Join Us at the Inspired to Action Conference this International Women’s Day

Have you ever experienced a moment, met a person, read a quote that propelled you out of a rut or dark space and made you see possibilities that you couldn’t previously conceive?  Ever sat in a room of like-minded women and think yes, I can do this and my idea will work. Inspiration is a very powerful thing. It often leads to action. I have been so blessed in my life that as I thought of launching different projects and ideas inspiration has come just when I have needed it most.  Do you have an idea germinating in your head? Have you ever thought of taking a huge leap and leaving the corporate world to do something that means something to you? This International Women’s Day take the day for yourself. Gather with like-minded women and let’s get inspired together at the Inspired to Action Conference at Joey in downtown Toronto. 

Inspired to Action

Inspiration is the seed that is planted in our hearts and souls and we need it to fuel the fire under our butts when we hesitate to take a chance or make a change.  Ever needed that slight push, that encouraging word? I know I have. When I have needed in inspiration that can lead to action I surround myself with a tribe that will get me there. I go and seek inspiration.

In early February I attended such an event. I was able to not only get inspiration but practical advice. I came away with a network of new friends who can help me along the path.  This is what happens when you take the first step and attend events like Inspired to Action.

This March 8th, I would love for you to join me at Inspired to Action.  You can purchase your ticket and get a 20% discount code to attend, which includes access to the entire event and buffet lunch. Simply use the code HollieVIP.

Want to attend the event with me for free? I am giving away one ticket. Leave a comment on this post. I will pick a winner next Friday at 6 pm EST.  Not only will you attend the event for free but I have a special little something for you as well. Just let me know why you want to attend in the comments.

For more information on the conference be sure to check out these social profiles:

Instagram Handle: https://www.instagram.com/i2aconference/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/I2AConference/

Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1124244907678231/

 

Are You Using Essential Oils in Your Self-Care Routines?

One of the things I have been doing lately is taking care of myself better. For years, I really didn’t focus on me ever at all. Everyone else came first. Self-care was low on my priority list? Ever been there? Slowly over the last couple of years, I have started using essential oils more and more. I feel in love with aromatherapy quickly but did you know essential oils can help you in so many ways. As I am learning to take care of myself better, in this month of love I wanted to share some great self-care recipes. Essential oils are now an important part of my self-care routines.

What kind of stress do you live with?

I know I placed the needs of family first and it seemed we always had something to juggle. What household is not busy these days?

With it being the week we celebrate love there are many ways to start taking care of you.

It’s time to take care of you. It’s time to show yourself some love.

Aromatherapy

One of the simplest ways to trigger relaxation is with scent. Aromatherapy triggers relaxation. It’s a great way to stop stress in a moment.

There are many ways you can use aromatherapy.

  1. With a diffuser. Simply add a few drops of your favourite oil to water to help you relax. My favourite oil to use is Lavender.
  2.  In your bath. Add a couple of drops of essential oil to a tablespoon of a carrier oil, then add this to your bath water. (Never add just oil to the water- water and oil do not mix.)
  3.  Massage.  Use it in a carrier oil to give a massage.

Scrubs

Some of my other favourite ways to use my essential oils is by making scrubs. Here are just a few great scrub recipes you may want to try:

 

There are so many ways to use essential oils to help better your self-care routines. Check out my Pinterest board to see more recipes and tips that may help you.

If you are intersted in learning more about essential oils and selfcare, I have a free e-book for you.  Just fill out the this form and I will send it to you.

Let’s Not Forget About Our Kids and Their Mental Health #BellLetsTalk #KidsCantWait

Dear Kathleen Wynne and Those Running for Office,

This post is an open letter from a concerned mom.

I am not sure you are aware of the crisis facing our kids. If you are you, you have done too little. Kids especially our youth wait far too long for help when they are in crisis. When a child is in crisis they wait for help when it comes to their mental health.

My own daughter languished on a high priority wait list for months waiting for a program that would assess her needs and get her a proper diagnosis. While she waited we had daily phone calls from a triage nurse and during this time period her school put her on a do not admit. She would not attend school for 5 months. No education was offered during this time.  Can you imagine that happening to a child you know? a child you care about? Children are languishing because the people that could change things do nothing.

My daughter waited over 2 years for help. Would you wait two years for treatment of an illness that is having a serious impact on your life? one that would almost take your life? The average child waits over 18 months in the province of Ontario for help. Most in the GTA wait longer.

Here is a scary honest stat. Four in 10 children do not get the help they need. We are failing our children. My own daughter was referred to community help after a hospital stay. The programs and treatment recommended for her NEVER came.  As a parent, I could not wait for my community. I was forced to take action on my own. I had to navigate a broken system. I had to pay out of pocket for therapy. It was a daily nightmare for about two years.

