The MapleMoney Show » How to Save Money » Budgeting

The Return of CBC Street Cents, with Carley Thorne and Mercedes Gaztambide

Presented by Willful

Welcome to The MapleMoney Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their finances to create lasting financial freedom. I’m your host, Tom Drake, the founder of MapleMoney, where I’ve been writing about all things related to personal finance since 2009.

If you’re of a certain vintage, like me, the name CBC Street Cents is sure to trigger memories from adolescence. The popular Canadian TV show, aimed at teenagers, originally aired on CBC Television between 1989 and 2006. Streets Cents is making a comeback, but this time, it’s not on TV.

This week, I sat down to chat with two of the lead content creators for the new Street Cents: Carley Thorne and Mercedes Gaztambide. Carley is a designer and comedian. She has spent time at Toronto’s Second City and toured North America performing sketch comedy. She translated her love of books into a successful YouTube channel with over 150K subscribers.

Mercedes is a new graduate from Ryerson University with a degree in Journalism. Born and raised in Boston, her love of reading and writing started at Harvard University Libraries. Her goal is to find the truth in every story and prepare the next generation of critical thinkers. She knows what her credit score is and can help you find yours.

I asked Carley and Mercedes about the upcoming Street Cents Reboot, and we talked about some of the key financial challenges facing young Canadians in 2022, like housing and balancing earning money while going to school. I also learned about a trick called the “Latte Nap”. For more details, listen to the full episode. You might pick up a few student money-making hacks along the way.

Willful’s user-friendly online platform means you can create your legal will and Power of Attorney documents from the comfort of home in less than 20 minutes and for a fraction of the price of visiting a lawyer. Get started for free at and use promo code MAPLEMONEY to save 15%

Episode Summary

  • Why the CBC Street Cents reboot landed on Tiktok
  • External factors that impact a person’s ability to rent an apartment
  • The difference between what the bank tells you you can afford and what you feel comfortable paying
  • The most expensive option isn’t always the best one for you
  • The challenges of balancing jobs with a post-secondary education
  • The ‘Latte Nap’ explained
  • Why you should take the time to apply for scholarships
  • Money-making hacks for college students

Read transcript

If you have a certain vintage like me, the name CBC Street Cents is sure to trigger memories from adolescence. The popular Canadian TV show, originally aimed at teenagers, originally appeared on CBC Television between 1989 and 2006. Street Cents is making a comeback, but this time it’s not on TV. This week, I sat down to chat with two of the lead content creators for the new Street Cents, Carley Thorne and Mercedes Gaztambide. Carley is a designer and comedian. She has spent time at Toronto’s Second City and their North America Performing Sketch Comedy. She translated her love of books into a successful YouTube channel with over 150,000 subscribers. Mercedes is a new graduate from Ryerson University with a degree in journalism. Born and raised in Boston, her love of reading and writing started in Harvard University libraries. Her goal is to find the truth in every story and prepare the next generation of critical thinkers. She knows what her credit score is and can help you find yours. I asked Carley and Mercedes about the upcoming Street Cents reboot, and we talked about some of the key financial challenges facing young Canadians in 2022. 


Welcome to the Maple Money Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their personal finances to create lasting financial freedom. Willful’s user friendly platform means you can create a legal will and power of attorney documents from the comfort of home in less than 20 minutes and for a fraction of the price of visiting a lawyer. Get started for free at and use the promo code Maple Money to save 15 percent. Now, let’s chat with Carley and Mercedes… 


Tom: Hi, Carley and Mercedes. Welcome to the Maple Money Show. 


Carley and Mercedes: Hi, thanks for having us. 


Mercedes: Oh my gosh, we said that at the same time. 


Tom: Thanks for being on because something interesting happened and I want people to know about this. The brand, Street Cents is back. In the 90s, I was a mid to late teen, depending on the time in the 90s. I watched the Street Cents show on CBC. It was very interesting because back then it seemed a lot more consumer tips and a little bit of entrepreneurship. But now you guys are part of this new Street Cents team. It’s not as much consumer. I’ve seen a lot of videos that just cover anything personal finance, which is great. The other thing I found interesting is even though this is done through CBC, it’s not on television. It’s on TikTok. What I really like about that is it’s actually reaching younger people where they’re at. There’s no sense putting it on TV if no one’s watching TV at that age. I really like that they’ve made that decision to put it on TikTok and have you guys provide all this information for people. So if anyone’s listening to this, that is the age to be interested in that, or if they have kids they want to see this, across the board, I think many can find this pretty helpful to either watch themselves or provide to someone else. Can you just tell me a bit about how it’s been for you starting this? And since we have two of you, let’s start with Carley. 


