Frugal Idea #27: Halloween

October 31, 2014 is arriving in less than one week and the spirit of Halloween is in full effect!

My Facebook news feed will soon be flooded with adorable kids in their outfits, adults in their “too racy to look at during work” costumes, and food altered to meet the theme. You know, such as the black widow spidered deviled eggs.

Deviled Eggs with olives cut into spiders

Deviled Eggs with olives cut into spiders

I enjoy Halloween because of the parties, the dressing up, becoming a different person for the night, & the endless choices of horror flicks. In fact, I just watched Rosemary’s Baby for the first time last night and what an excellent movie, Bravo! What I do not enjoy about Halloween is the endless leftover candies that all of my coworkers bring to work and the amount of money you have to spend on costumes.

This year, I made a conscious effort to be frugal with my spending for the Halloween season. Here are some ideas for you:

1. Borrow horror movies from your local library. Did you know that they are free? Stock up early before they are all checked out. I was lucky with Rosemary’s Baby. Our laundry room in the basement of my apartment has a section of donated books and DVDs. A neighbor decided to part with Rosemary’s Baby and the Haunting DVDs. I snatched those up along with my freshly washed underwear real quick.

2. Reuse your old costumes. Chances are, if you wear the same outfit from 2-3 years ago, no one will notice or care.

3. Shop at your local thrift store! I donated some items recently to honor my journey of minimalism. The Goodwill Thrift store on Geary and Hyde has new costumes, new plastic pumpkin carriers, & new packages of Halloween makeup kits. I bolded the word new for a reason. Yes, the Goodwill Thrift store has NEW items!

New items from the Goodwill Thrift Store on Geary in San Francisco.

Halloween Halloween2 Halloween3

4. Become a salesperson. There seems to be pumpkin flavored goodies everywhere. At Trader Joe’s, there is the new pumpkin flavored coffee and of course Starbucks is back with their seasonal Pumpkin flavored drinks. Last year, someone in my personal network made homemade pumpkin pies last year and brought a pie to work for their annual potluck. Someone told her that they were so good that she should sell them. A idea was formed. She ended up selling each pie for $40 and 8 people bought them for the Thanksgiving holiday. So, if you have skills in make up, costume making, or you are an amazing baker, try selling your products or services. Tip: Set up a PayPal account for easy peer to peer payments.

May you stay safe from goblins, monsters, and killers & may your money stay safe from overspending. Happy Halloween! BOO!

About the Blogger:


Neville (Nev) Bendiola grew up in the Mission District of San Francisco, California until the age of 10 before relocating to Sacramento, CA.  Growing up in a low income family, he slept on the floor most of his young life until he got his own twin size bed at the age of 10 – a memory he will always remember. Nev relocated back to San Francisco for college where he continued on in a career in Staffing Sales and Recruiting. Achieving financial success, he spent more than he earned using credit cards along the way. He found himself  carrying debt through the recent recession. Inspired by friends and reading success stories online, Nev moved into a Studio apartment in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district where he minimized his spending and material items. He is currently focused on saving money and sharing the ride with his readers along his journey to financial freedom.


Follow me on Twitter: NEVBB (Frugal Nev)

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Frugal Idea #26: Speak up

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One of my favorite No Doubt songs is “Don’t Speak”. However, I have learned to “Speak Up” to save money.

In November, I will be part of the wedding party for two really great friends. It is always an honor to be asked to be a groomsman and it will be my second time being part of a wedding. It is a given that once you say yes to the honor, you will accrue some inevitable financial responsibilities. There is the infamous bachelor and bachelorette party (had an amazing time in New Orleans, Louisiana!), your costs related to tuxedo rental and dresses, travel accommodations, and of course hotel stay.  I envision a night filled of celebration Jameson or Hennessy shots and as a huge believer in never drinking & driving, I wanted to take advantage of the convenience of the overnight stay. Here are a few ways I have saved and will save for the upcoming celebration:

1. Take advantage of the discounted hotel rooms. The bride and groom will typically send a “Save The Date” memo, an invitation, or a link to their wedding website with hotel accommodation information. They usually will have blocked off a certain amount of rooms at a discounted rate. Do not wait until the last minute! Do not assume that rooms will be available. For example, this wedding will be in wine country with a more limited list of hotel choices, so they have chosen three hotels; two in close proximity and one where the actual reception will be held. The most convenient hotel may get full, so you will then have added costs with travel to and from the other hotels.

