Dear Readers…

Hello readers & followers! It has been quite some time since I wrote on this blog and I was ready to actually delete this blog. Luckily, someone made a recent comment that brought me back to those goose bump feelings I would get when I touched someone. I will be writing again, but may be changing the formatting on this blog.

Ok, quick updates on my life!

I am still debt free! Woo Hoo

I recently purchased a 2013 Mini Cooper (dream car) in cash – it was hard to see the savings diminish, but my 2005 Mazda3 had over 210,000 miles and it was time to say farewell. I could not mentally stand the thought of having debt/car payments again, so I bit the bullet and drained the savings. I am in rebuild mode again. On a pay it forward mentality note, I gave my Mazda3 to my cousin in Sacramento who loves it as she was taking the bus to class each day. I now keep up with her Snapchats and her in the car – typically at a fast food joint. 🙂

I am now focused on saving more money for a down payment! I still want to focus on one new country vacation each year and one new state each year, so I need to be able to add that to the budget for sanity purposes, but I do want to focus on that 20%.

One of my personal friends recently became a Real Estate agent and introduced me to a lender who is evaluating my finances. I do not feel very confident about the liquid cash I have, but we will have to see how our discussion goes on Tuesday.

Now that I have a focus, I will be mainly blogging on ways to save for that down payment! Here are some budget friendly action items I have recently done.

  1. I stopped buying coffee! I used to walk into the office daily with coffee the last few months, but I now make it at home daily. Back to the grind!
  2. I have been brown bagging it. Due to my crazy work schedule and commute, I had to outsource my shopping and stick to a realistic plan. This may help you city dwellers:
    • I use Instacart (www.instacart.com) for my grocery shopping. I accepted the fact that I would arrive home around 7pm and was way too tired to shop and then cook. I easily stopped by the local Vietnamese restaurant nearby way too many times dropping $20+ a night! I now create a shopping list, walk to my car at work, hit “submit” and by the time I am home 45 minutes-1 hour later, groceries are delivered to my door. I signed up for the annual fee to avoid delivery fees each usage, so I then just pay for the tip. However, the money I save from eating out is well worth it. Not only to mention, my sanity and time is saved!
    • Learn what works for you: I purchased an indoor grill because I hated the way my chicken breasts came out, so I invested in items that will help me eat what I shopped for. I also found a Griddle pan at Ross that I love that has helped me make breakfasts more enjoyable. Also, frozen rice is a life saver, but is more pricey, so I am looking into a rice cooker.
  3. Back to saying NO! I have said no to quite a few things. If it does not bring me joy, I just can’t do it. Also, I am looking for NEW adventures, so if I have tried that restaurant, if I have already done that event before, chances are, I will say no to you (with a smile)

Ok, that is all folks – Keep you posted on my down payment goals. I am also looking into investing strategies, so I’ll share that as well.

Cheers!

Frugal Idea #48:What To Ask Yourself Before Making A Pricey Purchase

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I started blogging about my personal financial situation almost two years ago (time sure does fly!). I was sick of being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and always comparing myself to others in regards to how much I should be making or how much money I should have in the bank account. I took my readers on my journey to paying off all of my consumer debt, paying off my student loans, and finding ways to live more consciously in regards to how I spend my money.

Since this journey started, I have been touched by so many people. Whether it was a co-worker who informed me that she subscribed, a new Twitter follower, and/or a new like on Facebook, I am truly grateful. I took my passion to the next level and attended my first FinCon in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2015 where I was able to meet so many like-minded individuals and was inspired by their passion. Each post I write, I only hope it touches one other person so that he or she may experience what I felt: a sense of control and a sense of peace. It is quite amazing how much your life changes once your stress levels are in control.

With that being said, I have expanded my network and want to expand yours as well. I have a guest writer for Frugal Idea #48. Her name is Stacy Miller. She wrote me an email and tweeted me that she read my blog and wanted to contribute to it. How can I say no? This can be a journey for all of us. Let us all help each other to live the life of financial freedom we all have envisioned.

Alright, Stacy….take it from here!

