Saving Major Money on Major Purchases: Our 8 No-Fail Frugal Steps (Dishwasher Edition)

by Robin

(image source)

We had no plans on writing a post about buying a new dishwasher.  But our dishwasher thought it was time.  Whenever we need to replace some appliance or household thing-a-ma-jig we use our tried and true Frugal Shopping Steps.  You can thank our old dishwasher for prompting us to share.


Recipe: Easy Pasta with Veggies and Meat Sauce

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Two years ago, if someone told me that I would be sharing my recipes on the web I would have scoffed, "Yeah.  Right.".  You see, I am a Registered Dietitian and cooking is a big part of the teaching I do.  This includes cooking demos, which I found ironic, to say the least.  You see, I would not have described myself as a "Cook".  Never would I have said I was a "Good Cook".  But a conversation shifted my confidence in my cooking.  And this extremely simple recipe cemented my attitude.


Learn this One Skill - and save so much more money!

by Ed

There is a reason I am the one writing this post.  Of the two of us, I am the one who struggles most with impulse buys, spree spending and plain old buying crap we don't really need.  To clarify, Robin writing this would be preachy, me writing this is the Al Anon equivalent of, "Hi, my name is Ed, it has been 3 weeks since I bought something stupid I didn't really need".

In unison, "Hello, Ed..."

While I have always heard that 'waiting to buy' is always financially smarter than 'buying now' and that 'if a deal is honest, it will still be there after you sleep on it', I have had real trouble 'getting it'.  I  read a book, "Filthy Lucre" by Joseph Heath, this past year that helped galvanize it for me.  

These aren't just words that jerks say to us to make us feel bad about buying stuff.  There is a lot of real evidence to support it.


No Knead, Quick and Simple Sandwich Style Bread Loaf

by Ed

I have been experimenting for a couple months now with a more foolproof form of the five-minute sandwich bread.  I tinkered with loaf sizes and amounts of dough several times and I think this is the best combo.

My basic premise is that too much dough is better than too little. No one ever complained about how tall and puffy their loaf of bread was (has anyone ever complained about homemade bread at all?  OK, maybe our kids did.  Hence making loaves that look more like "they're supposed to look"). You also need to go easy on the whole wheat flour: 1/3 in your dough mix is likely the max.

This bread requires less equipment than it's artisan cousin:  no pizza stone and no water tray. Very easy now that I think about it. If you have been nervous about trying the 5-minute bread dough, this might be a good time to give it a go.


Be Your Own Investment Manager Part 7: Understand RRSPs

By Ed

Ahh retirement - a mythical time when days will stretch out before you waiting to be filled with whatever lifetime pursuit you have been putting off to your Golden Years.  Travel, Leisure, Rocking Chairs all await you!  

I don't know many retired people, but those I do never say they have buckets of time or money.  It seems that the idea of retirement is just that: an idea.  Most people have a different reality than what they were expecting.

But I am not here to discuss retirement.  Do what you like with it.  I am going to concern myself with the single best (Canadian) vehicle for getting you there with a little more comfort: The Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). 


Saving Money: Our $20 Winter Escape

by Robin

This past weekend we took a short break from the winter weather.  For the most part, we love the snow.  But we were craving some green and some warmth.  We wanted to see some tropical plants and wildlife.  We wanted to do it on a budget.  $20 felt about right. 


Kids' Valentines: Printable. Free. Cool.

by Robin

My kids have a tough choice ahead of them.

There are so many inventive bloggers out there who have created fabulous, creative Valentines (no Spiderman, Tinkerbell or Transformer in sight).  And they are sharing them for free! 

My plan was to collect a couple of links and let the kiddos choose the Valentine they'd like to take to give to their classmates.   Well,  I went a bit overboard.  My last count was 20 sets! (There's something addictive to searching for them, so I may very well add a few more before this post is published.)

Of course, I am sharing the collection with you, too!  Just click on the blog name and it will take you right to their Free Valentine Printable. 


Be Your Own Investment Manager Part 6: Simple Investment Options

By Ed

Average.  The Middle of the Road. The Meaty Part of the Bell Curve (What?  No other statistics nerds out there?).  Lots of euphemisms for boring or plain.  Not much fun, if we were talking about movies, date nights or Blog posts.

But, with investing, really average can be really good.  In fact, a boring portfolio usually means you sleep well at night and retire on time (with fewer ulcers and shouting matches than Gordon Gecko.)

Last week we talked Mutual Funds and I barked the following Commandments from my soap box: Make sure you have 5+ years of history to look at, compare it to an appropriate benchmark and keep the MER low.  

I also teased you with the prospect of a mythical investment that does all that.  First, my one week long overdue look back at the Investment Pyramid.

Let's talk investing...


Saving Money: Getting the Best Value Skin Care and Cosmetics

by Robin

It is with the anticipation of a child at Christmas that I await the annual Clinique Bonus Time.  It runs here in Canada at the Bay from Feb 8th to 26th.  When you spend $28.50 you get the bonus pictured above.  The last 2 years they've given a choice of colours.  (I like choice.  Choice is good for choosy people like me.)  I don't wander up to the counter and buy whatever looks pretty and makes appealing promises.  Nope.  Not my style.  I arrive armed with a strategy.

Being frugal is not just getting the cheapest stuff no matter what.  Quality is an important consideration.  To be frugal means to be wise with your money (and time) so that you get the best value. 

We all work hard for our money.  The things we buy should work hard for us.  Luxuries like cosmetics and skin care products need to live up to their promises.  Here's how I get the best value from my beauty purchases, including my annual voyage to the Clinique counter.


Recipe: Easy, Healthy and Quick Guacamole

by Robin

I am astonished by how much they charge for Guacamole at the grocery store! Today I saw $5 for the amount we get from one avocado!  Whoa.

And the taste!  Ug.  Like moist, green, cream of blah.  (I imagine it's pretty close to what Soylent Green tastes like, except not made of people.)

After exploring recipes for our favourite green dip, I got tired just reading about all the chopping.  I am much too lazy for all that - especially when I have a hankering for guac.

A closer look revealed an easier way.  Along with the avocado, most recipes also called for: chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, garlic, cilantro, peppers.  That sounds an awful lot like the same ingredients of our salsa.  Hmmm...


Be your own investment manager Part 5: Mutual Funds

By Ed

One of the big questions my students ask me every semester when we talk investing is, "What do you invest in?" or "Would you invest in _______________ (insert name of hot-company-of-the-moment here)?". 

My answers vary and since I want to get them to think for themselves, I usually turn the questions back on them.  For the purposes of this discussion, you'll probably won't more specifics and less Socrates.  While there isn't one perfect investment, I'll try to cover some filtering strategies for one of the most popular: Mutual Funds.


Recipe: French Toast with Peach Sauce

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by Robin

We have certain meals on our Master List especially for those insanely, busy evenings.  (You know the ones: you get home just in time to throw something in front of the family to eat, inhale the food and run out the door again).  On these wild evenings it can be tempting to grab a bag of some kind of takeout.  But, that choice is expensive and, generally speaking, not the best food for any body.  On frenetic nights think about breakfast fare.  With the right choices, traditionally breakfast foods can fuel a busy evening and can be on the table in just a few minutes.  French Toast with Peach Sauce is one of our favourites.