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

Stress-Free Holiday Shopping Tips

Stress-Free Holiday Shopping Tips

Happy holidays, ‘ya filthy animals!

Jeeze… we soared through 2019, and now we’re smack in the middle of holly-jolly December. It’s officially time for Christmas music 24/7, peppermint lattes at our favourite coffee shops and scouring stores for the perfect gift.

But, the holiday season isn’t always as happy as we’d like. We focus so much of our attention on gift-giving that we forget that bills are due when January rolls around. Life continues and groceries need to be bought, bills have to get paid, and it can feel daunting after a month of heavy spending.

This month, I’m partnering with Capital One Canada to highlight a few of my best tips for surviving and thriving during the holiday season. This will include tips for how to build and follow a set budget, track spending, take advantage of credit card perks and rewards, and practice healthy credit card habits during this busy time of year.

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Tip #1: Low budget, no problem!

For a lot of us that get together with large families, holiday spending can be stressful insofar as there’s so many people to shop for. Before you set off on a holiday purchasing spree, it’s important to plan ahead. Make a shopping list and build a budget that is realistic. Base your list on what you need for the holidays versus what you want. While you’re ticking items off your shopping list, don’t forget to track your spending!

Take advantage of budgeting and mobile banking apps to help you monitor your spending in real-time. This will help you identify areas where you may be overspending based on your holiday budget.

Sometimes budgets can be tight this time of year and you need to get creative… so why not try a Secret Santa? For example, instead of stressing over purchasing a handful of gifts for your cousins, organize a Secret Santa. You can set a fixed budget with your group so everyone stays on track.

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Tip #2: Make your own personal ‘naughty’ & ‘nice’ list!

Let’s be real – you may have 20 friends, but not all of them need a gift. Personally, if my shopping list includes more than four or five people outside immediate family, it’s time to reduce my spending. That being said, it doesn’t mean that I can’t shop for additional friends –  it just means I need to find a more creative (and less costly!) gift.

Personally, I always love opting for homemade treats as a personal and budget-friendly present. You can pick any style of treat (cookies, cake, brownies, etc.) and buy the ingredients in bulk. If you have extra budget, you can even pick up some simple decorative items from the dollar store to gift with your goodies.

But remember – whether you’re shopping for low-cost goodies at the grocery store, or a more expensive item at your favourite retailer, be sure to opt-in to two-way fraud alerts on your credit card if that’s an option available to you. Two-way fraud alerts can help you identify unauthorized transactions in real-time which is especially important during the holiday spending season. Fraud alerts enable banks to notify customers through alerts that prompt for a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ response to verify the transaction. With a Capital One card, you also get Mastercard Zero Liability protection against unauthorized use of your card.

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Tip #3: Points, points, baby!

Assuming you’ve taken the time to evaluate your finances and build a feasible shopping list, ensure you don’t lose out on your points! Using your credit card to make holiday purchases may open up the opportunity for you to take advantage of the rewards and perks some credit card companies offer. For example, Capital One’s Aspire Travel Platinum Mastercard gives you one reward mile for every $1 spent on all purchases. The Capital One Guaranteed Mastercard can help you build credit while giving you access to benefits like 24/7 customer service, purchase assurance and extended warranty coverage.

For the month of December, I’ve decided to break up my credit card payments, so that I’m paying half of the bill on the 15th, and the other half on the 31st. Since I already know I’m going to be spending a bit more this month than usual, breaking up payments will make them far less daunting.

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What are some holiday spending tips that you live by? Let me know in the comments!

 

-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

Life After RuPaul’s Drag Race, with Darienne Lake, Jiggly Caliente, & Phi Phi O’Hara

Life After RuPaul’s Drag Race, with Darienne Lake, Jiggly Caliente, & Phi Phi O’Hara

Helloooo drag-queen-loving friends!

This summer, I had the absolute pleasure of being Canadian media on-board U by Uniworld‘s river boat cruise through Germany. U is a new take on experiential travel, with cruises designed for those with a passion for exploring and a taste for authentic adventures. Specifically, this river cruise was hosted by three lovely drag performers: Darienne Lake, Jiggly Caliente, and Phi Phi O’Hara.

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After cruising together for several days, I decided to sit down with the three queens to get ALL the tea on their post-RuPaul’s Drag Race life.

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Michael: Today we are in Germany with three fabulous drag queens: Darienne Lake, Phi Phi O’Hara, and Jiggly Caliente. We are here on a beautiful ship called The A, part of U by Uniworld, and we’ve been travelling through Germany over the last week. How have you all been enjoying Germany so far?