Carley: Yeah, it’s been such a wonderful and different, wild experience because we’re young. We’re not teens but we’re all in our 20s, I believe. For me, Street Cents was a brand that I was aware of, but I wasn’t aware of the impact. And something that has been so great about rebooting, an iconic Canadian 90s brand and TV show, TikTok is great to not only reach that younger audience, but fully understand the scope of how important and how beloved it was for so many people. I think there’s a big misconception that young people, especially young teens and tweens, don’t care about money because they’re not making a lot of money yet. The old Street Cents and now the new Street Cents dispel that by saying, no, you just need to put it in terms that are relevant to them. People love consumer literacy. People love finlit (financial literacy). They want to learn about money because money is so relevant, especially if you’re only working your after-school minimum wage job. You want to know what to do with that. What I think is great about that is really being along for the process and making content for people that, hopefully, enjoy and learn a little bit from, but they’re also entertained. 


Tom: Well, exactly. It is entertaining. The new videos—you need those to kind of catch younger people’s attention. They’re not going to sign up for something that seems like a boring class. 


Carley: They’re not going to sit through a lecture on credit score or things like that. 


Tom: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Mercedes, tell me about your experience with this so far. 


Mercedes: It’s very similar to what Carley said. It’s really interesting to see the love that this brand has within Canada. I was not aware of Street Cents before joining this team. But just to see the nostalgia for the brand online has been really incredible. There’s been such a positive response. I think with this kind of thing, it can be tricky, right? You can have people that only want the original version. But I think what people loved about this show is that it was all about learning. The things people remember about Street Cents are all those fun little money quirks that they learned from their teenage years that they didn’t even realize they were really absorbing. I think it’s just such an evergreen style of content and such an evergreen topic—this idea of personal finance and money. It’s relevant to everyone in every decade. It just makes sense to bring it back. And just feeling validated in that has been really great. Just opening up this project with a bang knowing people from the past love all of this and people in the future are going to love this too. And that’s what’s great about Street Cents. 


Tom: Yeah, I think it’s totally great. But just the idea that they went with TikTok is so much more useful. People are going to see it and absorb it. Some of the stuff I watched on Street Cents as a kid, I didn’t immediately take action. I wasn’t so motivated that I was going to do something. I was a lazy teenager at the time. Not that all teens are, but I was. It was hard to get me motivated to do much. But looking back at some of the old episodes (before we recorded this) I think some of that did stick with me, even though I didn’t realize it. It was giving me something. It was giving me some kind of basis that did stick with me once I was ready for it. 


Carley: Totally. And yeah, I agree with the 100 percent what you said before of meeting teens where they’re at. I love TV and a lot of people do, but the fact of the matter is a lot of teens now are consuming media online. That’s how I think we’ve tried to preserve the original ethos and breadth of Street Cents. Anybody can enjoy the content we’re making. Anybody can learn from it. But we’re making it specifically for this target audience. We want to make stuff that they like and enjoy, and we also want to make it for the platform that they like and enjoy. There’s no point in making super, relatable and fun to consume financial literacy content if you’re not… It’s like if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, did it make a sound? I don’t know. TikTok is where teens are these days. 


Mercedes: Not just that, but I think they’re consuming more marketing online now more than ever before. This isn’t the birth of the internet or anything like that. But it is this whole new version of digital media and digital marketing. They shop online, they learn online, they’re influenced by influencers online. They’ve become this huge part of the digital marketplace at a very young age. I think to just tackle that now and say, “Hey, here are the tools you need, and here’s the place where you’re coming for all your information anyway…” It’s kind of like the best of both worlds. 


Tom: Yeah. So Carley, I want to talk to you about your own personal experience with this. One of the bigger things in your life lately is, you got your first apartment. Can you tell me what that was like for you? I remember for me, it wasn’t the best experience. What was it like for you to go through this? 


