$8 Menu Plan Board: Tutorial and Printable

by Robin

My Mission:
  1. Go to the dollar store and come home with an idea and the supplies for a Menu Planning Board.
  2. Make it.
  3. Share the How-to. 

Mission accomplished!


Be Your Own Investment Manager Series - Part 4: Understand Risk and Return

  by Ed

Enough small talk, let's do this.

Time to dive right in and actually talk about some investment options.  Sure, budgeting and debt reduction pay the bills, but you never see Multi-Budgetaires on the cover of Time nor do Masters of Debt Reduction get movies made about them.

Not yet anyways.

Risk and Return.  They roll off the tongue like Supply and Demand, Buy Low and Sell High and other business-y speak.  And just like those others, they are often poorly understood.


Organizing: We're Moving!

by Robin

I am planning to move in June.  If you know how much we love our home, this will surprise you.  But, I've made up my mind.  It's the only way to get myself motivated.

I came up with this idea after feeling a bit of envy over a friend's packing experience.  (Which is cracked.  Envy?  Over packing up a whole house?  Can you imagine if I told my friend?  I think she would have drop kicked me.)  At the time I thought, "What a great way to finally get rid of all that stuff that accumulates.  We will never have that chance, because we plan to never move." 

OK, so we aren't really moving, but my idea is to organize our home as though we are.  Here's the 411:


Family Fun: Cheap Skates for Cheapskates

by Robin
(photo source)

It is definitely an expensive hobby, this living in Canada thing.  With so many distinct seasons we have clothing and sporting good needs that those in sunny locale's need not even think about. 

But there are benefits to this cold climate.  There's one benefit we'd like to take more advantage of: winter sports. 

So far this year we have tobogganing, snowball fighting and snowman making under our belts.  This month we are doing something that requires more skill, and a bit more outlay of cash: skating


Be Your Own Investment Manager Part 3: Invest in Your Debt?

by Ed
(image source)
 Part Two in this series focused on Finding Money to invest with, either by "Paying Yourself First" or developing a Spending Plan that leaves you some leftover investment money.  (If you missed that post, you can find it here.)

This week I'm going to get you to look at this money and consider investing in...your debt?


Frugal Family Fun: Family Sleepover Night (and Getting Them to Bed Without a Fight)

By Robin

What child doesn’t get excited about sleepovers?   A couple of years ago we started a ritual of Family Sleepover Nights.  It is a time for us to connect in a more quiet way,  parent to child.  It is inexpensive, requires no planning or parenting energy.  

It is lovely in its simplicity and I believe it sets a foundation for close relationships now and as the children grow. I hope to continue these Family Sleepovers for years.  

I think it would be great as our kids get older to know that there is a predictable quiet time that they have a parent’s undivided attention and we’ve established a pattern of talking about what’s going on in their lives.  On sleepover nights, the kiddos excitement is palpable.

We've also adapted our little family ritual to change the worst bedtime night of the week (Sunday!) to the best.


Recipe: Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets ~ with less salt and sugar

by Robin

Breakfast is the one meal of the day that everyone here eats something different.  We can't agree on a single best food to start our days.  We can't even agree on how many breakfasts is appropriate.  My daughter eats like a Lumberjack crossed with a Hobbit.  We have even taken to using the Hobbit terms: she has "Breakfast" and then she has "Second Breakfast".  (I am pretty sure she eats "Elevensies" later at school, too).

One of her breakfasts is always instant oatmeal.  She eats 2 packets for Second Breakfast alone!  After figuring out the costs and the sodium content of all these Instant Oatmeal Packets, it became clear that a simple homemade option was needed.

This recipe is simple to make.  Ten minutes tops.  I get my daughter to help with the measuring and mixing and putting the mixture into the baggies.  When kids help with preparing food, they are more likely to feel ready to try it, if it's new.  This worked for us when I introduced this recipe and many others.


We are careful about sodium in our house.  Obsessive? No.  Strict?  No.  Careful means we avoid eating too much, as best as we can.  

Each oatmeal packet from my NoName box has 340mg.  So the 2 packet meal my daughter was having: 780 mg of sodium!  The servings in our recipe are larger than the store-bought packets, so one is enough.  

This recipe has less than 100 mg of sodium.  You could also cut the salt out completely, which we may do in the future. 

As for cost... 

This recipe costs less than half of the NoName version.  At last check, a box of the NoName Instant Oatmeal costs $2.49 for 10 packets.  Roughly $0.25 per packet (or $.49 if you eat 2 at a time, like my little Lumberjack-girl).  Not everyone likes the NoName version, so you're looking at more cost for the fancy-schmancy Quaker variety.  

I estimate our version costs about $0.15 for a larger serving. 

Enough talk.  Here's the recipe:


Be Your Own Investment Manager Part 2: How Much and How Often You Should Invest

By Ed

(image source)
I finished off the first post in the "Be Your Own Investment Manager Series" with a couple of thoughts about why you should Invest.

Firstly, if you don't, your money will lose Purchasing Power - basically it will be worth less than it was when you started due to inflation.

The other reason to start investing now versus later is that you can get Compound Interest working on your side.  This helps you earn 'Interest on top of Interest"; growing your money faster than simply stuffing it in a piggy bank.  Time can be your friend.

But to invest, you need money... 

The old hackneyed saying 'It Takes Money to Make Money" definitely applies.  The good news is, you don't need much to get started.  If you go to a financial planner, they will take your final retirement goal and work backwards to help you figure out how much you need to save.

While (often) accurate, this is generally a very large number and usually freaks people out - making some people jump ship completely on saving.  Don't let this be you!


Saving Money: Is Switching to a Gas Water Heater Worth It? (our first Guest Post!)

A Note From Robin:  We have our first Guest Post!  Meet my dad.  He's the most organized person I have ever known.  He's taught me lots about saving money (and taught me the love of spreadsheets - for real - we both think they're the bees knees).  

Have you wondered: "Would it be worth it for me to switch my electric water heater for a gas one?"  It can be intimidating: would such a big pain in the butt even be worth it in the end?  My dad found out that it is worth it and we've got the spreadsheet as proof. (A really pretty spreadsheet.  I got her all dolled up for ya.)  He offered to write about his experience and share about how much he saved.   

Check it out:


Recipe: Simple Sweet & Sour Meatballs

by Robin

Are you detecting a trend?  Yup, we're super-big meatball fans here.  Or at least the kiddos are and we've been reluctantly recruited to the meatball side.

Almost every week we're having something meatball based: either it's our Ikea Meatball Sauce Hack, good Ol' Spaghetti and Meatballs or (my favourite): these Simple Sweet & Sour Meatballs.


The Be Your Own Investment Manager Series: Part 1

By Ed

Investing can be as difficult as you want to make it.  I don't like it that difficult, so my goal over the next few posts will be to break down what I consider the essential lessons that I try to get my Grade 9 and 10 business classes to walk away from the course with.

When I am done, if you still want to let your bank do the driving for you, that is cool.  My hope is that you will be a little bit better informed than before.  If I do my job at least.  So here we go...


Saving Time: Cutting Clutter with a "Donation Station"

by Robin

Try as you might to avoid it, stuff piles up, especially if you have kids. Outgrown clothes. Underloved toys. Clothes that fit you before those children came along. It's just plain easier to get out from under life's clutter when you set up a "Donation Station".