Phi Phi: I hate it…! No, I’m just kidding.

Darienne: It’s very fun!

Michael: German men are very cute, though — they have a great jawline.

Phi Phi: Yes, okay, you’re very beautiful people.

Darienne: Beautiful people, beautiful sceneries, really every port that we’ve been to is just like a magical fairyland, really.

Jiggly: A romantic place.

Michael: SO! I’m going to be asking the queens questions about their personal lives, RuPaul’s Drag Race, so let’s just get right into it! What have your careers been like, post-RuPaul’s Drag Race?

Phi Phi: Well, we’re on a boat with you.

*everyone laughs*

Michael: Is that a good thing?

Phi Phi: I’m just kidding!

Darienne: It’s just been fantastic. I never thought that I would get to travel the world as I have already, so I count every blessing as they come. I feel very comfortable and happy.

Jiggly: It’s been a slow, steady pace, but I’m doing good considering how long it’s been since Season 4. I’ve been able to travel the world, create an album, be on TV — and I can pay my bills. I live a cute little luxurious life… it’s no Kardashian life but it’s enough.

Phi Phi: Well I’m fucking amazing. I think my success came after drag race, to be honest with you. Like, the show put my name out there but made me look like a complete c***. I had to work extra hard after the show — and I’m lucky to do my career as a boy, and do my singing and all my comic stuff, and I can also do cosplay as a [drag] queen, and travel the world all by doing that. I’m #blessed.

Michael: It’s interesting you mention that, I feel like when you all went into the show it wasn’t all prepped with a PR plan.

Phi Phi: A lot of the new girls do.

Michael: What made your season’s different?

Phi Phi: We were good.

Jiggly: I think we were more authentic. People weren’t thinking about a hashtag or something.

Phi Phi: Or the t-shirt that we’re going to sell, or something like that.

Darienne: And a lot of us started doing drag a long time ago, really put in the hours. We have performed for huge crowds, but we’ve also performed for no crowds, y’know on some Sunday night in some little bar. So we’ve gotten that experience of really learning how to grab a microphone, entertain the audience, all that kind of stuff — and be more than just a performer or just a look. A lot of queens these days started drag when they saw RuPaul’s Drag Race. Which is not to say that they’re not fabulous performers or entertainers or beautiful queens, I think for us it’s just about having that experience, and with experience comes a lot.

Michael: And I think the phenomenon of RuPaul’s Drag Race has brought a lot of new people into the scene, a lot of heterosexual people in bars. Do you have any drag etiquette tips?

Jiggly: Sitting in front of the the drag show, you better be the ones tipping.

Darienne: Yea tipping…

Phi Phi: You don’t have to tip. I don’t think you have to tip, that’s that’s…

Jiggly: But if you’re in the front-front-

Phi Phi: If you’re in the front I think you should pay attention, get off your phone, like that’s absolutely drag etiquette. Yes we appreciate tips at a show, but you don’t have to. I would much rather someone come and enjoy themselves while cheering, and be into the show. ‘Cause some people don’t have the money.

Jiggly: Well, okay, in that case.

Darienne: But also it’s just about being a human being, and respect. Don’t touch us without letting us know or asking for permission. Don’t touch our hair, or the face.

Jiggly: Never touch my face.

Darienne: But that’s a human thing anyway.

Phi Phi: I think the way you would carry yourself at a theatre, carry yourself the same way at a [drag] show.

Michael: Do you find that the show has caused people to forget your humanness?

Jiggly: Fans have literally grabbed my face.

Phi Phi: Maybe I’m glad I was a bitch ‘cause they’re scared of me!

*everyone laughs*

Darienne: I think over the years things have definitely changed. Y’know, back in the day people were like, “hey girl, how’s it going?!”, and younger kids these days come up to a meet-and-greet and are like, “is it okay if I have a hug?”, and I’m like — sure! That’ll be five dollars.

*everyone laughs*

Darienne: However, you do get those moments where your out at a club, even not in drag, and it’s like, “OH HI I WANT A PICTURE!” — hey, calm down, alright? I’m trying to enjoy my life here, I’m not working. I’m off the clock, so, leave me alone.

Michael: Jiggly, could you talk to us about your gig on Pose, and what it means for trans representation in the media?