Here is the reality most adults who suffer from mental illness showed signs in childhood. By age 40 almost half of all of those who live in Ontario will have struggled with a mental health issue. What if we helped people sooner? Think of the long-term cost savings? Children’s Mental Health Ontario is calling on the Government of Ontario to make child and youth mental health a priority in its next budget. Will you answer their request with real action?

Let this mom know, I will be voting on this one issue.

Thank you,

Regards,

Hollie Pollard

Mom of One

My dear friends the stats are scary and I would encourage you to reach out to our premier and let her know your concerns.

Here are some stats that scare the heck out of me. They are fact, not fiction.

 

  • Mental illness impacts us all. We know that 70% of adult mental illnesses begin in childhood and by the age of 40, half of all Ontarians will have struggled with a mental health problem.
  • In Ontario, an alarming 36% of parents report seeking mental health services for their children.
  • Half of the parents who sought help said they faced challenges in getting the services they needed. The primary reason cited was long wait times (65% of those who sought help).
  • Four in 10 youth have sought help for mental health issues but nearly half of them were not able to get the help they needed.
  • $120M additional funds annually are needed to meet the increasing demand and shortage of mental health and addiction services for both children and youth. Children’s Mental Health Ontario is calling on the Government of Ontario to make child and youth mental health a priority in its next budget. Join us and urge the Ontario government to act now at kidsmentalhealthcantwait.ca
  • When children receive treatment in hospitals, they are stabilized, kept for a few days, and are discharged only to wait in long lines for treatment at child and youth mental health centres.
  • Nearly half of all youth in Ontario (46%) report having missed school as a result of their anxiety, and one-quarter of all kids with mental health issues experience substantially lower achievement at school.
  • With nowhere to turn because of long wait lists or a shortage of services near where they live, many children and youth are forced in desperation and crisis to seek mental health treatment at hospital emergency rooms. Since 2006-07, there has been a 63% increase in emergency department visits and a 67% increase in hospitalizations for Ontario children and youth with mental health issues. ( my daughter had to be one of these).

Here is what should be happening. Can you help advocate for it?

Children’s Mental Health Ontario urges the government to make crucial investments to:

  • Ensure that no child or youth wait more than 30 days for mental health and addictions treatment
  • Expand specialized youth mental health and addictions centres to ensure that children and youth get the treatment they need
  • Hire and retain the highest skilled staff caring for our most vulnerable children
  • Develop quality standards to deliver the best mental health and addictions services

Today you can make a difference with one simple action.

That is why for Bell Let’s Talk Day we are asking you to raise your voice for children’s mental health. Click here to send Premier Kathleen Wynne a message and let her know that our #kidscantwait for mental healthcare. http://kidsmentalhealthcantwait.ca/

**This is not a sponsored post I am simply a mom who has had to navigate a very broken system.

 

Join the #RRSPandTSFAReady Twitter Party

It’s hard to believe the RRSP deadline is quickly approaching. Are you ready for March 1st, 2018?

Over the years I often wondered was an RRSP really necessary for every Canadian? The RRSP has been around since before I was born yet the TFSA is still a fairly new savings plan. Which is best? I have learned it all depends on your individual situation.

An RRSP or registered retirement savings plan is meant for long-term savings. You can read more about the plan on the government website here. A retirement savings plan is registered with the federal government and you contribute to it.  Any income earned in the RRSP normally exempt from taxes as long as the funds are in the plan. You pay taxes when you take money out.

A TFSA is a tax-free savings account. It allows those over 18 ( and have a social insurance number) to set money aside tax free throughout their lives. Contributions to a TFSA are not taxed deductible. Amounts earned inside the account is generally tax-free even when it is withdrawn.  Read more about them here.

On Thursday, Feb 1st, 2018 you can join my friends from @TangerineBank for the #RRSPandTFSAReady Twitter Party to learn more.

Details for the Twitter Party:

Twitter Party Date: Thursday. February 1. 2018

Time: 7:00pm ET to 8:00pm ET

Twitter Party Hashtag: #RRSPandTFSAReady

Host@TangerineBank

Guest: Joe Synder @JoePSnyder 

RSVP: not required

Prizing: $300 in Gift Cards

 

In the meantime, let me share four things you should know about TFSA’s:

Want to know more about the special guest for the Twitter party?

Joe Snyder

Joe Snyder will be on hand to answer your questions. Joe Snyder is part of the Investments Product Management team at Tangerine. Joe is passionate about investor education and holds the Chartered Investment Manager (CIM®) designation. You can read Joe’s blog posts on the Tangerine website. Click here to view his posts.

