Frugal Idea #20

Sharing is caring!

Peer to peer ridesharing has exploded in popularity in my opinion. Everyone I know in San Francisco had has taken a Lyft car, Sidecar, Uber car or is actually a driver. Gone were the days of waving down a taxi and giving a tip at the end when you really felt the driver did not deserve one. Now, we can review feedback from our peers on the drivers and hire them directly without exchanging any cash all within our smart phones. Brilliant!

After finishing your ride & submitting payment via mobile, be sure to log into your email to view your receipt. If you scroll down, there is a code you can share to a 1st time rider via social media or direct email. If the 1st time rider uses your code for the discount, you will get a discount on your next ride. 

One of the best times to share your code is during high volume usage of rideshare vehicles. I recently noticed my code was on fire during San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival. The weekend after, I booked several dinner dates and it was a smoother ride knowing that my ride was free. Likewise, you can search Twitter codes for Sidecar, Lyft, Uber to obtain discounts for yourself when you need a ride. Tip: Talk to your driver! I met some amazing folks including two musicians with singles on iTunes, a man who started a Non Profit, someone who does housecleaning on the side, and two candidates I ended up recruiting as potential employees . Hoping to land that referral bonus (cha-ching!).

By the way, here is my shameless plug of my code: NEVILLE2 (hehe).

My Sidecar Code: NEVILLE2. Be sure to follow Frugal Nev on Twitter: NEVBB

My Sidecar Code: NEVILLE2. Be sure to follow Frugal Nev on Twitter: NEVBB

Frugal Idea #19

I walked past Twitter and saved a dollar.

A friend visited my apartment recently to watch The Royal Tenenbaums (pretty awesome movie BTW – it just took us 30 minutes to decide which On Demand movie to choose!) and we briefly talked about my blog and he gave me so many new ideas. I pulled out my cell phone to jot down his ideas on my Richnote and it excited me to know that someone wanted to contribute to this blog and inspire others to save a dollar!

Recently, I walked down Larkin Street to Market Street and realized I walked down the wrong block.  I should have walked down Polk Street. Well, more exercise! I was looking for a Credit Union. I needed cash, but did not want to accrue fees from a much more convenient bank or corner liquor store’s suspect ATM. Walking down Market Street, I noticed the Twitter sign and wondered what the inside office looked like and I slowly looked to my right and cha-ching, a Dollar Store. My friend’s idea was right in front of my face. I had to go in.

When asking my friend about ideas, his first idea was the Dollar Store. He lives in the Mission District, so he lives by a few store options. He mentioned that he likes to buy apartment staples there – trash bags, candles, and so on and so on. I thought about those staple items I would buy at Target or CVS and realized as long as I did not need high quality items, his idea was valid. For example, I like to keep a box of smaller wastebasket sized trash bags in the bathroom to clean the cat litter. Mila (my cat) seems to use this litter box all day, every day, so these one time use trash bags go quickly. I love scoring a great deal, so $2.99 trash bags at Target seemed reasonable. Walking the Dollar Store, there it was in front of me. Lower cost trash bags. I also needed smaller tupperware bins for salad dressings when I bring homemade salads to work. Another score, 10 tupperware bins (yes, BPA free).

I did walk past the candle aisle, but decided that purchase would not be a need, but a desire. I did take a good sniff of a candle though for my friend. 

My finds at a local Dollar Store

My finds at a local Dollar Store

Introducing Mila - Litter Box User

Introducing Mila – Litter Box User

Frugal Idea #18

24 is not only the number of my birthday, but it is the number I placed a bet on in a game of Roulette in Las Vegas. I lost $300.00 that night.

Gambling and Frugality – how am I writing about this? In the past month, my stress level was high, I had a full plate at work and a few personal challenges seemed to arrive at the most inconvenient time. A friend invited me to Las Vegas and I jumped at the chance. I had an awesome weekend relaxing in the pool, visited a spa, and danced at a low key club off the strip. Of course, the temptation of gambling can be too hard to resist. The money I lost at the Roulette table was actually a calculated amount. I stuck with my budget for gambling.

Money is meant to be spent (and saved of course). I once learned that we must put our spending in perspective. For example, one may buy a $80 jacket that was on sale. The jacket was the 3rd black jacket purchased, but it had a collar that was unique and was a little warmer for the upcoming winter. Let’s say that jacket was worn once in one year after purchase. After wearing it once, the person discovered her friend had the same jacket. She then decided that it didn’t bother her, it would be a great jacket for the winter. As the summer passed and winter arrived, she had gained 10 pounds and the jacket no longer fit as well as she liked. She was no longer excited to wear the jacket. Earlier in the year, she purchased a business suit for work. It was on sale as well. She purchased it for $400.00. However, she was able to wear it at least 3 times a month for the entire year. She wore it 36 times in one year making her suit a value of $11.11 per wear. The jacket she wore once in the year valued at $80.00.

I decided that if I am going to spend money, I would make sure the purchase has value to me and will be used multiple times. Since gambling was not something I can physically use multiple times, I decided to put perspective on what I was going to lose. I put a maximum budget on my gambling in direct correlation to how many hours of work I would be willing to lose.