Jiggly: Well, for me, visibility it really important for the trans community but specifically trans women of colour. I’m so blessed to say that I’ve been part of two groundbreaking shows for the LGBT community, RuPaul’s Drag Race being one of them, and now being on Pose. I think the time is now, considering how the administration deals with things. Trump is taking away all of the rights of the LGBT community, specifically trans people, so the visibility of these trans people and their stories from the 80s and 90s is super important. I’m glad that Janet and Steven have been making sure that these stories get told properly.

Michael: It’s so interesting how all of you were lifted off of the same platform but you all have very different careers. (to Darienne) Your hosting the Hater’s Roast next month, and that’s a big deal because it’s the first drag pay-per-view event of it’s time! Who are you most excited to roast, and who are you most excited to roast you?

Darienne: I love all the girls, I thin they’re all so witty and brilliant. I really love Thorgy, she really gives me a chuckle. Mimi Imfurst is a powerhouse, a rapid fire. Alaska, she has a slow-play. All the girls are really fantastic. I love making fun of Mimi, because it’s just so easy.

Jiggly: That is so easy… *laughing*

Darienne: That’s not… it’s-

Everyone: True.

*everyone laughs*

Darienne: We all have fun, at the end of the day none of us take it seriously with each other. My biggest goal, always, is to make Willam laugh. So when I hear him — *imitates Willam’s laugh* — behind me, I know I’ve done a great job. He’s a tough one sometimes.

Michael: And Phi Phi, you’ve had an interesting career both as Phi Phi and as Jeremi. So could you tell me what that’s been like, sort of spitting up those two different paths?

Phi Phi: Well for me, it was always important to keep a hold of Jeremi. I think so many people do drag and create this character that everybody loves and gravitates towards, maybe they’re not happy with who they are as a boy or how they present themselves. For me, there would be no Phi Phi without Jeremi, and I never wanted to forget that. I did music before I ever did drag, and it was always my passion to make an album, so when I did and it was successful, I was so proud. For me, it’s important to keep [Jeremi and Phi Phi] separate — luckily that’s paid off really well.

Michael: Well, you all are doing a show tonight for everyone on-board our U by Uniworld ship, I can’t wait to see it!

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Want to learn more about U by Uniworld? Check out their newest itineraries & let your adventurous side guide you!

-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

April 2019: Juno Awards & Champagne Showers

April 2019: Juno Awards & Champagne Showers

Happppy (end of) April, cutie pies!

As I’m writing this, the sun is shining in Toronto, and the woes of Canada’s winter blues are almost over (YAAAASS). I’ve been keeping myself busy over the last month, with my attendance at the 2019 Juno Awards, the production of my style inspiration videos, and my constancy at the gym. I’m so excited to share everything that’s been going on in my life over the last 30 days!

The 2019 Juno Awards

For my American & international readers, the Juno Awards are Canada’s biggest music awards (so basically, the Canadian Grammys). It’s always a big night celebrating the best in Canada’s music scene, with notable past attendees such as Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, and Alessia Cara.

I wasn’t planning on attending, but got an invite from my friend, Chris Brunton, a few days before the award show. Chris works closely with Canadian singer, Jann Arden, so I was able to tag along their festivities at the Juno Awards. All in all, I attended the Juno Awards with Chris Brunton, Jann Arden, and actress Zoie Palmer.

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Myself, Zoie Palmer, & Chris Brunton.
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aaaaand we found the hors d’oeuvres!

As someone who’s hosted red carpet segments (& hopes to do more in 2019!), it was a dream come true to attend the Juno Awards. I wasn’t necessarily excited to see the attendees, but I think that’s due to the fact that YouTube & social media events have desensitized my outlook on fame. I was really excited to see how the main show is produced in a live format, because most people only get to see what’s shown on their screen.

Interestingly, I learned that a big aspect of award shows are seat fillers! Basically, whenever an invited attendee or their guest (like Chris Brunton, or myself, respectively) gets up from their seat, the award show organizers will have a fan attendee fill their seat while vacant. So if an invited guest wins an award, there isn’t a bunch of empty seats beside them — genius! Anywho, there were lots of industry practices that I learned, but won’t bore you with!

Once we finished up at the Juno Awards, we attended one of their after parties, which was an incredible way for me to network with industry leaders in the entertainment space. Canada’s entertainment industry is quite small, so it’s really important that I get out of my comfort zone and take part in events that can help me learn & grow in my career.

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Chris Brunton, Jann Arden, myself, & Zoie Palmer at the Universal Music Canada party.

