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 #49: Yummly

I was recently invited to dinner at my friends’ spot. They are recently married and they are both passionate of their crock pot. So far, I have only discovered their homemade turkey chili. However, I am anxiously waiting to try the salsa verde chicken! It was really great to see a couple take time to make home made meals versus eating out for dinner.

After numerous days of eating out during the work day lunch, I realized I needed to stay focused on home made meals and watching that budget. I could not believe I was paying up to $20 for lunch. Ridiculous! As much as I enjoy eating out with the staff and co-workers, eating out will not assist with my financial goals. Having a crazy work schedule and commute, I needed to make quick and easy meals that are easy to pack. Here is how I have quickly adjusted my eating habits to save money:

  1. Invest in Tupperware you enjoy using – I used to buy random Tupperware from Safeway that did not last long (Glad or generic versions). They stained from red pasta sauce, they lost their shape, and sometimes leaked. I decided to invest in quality Tupperware such as glassware. I bought enough sizes to store leftovers, small items like a half used onion, or snacks. I love it!
  2. Organize your Tupperware – One thing that drove me crazy was having Tupperware, but never being able to find the lid that fits. I finally, pulled all Tupperware out of the pantry and threw away any plastic Tupperware that was missing a lid. I decided to buy one of those multi sized packages that comes with 20 Tupperware pieces. If you are more organized, you will be more likely to use the Tupperware and cooking will be a breeze. I now store the lids all together and stack the bottom pieces for easy grabbing and packing.
  3. Get some help – Sometimes I just don’t have time to think about what to cook! I also get sick of cooking the same old meal. I decided to run a Google search on best mobile cooking apps. I decided to download Yummly! It is pretty amazing. You list your favorite cuisines, list any allergies or foods you don’t enjoy (I listed Banana Leaves and sticky rice… just not my cup of tea!), and the app will send you a feed of endless recipes. You can also filter the feed based on the type of ingredients you want to use and how you want to cook it. Tonight, I chose Slow Cooking/Crock Pot and Chicken Breasts. The other great thing is that, you can have all of the ingredients sent to a grocery list for easy shopping! I really look forward to dinner, thanks Yummly!

I hope this helps you out with meal planning and enjoying your time in the kitchen! Let me know what you make.

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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 #42: Yoga To The People

Happy Sunday! As some of you might have read recently, I paid off my student loan and I am now 100% debt free (Link: Frugal Idea #41: Countdown – 3,2,1, “I’m debt FREEEEE!”.) It has been surreal and loving it. I am now focusing on my budget towards a down payment, a vacation, savings, a car (I have 187k miles on my current car and I need to save now in order to pay in full and all in cash for the next car), & a laptop (so I can keep blogging!). Everydollar.com has been wonderful. For July, I was under budget! Woo Hoo! (Link: Frugal Idea #40: EveryDollar.com.) 

To maintain a debt free lifestyle, I need to continue living below my means. This includes taking advantage of local and free events/services. A huge inspiration for me this year to clear my mind, maintain a healthy body, and channel focus has been to practice Yoga. It started with a bit of bravery to try out a class for the first time and a few stumbles on the poses.  I instantly fell in love with Yoga.

Taking classes can definitely add up in costs. I was introduced to a donation based class available in San Francisco’s Mission District! The organization is called Yoga To The People and there are locations in New York, Seattle, Berkeley, and of course, San Francisco. You can donate what you can afford and participate in a one hour Yoga class. This is a great service! Does anyone want to attend with me?

Visit Yoga To The People’s website at http://yogatothepeople.com

As mentioned on their site: Yoga is meant to help strengthen and stretch your arms and legs, not cost you one!

Yoga To The People

Frugal Idea #41: Countdown – 3,2,1, “I’m debt FREEEEE!”

