Frugal Idea #7

$1551.25.

Let’s get back to that number shortly. I remember thinking I needed that mocha or latte. About two years ago, I made the jump. I bought a $10 Coffee Maker (Steal!) at Target and started brewing my own coffee in the morning. Of course, I have a cheat day every now and then. A cheat day happened last week. I had a hard time sleeping and I had overslept. I literally got up and ran out the door. No AM caffeine – eeks! I usually go to Starbucks or a local cafe here on Geary, Angel Cafe and it never fails to be shocked at the price for an espresso drink. So, let’s go back to that number $1551.25. If you bought a drink with all the fixings (that extra shot, flavor syrup, etc.), I estimate it to be about $4.25. At 365 days, it comes out to $1551.25 and monthly at $129.27.

To put things in perspective, $1551.25 was more than my monthly rent for a 1 bedroom in San Bruno. $129.27 is higher than my cell phone and cable monthly bill. I ride the Caltrain to work at times and those coffee to-go cups are everywhere and then I see the homemade coffee makers with their coffee tumblers and creative drink cups, like a mason jar. Bravo to them.

If the habit is just too hard to shake, at the very minimum, spend smart. Get a Starbucks Gold Card. Every time you buy, you earn a star and 30 stars equals a free drink. I learned a secret in San Mateo (where I work). Piazza’s (the gourmet grocery store) has a card for their Starbucks (12 buys, 1 free) that can be combined with your Gold Card. Winner! It is like double coupons.

See what the card is about here: http://www.starbucks.com/card/rewards/gold

However, I say, try that Coffee Maker (P.S. if you make too much, save the rest for an iced coffee treat later!)

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Here is what I brew with – $10 at Target!

Frugal Idea #6

For those who work in sales, business development, real estate, or just a plain ol’ foodie and client lunches or dinners are crucial for relationship development & retention or you just want to be a food obsessed Heffa, you best have created an Opentable.com account! I have been using this site for about 4 years now and use it to not only obtain feedback on service & food, but it is helpful in choosing a place to recommend to a client (sometimes that can be the hardest part). Every time you book a restaurant through this portal, you can earn 100 or 1000 points. As you gain points, you earn an Opentable cheque good to use at any restaurant in their network.  I use OpenTable throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, Las Vegas, Sacramento, etc. Every year I have earned at least a $100 cheque. I love treating one special person in my life to a new restaurant that may typically be over budget. Great way to have a good time out. Happy eating!

Check it out: http://www.opentable.com

 

Frugal Idea #5

Keep it real! This entry is dedicated to keeping it real….with yourself.  Let us take a moment to pay attention to our eating habits. Focus on what you are throwing away, what goes bad in your fridge, and what expires in your cabinets. Why did you buy it? Was it on sale and a deal too good to pass? You had to buy ten of those… just in case, right? Keep it Real: Buy what you need and buy what you know you will eat.

We are encouraged to buy loaves of breads on sale (and freeze them), buy heads of lettuces instead of instant salads, buy in bulk, etc to SAVE SAVE SAVE. But what does a single man in a small apartment with limited space do?  It was not working out for me. I found myself stricken with guilt as I took trash out half full of food gone bad.  Here are some habits I have done to keep it real for my lifestyle.