About Stacey Miller:

“Stacy B Miller has been working as a content developer and editor at Oak View Law Group for the last 4 years. Besides writing financial articles, she loves to cook and explore the whole world with her family.”

What To Ask Yourself Before Making A Pricey Purchase

Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like”. – Will Rogers

Nothing blows your savings faster than a large purchase. Now, the definition of a large purchase varies from a person to person. But usually, a car or a house are considered large purchases within your lifetime. They can be a great addition to your life, or perhaps a bad decision and the worst addition to your life leading to regrets. Words such as “regret car purchase” pop up in the Google or Yahoo search engine results every day. So, it is better you conduct the large purchase the right way.

But how can you possibly stay away from a financial disaster when purchasing something that costs 5 figures or more? Well, congratulate yourself! You have come to the right place. I have created a list of questions you need to ask yourself before making a large purchase. Hopefully, the answers to these questions will help to avoid a financial catastrophe.

  1. Am I stressed or depressed?

You are likely to make a big purchase when your emotions go haywire. Sorrow, depression, divorce, death can make you too emotional. When you are extremely sad, you might start feeling that a large purchase is what you need in order to reduce your emotional pain. But, you are wrong. You will regret your purchase later. So, stay away from online shopping portals and shopping malls when you are stressed or depressed.

  1. Do I want to have it even after several weeks?

Ask yourself if you want to buy and use the product in the future too. Try waiting for 7 days before making a large purchase. Give yourself some time to think. This is called the cooling-off period. If you are still obsessed with the product, then take the follow steps:

Extend the cooling-off period

Wait for discounts

If the discount appears, grab the opportunity and buy the product. This would help to protect your savings.

  1. How am I doing financially? Can I afford to buy this item?

Some bad financial habits can make you bankrupt. Again, some bad habits can leave you with a good financial health. Check your financial health and find out if you can afford to buy the item. If you want to buy a home, ask yourself if you can make a down payment and mortgage payments every month. Ask yourself how secure your job is right now. How would you make mortgage payments if your income drops? Do you have a Plan B to avoid a foreclosure or bankruptcy? Do you have a sizable savings account in your bank account? Can you save your home and take care of basic living expenses even in the worst financial scenario?

  1. Have I checked out the reviews?

Have you checked out the online reviews of the product? Do you know if the product is worth the money? What are the most common complaints about the product? What are the recurrent issues people are facing? Remember, you are going to spend a lot of money for the product. This is a large purchase. So, you should buy a product that has the best features. Check out the durability of the product and the resale price as well..

  1. Do I fancy the item or truly need it?

Ask yourself these questions.

Do I need this item?

Can I survive without it?

Is it just a luxury purchase?

If you have money and can afford a luxury purchase, grab the deal without hesitation. But if you do not have money, then just forget about it. Of course, it will take a lot of willpower. Just remind yourself, you would lose the chance of buying several other things in life just because of one large purchase. If you truly need the item, then decide why and when you need it.

Conclusion

Ask yourself the aforementioned questions before making a big purchase. The goal is to know if you truly need the item. Even if you do need the item, ask yourself about the ways to obtain it at a lower price. Answer the questions honestly because you cannot lie to yourself. Besides, you would risk your financial health in the long run. I’m sure you would never want that to happen in the future.

 

Frugal Idea #47: Car Shopping

Too Many People Buy Things They Don’t Need, With Money They Don’t Have, Trying To Impress People They Don’t Like.”

I currently have a 2005 Mazda3 and it is time to say farewell. The shocks need some fixing, there are minor dents, and I know my heart is ready to move on. The car has a lot of meaning for me. It was my first large purchase as an adult (I was 25 years old) and really was the start of a lot of changes in my life. It was my first time securing my own car insurance and was very proud at the time of learning I can earn a discount with my Golden1 Credit Union membership. It was at that time I also was learning to adjust my monthly rent expenses as I was moving into a one bedroom apartment. I remember thinking… as long as I can afford the monthly car payments, I will be ok! Over the years, I picked up expenses related to an engine change, oil changes, tire changes, headlight changes, registration costs, a window break in, and let us not forget the car wash expenses. I had purchased the car brand new because I wanted the new car smell and I wanted to feel good! I should have known that the purchase price was a false number. There are many expenses tied to your purchase and the secret killer is of course, the interest. As I have learned over the years, it is the overall cost we should ask if we can afford and not the monthly payments we can afford.

