Monday, 22 December 2014

My Top Ten Favourite SCM Posts of 2014

Unlike in Antarctica, we let penguins spend the holidays together.

2014 is coming to a close.  It's a great time of the year for looking back and reflecting on how the year has gone.

When I started this blog back in September, I'm not sure I thought I'd ever see a post with over 50 comments on it (even if half of those comments are mine).

Thursday, 18 December 2014

This is NOT Another Comparison of Budgeting Apps

When I shared that we've signed up for the MoneyStepper Savings Challenge, I let you all know that we'd be picking a new budgeting tool for 2015.

Our latest system involves a spreadsheet that only tracks "high risk" budget categories and it's been driving me nuts that we're not tracking our full financial picture.

I had planned to compare all the popular apps highlighting all their neat feature with lots of pretty comparison charts.  It was going to be so fabulous that I'd even put a link to it on my menu bar.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Planning and a Promotion

My Mr. has a steady government job.  It's got great benefits, a pension, and a salary that can support a family without a second income.  We both feel very lucky that he has his job. 

He was hired to take on a special project.  Over the years,  the position has shifted away from the work that he really enjoys towards more repetitive day to day tasks that are less of a challenge.  If he wanted to move up the ladder, he'd need to do courses in an area he doesn't really want to pursue.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Early Christmas Presents for Simple Cheap Mom

What's in the bag???
A couple weeks ago I posted five frugal gifts that were on my Christmas wish list.

Well, Christmas has come early for me and in a very cheap kind of way.

My last post on whether to pay off your mortgage or invest was a bit heavy, so I'm hoping this one will lighten the mood around here.

Monday, 8 December 2014

5 Reasons To Consider Paying Off Your Mortgage

Much of personal finance is common sense.  We know we should spend less than we make.  We know we should avoid credit card debts.

But there are some choices that we need to make that aren't so clear.  Whether to use extra money to pay off your mortgage or to invest is one of those choices.

My first mortgage was amortized over 35 years.  Now, I'm planning to be mortgage free at 35 years old.

I've lived both sides of the argument.  Here's how I see it now.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

50% Savings Rate Challenge Accepted

One of the questions I've asked myself since starting this site is how much of our personal finances I'm prepared to share with the world.  Does it actually add to the conversation if I share our budget, incomes, spending, debt levels and net worth?

Monday, 1 December 2014

How To Cut Your Own Hair

It's pretty standard for frugal guys to buzz their own hair.  A set of hair clippers can be as cheap as just one haircut.

I've noticed something recently.  I'll read an article about cutting your hair at home and then there will be a qualification that obviously this doesn't apply to women.

Cheap ladies listen up.  You CAN cut your own hair.  It's stupid easy.  {Tweet This}

Thursday, 27 November 2014

3 Canadians Who Can Increase Your Financial Literacy

November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada.

Before the month comes to an end, I wanted to highlight some of the Canadian* influences that have helped me on my financial literacy journey.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Is It Actually Cheaper To Buy A Used Car?

So much room in the driveway now!
To Recap:

We are a one car family.  Our in-laws gave us their old car over the summer.  We've had a slew of car troubles.  We've questioned whether or not we should even bother trying to sell the second car.

The Update:

We sold the car!

When it comes to buying cars, I've always believed that the smartest financial advice to was buy a late model car with cash and then drive it to the ground.

This time we didn't get the chance to drive our car into the ground.  So, I was extra interested to evaluate our decision to buy used.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

6 Excuses for Unused Gift Cards

Today I was rolling through the drive through and I found an unused McDonald's gift card in my wallet  (I never said we would give up fast food completely).  It was silver with a sparkly M so I realized it must be from last Christmas.  Why hadn't I used it yet this year?

Monday, 17 November 2014

Wait, Why Don't You Have a Will?

Are you prepared?
Many people put off important grown up things like getting a will.