  • I buy pre-washed baggage lettuce. I use it for sandwiches and salads. I have limited amount of time and washing a head of lettuce takes time and is typically too much for me to eat before it turns a lighter shade of brown in a day or two.  
  • I buy individual packages of cheese sticks. Block cheese may be cheaper, but block cheese with a hint of mold is not a nice way to cut the cheese.
  • I buy large pieces of meat when on sale. I cut it in half or thirds and individually wrap them in saran wrap into 2 servings and freeze them right away.
  • I am not a huge milk drinker, but I do like it in my morning coffee. I always bought half gallons just in case I wanted that random bowl of cereal, but I found myself pouring out half or a fourth of it away in a week or so. I now buy a small container of milk for $1.00 at the local liquor store. No waste.
  • I like the occasional junk food like French Fries, so I buy frozen French Fries that I can bake in 15 minutes to kill the urge of fast food. I also enjoy making 3-4 patties from a pound of ground beef I grab at Trader Joes.  Homemade burgers.
  • I love ethnic foods, but it is pricey to order from the local restaurants, so I rotate my cravings by having available foods from my favorite cuisines. For example, I have frozen Naan from Trader Joe’s and frozen Saag Paneer.  When I crave Indian, I heat those up and my craving goes away. $20 vs. $8 or so makes it worth it! I also have Instant Miso soup packages, Tempura flakes, and Teriyaki sauce in case I want to whip up a Japanese inspired meal.  Whatever your favorite cuisine may be, have an alternate way to make it at home.
  • I love fruit, but it goes bad fast, so I avoid whole Pineapples, Melons, and large fruits. I now buy pre-cut fruits because I will eat it. I make up the cost by buying smaller fruits in season & on sale – apples, oranges, berries, etc.

Take a look into your fridge, cabinets, drawers, freezers, and office desks. Stop buying what you never open, never finish. Invest in foods that you will love and enjoy….alone or to share with someone special. 

 

Frugal Idea #4

Frugal Idea #4

It’s tax season! I am by no means a tax professional, but I have learned over the years that you need to remain highly organized to not only maximize your tax return, but to reduce your stress level and meet all deadlines. I recently have dedicated one space in my apartment to file away all documents from last year and all new documents needed for this year. I’ve learned that I work well with boxes (tip: you can purchase affordable boxes at Daiso for $1.50!). Choose a size that can fit receipts and choose another box or binder for all letter size documents. For donations I have made online to a Non Profit, I created an email folder listed as “Donations”. I would move all e-mail receipts to this folder for easy tracking and printing. If you dislike clutter, take advantage of online services such as obtaining W-2 forms through your employer vs. paper statements, credit card statements to search for donations if you missed a receipt, and Excel spreadsheets to track mileage for your charitable events, etc. I linked a website of what to bring to your appointment if you choose to go to a Tax Professional. P.S. If you are receiving a tax refund, I challenge you to save 20% of it and put another 20% to debt (yes, that includes your student loans).  If you plan on making a large purchase and it requires all of your tax refund, can you wait another pay period? If you can save 100% of it, BRAVO!

http://blogs.hrblock.com/2013/02/04/tax-document-checklist-what-do-i-need-to-bring-to-my-tax-appointment/

Frugal Idea #3

Confession: I do not like to shop for clothes at Thrift Stores. I realize I can save a ton of money, but I just can not do it. However, I have bought a $2.00 Vase once – steal! Since I have to wear business professional/casual attire 4 of 5 working days, I do like to buy new and high quality clothing. What has worked for me is to shop around sales. I write a list of items I need (and want) and it is a running list. Some items on my list have been on the list for months! Whenever I receive a coupon in the mail, see an advertisement via email or online that is too good to pass up (free shipping, discounts 40% or higher, etc), I look at my list and see if this retailer holds items needed. Example: I have on my list rain boots, overcoat, a new suit, and dress shirts, etc. I just received a coupon for Express $30 off for a purchase of $75. I plan on buying my shirts from Express (crossing off list!). I also received an end of year sale for swimming trucks with free shipping at Undergear.com and went ahead and bought my new trunks for 2014 in December! I do not have dedicated days/hours to shop aimlessly or for fun. I have a purpose and a deal at all times. You can also do this for household items – currently I am keeping an eye out for a new Crock Pot. Happy shopping!

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Frugal Idea #2

Before you purchase an item at the local grocery or drug store, google search the manufacturer! I had run out of contact lens cleaning solution, so I ran a search online for my preferred contact lens cleaning solution (Opti-Free) and the word “coupon”. I was able to find a $2.00 coupon from the manufacturer! Combine that with a store coupon and you can cut the cost close to 50% off. I now do this for all items such as toilet paper, toothpaste, etc. If you are unfamiliar with the manufacturer or do not have a favorite brand, be sure to google search different brands before combining with the word coupon. I did this with Olive Oil.

Happy shopping!