Be the Tortoise: Why you don’t need much money to save

Whenever I used to think about the idea of saving my money, it just seemed….impossible. As far as tough financial words go, ‘savings’ isn’t really one of them. Everyone has a general idea of what ‘savings’ are, and that they should have them. But there are still different ideas about what they represent. To me, savings are just the dollars that aren’t going towards your immediate needs. They're the leftovers. The stuff that can carry over. The problem was that generally, in my life, there wasn’t a lot left over. I was barely scrapping by. How was I supposed ...
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The Cost of Cheap (thoughts from the bus)

I spent the morning walking through lower Manhattan, good coffee and a particularly delicious doughnut in hand. I’m here in New York visiting my girlfriend who’s doing a gig. I mentioned recently that I am a proud member of the long-distance-relationship club (at least for most of the year) so I often find myself visiting whichever city she happens to be working in. Whenever I come to New York (either on business or as arm candy) I fly on the wings of my Megabus chariot. Yes…. If you haven’t experienced it, it is as cool as it sounds. And ...
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My girlfriend and I spent more than half the year apart in 2014. This year we’re on pace to do at least that well. In 2015, we have spent only 8 days together in the apartment that we share in snowy Toronto. It’s been this way since day 1. Our first kiss was followed by her jumping on a plane the next morning. Our relationship really started on Skype… and a big part of it continues through that magical service. Living with that much long distance can sometimes be hard, but I’m not complaining. We’re both artists, and have to ...
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the SUPER BASIC story of Canadian Income Tax

There are a lot of things to know when it comes to taxes. So it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But don’t be!! On the surface, taxes seem weird and boring.. but I promise, knowing the basics about how they work can be really useful! Also. Taxes are kind of fun… not like "sit-down-in-front-of-the-fire-with-a-drink-and-a-copy-of-the-tax-code" fun, but like “I-find-that-interesting-and-see-how-it-applies-to-my-life” kind of fun… Okay. So just because I think they’re fun doesn’t mean you will, but we’re all going to be paying taxes for the rest of our lives. And for the artist/freelancer types, understanding how taxes work is really important to your ...
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The 5 Stages of (Tax) Grief

So it’s tax season. Well. Kind of. For us self-employed folk (at least in Canada), we technically have until the middle of June to file (although if you owe tax it’s due on April 30th… and I definitely owe tax). But this is the season when everyone begins to talk about taxes. And so, inevitably, I start thinking about maybe getting started… Every year I aim to be done earlier… and well, every year it ends up being the same story; I sneak in just before the deadline. It’s amazing how, with the sorting of the very first receipt, I'm ...
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Being a super budgeter helped me GAIN 5 pounds

So, since I’m not really rolling in cash these days, I decided to try to see if I could cut back a bit in January. Now… my budget doesn’t have all that many things that can be cut, and my landlord didn’t seem too keen on renegotiating the rent. So I set my sight on food costs. I’d cut most of the eating out and tried to limit my grocery spending to 55 dollars a week, which is quite a bit less than normal. It seemed like such a good idea. It would force me to be creative, and really ...
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Budgeting. It’s easy. There are a ton of websites that will tell you how to do it. Just take your projected income for the month. Then categorize your expenses. Fit that income into those expenses. Hey presto… a budget. If that’s all the information you need, great, stop reading, go get yourself some pie. You deserve pie. But for the rest of you… you’re probably more like me… I have no idea how much I’m going to make this month, or next month. And it’s the same for expenses. They’re crazy… all over the place. Some months I’m spending a ...
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Planning to be Spontaneous: How Budgeting freed me up to be in the moment

A few weeks ago I got an awesome question from a fellow singer. We were talking about budgets (as you do) and he expressed the concern: “One of the things that I love about the artistic lifestyle is the ability to be spontaneous. How do I budget and keep that a reality?” Since our conversation was weeks ago, I have probably completely misquoted him.. but this is how I remember it, so we’ll roll with that. I like it because it’s something I feel as well. I was never a big planner and one of the reasons I didn’t ...
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A new kind of Net Worth: January Recap

January is over. How did that even happen? No matter how many trips to the gym you missed, or other resolutions that you haven’t quite gotten to… it is indeed finished. And I feel the need to do a bit of a recap. A lot of personal finance blogs do monthly net worth updates, but that’s not something that I’m really interested in. Of course, I’m endlessly fascinated by how much money other people have (sometimes it makes me sad), and I totally understand how it can be a useful tool to keep themselves accountable (although I suspect they’re deliberately ...
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Look ma! I’m running a business: Basic Business questions for unsuspecting freelancers

One of the many things they don’t tell you in music school is what you’re really signing up for. I knew the job would take talent, and hard work, and a whole lot of luck. But what I didn’t realize was that I was on the path to becoming an entrepreneur, and I would spend every day from here on out running my own business. I read something the other day that made the very astute point that "being a freelancer is basically like owning your own business." No. Incorrect. Being a freelancer is not “like” having your own business ...
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I’m Chris. I’m an opera-singing financial planner, and I want to help you start getting control over your money. 

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Tools to try:

My favourite tool in THE STORE right now is this:

Even though I wrote it for music students, it’s a great guide for any artist who wants to start getting control over their money, their business, and their variable income.