*this post is sponsored by the Tangerine Bank. All opinions are my own.

How to Survive Cold and Flu Season on a Budget

No one likes getting sick. This year, in the past week it seemed like a large number of my friends were battling cold and flu bugs. At our house, we were as well. It was no fun. No one likes waking up at 2 am in a coughing fit and no one likes taking their little one to the hospital for a brief stay. Both happened in our house last week.  So how can you survive cold and flu season on a budget?

With the reality being most of us take unpaid time off to battle the flu or cold, each bout will affect the pocketbook. So how can we best be ready? Prevention matters but when it happens it is best to listen to your body.

The Flu Shot

Flu shots have been proven to lessen symptoms or even help you get through the season flu-free. This year though there are several strains that are resistant to the shot so what is a family to do?

Rest

Do yourself and your work/school mates a favour and take the time to heal. Rest. One of the best things you can try to do is sleep. Sleep helps you to build your immunity system and helps fight germs. Sleep is a free way to help your body get better.

Wash Your Hands

Handwashing frequently especially in this season matters. Handwashing helps prevent illness but it also helps it from running through the family as well.

Drink Water

Water is good for you. It helps to flush out impurities. I have been drinking at least 2 litres a day of water. For me I have added a few drops of lemon essential oils to help flush toxins away. Even adding fresh lemon will help.

Eat Well

There are many foods that help fight food and colds.  Mushrooms, green tea, sweet potato and chicken soup are on the list. We keep cans of chicken noodle soup stocked just for sick days.

Stock Your Medicine Chest

There is nothing worse than having to do a run to the pharmacy when you feel terrible. I do quarterly checks on our basic meds and stock the cabinet when things are on sale. We buy just enough and I do check the expiry dates.   We keep Advil, Neo Citran, Vicks Vapour Rub, Gravol, and a few other medications on hand. Did you know you can often find these for sale? Remember to check your flyer apps like Flipp for sales and rebates. Other apps you may want to check include CheckOut 51 and Caddle.

We also buy Kleenex when it is on sale. Even after using about 3 boxes in our house last week I think I have a few left in my stash.

What are your favourite ways to save and battle a cold or the flu?

 

The Start of the New Year: 5 Birthdays to Celebrate

It is that time of the year, everyone is celebrating Christmas and the New Year. In our house there are 6 birthdays all within 2 weeks. I live in a house with 3 families and each one of us celebrate 2 birthdays. It’s a busy time of the year. If I extend that just a wee bit, then there is also the birthday of my niece and 3 dear friends. We are a bunch of Capricorns. So let me share with you how we celebrated.

New Year’s Eve and the Bringing in of the New Year

My daughter and I did not want to brave the frigid temperatures that hit Toronto that night so we stayed in. I made up a cheese platter, grabbed some pizzas and we played board games and watched Moana ( We are huge fans of Disney Animation).  As it got later we turned on The Rockin New Year’s Eve and rang in the year cuddled up on the Sofa. It was a pretty sweet way to bring in the New Year.

Celebrating My Daughter’s Birthday

 


My daughter celebrated her birthday on Tuesday. Since she has a love of everything Japanese we headed out for Ramen for lunch and then headed to Uncle Tetsu’s for dessert.  She loved it. I surprised her with the birthday plate. Yes, it was $7.00 extra but work every penny to see her face as they brought her out Matcha cheesecake singing her Happy Birthday. She even got her photo with the girl serving us. She already is planning her next visit. We will continue her birthday celebrations by having some friends over later this month.

A Hospital Visit

Two of the little ones who had birthdays both got very sick over the holidays and the youngest was hospitalized at Sick Kids for a few days. Birthday celebrations for that family have been delayed as we work to get them better.

 

A Saturday of 2 Celebrations

A dear friend of mine and the little one of the family upstairs both had celebrations on Saturday. Yes, even in the frigid weather that hit Toronto we headed out. First there was a Frozen birthday party for the little princess. Then in the evening I headed to the Jerusalem Restaurant Buffet in North York to help celebrate a friend’s 60th.  It was my first time at the restaurant and I enjoyed the food especially the lamb, it was so tender. I was also enthralled with the belly dancing. It was a great night out.

With all the celebrating done though guess who has gotten sick? My daughter caught the bug late on Friday and this morning I woke up not feeling the best. We have been using essential oils to help us feel better. In fact, as I type this there are oils in the diffuser and I put some on my feet as well. Hopefully, we will recover quickly. Tell me, how was your first week of 2018?