Carley: I found it was wild on two fronts. One front is just there’s so much you have to think beyond. When you’re applying for apartments, looking for apartments, it’s so much beyond reaching out and saying, “I would like this place.” It’s stuff you would never think of in terms of providing a credit score or proof of employment, all of these different things. It’s complex and interesting but there’s not a lot of information about it. It’s also about budgeting, because I was searching for a place that I can afford and will be within my budget and things of that nature. But when you look online for budgeting, there’s a lot of focus on what you can afford not and not what you’re willing to pay. Let’s say you make $2,000, you can technically afford to pay $2,000. But should you? No. There are not a lot of tools that say, “Okay, if this is what you’re making, here’s how much you should pay in rent.” And finding that healthy medium on your own and navigating it is kind of complex, especially because I live in Toronto—so, yikes! The rental market here is horrible. It’s expensive and finding an apartment is not just looking up apartments for rent. Here, in Toronto, you’re comparing price, comparing square footage, comparing area. There’s a lot that goes into budgeting for that, specifically when it comes to first and last month’s rent and also what you feel like you can grow into and what you feel you can afford later down the line, regardless of your employment status and things like that. I moved in with my partner and we were discussing how we have a friend who’s also moving in with his partner. So there are two couples, both looking for apartments. And we had such an easier time finding an apartment than the other couple because our jobs are, if you say them to a landlord, they say, “Got it, that’s a job.” I say I work at the CBC and my partner works at TD and they say, “Great.” They understand. Whereas this other couple work in production which is a lot more contract and freelance work. So even though we’re looking at the same apartments in the same budget (and make the same amount of money collectively) there are so many external factors that are just based on people’s perception of you and what you do that affect the kind of places you can rent. For someone looking for their first apartment, this is what you need to keep in mind. 


Tom: Yeah, I just wasn’t that great when I was younger with money, but I didn’t think so much about how much apartment I could afford. They were a lot cheaper back then and I had a student loan going into college when I got my first apartment so things were kind of offset where I didn’t think I needed to worry about as much. But when I got my first house, I really saw the difference between what they tell you can afford and what you feel comfortable affording. When you get a house with a mortgage, they’ll give you a set percentage of your expenses. at least they’re not going to take you up to 100 percent of what you can get, but they’ll give you a set percentage. But even then, it was way more house than they needed. Especially when you’re younger and renting the—I was going to say quality, but it’s not that you want to live in a slum place, but you can live in a place that’s obviously not your forever home. If you’re renting and money’s tighter when you’re younger, there’s so many reasons for you to get into an apartment that’s good enough if you’re even saving $100 a month compared to another apartment. 


Carley: Yeah, the place that we ended up moving into was the cheapest place. I am nothing if efficient. I said, “We are seeing all these apartments on Saturday, and that’s it. I’ve seen enough. I don’t want to see anything else. I’m tired of doing this.” And we ended up going with the cheapest place that we saw. Not because it was the cheapest but it ended up being the size we needed. I work from home, but my partner doesn’t, so we don’t need an office. We can do the living room office combination. We don’t need that much space, especially when location is also such a factor. If you’re living in the city, the place where you want to live in the city will also affect what you can pay and what you can afford and things like that. So it just ended up being the thing you can get with your top dollar may be nicer, but it’s not necessarily even what you need or what your vibe is. It felt so much more homey and lived in. I’m not a condo person. That’s just not my vibe. Are they probably more expensive and nicer than where I live? For sure, for sure! But it’s not what my needs are. It’s very weird when you look online, a lot of the resources about what you can afford they say, “If you can afford $2,000, you’re getting…” Well, yeah, but I don’t want to be stressed. Paying rent on the first of every month you’re already thinking, “Oh my God, I hate this!” On top of that, I don’t want to be left with no money. 


Tom: Especially when you’re renting. I guess the way I looked at it then was, you’re renting a space. You need a space. And location is going to matter. You don’t want to spend an hour plus commuting. But if you have a space, you live there and that’s great. But you don’t necessarily need to care about whether it has fancy cabinets in the kitchen like another one might. 


Carley: Or the tiles in the bathroom. Yeah, yeah, exactly. 


Tom: It would be nice to have, I guess, even when you’re buying. Maybe it doesn’t matter to some people. But when you’re renting, you just need a place to exist. 


Carley: And what the pandemic has taught us is, you know what you need from a space. You now know what you are willing to sacrifice and what your needs are. The tiles and cabinets, yes, I’d love for them to be beautiful and vintage. I love crown moulding. What do I actually need? A window, a door I can close, and my basic needs? I need a closet because when I was in university I did not have a closet. That’s a must. You have your clothes in a bin for an entire semester so this cannot stand. I can’t do that. I think we all are so much more conscious of stuff because we’ve spent so much time in our spaces now. I’m living a little bit more north than I would like to. I love to be as central as possible, but I didn’t want to pay over my budget and I wanted to be above ground. There are compromises that you have to make. You see how far you can go—how far you can push me north before I say, “Okay, this place is nicer than the places we were looking at before.” 


Tom: I like that because you do have to weigh it. It’s pros and cons list, right? The location is going to matter, but the price of it matters, too. You’ve got to see where your line is. 


Carley: Yeah, how far you can go and it still feels fine. 


