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 #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 #45: Minimal & Frugal Souvenirs

When I started my journey towards minimalism and a life of frugal living, I wanted to remove all items in my apartment that were officially categorized as “clutter”. Clutter to me meant items that took space in my life, but currently did not add value today nor did it add value in the past year. De-Cluttering the apartment was a fun project and when someone visited and stated, “Wow, you are a minimalist”, I couldn’t help but smile. It was working!

As I opened every drawer and every cabinet to determine what had to go, I stumbled across a challenge: gifts from others. For example, I kept every shot glass someone has given me. I probably had over 25 shot glasses. Now that I live in a small studio space in San Francisco, I can’t even imagine throwing a party that required 25 people to take a shot at the same time. It was time to let go of a few. I started with my own purchases when I traveled. I had the memories of the vacation and I no longer gave the shot glass the power over my memorable adventures. I then said farewell to shot glasses that were faded and/or chipped. I then accidently broke one (annoying, but a blessing)! I decided to keep the rest and wanted to make sure I made use of the them whenever I had friends over.

I used to put so much pressure on myself to buy the perfect gifts when I went on vacation. I felt guilty if I bought a gift for one person, but not another.  It got to the point that I was buying group gifts just so that everyone was included. I then realized that although my gesture was well received, I was guilty of potentially adding clutter to someone else’s life! My thoughts were confirmed as my Uncle from The Philippines bought me items of clothes that were too small, not to my liking, and items that I had no use for. I decided that moving forward, I needed to buy items that were not only going to be thoughtful, but would add value, not clutter to someone’s life. Since the item would be used, I no longer felt my money was wasted.

Recently, I went to Charlotte for FinCon15 where I had a life changing experience meeting fellow personal finance bloggers and the clarifying moment that I do want to take this blog and my writing to the next level. Visit my thank you Vlog:

I did have a few folks help me out as I was away such as an apartment and cat sitter. Knowing that he enjoyed food and BBQ, I thought why not purchase items that he would enjoy? I was on the hunt for North Carolina BBQ and Hot Sauces! Luckily, I was able to find them! Not only were the items affordable, but I love supporting local businesses. Once he is done using the items, it’s a simple toss of the product and I hope he is left with a loving memory of delicious food.

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What frugal ideas do you have for souvenirs?

I would love your support!

Frugal Idea #32: I Choose Size Small

To my delight, I checked my email to receive an offer from Urban Compass to write about living in small spaces. I qualified! I do, in fact, currently live in a small space in the beautiful city of San Francisco.

Prior to this decision to choose size small, I was renting a one bedroom apartment with multiple closets, a reserved garage space for my car, and enough room to have at one point up to 8 people sleep over (picture couches taken and multiple sleeping bags all over the hardwood floors). Although this apartment provided many fond memories, I knew the city of San Bruno was not home. In my heart, I have always wanted to live in San Francisco. I wanted the hustle and bustle, good eats, the urban lifestyle, and a diverse population where you feel safe to know that you can be whoever you want (well, almost).

My co-workers and family thought I was crazy! Why would I leave to have a further commute, an increase in rent, and have no available garage space in my unit? I knew I would regret it if I never tried to live in San Francisco. So, I did it. However, the move did not come without calculated decisions.

Location

After searching for months, I decided to rent a studio in Uptown Tenderloin. The tenderloin has had,a bad reputation for a long me. Thanks to the move of many high tech companies into the area (like Twitter), the area is slowly but surely changing. I had tried to convince myself that this area was merging right into Lower Nob Hill, but after three years, I now am proud to say I live in the Tenderloin. I find this area exciting, intriguing, and care about it enough to read about the community and want a I heart TL shirt. The rent in San Francisco is ridiculous. Check out the median price for rent here: SF Median Rent by Curbed. Ridiculous, right? When I saw prices for 1 bedrooms in the range of $2500-$4000, I gulped. Luckily, I decided to downsize to a studio and give up the ideas of luxurious stairwells, a brand new loft with exposed pipings, or brick walls. Instead, I had scored a gorgeous studio on the 4th floor with hardwood floors, high ceilings, views of buildings stretching towards the sky, and friendly neighbors. Three years later, I am extremely thankful to know that this space is rent controlled.

Furniture & Space

When I was packing up the old one bedroom apartment in San Bruno, I was disgusted with myself. I had so many items stored deep in closets and in the downstairs storage unit that I had never used my 6 years there. Why did I hang on to so many useless items? I ended up donating many items or just simply tossing them away. Since my space was small, I knew I had to be very thoughtful of what came into the studio. I started conducting research via YouTube videos and online websites on how to utilize small spaces.  I knew the pieces of furniture had to have multiple purposes if possible and the layout had to work. Since my bed would be exposed, I invested in beddings and pillows I liked to bring the space together.

Check out the pictures below with explanations. I hope this helps you choose size small or at the minimum make the most of what you DO have.

Urban Compass Outside

View from my kitchen!

Urban Compass Outside 2

View from my Living Room!

Urban Compass Kitchen

View of my Kitchen Nook. I decided to get a square table with 4 seats. You can enjoy a meal with a view of the streets below. The picture hanging is from the Pistahan Festival, an annual event in San Francisco honoring Filipino culture. I bought it on sale at Brother’s Furniture in South San Francisco. They also offered free delivery!

Urban Compass Couch

I knew I would not restrict having guests over, so I wanted a couch that turns into a bed. This couch is light in weight to move around and easy to change it’s role into a bed. Two in one! Tip: Shop around. I was able to find this at a clearance/liquidaton sale for $180! I also talked them into free delivery. 

Urban Compass

I knew an Ottoman with storage space made more sense than a coffee table! I store items in here that need to be easily accessible. The corner unit is actually a pull out desk with storage! Tip: Find botique shops, they may have sales on items that are not selling. They will want room for new items. 

View from the entrance, you can see my bed and the couch.

View from the entrance, you can see my bed and the couch. The windows were a selling point. So much light. You can see downtown San Francisco from there. The pillows on the couch match my bed to bring the space together. I doubted the neighborhood, but from the view up here, it is not too bad.

Urban Compass Kitchen View

View from the kitchen nook to the sleeping space. The back hanging design is actually a room divider. It ended up not working for me, so I decided to hang it instead. If you look closely, you can see Mila (the cat under bed).

Urban Compass Closet

Closet space was important. I decided to put low dressers underneath the hanging items to save space and become highly organized.

Urban Compass bathroom

The bathroom is super small. So small, I could not fit it into the camera! The colors are yellow and black. I did not like it and was almost a deal breaker, but I discovered splashes of grey fits well. Framed art is from Thailand! Tip: Frame memoribilia yourself to make art pieces for a lot less.

Urban Compass Bed

I put the bed in the corner and purposely blocked the closet (there are two entrances). The bedding makes me feel calm and I wanted to make sure I enjoyed walking in to see the bed daily.

Will you choose size small?