Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Real Estate Is Exhausting

Almost three months ago, I asked the question: "Is Family Worth $400,000?"

After a hours of discussions and spreadsheet preparation, today I can say that the answer for us is "absolutely".

We will be moving into our new super expensive house in less than two weeks.  This will be a huge change for our family and our impeccably sculpted affordable suburban lifestyle.

How affordable was our home?

Of all the houses for sale in Ottawa, ours was chosen by CTV News to represent our city in its House of the Month - First Time Buyers Edition.  As always, it's a fun chance to see how far your money goes across this country of ours.  To see your own house in the mix was a pretty sweet surprise!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Is Family Worth $400,000?

I'm a huge fan of living within your means. We try to live on half of a single income. We're always looking for ways to make better use of our money. In the last six months, we sold a second car, I gave up my cell phone plan, and we cut our electricity bills in half.

On the other hand, we also decided to increase our entertainment budget for the year, so that we could participate in more events with friends and family.

Now, we're considering spending another $400,000 to be closer to the people we love. How does that happen?

Friday, 10 April 2015

Living on a Budget: March Edition

Many people avoid budgets because they don't want to feel restricted or because they haven't been able to stick to their budget in the past.

Our budget is our roadmap to meet our financial goals. If we follow our budget, I can stay home with our Little Miss, we will have money set aside for emergencies, and we'll be completely debt free in our mid thirties. For us that means mortgage free too.  (Yes, we've decided to pay off our mortgage early.)

The budget has evolved over time to reflect our goals and priorities and it will keep evolving as we do.

That might sound a little too theoretical for you. So we decided to over-share and post our monthly expenses compared to our budget.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Spending the Long Weekend at Home

Holidays are a wonderful time to spend with the people you love.  They are also a time filled with traditions and expectations.  I love celebrating my favourite traditions every year and creating new traditions for our family (that's why I opted for Bilbo, the Engagement Cat instead of a diamond).

Traditionally we would travel on a long weekend to spend time with out of town family.  This year, we decided to stay in town to get the most out of our four days off.  I was a bit worried about the decision, but I'm very happy with how it turned out.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Clothes Pins Make Me So Happy

Back in the fall, we realized that we weren't as energy efficient as I thought we were and made big some big changes to drop our usage. We ended up dropping our energy usage by over 70% that first month from the year before. Pretty exciting stuff.

But we weren't finished yet. Brimming with confidence, we decided to stop using our dryer.

Things were pretty challenging at first, but we stuck with it. Eventually we got our systems in place and things stayed pretty much the same after that. Until this week when everything changed. We bought clothes pins.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

We Got a Family Tax Cut This Year!

Last weekend I sat down and did our taxes. Turns out that we're getting a refund of about $3600. Woohoo!

A shoutout is in order for StudioTax. I've used the program for years. It's free. It's certified by CRA. It's pretty easy to use.

This year's refund is higher than last year's because of the new Family Tax Cut. In Canada, each spouse files their taxes separately. This credit was introduced because with graduated taxes, families with one earner were paying more taxes than a dual earning family earning the same income.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Living on a Budget: February Edition

So I've been telling you all about how you should set a budget and track every penny. But, do WE actually do it?

Well, ya, we do.

That's not to say that we're always under budget. How much of a challenge would that be? But we do live on a budget and track our spending regularly.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Selling on Etsy: Getting Past the Learning Curve

I was pleasantly surprised when I logged into Etsy on the weekend and noticed that I had a pile of free listings. After a minute I realized that it meant that a few of you have found my referral links down at the bottom of my page and used them to start your own store! Congratulations on your new shops and best of luck selling on Etsy!

In my post, Early Retirement Extreme isn't our Goal, I mentioned that we had some side hustles. But, we don't really "hustle".  If someone is going to pay us to learn new skills, enjoy our hobbies or share our knowledge, then we're going to let them! One of those side hustles selling on Etsy. It definitely falls into the “being paid for your hobbies” category.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Grocery Shopping on a Budget of $200: 6 Lessons Learned

In January we decided to stop eating out and our grocery bill ski-rocketed as we transitioned off fast food. Our usual budget for groceries for our family of three is $303/month (that's $70/week). Because of our overspending in January, we'd be grocery shopping on a budget of $214 in February.