For example, if you made $52k annually, your hourly rate is $25.00 per hour (divide your annual salary by 2080 which is the amount of hours are in a typical work year. There are 52 weeks in the year and you multiply that by 40 hours). If you gambled $200.00 and lost it, you just lost one hard day of work (8 hours at $25.00 per hour = $200.00). Always think to yourself, was my hard day at work worth my action? Was my hard day at work worth that Coach wallet?

Although, I was down $300.00, I invested in memories with my friend. I still believe 24 will be the lucky number one day. Until next time Vegas!

C'Mon Black 24  (Picture borrowed from http://www.ildado.com/roulette_double_zero_wheel.html)

C’Mon Black 24
(Picture borrowed from http://www.ildado.com/roulette_double_zero_wheel.html)

 

Frugal Idea #17

To stay on point with your finances, try earning the points!

I remember swiping my debit card for a purchase and my friend asked why I preferred to use my debit card instead of my credit card. After all, you can earn points with your credit cards. You can then use your points to earn cash back, pay for trips, or buy gift cards. The only catch: you must pay off your card in full.

I had to admit, I was not in the right situation to swipe the credit cards. I had run a large balance during and after college and I finally had grasped the concept of managing your cash and NOT using credit cards. I wanted to freeze my cards, cancel them, or shred them to bits and pieces with a pair of scissors. While the cards had bought me lots of good memories (on credit), I also had a lot of guilt, remorse, and hatred towards them for the debt and troubles I found myself in.

I started off small. I would use credit cards to only purchase gas. I then paid it in full. No harm there. Working in a role that requires a lot of business development and team bonding: treating a client out to lunch, driving to a business meeting, or buying a co-worker lunch just because you wanted to, I decided to be brave and add work expenses to my list of approved credit card purchases. I noticed my points were adding up nicely.

After some time, the practice became close to perfect, and I now use my credit cards for majority of my purchases – large and small. To stay on top of my spending, I downloaded the credit card apps on my phone for easy access. I check my activity once a day. I make sure that I am always aware of my credit card balance and to make sure I can pay it off within the next month. After some practice and discipline, you will learn your “safe spot”. The safe amount you know you can pay next month in full.

I also created a list of my rewards:
Virgin America
Chase
Citi Bank
United
Southwest
and so on….

I then evaluate who gives the biggest point for purchases. Example: Citi offers more points for restaurants. If I eat out, I will use that card. Also, Citi offers travel points for flights, while Chase does not offer travel points for flights – just hotel & cars. Since I love to travel, I tend to gravitate towards Citi. I also learned that I can earn points for United by eating at certain restaurants (sync your cards to your account!). I then choose restaurants that I know earn me points via credit card AND by visiting. Let’s just say, I love when a friend or client asks me to choose the spot. SURE!

Thanks to the points, I have booked a hotel and will have a discounted flight with my next flight in September. I have also earned gift cards when it was time to buy a new suit for work (and more business lunches).

I really am glad that my friend pointed me in the right direction.

Frugal Idea #16

BBQ sauce a day, keeps the wallet stored away!

I was obsessed for a hot minute. I wanted BBQ ribs, BBQ chicken, & BBQ Brisket all the time. Let us not forget to order the side of collard greens, baked beans, & honey sweet cornbread. I found myself Yelping for local BBQ spots in San Francisco & the goal was to try them all. I went to Pete’s BBQ in the Mission, Hyde Away BBQ in the Tenderloin, Memphis Minnie’s Bar-B-Que in the Haight, and even found myself stopping by Magnificent BBQ in Vacaville on the way to Sacramento when visiting family! There was something about the smell of BBQ, the meat falling off the slabs, and then wiping your fingers and mouth with the complimentary wet wipe. I found my waistline increasing and my funds decreasing. Something had to change.

In my journey of financial freedom, I have learned that discipline is a major part of saving money. I do love BBQ. It reminds me of those hot summer Sacramento evenings where I grew up with the grill out and the smoke seeping into our windows. We ate while we laughed and bonded as a family. I remember the days when Dad would buy BBQ and I would tag along. We seemed to always walk a little faster home so we can enjoy the hot morsels. It made sense. BBQ is tied into my memories. To discipline myself, I wanted to avoid eating out at expensive restaurants for a meal. I decided to only eat at a BBQ joint when an invite came from a friend or for a special occasion. I took control and decided to take care of my cravings at home.

I learned to keep a readily available bottle of BBQ at home. I decided to try different bottles at the local grocery store and buy only when on sale. I discovered Safeway coupons for BBQ sauce as low as $0.99! I stuck with tastes that I enjoyed – a little bold, with a lot of kick. Whenever, I craved BBQ, I walked quickly past the local joint (did I ever tell you there is a BBQ restaurant next door to my apartment – the agony), and used my bottle of BBQ. I have recently made home made BBQ burgers and BBQ chicken. I have even watched YouTube videos on how to make homemade collard greens to get the ultimate home chow down.

You can do this with all of your “must have” cravings. If you love pizza, learn to make pizza at home buying ready made dough. If you love Japanese food, maybe have Teriyaki sauce available. I have learned that you can still have what you want without spending a lot. It may just come in a different form.

I am also happy to say that my waistline seems to be in more control. The wallet has gotten fatter, but my jeans don’t seem to mind.