Welcome to The Simple Nickle!

Clueless about your money? Do you want financial security, but don't know where to start?

The Simple Nickle is a free web-based program to help you easily understand and control your finances in less than 15 minutes a day! We'll guide you step-by-step; it's as easy as checking your email! We'll also give you easy-to-understand financial education starting with the most basic aspects.

Cheap Eats: Recipes for Around $1 Per Serving

This post was featured at GreenStyleMom.

Butternut Squash Soup

This hearty soup is really quite delicious, perfect for cold days. Besides being low calorie, squash is a great source of vitamins and fiber. This is a great option for a 'meatless' main dish...satisfying, but saves you money and calories.
Prep time: 15 min.
Cook time: 25 min.
Ready in: 40 min.

Servings: 4
Price per serving: $0.83


1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced carrots
4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (about 1 squash)
3 cups chicken broth
salt and ground black pepper to taste
ground nutmeg to taste


In large pot, cook and stir the onion in oil until tender. Mix the carrots and squash into the pot. Pour in vegetable stock, and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender. In a blender or food processor, puree the soup mixture until smooth (I use a hand blender in the pot). Serve warm with a dash of nutmeg.

Check back each Friday for more inexpensive recipes for around $1 per serving!

Work Hard + Work Smart = Wealth and Success

This post was featured at The Dividend Guy, Savvy Frugality, The Gonzo Papers, and The Skilled Investor.

While attending a university commencement, I received some sage advice that I will always remember. Ira A. Fulton, a self-made millionaire and active philanthropist, gave the commencement address. In it, he advised the graduates to 'work hard, and to work smart.' I have often reflected on these words, realizing that in today's world, just working hard won't always get you to where you want to be.

As I've considered this advice, I have come up with some tenets that will always hold true to the spirit of 'working hard, and working smart.'

Work Hard

Avoid get-rich-quick schemes. This seems obvious to me, but would these scams be so prevalent if people always avoided them? If something seems to good to be true, it probably is. I have yet to meet a successful or wealthy person who didn't work hard to get where they are. Things that require no work on your part should cause you to wonder, 'Is there any value in the result?'

When at work, give your employer your full attention. Working hard also means working honestly. If you are getting paid for working 40 hours a week, you need to be wholly 'present' for those 40 hours. While on the job, do you spend an unreasonable amount of time away from where people can reach you, on the internet, taking coffee breaks, etc? If so, can you really expect to become truly successful at your job? Working honestly also creates good karma, which I'll touch on again.

If you aren't employed, work hard at keeping what comes into the house. I stay at home, and don't earn a paycheck, but that doesn't mean that I don't work hard. I do work hard, and my work has value. Besides raising children to be contibuting members of society, I save money aggressively by constantly learning to be economical, invest that saved money in diverse ways, and am steadily increasing our family's net worth. Despite not being the family breadwinner, I work hard at being successful, and at gaining wealth.

Work Smart

Increase your efficiency and productivity. Entire books have been written about this subject, so I'll just add this: do whatever works for you to increase your productivity--prioritize, once-a-week planning, use a timer, take breaks, create routines--but don't get so caught up in figuring out what to do that you waste a lot of time.

Get educated. Constantly learning is one of the best and most literal ways to 'work smart.' A high school degree won't get you much these days, with average earnings at $28,645. Those with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $51,554, and those with advanced degrees earned an average of $78,093. Taking the time to get a degree can prove very beneficial. In addition to formal education, self-led education can be invaluable. Learning about running the small business you've always wanted to start, or figuring out the best investment strategy for yourself are great ways to start 'working smart.'

Keep your eyes open for new opportunities. On the job and in life, opportunities will come and go, and you've got to keep an eye out in order to catch them. Working hard and honestly at your job is one way to align yourself with these opportunities; you'll stand out above others around you. Having a long-term plan with goals is also a smart way to achieve success and wealth.

Get your money working for you. One of the best ways to 'work smart' is to get more work done during the 24 hours we are all alotted each day. There is a limit to human capacity, but money can work on your behalf 24/7 without fatigue, and it doesn't even charge you anything. Find ways to invest your money so it can grow while you work, and accelerate your path to wealth. On the flip side, avoid debt, because that money is working tirelessly against you.

The path to success and wealth is being traveled by hard working people...but it's also traveled by smart working people. Are you one of them?

How To Build a Financial Safety Net

This post was featured at Dollar Frugal.

Nothing will bring you greater peace of mind in an emergency than knowing you are financially secure. A financial safety net is often the difference between going into debt-sometimes life-changing debt-and keeping your head above water. Not only is this safety net vitally necessary, but it's within anyone's means; it only takes a little planning, a little discipline, and a little time. But where to begin? Financial planning can be quite intimidating, but far from impossible. Here is a step-by-step plan for your own financial safety net:

Step 1: Investigate insurance. Insurance is of the utmost importance because it can off-set or even prevent a financial emergency. If you have others who depend on you financially, it is important to have both life insurance and disability insurance. Life insurance provides income in the event of your death, and disability, should you become injured and unable to work. Check with your employer to learn what insurance programs are available. If you are self-employed, speak with an insurance expert at a company you trust to see what options you have.

Perhaps the most important insurance to have is health insurance. In the United States, health care costs are astronomical and can ruin you financially. Protect yourself, and protect your money.

Step 2: Lose the debt. What good is a safety net if you're already at rock bottom? Decide now that you've had enough of debt, and make a plan to eliminate it from your life. Begin by identifying areas where you can cut costs and save money. This could mean anything from cutting up credit cards, getting better rates on your insurance, downgrading to a more affordable car or home, etc.

Once you find ways to save, apply that money to your highest interest debt first. Once you pay that off, apply all that payment money to your next highest interest debt, and so on. Once you are debt free...

Step 3: Build an emergency fund. An emergency fund is money used for just that: emergencies. It is not for splurges and other expensive luxuries. This fund is an important aspect of your financial safety net, providing you with a chunk of money to be used when life throws unexpected and unpleasant surprises your way. Try to save 3-6 months worth of living expenses, or more if possible. This fund will keep debt at bay, and help to protect your assets and your credit score.

This money is best kept in a money market, where it can be accessed easily and quickly, and where it can earn a little money for you while it sits unused. Online money markets, such as through INGDirect or HSBC, offer you interest rates as high as 5% for keeping your money with them, helping to build your fund even faster.

Step 4: Invest for the future. The final step is building a safety net for your financial future: retirement, children's education, whatever that may be. Once your debt is controlled and your emergency fund in reserve, you can begin socking away cash for the future. Great ways to do this include contributing to your 401(k), a Roth IRA, 529 savings plans, and others. Research on your own, or talk with a financial adviser to map out a course for your future finances.

Completing these four steps will provide you with a financial safety net so you can feel secure...no matter what life throws at you.