 

The Year of Non-Sponsorship Begins

It’s 2018 and I am doing something radically different. Most bloggers are looking for ways to increase their audience to share more, to put out better content so they can earn more. There is so much noise in the blogosphere right now that it is difficult to get your message out there. I have decided to do an experiment with 2018. For the first two years of Common Cents Mom, I simply shared my life and what worked for me. I am getting back to that as the year of non-sponsorship begins.

What does that mean?

There will be not a single sponsored post for 2018 on this blog. Not one.

Bold move? Maybe, maybe I am nuts but I simply want to get back to storytelling and helping others without brand sponsorship always on my mind. Some of my most shared and still looked at posts have no brand attachments, they simply helped you, my readers.

When I want to share something, maybe a fun event I am attending I will, my money saving posts will be about what works for me today and what you may want to try, my posts will be about the causes I care dearly about. If you know me you know homelessness and hunger are two issues I care deeply about.

I am also on a health journey, so you will read more of that as well. If I am sharing about essential oils I will share a link to my storefront as I am a doTERRA Wellness advocate.

When I find an item that is really working for me and I want to review it or share it, I will. If it happens to be sold on Amazon I will share a link ( If you buy from one of my links I will earn money)

Two of my favourite apps Caddle and Ebates I also earn a very small amount when you sign up. These links have been on my blog forever.

Otherwise, as the emails come this year I will be saying NO so I can say Yes.

What will I be saying YES to?

I will be saying yes to helping in ways that matter to me.

I will be saying to time with my daughter.

I will be saying yes to fun opportunities that help us to have fun, grow and develop.

I will be saying yes to building relationships that matter.

I will be saying yes to supporting the causes that matter to me.

I will be saying yes to growing.

Do I expect some challenges along the way? Yes. Will it be a challenge to turn down money when asked? Yes.

Let me know in the comments what do you think about my challenge for the year?

 

 

 

 

How to Best Start An Emergency Fund in 2018 Living Pay Cheque to Pay Cheque

Many Canadians are living pay cheque to pay cheque. It is a plain fact. If this is you, please know you are not alone. I’ve been there done that. If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to start saving a bit of money in 2018, let us start with the best way to start an emergency fund in 2018 even when you are living pay cheque to pay cheque. Yes, it can be done.

The Reality Check

First up, before you can move forward, we have to look at our past. We have to look at our current and past habits. Can I challenge you to look at your budget if you have one? If you don’t have one you want one, stat! For me, the best way to do this was to track my spending. Write down every penny you are spending as a family. This may seem daunting at first but by carrying a small notebook with me, I was able to track my spending. You can do it too!

The Road Map

If you don’t already have a budget in place, this is where you start. Look at what you have been spending. Look at your priorities. I was surprised at how much I spent in certain areas in mindless ways. Every penny does matter when you are living pay cheque to pay cheque. Set your priorities, if savings is a priority that you really want go for it! Find areas you can cut or do less. Starting small is ok. Even $10 a week makes a difference over time.

If you need help on how to set a budget here are a couple of posts from friends of mine that helped me:

  1. 7 Steps to a Budget Made Easy

2. Gail’s Guide to Starting a Budget

Quick Start Your Savings

I know as I look around my home there are several things I am not using. Right now, there is that bread maker I got last Christmas and used twice, there is the old camera collection that is gathering dust, and the pile of books I have read. Take a look around your house, what if you sold these and started your nest egg, your emergency fund with the proceeds? Most of us have a few things we can sell for a profit. I use Kijiji when I have things to sell.  By selling even $200 in goods it gives you a starting balance.

Add to Your Income

For those of us who are parents, it can seem hard to find the time to add to our income. It isn’t always easy for anyone. You can freelance your skills if you have one. I know several friends who supplement their income writing for blogs and brands. I know some younger girls who babysit. Others I know dog walk. What could you do for a few hours each week to supplement your income? Can you ask for more hours at work? Use this income minus transportation costs to go straight into your emergency fund.

By taking these actions, I was able to start my own savings account when I was living on less than $26,000 a year in Toronto. It can be done. When there is a will there is a way. Let me know what are you doing to ensure you have an emergency fund?

 

 

 

Tips for Hosting the Best Holiday Dinner

 

Can you believe it, Christmas is just days away! There is so much to do!  If you’re like me, your mind starts racing… gift lists, shopping trips, recipe ideas, and there are more holiday dinners than you can count on both hands. Where do you start?