Tom: Yeah. Now, Mercedes, I wanted to ask you about something that you’ve been dealing with in your life. You worked and saved through university. And again, while I’m admitting all my mistakes back then, I barely worked and I wasn’t saving at all. It took me getting through all that and realizing I needed to get serious. But in my teens and early 20s, I wasn’t saving at all. How did you pull this off with balancing the university with working and actually keeping some money aside and not just blowing it on partying? 


Mercedes: Before university even happened, I’ve always cared about financial literacy. It was instilled in me very young by both of my parents. I’ve had a job since I was basically 13, and this idea of saving for the future was expressed to me very early. When it came time to go to university, I didn’t have a RESP and my tuition was essentially my responsibility, in totality. So I relied a lot on OSAP and scholarships to pay my own way. Before university, I essentially applied for any and every scholarship I came across. I wrote probably dozens of essays and just worked really hard to keep up my grades for the university scholarship. And that didn’t stop once I actually got into school. I continued to have to work to keep up my GPA, to maintain my entry scholarship, to continue to get scholarships throughout the years. And then on top of that, working two or maybe three jobs per semester just to kind of keep myself afloat. I probably could have relied on loans and came out of it with some student debt. But I’m really happy that I did end up working throughout my years because now I can happily say that I’m going to be able to pay off all my student loans when I graduate, which is in about a month just because of how much I work through university. I’m proud of that. It took a lot of effort and a lot of instant ramen. 


Tom: How many years were you in university? Was it just the regular four? 


Mercedes: Yeah, four years. I tried to make sure as best that I could, but I did not extend it any longer than it needed to be. I have a bad case of senioritis right now. I cannot wait to just be fully done with writing essays and doing exams. I just want to walk across that stage and say, “Okay, I’m done,” and throw my hands up in the air. 


Tom: How was it balancing that with school? From a time perspective, how did that work out? I didn’t do a lot of work while I was in school, and part of the excuse was that I was going to spend it studying. I probably spent a lot of it partying, too. What was your time balance like? 


Mercedes: Oh, as I mentioned, because I sort of grew up with this idea of saving and working and always having multiple extracurriculars, multiple part time jobs, if you can, and then also doing really well in school, I’ve always had a good sense of time management and balance. Which in retrospect, I wonder how I kept this up over the years. I think I just always saw it as something I needed to do so it wasn’t even a question of how was I going to make this happen? It was just, “Okay, I have an hour right now. Let me see how much of this essay I can get done.” And as a result, I became a very fast learner, a fast reader, a quick study, pretty good with like memorization and facts and that kind of stuff just so that I wouldn’t have to spend as much time as some of my peers, studying and working on essays and going through drafts and whatnot. And just kind of being confident in my work. It was a situation of, “fake it until you make it” where I came in with a lot of confidence, knowing I could do this. I knew I only had 24 hours in a day, but I basically acted like I had 48 and just had to make it work. I’m not going to lie and say it’s always been easy. I’ve had so many panic attacks at 2:00 in the morning knowing I hadn’t even started an essay that was due the next day. It’s always just come down to power of will and saying, “I need to get this done,” because my biggest fear, honestly, was graduating with a whole bunch of debt and struggling in adulthood. It wasn’t even just that I needed to work because I needed to make money. It was also that I wanted to work and that it kept up my motivation. It was easier to compartmentalize work and school and social life and all these different things when I had so much going on all at once. There wasn’t even an excuse or time to slack off because there just wasn’t time in the day to do it. Looking back, I don’t know if that was the healthiest situation for me, but we’ve learned some better management skills now. And yeah, I turned out pretty good, all things considered. 


Carley: I remember when I was working part time in university, in between classes, if I was so tired, I would perfect on my 30-minute lunch break and work the latte nap, which is where you drink a latte and then you immediately fall asleep, because then, at the end of the 30 minutes, you’ll have taken a power nap and the latte espresso caffeine will be hitting. But don’t do it. Don’t do that to your body. That can’t be good, but that’s the university student grind. You think, “If I optimize my time, I could take a nap now and then the coffee will be hitting when I wake up, so then I can write my essay…” 


Mercedes: I can’t say ever did that, but I did not get a lot of sleep, and I think my body’s punishing me for it now because now on the weekends, I’ll sleep until like four p.m., which I’ve never done before. 


Carley: It’s catching up. Your body’s saying, it’s time! 


Mercedes: Exactly, you lived on four hours of sleep for how many year now? Take a chill pill.


Carley: We’re taking back sleep. 


Mercedes: We’re taking back our sleep. 