We decided our best course of action to get back on budget was to eat what we already had as much as possible.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

It was a Good Day (Plus "Pasta Primavera" Recipe)

I had a pretty interesting day this week. It was a day that I was a little nervous about. I was pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and I really wasn't sure how things would go. As it turns out, it was a good day. It was a very good day.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Early Retirement Extreme isn't Our Goal

I wanted to share a story I read this week on Dividend Mantra that stuck in my head.

Dividend Mantra was given the opportunity to speak at 2015 Chautauqua.  It's a personal finance getaway down in Equator with speakers like Mr. Money Mustache and James Collins. This is an amazing offer.

What's even more amazing is that he turned it down.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

When You're Too Cheap for Original Art... (help me!)

The right artwork can really show off your personality and make your house feel like home.  

Sometimes Simple Cheap Dad and I stroll through galleries to look at all the pretty paintings.  Original art is pretty pricey though, and we've never been moved enough to pony up that amount of cash for art.  

Please don't get me wrong.  I think artists should be properly compensated for their work.  I understand that each piece takes time to create and that it takes years for an artist to develop their skills.  

But, our budget is tight.  So it's hard for us to justify the cost.  Especially since we've never really fallen in love with a painting.

Monday, 16 February 2015

7 Free Indoor Places to Take your Toddler

Keeping kids entertained can be tough when the weather keeps you inside.  

Today is Family Day in Ontario, so we're enjoying Daddy having the day off.  The temperature is going up to a high of -23C with wind chill, so even though I'd like to go sledding, I know I won't be playing outside!  (Fun fact: last night the forecast was calling for Ottawa to go down to -39C with wind chill. For all my American readers, -40C=-40F)

Because it's Family Day, there's a free public swim and skate at a local sports complex.  So, that's our big plan for the day.  It could be the first time we (literally) strap a pair of skates on the Little Miss! 

But if you're a stay at home parent, you can't bank on special free days to happen everyday.  So, here's 7 places we've gone for some free fun when the weather has kept us inside!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Financially Savvy Saturdays #77

Welcome to Financially Savvy Saturdays, the savviest personal finance blog hop on the planet, created specifically for personal finance writers! We welcome all things money here. Whether you've written anything from cool money saving apps to wallet savvy DIY, you're invited to link-up.

If it ties into personal finance, we want to read it!

Simple Cheap Mom

I am super excited to co-host this week with Emily from Simple Cheap Mom where she writes on topics near and dear to every frugal person's heart - whether or not you happen to be a mom.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Simple Cheap Mom Gets the Liebster Award

Last week Chonce from My Debt Epiphany nominated me for the Liebster Award.  It's Simple Cheap Mom's first award and I'm so honoured to have received the nod from such a great blog!

The Liebster Award is very popular in the blogging community and while I’ve heard of it before, I never really had a clear understanding of what it really was.

So to my understanding, the Liebster Award is basically an award that is created by bloggers and intended for bloggers. It’s passed from person to person through a nomination type of process in order to encourage connections and discover not only new blogs but new and interesting people to relate to. In other words, it’s a great way to get to know the person behind the blog.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Can We Stick to a Budget? Our January Spending Update

So I've been telling you all about how you should set a budget and track every penny. But, do WE actually do it?

Well, ya, we do.

That's not to say that we're always under budget.  How much of a challenge would that be?  But we do live with our budget and track our spending regularly.

I'm looking forward to using GNUCash this year to track our spending.  Setting up our file and entering transactions has been a blast (budgeting enjoyment varies from person to person).  Plus, I've been able to spot and correct a few errors that had slipped by when we were just tracking with a spreadsheet. (I think a properly setup spreadsheet can be an awesome tracking tool.  Ours was a strange compromise and I'm happy we've moved on.)

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Financially Savvy Saturdays #76

Welcome to Financially Savvy Saturdays, the savviest personal finance blog hop on the planet, created specifically for personal finance writers! We welcome all things money here. Whether you've written anything from frugal shopping tips to net worth updates, you're invited to link-up.

