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 #46: Moving on Forward

Happy New Year! Confession. I lost my passion to write lately. It is January 1, 2016 and I am back on. Three situations has happened that inspired me to write again:

  1. A friend of mine bought his new car in cash
  2. My cousin who is still in High School told me she reads my blog
  3. Someone reminded me that my blog helps them stay focused

How can I stop? For those who I inspired this past year, I am continuing to write for you.

Let’s catch up…

As you may have read, I paid off my student loan mid 2015 and I have been able to aggressively save money. It feels quite amazing to start this year without any interest rates to pay. I also have been able to save over a year of rent! It is quite powerful to know that if I happen to lose a source of income, I have some time to change the situation.

My car is going through some maintenance issues, so I have mentally prepared myself to start searching for a new car. My goal is to pay the car in full and still have at least three months of emergency funds in the bank. I will then aggressively build back up. Since I increased my retirement contributions to 15%, I am excited to see my nest egg grow.

For 2016, I want to keep my life simple. I still value time over money, so I am still finding ways to eliminate “stuff”, relationships, and/or events, that add no value to my life. I did goal myself to increase my net worth by 20% by the end of the year which will help my personal goal of finally having a down payment.

Unfortunately, I did not meet my fitness goals in 2015, but I checked out Crunch Fitness today! Now that my finances are in much better shape, it is time to make sure my mind and body are fit as well.

I hope you join my 2016 journey with me! I will be more committed to writing more. I hope I add more value to your lives so that your net worth increases and you are financially fit. Cheers and let us move forward!

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Frugal Idea #37: Freedom!

This blog is dedicated to freedom from credit card debt! Life has changed so much since the burden of debt that weighed me down for years and finally left my life. As most of you know, on Sundays, I enjoy catching up on guilt free TV. Prior to the TV binge, I try to catch up on house chores. To stay focused on financial goals, I run searches of YouTube videos related to wealth, minimalism, or frugal living. I plug my laptop to my speakers and instead of music, I am surrounded by sounds of advice to manifest my life into financial freedom.

Here is a video I ran into today How To Get Out Of Credit Card Debt” by Love Raw Vegan. What stood out to me most was when she mentioned the guilt and insecurities. It is so true. You do have a sense of shame when you owe so much money and losing even more money when you consider the interest you owe each month. Once you gain control of your finances, your confidence will go through the roof! I hope her tips help you towards your goals. My current goals: attacking the student loan and saving for a down payment! What are your goals?