Tom: Yeah. You also mentioned scholarships. How do you find them? How do you go about that nowadays? Is there an easy way to find them online or are there posters up at the schools? How do you find this information on scholarships and what’s your thought on them? At least when I was at that age, people weren’t applying for them. You could get some, literally because you’re one of the only people applying for them, for some really specific thing. So, how was that for you and how did you find them? 


Mercedes: I was going to touch on that exactly, which is that people don’t realize how much money goes unclaimed. I think it was my English teacher that told me that when I was in high school. She said, “Listen, just write a couple of essays as if you’re writing cover letters, send them in to the most random scholarships you can find on Scholarship Canada. And the probability of you getting at least one out of five of those is actually pretty likely just because people don’t apply.” Guidance counselors always say this and people just don’t listen. I get it. Not everyone has time to write essays. There are other things going on in your life that could prevent you from applying to a million scholarships. But there’s been times where I literally just changed up a couple of the paragraphs and submitted very similar things to different scholarships because a lot of these businesses are just looking for places to put their donation money, essentially. People will donate huge sums of money to try to get students through school. And then people don’t even apply for it, and then no one claims it. So I kind of saw it as an opportunity… If I’m the only one of very, very few people collecting these things, then the probability of me getting these is pretty high and it ended up working out. That said, I think I probably only received maybe 20 percent worth of the scholarships that I applied for, and I applied for quite a few. But it was enough to be a substantial impact on my education. As for where to find them, Scholarships Canada was a really big one for me. I think I found 90 percent of the scholarships that I applied to through there. And then depending on your school, there’s usually a scholarship FAQ site that you can do while you’re in university. So Ryerson (or X University, formerly known as Ryerson) has something called Award Spring. It’s a newer thing, but basically you just go on there and fill out a profile. It will automatically apply you for a whole bunch of scholarships. And if there’s any additional stuff you can write essays or get references from professors. It’s super simple. You just say, “Hey, Professor XYZ. Here is my scholarship application. You just need to write a paragraph about what a great student I am…” As long as you know they like you enough to do it, then there you go. There’s another application. It’s actually very minimal effort. Most people think, “Oh my God, this is going to take me hours and hours,” but it doesn’t. 


Tom: Carley, did you do anything similar? Were you into scholarships? 


Carley: Yeah, Mercedes and I attended the same university, so I did Award Spring as well. It’s so easy because you just enter in everything about yourself. And then it tells you what you are eligible for. I did the academic scholarships. I do comedy part time and I work. I had good grades, but I didn’t have the great grades. You have to get in the high 90s to get a considerable amount of your tuition covered. And I was an 80s student, so a lot of these scholarships were great for me because I was able to just take a Saturday off. Think of it like you’re working. If you get into freelance mindset, it’s a lot easier. I think some people are a little hesitant to write these essays or fill out these applications. I was so nervous to ask professors for recommendations. I don’t know why. My brain was telling me this was embarrassing, and it’s not. It’s normal. But if you think of it as if you could one day get the money—if you think like the money is almost owed to you, it becomes a lot easier. Are you going to spend a Saturday writing essays, contacting professors, filling out forms for free? Maybe not. But if you think this could be $2,000, or $3,000, it’s a lot easier to get in that mindset. I was a scholarship girl, but there’s a lot of great on-campus jobs that I think really helps me budget my way through university. Because the benefit of the on-campus jobs, at least at our university, is that they have to schedule your class, which is great because it’s so hard sometimes to explain to a boss outside of school, “Okay, on Tuesday, I can work except for these two hours in the morning and these two hours at night…” Your schedule isn’t so consistent and that can be annoying to certain employers. But at university, they would just say, “Send us your schedule for the semester and we will schedule around you.” And you’re on campus so you can finish at 12. And if you have class at 12:10, you just hit the pavement running and you can make it. 


Mercedes: Yeah, I did the same exact thing. Almost all of my jobs, except for any ones that were related to journalism were all through X university. They were all through school. Some of them are through the Career Boost program, and some of them can even be separate. You can’t usually do more than one school job at a time because I think they’re subsidized by the government. But there’s also a whole bunch of stuff that’s happening at a time. There was one semester where all I did was scan books. I scanned thousands and thousands of pages of textbooks for accessibility purposes. That way they could be read by screen readers for students with disabilities. That’s all I did for hours. 


Carley: I made buttons for the school elections. I would come in on a Saturday, sit at my stool and I would place the paper on the back of a button, put the thing on, press it, all while listening to and audio book. I did that for hours. It was meditative, almost. Again, speaking of unclaimed money, on campus jobs—there are so many of them. You would think they are competitive, but oftentimes there are so many of them you can apply for through your university. And it’s a lifesaver for working while you’re at the school. 