Producing my style inspiration videos

As a lot of you probably know by now, I’ve been producing weekly style inspiration videos on Instagram! I was inspired to create a style video series because I was seeing the same male fashions everywhere — dark blue, brown, black. Those are cute colours and shades, but give me some variety PLEASE.

I wanted to create a series that would inspire guys to dress outside of their comfort zone, and integrate more colour into their daily fashions. At this point, I’ve produced six style inspiration videos in the last four weeks, which feels like a great accomplishment.

I have to give a well-earned shout-out to my partner, Chris, who installed the seamless paper backdrop into our apartment, and always helps me shoot.

Now that I’ve produced a handful of videos using the colourful backdrops, I’m ready to mix things up! Firstly, I’m planning to collaborate with fellow Canadian creators to create a duo-style inspiration video. I think it’ll be great to see how women + men with body types different to mine show-off their personal style. Secondly, I’m going to start shooting these videos in different locations, like while I travel! I’ll be heading on a travel assignment at the end of the month, so look forward to a travel-focused style video in early May.

Celebrating my 25th ~champagne~ birthday!

April 25th marked my champagne birthday, which is essentially when your age matches the day you were born. Growing up, champagne birthdays were sort of a big deal if you were born in the middle of the month (the birthday parties were always bigger). Since mine wasn’t until I turned 25, I’ve had to be patient!

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Y’know, I feel like I’m leaving a huge stage of my life behind. I’m sure a lot of you peeps can relate, seeing how over half my audience is above the age of 25! It feels like I’ve entered the next stage of my adult life, figuring out where I belong in the world and trying to make a living while I’m at it.

Chris and I — super-duper last minute — decided to shoot a silly ‘lil birthday video for my Instagram page, which you may have already seen. Long story short, I got cake & champagne thrown at me to the tune of Rihanna’s Birthday Cake. It was such a fun experience to film, because I rented a Sony RX10 which shoots slow-motion video (240fps, 480 fps, & 960 fps). We were able to capture really cool action shots, such as popping streamers and a bottle of sparkling wine! Shooting the birthday video was just a fun way for me to say goodbye to my youth & hello to an adulthood that I have yet to define.

Mikey’s Favourite Things for April!

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Author Daniel Errico wrote an incredible children’s book, The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived, which follows a brave young knight who must save his new love (a prince!). It’s such a cute story with beautiful illustrations by Shiloh Penfield, and it’s a must-have for children in 2019. AND! The story was made into a Hulu digital series with a star-studded cast. LGBTQ+ representation in 2019 just got a lot better!

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I’ve been obsessed with this Hermosa Beach Mock-Neck from Parke and Ronen! It’s the perfect spring addition to your closet, as the knitted fabric keeps you warm in chilly weather & gives your look a big POP of colour. While the piece is a bit pricey ($155), the quality of the fabric and uniqueness of the style makes it sooo worth it (#TREATYOSELF).

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I’ve also been equally as obsessed with this Recycled Poly Coach Jacket from Frank And Oak. First off, it’s really hard to find bright red items of clothing that aren’t overwhelming for an outfit. I love that the jacket is thin & light, which adds the perfect pop of colour to my day-to-day fashion. The jacket is $129 CAD, but I happened to get it 40% off when I went into Frank And Oak’s Ottawa location.

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Need a spring jacket that’s a bit more cost-efficient? Check out Old Navy‘s Water-Resistant Poplin Hooded Anorak (basically it’s a cute yellow jacket), because it’s currently on sale for $42!

That’s all for my April adventures! See ya next month!

-MR

How to Stay Fit & Live A Healthier Life

How to Stay Fit & Live A Healthier Life

Helloooo!

Back in 2017, I had just finished university and moved back in with my parents, which led to a lazier-than-expected mentality. I felt slow, sluggish, and my diet was terrible. So even though you might look at the before shot and think, “I liked him better then!” — know that 2017 Michael was not very happy or motivated.

Photo on 2017-04-03 at 2.57 PM
March 2017

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Last week on my Instagram Story, I shared my fitness progress over the last couple of years, and asked you peeps to submit fitness-related questions…

How do you fit gym time on very busy days? Also how do you keep motivated?

To answer your first question, I try to get my gym workout completed before any other major task that day. I find that if I postpone my workout until later, I’m more prone to skip the gym altogether. On days where I’m super busy, I’ll just head to the gym and complete 15 minutes of H.I.I.T. and leave! The boost of cardio will help tp increase my metabolism and burn more calories throughout the day. Every day doesn’t have to be an incredible workout, but I always try to fit in some kind of fitness 4-5 times a week.