If you know that you need a will, but haven't got around to getting one done, I can relate. I'm married, own some big things, like a house, have a pet, and a kid. Until this week, I didn't have a will.

Dying without a will can create a lot of unneeded stress for loved ones after you pass. It can also mean the courts decide who gets your stuff, or looks after your children. Even though they try to make the best choices, they're not you and they can't know what you want without a will.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

5 Frugal Gifts on Cheap Mom's Christmas Wish List

This week I started getting a lot of requests for my Christmas list.  We don't need for much in our house, but a list has been required.  So, I thought I would share with you 5 items on my wish list that appeal to my cheap side.


Dear Santa,

It's me again!  I have been a very good girl this year and I hope I'm on your good list.  Did you like the cookies and carrots I left for you and your reindeer last year?

This is what I'd like for Christmas this year:

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Seduction of The Second Car

One too many sets of keys for our family.
If you haven’t been following along, we were gifted a car from our in-laws and we’ve been having a frustrating time selling our regular car.

Here’s the update to the frustrating bits: the car is now the proud owner of a new alternator and parking brake cable. It failed the e-test because there weren’t enough kilometers to flush the system, or something like that, after the last servicing, so that still needs to be done. We’re still on a temporary registration because it needs to be e-tested before it can get registered. The repair bills are now over $2,000.

This weekend we had another person come out to see the car. It was a relief to have a potential sale because I’ve been getting more nervous that we’ll end up keeping both cars. We only need one car in our family, but the slow seduction of our second car can be very appealing sometimes.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

5 Things To Consider Before Giving Up Your Dryer

An early attempt after a few days.
Well it’s been about a month since we bought our folding drying rack and swore off using our electric dryer. It was pretty touch and go at the start, but because of the great tips and success stories that I read in the comments section, I kept with it.

We’re no where near experts yet, but I thought I’d share what we've learned so far about hanging your clothes to dry. Hopefully I can prevent a few newbie mistakes and give the veterans a little chuckle.

1. October Is Not An Easy Month To Stop Using Your Dryer

In the summer you can put your clothes to dry outside in the warm breezes. In the winter your furnace keeps the air in your home circulating and dry. In October, well you’re going to have to work a little harder to dry your clothes.

Monday, 3 November 2014

A Simple Life Without The Chickens

Rooster or chicken? Brain clutter! So I didn't find a new photo. 
It seems that there are many definitions of a simple life.

Some go back to basics and live on a rural homestead with free range chickens.

Some sell their possessions and travel the world.

Some live in tiny spaces where extra possessions just won’t fit.

While I do daydream about each of these lifestyles, realistically I know that none would be right for my life right now.

I don’t want the responsibility for growing my own food. I don’t want to be far away from my family and friends. I don’t want to fight with zoning officers.

Those are other people’s dreams. I have my own idea of the simple life.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Guess How Much We Cut Our Electricity Bill

I've tried to reduce our energy bill before by making the changes everyone suggests. I started doing my laundry and dishes at night and I turned off the lights in rooms we weren't using. No matter how hard I thought I was trying, there never seemed to be any difference to my monthly bill.

I became confident that there was no way we could reduce our consumption enough to make any real difference on our bill. So I gave up trying.

A couple months ago I got a dose of reality that gave me the kick in the butt I needed to try again. I made some simple changes that I hoped would make an impact on our bill.

Well the bill finally arrived and I was shocked by our new numbers.

So How Did We Do With Our Attempts to Cut Electricity?

After I opened the envelope I honestly couldn't stop smiling and it was all I could talk about. Take a look at our kilowatts per hour number in the right column.

Monday, 27 October 2014

How We're Casually Selling Our Car (Don't Try At Home)

We are a one car family. My better half commutes on the bus down town for work and the Little Miss and I have the car for errands.

Currently, we own two cars.

If you've read What I'm Thankful For This Thanksgiving, you'll know what we were very grateful to receive a free car this year. What you may not know is that we already had a perfectly fine car.