Tom: I didn’t even realize this was a thing. It probably was the thing when I was in college, but I wasn’t noticing. It’s very interesting. So all these jobs are truly jobs for the school? They’re on campus where they just need someone to do something scanning or creating buttons. 


Carley: Yeah, I did a million of them. I made buttons, handed out fliers for mental health resources. I worked at the print place at campus. That was my longest one. I loved it. Basically we would just print dissertations or stuff for the architectural students, blueprints, things like that. 


Mercedes: There’s also a bunch of jobs that are actually creative. The first job I ever had was through the undergraduate recruitment department, which was called, Why Ryerson? And essentially, it was a content creator position. We were doing blogs and we little videos for Snapchat and Instagram saying things like, please come to the school. Please come here. 


Carley: Yeah, a lot of graphic design positions and video. There’s a lot of stuff like that as well, if that’s what you’re interested in. It’s not all part-time, labour work. 


Mercedes: Every department has their own different kinds of jobs. For example, I know a lot of people that worked in the engineering department, but they’re obviously not engineers, but they don’t have a lot of people in the Faculty of Engineering that know how to do social media or copywriting so then they end up hiring people from journalism or creative industries or any of these other programs where that’s their specialty. You can still end up doing something that is relatable to what you want to do as a career but is also student paid. Again, as Carley said, it works around your schedule, which is just such a virtue. 


Tom: What’s interesting to me, too, just thinking as a business owner is, when you’re doing things like this, you’re building skills. I don’t want to hate on education too much but in an online space, I’ll take skills over education. When you guys are doing things like blogging and any kind of content or the graphic design, all that stuff is real skills. As someone that hires people online (which is becoming more and more common) I value those skills more than the education on the resume. 


Mercedes: It is it is education, right? At the end of the day—I say to this to people all the time when they’re asking me about the journalism program at the university, I say, “Yeah, it’s great. The professors are awesome and you’ll learn a lot. But where I’ve learned the most and where I’ve grown as a content creator, as a journalist, even just as a person, has been through all of my work experiences.” I’m actually grateful for the fact that I needed to work through university because if it wasn’t for getting that first job at the recruitment department, making blogs that I thought no one would ever see, there’s just no way that I would be where I am today, just because of that experience and the confidence that I think that gave me. You learn such invaluable skills by actually working and just applying yourself and seeing what it would be like in the real world. And you find out whether you like it or not to it. 


Carley: There’s almost an entrepreneurial spirit about it, which seems weird to say because you’re working for someone. You’re creating and gaining these skills on your own, of your own accord. I come from a comedy background. I don’t have a degree in comedy or theatre which a lot of people do. I think stuff I learned through doing these social media jobs where I’m doing copywriting or content creation, I’m not only building skills, but building agency and control of your own career because we live in a time now where the internet is an equalizer in a certain sense. Where before, if you wanted to have your own show, you had to hope to God that a network would see you do stand up and offer you an NBC pilot. But now we exist in a time where you can say, “Okay, I know how to write, film and edit, and I know how to upload, so I can do that.” I think these skills are invaluable. That’s something I talk to my younger sister and her friends about. When you’re in university, trying everything is so great—building up those skills. I used to be a graphic designer and I don’t want to be a graphic designer in my adulthood. I get so frustrated. Freehand drawing baited of my existence—it’ my Joker origin story. It makes me so angry. But because I can do it, doors open and I have the ability to do stuff for myself. If I’m making a “pitch bible” and want to have a really, really nice cover, I can make that. I think building those skills is so valuable. And what’s great about on-campus jobs, like Mercedes said, is that you can build those skills and get paid, which is great. And you build skills you wouldn’t necessarily always build on your own. 


Tom: Yeah, for sure. Now, Carley, you mentioned having comedy, but I know both of you beyond just the school jobs have done your own things online. How has that been? Not from money experience, necessarily, but through building skills, doing something ultimately that led to being on Street Cents. It all comes around because again, they’re looking at you guys and saying, “These people are interesting. They’re online. Let’s get them on Street Cents.” Maybe I just answered my own question there. It’s just that dabbling doing different things seems to be giving you guys this well-rounded thing beyond just education. 