How do I stay motivated? I don’t do it alone! Chris and I keep each other motivated. Try to find a friend or peer who’s also looking to hit the gym more often. They don’t have to be your BFF — just a human with similar goals, who can be independent at the gym, and offer support when needed.

 

How did you overcome your fear in the gym? What made you more confident?

I’ve been confidently working out for YEARS. When I first started working out in freshman year of university, my gym buddy reassured me that every single person at the gym started out where I was. Once I learned that, it was so easy to realize that everyone at the gym is doing their own thing. They, TRULY, don’t care about you (and that’s great!).

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Do you count your protein intake? If so, how much protein do you consume?

I don’t count my protein or strictly regulate my diet very much. I just ensure that my diet includes a bit more protein than carbs, and I try to consume a healthy amount of good fats, such as avocados and coconut oil.

 

What’s the hardest thing for you about staying fit?

Late-night eating. I love me some 10pm chips sooooo LOL.

 

How much has your eating habits changed from then to now? In what ways?

Overall, I would say I focus on eating whole-foods that keep me fuller, longer. I have a focus on oats, avocado, eggs, and fish!

Breakfast THEN: cereal, OR eggs/toast/bacon

Breakfast NOW: a big bowl of overnight oats that keep me full until lunch

Lunch THEN: heavy on carbs and protein, might include chips or rice as my side

Lunch NOW: Protein smoothie, avocado toast w/ a poached egg, a vegetarian or vegan sandwich

Dinner THEN: large portion of meat, large portion of rice

Dinner NOW: Medium portion of fish or meat or tofu, medium portion of rice, large portion of salad or greens.

 

For you, what is the best hour to go to the gym?

There isn’t a “best hour”, but rather “worst hours” hahah! Try to avoid weekdays, 11:45am – 1:00pm (lunch rush), and 4:15pm – 6:45pm (after work rush). Workout out in the morning, while difficult, is extremely rewarding. You’ll burn more calories throughout the day as your body works to repair itself, and there’s nothing but relaxation after work.

 

Looked way better before…

Oh well! I didn’t feel that way.

 

Besides HIIT, what are some of your favourite workout routines?

Military press for shoulders: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yjwXTZQDDI

Overhead tricep extension: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbX7Wd8jQ-Q

Standard squats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oed-UmAxFs

** All courtesy of Scott Herman Fitness — he’s easy on the eyes, heavy on the fitness information!

 

Do you actually enjoy working out? If so, any advice to enjoy it? I just don’t enjoy it!!

Hahaha! I looove working out. IMO, the key to loving your workout is finding music playlists that get your head out of work, social drama, responsibilities, and allow you to zone into your workout. Try a new playlist!

Oh, and be sure to take weekly progress pictures. In two or three weeks, you’ll start seeing some small changes, picture to picture, and that’s always helped my motivation.

 

Have you hd ups and downs during this process? If you have, how do you deal with them?

Most definitely! No matter who you are, you’ll end up going through days, weeks, or months with a lack of motivation. As much as I try to fight back, sometimes its best to just let your body feel unmotivated for a while. If you body needs a couple weeks off to enjoy some tasty food, or just be less mobile for a little while, then go for it.

For me, fitness is a lifestyle, so it’s less about working out 4-5x a week, EVERY WEEK, and more about balance.

 

What to eat before going to the gym?

I eat a big bowl of overnight oats, 1 hour before my workout!

 

How to get abs?

Have a very low body fat %. That’s it. No amount of crunches will get you abs, because they are LITERALLY made in the kitchen. You’d need to have a very clean diet! I wouldn’t know much about that, because I don’t have abs and never have. I think they’re overrated…

 

How much time do you spend at the gym? Is there something you cut out of your diet?

40 – 60 minutes per workout, or 15 minutes or HIIT if I’m in a rush.

I’ve pretty much cut out sugary drinks, outside of cheat meals. I primarily drink water, which saves me a LOT of calories per day.

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I hope that clarified some of y’all’s fitness questions!

Have more fitness Qs? Leave them in the comments below!

-MR

Healthy Peanut Butter ‘n Jelly Protein Smoothie

Healthy Peanut Butter ‘n Jelly Protein Smoothie

Helloooo!