Now that I am in the market for a new car, I am making this a very calculated move. I paid off the car almost two years ago and it has been amazing to channel the $280 monthly payments towards my credit card debts and student loans. Thinking about adding a monthly payment now that I am 100% debt free just does not seem like the direction I want to take. A few months ago, I made up my mind that I wanted to pay this car in full. I was advised by a friend that now that I am debt free, I am guaranteed a low interest rate on a car loan! Not the advice I am looking for. I did not want to go back to that lifestyle of owing anyone anything. I am going to stick to my following rules:

1) Buy within my means. I have saved a substantial amount for the purchase. I still want to have a minimum of 3 months of living expenses, so I have to execute at the right time and make the right purchase. There are a lot of people who say I “earned” the right to buy a luxury car, but I know myself. Would I buy it for me because I really want it or to impress others? I could care less what people think of what I choose to drive, so I will only buy if I can pay it in full. Tip: Know how much you can spend. If you can buy a car within that amount, great! If you need to finance a loan, take as little out as needed. Can you wait an extra month of savings? Patience is everything

2) Purchase in full. It took months of planning, but I knew the day would come that I would have to purchase a new car, so I used my Every Dollar App (everydollar.com) to budget money every month towards a new car. I cut back on spending and announced during the holidays that I needed a new car because my car was on its last legs. People understood. Messaging was clear. Tip: Figure out how much you want to save and divide that by how many months out you need to save. I knew I wanted to save at least $2000 about a year ago, so I saved at least $200 per month towards the car. I gave up on that massage or dinner out that was too expensive.

3) Buy used. I definitely want to buy a used car. Since moving towards a minimal and simple lifestyle, I just need a reliable car that can get me to work and to life events I choose to go to. What is more important for me is early retirement, traveling, and saving for my down payment. Tip: Write and review your dream list all the time. It will keep your priorities in order. If you value a down payment towards a home more, keep the amount you want to spend on the car low. That can go towards the down payment (your priority)

4) Research. It is important to ask around for advice. I typically have been asking friends who love cars and made purchases themselves. At the end of the day, it will be my decision what I choose to do. Since I value time over money (time is so limited!), I do not want to take a long time to do this. Make a decision on what kind of car you want and go for it. Tip: Research the following – Kelly Blue Book pricing, what folks pay with their luxury cars when it comes to maintenance and gas, your local dealerships (do they offer certified pre-owned), the inventory available, your commitment to driving a distance for a purchase for a deal, cost of your trade in or sell of your own vehicle, and how the car will affect your insurance.

I am by no means a car expert! In fact, I am probably at the bottom of the pack when it comes to advice. However, I have improved my life drastically with my money and minimalism. Any tips you can provide to readers, please share! Just remember, do not spend more than you have to. As the quote says: ““Too Many People Buy Things They Don’t Need, With Money They Don’t Have, Trying To Impress People They Don’t Like.”

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Frugal Idea #40: EveryDollar.com

I have been obsessed with The Dave Ramsey Podcast. I listen to him on the way to work, when I am riding the MUNI, and when I walk around San Francisco. For the past few years, I have had a mediocre budgeting plan that consisted of a spiral notebook and a pen. Halfway through the month, I gave up writing down all of the items I purchased , but I at least knew a general amount of what I should not go over. Thanks to a few listens to Dave’s show, I have discovered EveryDollar.com! This budgeting tool has really changed my view on my spending and now I am obsessed. I now have budgets started all the way thru December. The great thing is you can also download the App onto your phone & plug in the dollar amount every time you spend. I just bought a Strawberry drink from the local Taqueria and I was able to sip the cool, refreshing drink while plugging in $2.45 into the App. Yes, I am still in budget for my “restaurant” category. Give it a try!

http://EveryDollar.com