Carley: I recall a conversation we had a while ago in a McDonald’s when we were discussing how a lot of people our age and younger… where there seems to be two subsets. There’s either somebody who really wants to be a proper influencer like a vlogger, Instagram, or those people who have pretty intense disdain for it. The real sweet spot you want to be is somewhere in the middle. A lot of people don’t understand that we all had our own online presence before, doing different things. I grew on YouTube talking about books and adding a comedy spin to a lot of literacy stuff, but also posting comedy online. I didn’t post online because I wanted to be an influencer, proper. I’m going to move to L.A. and I’m going to be a vlogger. That’s just not my jam. If you can do that, great. You will make so much money. But that wasn’t my jam. I don’t love the self-employed aspect of that all the time. I don’t love the immediacy of the internet all the time. But I knew that through posting things there and growing an audience—metrics, a loyal audience and a portfolio of work are incredibly invaluable things when it comes to applying for jobs and positions and trying to get different things down the line in your career. When it comes to influencer culture, what a lot of people don’t understand is, even if you do not want your end-game to be an online person all the time, you can use it to share your voice and contribute to the conversation, and like we discussed with on-campus jobs, build your skill set.


Mercedes: Yeah, it calls back to the conversation we had right at the beginning about being where your audience is. There’s maybe not so much now because of the pandemic and because of the way that it’s grown over the years. But at the beginning, when TikTok was first becoming a thing and people were using it and creators were starting their platforms on there, I think there was a pretty big stigma around using it. You were not a real creator if you were on TikTok. You need to be on YouTube, on Instagram. TikTok is not a place for “real” content creation. Yet, that’s basically how I got started. I was doing random TikTok’s with a friend. We were posting to our account and then I got reached out to you by blogTO, who was just starting their TikTok account. They were pretty small at the time, like not in terms of TikTok because they had a huge following elsewhere. They said, “Hey, we see potential in this. Let’s hire someone who might know what they’re doing.” I fell like I may have been exaggerating my ability a little bit at the time, but it ended up working out. My goal at that time was to be working for blogTO as a social host doing Facebook and Instagram and stuff, which I did end up doing. But what I actually ended up being known for and where Street Cents ended up finding me was through TikTok. All of a sudden it became this thing where everyone wants to be on TikTok and it’s not cringy anymore. This is another conversation that Carley and I had which was about not worrying so much about what other people think about what you’re creating. Because at the end of the day, it’s for you. It’s for your audience. And if it’s working for you, that’s literally all that matters. You’ll only continue to get better and grow, especially if you go into it with confidence that people like what I’m doing. Ultimately, it paid off for both of us. 


Carley: I think there’s a take on what TT was talking about. This was about writing and  not necessarily about creating content or doing stuff online. Ninety percent of what you write is going to be bad—it’s going to be bad. But you have to do it because that 10 percent is going to be amazing. It’s the same thing with creating content online. I am sure (when I started) there were people that talked about me behind my back or thought, “This is lame, what you’re doing,” because being online is super vulnerable. But at the end of the day, if I didn’t do that, I would be safe and I wouldn’t be cringed or I wouldn’t be embarrassing. But I also wouldn’t have a job with Street Cents. So at the end of the day, you have to kind of take that leap and have faith that it’ll work out. You are kind of treading the unbeaten path in a sense where in order to have these skills and build them up and have a proof of concept almost of your ability to grow a brand or create content, you have to do it on your own. And that’s scary. But that’s scary for anything. I think if you want to be a fashion designer, it’s so vulnerable to start posting about the clothes you’re making online because people can say they’re bad. It could be with anything. If you’re a writer and you start sharing your stories with other people, you think, “What if it’s bad? Oh my God, this is what I identify with and what if it’s bad?” But you have to do it in order to get better. I look back at the old stuff I made a year ago and think, “Oh my God, that’s bad.” But people liked it. I think it’s not good now necessarily in terms of color grading. At the time I was making everything orange for some reason. That was a choice I made. I don’t know why, but people still watched it and liked it. So you have to have faith in that. 


Tom: I’ve always found with different online activities that it grows with you. As you get better, more people are watching. I always encourage people to start something. People that start off in blogging, gain so many different skill sets. My podcast editor is a past personal finance podcast host. My blog editor is a personal finance blogger. I had someone helping with Facebook ads who had a personal finance blog and found their success in Facebook. You start any of these kind of online businesses and you’re kind of wearing 10 hats, and one of them is going to be your strength. In all these cases, everybody that I’ve hired has started off as a blogger or podcaster, and then found out where they really fit in just by doing so many different things. 