I’m a daily smoothie drinker, so I try to switch up my ingredients as often as I can. Lately, I’ve been really into peanut butter and banana smoothies (YUM!), but I wanted to change up the ingredients to make it a sure-fire 10/10. I feel like I’ve nailed down a recipe that truly emulates the peanut butter ‘n jelly experience, and I’m so excited to share it with you!

Here’s what you’ll need for ONE smoothie…

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup of frozen blueberries (the ‘jelly’)
  • 1 tbsp of peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup of quick oats (the ‘bread’)
  • 1 scoop (~30g) of your favourite protein powder
  • 1 tsp of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup of almond milk
  • A handful of ice

Approximate Calories: 450

Protein: 40g

Add all your ingredients to your blender, then blend until smooth. I try to blend my smoothie for about 1.5 minutes, to give the oats enough time to break down & soften. Works great as a breakfast alternative, since it’s rich in carbs and protein. I love drinking one of these smoothies an hour before my workout because it gives me a burst of energy from the carbs + sustainable energy from the fats.

Enjoy!

-MR

Protecting Myself Against Fraud

Protecting Myself Against Fraud
This post was made in partnership with Capital One Canada.

We’ve all been there.

Your phone rings and displays an unusual number, informing that you’ve just won an all expense paid trip to the Bahamas!! Plot twist: it’s probably not a real contest… but you already knew that!

For many of my platform’s primary demographic (18 – 45), these scams don’t seem too threatening. We’re the ~digitally-savvy~ generation, right?! That may be true, but we’re also a generation that saves our credit card information to online retailers, punch our PIN codes in public on a daily basis, and still use “password123” for safeguarding.

Like it or not, we’re more vulnerable than ever to fraud. That’s why I’ve partnered with Capital One Canada during March, which happens to be Fraud Prevention Month! I wanted to take time and share some superbly helpful information from their recent Canadian study.

FACT #1: Capital One Canada’s 2019 national study found that 93% of Canadians are taking measures to protect themselves against fraud and identity theft – a substantial improvement over the 53% of Canadians who reported taking steps in their 2018 study.

FACT #2: Only one in ten (11%) Canadians feel that large companies are doing enough to safeguard their personal information. The overwhelming majority (91%) do not have a clear understanding of what large companies are doing to protect their personal information.

I can remember the first time that I felt like I was truly vulnerable to fraud. It was back in 2017, and I was selling some camera equipment online. I was new to selling items online, so when I received a text from a potential buyer claiming they’d like me to ship the item in return for an increased price, I was intrigued! The only information the buyer requested was my email, which at the time seemed perfectly reasonable; I mean, what kind of personal data can someone retrieve with my email address?! About half an hour later, I received an email that appeared to be from an official money transfer, prompting me to click a link and log-in. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the email address was nowhere near trustworthy, so I quickly blocked the individual’s number.

Had I been careless, I could have given the scammer personal banking information. Keep in mind, this is coming from ME, who’s been educating himself on Internet safety for years. If I can be vulnerable to fraud, anyone can.

FACT #3: 63% of Canadians have chosen to store or save their credit card information with at least one online retailer in the past year for a faster checkout experience, despite the majority (89%) citing that companies could do more to safeguard personal information.

HI. I’m part of that 63%. The feeling when you’ve placed everything into your virtual shopping cart, and all it takes are a few clicks before the items are sent to ship — all thanks to credit card autofill! While this is an incredible experience for online shopping, it can leave you vulnerable to thieves & fraudsters.

So, what are things that you can do today to combat fraud?

  • Keep your PIN private! Be sure to cover yourself before inserting your PIN code.
  • Using password protection on electronic devices — and set up two-factor authentication where you can!
  • Choosing complex passwords — don’t just use “password123”, select a difficult password that uses a range of letters, numbers, and special characters
  • Choose a credit card that has smart features built right into it, like two-way fraud alerts, and ensure you’ve given your financial institution permission to contact you if there’s suspicious activity. 
  • Choose a credit card that has smart features built right into it, like two-way fraud alerts, and ensure you’ve given your financial institution permission to contact you if there’s suspicious activity.
  • – Monitor your credit score regularly by taking advantage of free credit monitoring tools like Credit Keeper from Capital One. Unexpected changes to credit scores can be an early indication of fraudulent activity on one or more accounts. 

 

Have you ever had an experience with fraud? Do you have your own ways of combating theft of your personal information? Let me know in the comments section!

Have a happy, safe, & informed Fraud Prevention Month!

-MR