So, we needed to sell our old car.

Get Lulled Into a Sense of Inaction

The carrying costs of the second car seem pretty low. Our insurance only went up $25-$30 dollars a month after adding the second car. $25 seems like a pretty cheap price to pay to have a second car on standby in the driveway.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

An Update from Ottawa

I had planned a post to publish today, but after everything that has happened in our city today, it just didn't seem appropriate.

If you haven't heard about the shootings today, I'll add a link to the CBC live feed.  The reports have been changing as the day has gone on, and I'm not a reporter, so I don't want to be the one to give out details on today.

Today has been and still is a scary day in Ottawa.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Engaged without a Ring: The Tale of our Engagement Cat

Before Mr. Simple Cheap Mom and I were married, we were in that awkward phase when you know you want to spend the rest of your lives together, but you’re not officially engaged.

Weekend trips away would turn me into a sulky mess and, once it was clear he wasn't proposing, the trip would end in a fight with him clueless why I was upset.

We had talked about ring shopping and he had given me the go ahead to shop online to pick out the perfect ring. I wanted a simple yellow gold band, with a half carat round cut diamond with an excellent cut and no visible inclusions.

This was the type of ring that my peers were getting from their fiancé. This was the ring that people would expect to see on my finger.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Cut The Cable, Keep Your Shows

So you've decided to start budgeting and are looking for ways to cut costs. One of the most painless ways to cut your costs is to eliminate monthly bills for services that you're not using. Stop paying something for nothing.

You take a look through your monthly bills and one stands out. That cable bill. That bill that makes you cringe when you pay it. You only watch a few channels but the cable company charges you for hundreds. You'd like to cut out the bill, but you still want to watch television. You're stuck.

... Unless there was another way to watch your shows. Legal ways that, you know, still feel sneaky.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Things I'm Thankful For This Thanksgiving

In honour of Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving, eh?), I'd like to share the things that I'm thankful for this year.

The Sappy Personal Stuff.

I am thankful that our little girl is healthy and happy and am so grateful that I get to spend so much time watching her grow.

I am thankful that my husband loves me. I am thankful that I still love him.

I am thankful for all of the wonderful friends and family that are part of our lives.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Can You Stick To Your Grocery List?

This week I did my grocery shopping with the Little Miss. I made up the supper meal plan for October and saw that I could make do for the next week with what we already had. Our cat supplies and diaper levels looked good too. So I just needed to pick up the usual suspects for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. Because the list looked pretty light, I added some treats to spoil us a little. You know, simple pleasures and all that.

I'd now like to share with you a little prophetic comment I made over at Frugal Voices on their post called Frugal Slips:

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The No-Electric Dryer: Part 1

Our soon to be forgotten clothes dryer.
We've been a machine wash and dry family.  We have a small hanger with clips that we use to dry bras (previously diaper covers) but we've been reluctant to take the plunge and start hanging entire loads.

We tried drying a load of cloth diapers outside once.  They were still wet after 24 hours, so we decided line drying was for suckers.  The fact that there was little sun, no wind and that it rained didn't weigh very much on our decision.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

3 Excuses For Fast Food That Don't Work Here Anymore

Yummy pizza at my parent's house.
I grew up in a house where what's for dinner depended on where kids ate for free that night.  We did get healthy meals too, but I grew up thinking it was OK to eat out multiple nights a week.  I could spot the golden arches a mile away and would beg for Dairy Queen even though I was lactose intolerant (yes Dad, it was worth it).

It's little wonder that when I moved out on my own I would hit up the drive through on my commute home.  Or that after having a baby and not sleeping I would prefer take out to cooking from scratch.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Be Confident Managing Your Money With These Three Simple Rules

Trying to pay off debt, save for big purchases, and plan for your future all at once can be overwhelming.  With so many different strategies out there, It can be tough to even figure out where to start.  It's easy to get discouraged.