Mercedes: It’s almost like the internet being the great equalizer. It is this almost foreign territory to everybody where anything goes. It’s the wild, wild west of entrepreneurship and business. You can really be anybody you want to be. To tie it back to Street Cents, that’s kind of what we’re doing in terms of the finance zone, right? As we mentioned to you, none of us really come from that finance background. But what’s great about this kind of platform (and the internet in general) is that we can be experts on those things because we have the resources to be. And anybody who watches our stuff can also be experts on that thing. All you need is just that little seed of passion or desire to want to try. Just a little bit of interest could blossom into something that you never even expected. 


Carley: Yeah, and it’s freedom—being financially literate and having an understanding of those things. And as a consumer as well. We were discussing before that kids and teens on the internet are being marketed to. It’s such a wild and intense rate compared to even when I was a child. When I was a kid, I’d watch TV and there’d be like a Shirley Temple box set and a Chia pet infomercial. That was it. But now, the way that children are marketed to is almost, guerilla. You can’t even tell that it’s an ad, but it is. They’re using all these tips and things because Gen Z is such a voracious consumer market. If you can get them, they are so loyal and intense. Giving our audience an understanding that they have that power… You have that power as a viewer, too. I’ve always talked about this with my experience on the internet. As a viewer, you get to decide what you want to watch. You can turn off at any point you can look away. On the internet, the viewer is the boss because they’re the ones that direct AdSense money. They’re the ones that incentivize use. And in the consumer marketplace, it’s the same thing. If you decide to buy something, that is your power, and you are from a demographic that is so valuable. So giving them that education is empowering. It’s saying, “Hey, here’s all this information about this marketing technique that they’re trying to pull the wool over your eyes with…” Don’t be tricked because you are valuable and they want you. I think it adds a lot more power, especially in a time when so much is happening in the world when it’s very easy to feel powerless. 


Tom: I like that Street Cents does that consumer side, because advertising now doesn’t necessarily always look like an ad. There might be a little hashtag there or something, but ultimately, it’s constant in every format. One thing I wanted to mention is about two years ago, we had a Maple Money Show scholarship. And because of COVID and the world ending, we haven’t done it for a couple of years. Just having this talk inspired me. I’ll start that up again. I’ll make sure it’s up to date by the time this airs. So, if people go to, I’ll do the same as before. It was a $1,000 scholarship to one person that does an essay based on a certain topic picked that year. We haven’t done it for a while, but we’ll get that back. 


Carley: Lots of scholarship money goes unclaimed, guys. So get in there. Start applying. 


Tom: I can tell you from experience, there were times despite literally having millions of Canadians over the years, hit the blog or the podcast, I think the worst year I had was when three people applied. 


Carley: Because people assume that thousands are applying, so they say it’s not worth it, but it really is less than you think. 


Tom: Yeah, it was sad how few people applied. I almost gave it to all of them because it was just such a small amount. It was almost harder to pick. There have been low rates of people applying (that I’ve seen) even on my side, so I’ll bring that back and hopefully someone listening to this will apply for it and earn it with a good essay. Now, I wanted to ask you guys before we go, can you just let people know where they can find both of you and Street Cents online? 


Mercedes: Yeah. So for Street Cents, you can find us @streetcents on TikTok and on Instagram. Hopefully, we’ll be coming to YouTube as well soon. Some teachers have been saying that Instagram and TikTok are blocked in classrooms, so we’re going to have to work our way onto YouTube. As for personal, my Instagram is @itsbenzy and my TikTok is @cedebenzy.  


Carley: For the uninitiated, Street Cents is spelled cents, like a penny. It’s a pun. But because we’re in the audio format, just in case you can’t find us, it’s CENTS. And you can find me @carleythorne on Instagram or @uberandklonk on TikTok. It’s a little hard to say out loud, but yes… 


Tom: We’ll try to make sure we get them all linked in the show notes. 


Carley: Yeah, you can find us both at Street Cents on Instagram and Tik Tok, and soon, on YouTube. 


Tom: Great. Thanks for being on the show. 


Carley: Thanks for having us. 


Mercedes: Thanks so much, Tom. 


Thanks, Carley and Mercedes, for giving us the lowdown on the new CBC Street Cents and for sharing some of the money hacks you picked up at work and school. You can find the show notes for this episode at As always, if you have a moment, head over to our YouTube channel and subscribe there as we’ll be getting back to releasing never-before-seen content soon. Either search for Maple Money or go to and subscribe today. Thanks, as always, for listening. I look forward to seeing back in next week when Jillian Johnsrud joins us to discuss some lessons from her new book, Fire the Haters. See you next week!

There are so many external factors that are just based on people's perception of you, and what you do, that can affect the kind of places you can rent, which is not something you ever hear of when somebody is saying ‘I’m looking for my first apartment’. - Carley Thorne Click to Tweet