If it ties into personal finance, we want to read it!
Simple Cheap Mom

Thursday, 5 February 2015

It Feels Good to be back on Tracking

Back in December, we decided to use GNUCash to track our finances. It's a free open source program and you can see how we decided to use GNUCash here.

As part of the MoneyStepper Savings Challenge, we've committed to calculating our monthly net worth increases and savings rates using a special worksheet. The results for each month will be shared on the 10th day of the next month.

Having the February 10th deadline has forced me to get our finances sorted. So, I've been busy setting up our GNUCash file and entering transactions for 2014-today.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Update: January No Eating Out Challenge

At the beginning of January, I shared our annual no eating out challenge here on Simple Cheap Mom.  In the fall we tend to slip into bad habits and eat out or get take out much more than we'd like.

So, in January we stop getting take out, going to restaurants, picking up expensive lattes, and paying for any food outside a grocery store. We use the month to reboot our systems and replace bad habits with good ones.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

You Have to be Pretty Cheap to Cut Your Own Hair

In order for the Simple Cheap Family to live on half of a single income, we've in sourced many services that we might have paid money for in the past.  

In the Simple Cheap Household we cut our hair at home.  I cut Simple Cheap Dad's with the clippers and the scissors.  I cut my own hair using this ponytail method.  I cut the Little Miss's hair however she'll let me. 

Simple Cheap Dad was looking a little shaggy around the ears and my ukulele night at a friend's was pushed back, so I offered to clean him up a little.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Cutting Difficult Expenses: I'll Miss You Data Plan

I'm an unabashed fan of budgeting, tracking your spending, cutting unnecessary costs, and focusing on spending your money how you actually want. (Exhibit 1: Our Family Budget.  Exhibit 2: My Money Rules)

I love finding new ways to make our money stretch further so we can reach the financial goals that motivate us. I love making things do double duty and figuring out how to solve problems without spending money.

Even after years of budgeting, our budget is still changing and I'm still finding spending to cut. As our lives change, our values do too, so it makes sense that our spending plan keeps changing too.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Signup for SwagBucks to Make Money Online


The following is an unveiled attempt to get you to sign up for Swagbucks with my referral link.  Other than being a user, I am not connected with Swagbucks in any way.  I have received no compensation for this post.  But, if you sign up for Swagbucks using my "Refer Friends" link, I will earn referral Swagbucks.  Just like you could for referring your friends.  

You know, once you sign up.  

Get it?

Monday, 19 January 2015

Why Do You Want a Budget?

The holidays are over and now 'tis the season for many to make the annual effort to improve their finances.

When you're used to spending as you please, suddenly having to stick to a budget can seem frustrating and discouraging.

Maybe you're used to shopping for pleasure or meeting friends for dinner.  Now those activities might not fit in your budget.  Maybe you are even starting to question your values now that you have to make choices about how you spend your money and therefore your time.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Interviewed by Debt Discipline

Did you ever want to know more about Simple Cheap Mom?  Well it's your lucky day.  Today I was interviewed over at Debt Discipline.

The Debt Discipline blog follows a family who has recently finished paying off over $100,000 of debt.  They're now shifting their focus to building their wealth and it's very inspirational and exciting.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

January No Eating Out Challenge

I've mentioned a few times that if we don't stick to our budget then we'll just eat out all the time.  It's our weakness.  We always come back to eating out.

I know cooking everything from scratch is cheaper and healthier and I'm jealous of you readers that can git 'er done day after day.

Our commitment to home cooking seems to be tested over the summer when we travel more and then fall apart in the fall. 

Monday, 5 January 2015

2015 Budget for a Family with a Toddler

Personally I love budgets.  I love the planning.  I love the math.  I love setting little challenges for our family and tracking our success.

Maybe you're one of those baffling to me people who live without a budget.

Some people are so good with their money that they can manage their spending without one.  Some people just don't manage their spending (If that's you, I'd love to hear what you think of my 3 Money Rules).

I've been trying to decide how much of our family finances I should share with you all.  You already know that we try to live on one half of our single income.  But, the details of our income and expenses have been, well, vague.