If you’re like me, hosting a holiday dinner are at the top of the list. How do you ensure they go off without a hitch? Here are a few simple tips and tricks that will make every meal a hit:

  1. Make a list and check it twice. There are great organizational apps (I like to think of them as my virtual assistant) that can help you prioritize. From stocking up your pantry and creating menu ideas to managing RSVP lists, storing these items in one place can help you organize and strike off those to-dos!  Plus, the feeling of accomplishment you get when you check an item off your list is always a bonus (whether it’s on paper or on your phone!)
  1. Get the fancy silverware and dishes ready. Holiday feasts and festive parties mean bringing out your best silverware and serving dishes. To refresh your silver, try Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. Just rub a paste of three-parts Arm & Hammer Baking Soda and one-part water onto the silver with a clean cloth or sponge. Then rinse thoroughly and your dinnerware will be sparkling-ready to impress your guests!
  1. Expect the unexpected. For that unexpected guest who drops by, not-so-holiday-specific items like stationary, pens and notebooks are a nice last-minute gifting idea that anyone will appreciate. Taking a non-holiday themed approach means items can be purchased well in advance of the holiday shopping rush.

  1. Keep messes to a minimum. Having a trusted stain fighter on-hand to tackle those holiday spills and stains is a must! My go-to products are the OxiClean MaxForce Foam Laundry Pre-Treater and MaxForce Spray Laundry Pre-Treater. Both can treat wine stains, gravy spills and stains from sticky fingers to keep linens and napkins table-ready for next season. The Pre-treaters can stand for up to a week before washing.
  1. Pamper yourself! Treat yourself to that festive latte, Santa-shaped cookie, or extra hour in bed without the guilt! You deserve it for all your hard work, and it may be just what you need to keep your spirits up and stay energized for your next dinner party!

What are your tips for easing dinner party prep and clean-up stress? I’d love to hear them! May you have a great holiday dinner with friends and family.

* this post has been sponsored by Church and Dwight and I have been a brand ambassador for them for the last 3 years. We love our Church and Dwight products! 

My Favourite Reads and Shows of 2017

It seems every December every one does a best of the year list. This year as I commuted I did lots of reading and watching thanks to being able to download lots of Netflix shows.  Which one did you do more of? Did you read more or watch shows? Here are the shows and books I really enjoyed in 2017. Some of these were published years ago but read by me for the first time this year. Some books were for personal growth and some were there just to enjoy. These are my favourite reads and shows of 2017.

My Top 10 Reads of 2017

  1. Wonder- I had to read the book before watching the movie. It was so good! I would suggest this book as a great teen read as well. My daughter loved the book as well.
  2. The Hand Maid’s Tale- This book as well the show had me mesmerised. I feel in love with Margot Atwood as an author this year. My teen is getting this book under the tree as she loves dystopian novels.
  3. The Success Principles- I was challenged to read this one as part of a program I was part of. With Jack Canfield, you can never go wrong.
  4. Option B- Sheryl Sandberg’s second book was so different from her first but her ability to move on inspired and encouraged me this year. 
  5. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness- With so many characters in this book and a search for happiness and love, it was one I binge read this year.
  6. Unshakeable- Tony Robbins (who I have long adored) came to Toronto this year and so reading Unshakable made perfect sense for this personal finance writer. If you want to know more read it now.
  7. Braving the Wilderness- I love reading Brene Brown. We all long to belong. I know I have and well she articulated some of my thoughts so well.
  8. The Book of Business Awesome/ The Book of Business UnAwesome- When a friend writes a book, it is on your list. I love Scott’s take on business.
  9. The Sun and Her Flowers- I must admit I cried during reading this book. Just read it.
  10. How to Be a Bawse- Fellow Torontian and YouTuber was a must read for me. This girl rocks.

Besides reading I did lots of watching this year as well. My favourite tv shows were all ones that my teen and I watch together. There are 5 of them.

My Top Watches of 2017

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale- It had us on the edge of our seats waiting for the next episode.
  2. Young Sheldon. – My teen loves this show and it can’t be missed by her.
  3. The Good Place- This show with its constant surprises is simply fun and my teen and I both love it.
  4. The Good Doctor- This show is one we do not miss and we are in love with it.
  5. This is Us- I got addicted to this show during its first season and am loving season 2. My teen joined me in watching this show after getting caught up watching it on Netflix.

We both watched lots of Netflix as well. Our favourite Netflix shows were series. These were all watched this year.

  1. Atypical-Both my teen and I loved this show.
  2. 13 Reasons Why- my daughter and I thought this show was intense but it allowed for some great conversations.
  3. The Crown- I have had a love affair with everything Royal since I was young so I love this series.
  4. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt- we love to laugh and this show makes us laugh out loud!
  5. Orange is the New Black- We have loved the show since the first season.

So let me know what were your favourite reads and watches this year. I really want to know.