Hi All! I have some exciting news to announce. I just made my LAST payment towards my student loan and now I am 100% debt free! My heart was racing as I hit the “submit” button. I was near tears achieving this huge accomplishment. 10 years ago, I graduated college with about $59k in debt. How did I get myself into that mess? I was financially irresponsible, lived off of credit cards, and was eager to please everyone out there. At 24, I graduated college with a $21k student loan, had about $10k in credit card debt (that grew to $20k of course), and purchased a brand new car at about $16k. The shame I had really affected my work, my relationships, and my self esteem. I was secretly angry inside and really wanted to blame anyone except myself. Who would have guessed that walking into a thrift store and picking up a used book titled, “The Courage to be Rich” by Suze Orman would be the start of my personal journey towards financial freedom.

Here are some of the changes I made in my life to pay off this huge debt. Along the journey towards financial freedom, I was still able to vacation, go to nice dinners, and buy gifts for those I care about, but I saved for it instead. It took small baby steps to get to where I wanted to be, but of course, the first step was always the hardest. I write this to inspire others in their own journey to financial freedom. Whatever you want to achieve, you can do it! 

How I paid off $59k!

1) Give yourself a raise. Work hard for the promotion or find a company that  will value you. I decided to study sales and gave myself a raise. I never thought I would work in sales with a commission structure, but I loved and still love being in control of what I can make. There is no cap on earnings. Any successful bonus I earned in sales went towards debt. I also lived below my means. I never banked on the commission. Through hard work, I was able to receive multiple promotions and helped increase salary.

2) I stopped shopping for new clothes (for a while). When I was ready to buy new clothes again, I had a budget and patience. Everything was calculated.

3) I stopped eating out too much. I had a period of time that I only allowed myself to eat out when it was a special occasion – birthdays, etc. I said no to dinners I knew that would have a complicated situation when it came time to pay and the group was too large. For some reason, I always lost money that way. I ordered water!

4) I stopped drinking too much. I would spend $100 a night drinking out. That really had to stop.

5) I started taking the bus and trains more. Once I paid off my car, I really wanted this car to last. I currently am at 187k miles and loving it!

6) I took care of my car. I was on time for oil changes and maintenance.

7) I used coupons

8) Since I loved eating out, I watched Youtube videos on how to cook my favorite dishes and made it at home with less ingredients.

9) I never cut my budget for groceries. I eat and snack a lot, so I need to have food available. I also like eating a variety of items. When I limited my groceries, I found myself being unhappy and eating out any way. Best to buy what you want, when you want it. Yes, buy that nicer cut of steak when you want it. I guarantee it is cheaper to cook at home than to eat out!

10) Downgrade. Example, order a small coffee vs. your medium or large.

11) Say no to activities you really don’t want to do!

12) Write down everything you owe and get angry! Get angry at the credit card companies who have high interest rates. Pay the card with the highest interest rate first!

13) Do side jobs and sell your items. I’ve sold clothes, ran errands, and did taste tests. Anything to earn extra money. I did not spend it. I put it towards debt.

14) Be honest with family. I no longer wanted to buy gifts for adults in the family. Just the kids.

15) Study. I watched YouTube videos, listened to Podcasts, read every article and book I could about personal finance.

16) Manifest. Believe, believe, believe. Surround yourself with like minded people.

17) Avoid high spenders! Never let anyone distract you from your goals!

18) Take control. When I noticed the debt started dwindling, the car was paid off, and my emergency savings started to increase, I took notice of the new offers I obtained with transferring balances or taking out personal loans at 0%. I also became more savvy with investments and even switched to a HSA account. Know where your money is going to.

19) Gratitude. Be thankful for your life and what you own. There are those with less. When you appreciate what you have, you no longer have the need to search elsewhere.

20) Own it. I am frugal and I am proud of it. Being Frugal has taken me to new places in my life and I am forever thankful.

I hope this helps you out! As Dave Ramsey says: “Debt is dumb, cash is king, and the paid off home mortgage has taken the place of the BMW as the status symbol of choice.” Exactly how I feel!

… and for those who are curious about my current goals: To become a millionaire, save for a down payment for a home in San Francisco, and increase my net worth. Happy saving!

With Love and gratitude,

Frugal Nev

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