It's not hard because you're not smart enough to understand the ideas.  No, there is just too much confusing information out there.  In an area as personal as personal finance, everyone has an opinion.  Usually, that opinion will be completely backwards from the last one you learned.  I want you to know that managing your money only has to be as complicated as you make it.

So, I've come up with three simple rules that will keep anyone out of trouble and feeling confident making money decisions.  Even you.

Monday, 22 September 2014

52 Mini Date Ideas that Won't Break the Bank

The Mini Date Monday Jar
Sometimes the cost and hassle of a traditional night out on the town makes the idea of another night relaxing in front of the tube look pretty appealing.

Last Christmas we decided the perfect gift for a spouse who has everything was quality time together.  We each came up with 26 mini date ideas: enough to fill a year of Mini Date Mondays.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Searching for Canada's Cheapest Cell Phone Plan

Canada has some of the highest cell phone prices in the world.  Over the years I've been through a lot of the options.  Currently we use Wind in our house.  Their network has some quirks, but we knew that going in and I have no complaints at all with the service so far.

Well, I guess I do have a bit of an issue with the price.  Our house currently pays more for two cell phones than we do for internet.  We really like the internet, but I think phones are kinda meh.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Surprise Energy Hogs: How We're Lowering our Electrity Usage

When I opened my last electric bill, I did an inside happy dance.  We had the lowest usage yet in the new house.  Our current month's bill showed 20.22 kwh/day usage in the hottest month of the year down from 38.84 kwh/day in February.  I think I even bragged to my better half.  Our decision to see how long we could go without turning on the air conditioning was literally paying off.  I was radiating pride at our conservation skills.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Get Paid to Buy Groceries: Checkout 51 App

I'll probably still take my coupons...
So I was sitting at the park yesterday talking with the other grownups and the conversations turned to frugal stuff.  This is kinda my roundhouse, but I didn't really know this particular person and so I didn't want to get too excited.  Then she mentioned something I had never heard of before: Checkout 51.  Later that night I downloaded the free app to my phone and took a look.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

How I Calculate Ingredient Costs for Recipes

The flavours in question.
A friend of mine sent me a quick note about how she thought it was funny that I put $0.35 for olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper for my Spinach and Tomato Pasta Recipe.  "How did you get $0.35" she asked.

Well, I'm going to give her, and you, much more of an answer than she expected.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Cheap Places to Take Your Kids: IKEA $1 Breakfast

If you're fortunate to live around an IKEA and have small kids, you've got a great opportunity for a cheap outing.  It's not the healthiest meal option out there, but I'll  be honest with you: I don't always eat healthy food.  Surprise!

Today the Little Miss and I met with our friends at the local IKEA for its $1 breakfast.  It's an outing we've taken up on the regular after the family swim slot was changed to nap time at the most convenient pool.  It's nice to have a family friendly place to go to meet friends that don't bust the budget.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Fast, Cheap and Easy Meal Ideas: Spinach and Tomato Pasta

A quick pasta dish full of flavour.
At one point in time, our family had fresh organic product delivered once a week.  We didn't get to decide what went into our box and  sometimes we'd end up with something we'd never seen before.  One week there was some leafy green thing, I can't remember its name, but it was pretty close to spinach.  There was a little flyer in the box with a recipe for a pasta dish that used the greens and the sweet little cherry tomatoes.  We'd only really done pasta with red or white sauces before, so this was a big change and a really good one!  It was like something that we'd get at a restaurant!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Fast, Cheap and Easy Meal Ideas: Oatmeal Banana Cookies

The only cookie left by nap time.

Basically these cookies turn into a meal at our house because we eat the whole batch.  So, I felt like they'd be a great first entry in my collection of Fast, Cheap and Easy Meal Ideas.  These cookies really satisfy my coffee and pastry breakfast cravings but don't get sickening quick like a coffee and cinnamon roll every day does (I was actually shocked to find this out because I love cinnamon rolls).