, simply blend 10-12 roma tomatoes with olive oil, garlic, and salt (to taste), and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes. OR, just buy a jar from your grocery store. Whatever works!

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The Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • 700g – 800g of extra lean ground beef
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese, plus 3 – 4 tbsp
  • 5 – 6 cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil, plus 2 – 3 tbsp
  • sea salt, to taste

STEP 1: In a medium-heat pan, add 1/3 cup of olive oil until heated thoroughly. Once heated, add white onion & mushrooms. Stir every couple minutes until translucent, then stir occasionally. Onions and mushrooms should cook for about 40 minutes, so the natural sugars have enough time to release their yummy flavour! Add your cooked onions & mushrooms to your tomato sauce, and place aside for the time being.

Tip: don’t put your cutting board in the sink just yet! You’ll be able to use it as a platform for your raw meatballs in Step 3.

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STEP 2: In a large bowl, add ground beef, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and 1 egg. Mix until all the ingredients have combined sufficiently.

STEP 3: Roll 5 – 6 large meatballs, roughly 3inches in diameter, and place aside on a cutting board.

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STEP 4: Using the same pan that you cooked the onions and mushrooms, add 2 – 3 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat. Your pan will need to be quite hot for the next step, so occasionally add 1 drop of water to test its level of heat. The drop of water should crackle and pop immediately.

STEP 5: Carefully add each raw meatball to your pan, searing each of the 4 sides for about 3 minutes each. Searing meat is 100% about building flavor, as the surface instantly begins caramelizing.

STEP 6: Once all 4 sides have been seared sufficiently, reduce heat to medium-low, add your tomato sauce to the pan, and cook the meatballs covered for 15 minutes. After that, uncover the pan and cook for an additional 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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STEP 7: Once cooked, sprinkle 3 – 4 tbsp of parmesan cheese overtop, and broil for 5 – 8 minutes.

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Pro tip! Grab a few baguettes & turn this meal into meatball sandwiches! YUUUUM.

Until next time, happy eating!

-MR