2. Plan ahead and increase your budget. I hate to miss a party, so I knew I wanted to participate in the bachelor party. Whatever amount you have budgeted for yourself (food to eat, dinners, drinks, entertainment, etc.), you might want to consider adding 50% of total costs on top of your personal budget. You definitely want to have enough to treat the groom with his dinner, a drink, etc. Typically, you may share some costs with the entire party. You do not want to stress about sharing costs when the time comes.

3. Sharing is caring. Although the rooms are discounted, I wanted to share the space to avoid paying the full cost. I asked close friends who were also attending the wedding if they wanted to share my room and I found three people to do so. Not only are we saving money, but we all are excited to share some time together. Extra cushion in the budget allows for a bottle to share in the room. =)

4. Speak up! Lastly, this is the most important tip. I feel when it comes to finances, many people do not want to speak up in fear of embarrassment or being judged. It is ok to speak out on what you can and can not afford. We all have different financial situations & priorities.  We can not expect everyone to be on equal financial footing. During the planning of the bachelor party, I knew there would be some extensive planning to be done as I did not know anyone in the party except the groom. After back and forth messaging via Facebook on ideas, the budget increased and increased. I had to speak up on my expectations on what I can spend. Surprisingly, it opened up more conversation and finalized in a realistic itinerary. It had worked and I think there was a sense of relief for all.

The wedding will be amazing and I look forward to investing in memories for a lifetime!

Speak Up Blog - Wedding Savings

About the blogger:


Neville (Nev) Bendiola grew up in the Mission District of San Francisco, California until the age of 10 before relocating to Sacramento, CA.  Growing up in a low income family, he slept on the floor most of his young life until he got his own twin size bed at the age of 10 – a memory he will always remember. Nev relocated back to San Francisco for college where he continued on in a career in Staffing Sales and Recruiting. Achieving financial success, he spent more than he earned using credit cards along the way. He found himself  carrying debt through the recent recession. Inspired by friends and reading success stories online, Nev moved into a Studio apartment in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district where he minimized his spending and material items. He is currently focused on saving money and sharing the ride with his readers along his journey to financial freedom.


Frugal Idea #25

Break old habits!

About two years ago, I was having dinner with my friend who just moved to Alameda, CA. Alameda is popular for its cleanliness  & safe environment and a great view of the San Francisco Bay.  My friend insisted we eat at one her new favorite restaurants, Burma Superstar. The Burmese food was amazing. As I chewed on my food and spoke about new updates with my life, I noticed my friend looking into my eyes and shifting towards the top of my head. I felt small beads of sweat develop around my forehead – had she noticed that my hair was thinning out? Can she tell I was balding? I had grown my hair out to avoid the thinning look and it was a daily battle with insecurities. So, I decided to call her out and ask. I suddenly wanted to tell her about the struggles with hair loss I had endured. I told her about my purchase of Rogaine and my obsession with hair loss. I even told her about my visit to the Hair Club for men. I was opening my soul that very night. After words of encouragement, we hugged each other goodnight and I made a final decision to take control of this situation.

Later that night, I channeled Britney Spears.  For those who remember her stint in 2007, she shaved her entire head losing the blonde locks. After one too many glasses of red wine, I stared into the mirror, picked up my electric shaver, and ran the blades in rows until my head was completely bald. I stared at the pile of black hair on my hardwood floor and started laughing (could be the wine). I had done it! I had gain control. I decided to take a picture of the pile of hair and my new look and texted my pictures to all my family and friends. The texts were returned with love responses and words of encouragement. I realized there was more to me than what I physically looked like. I had embraced aging and welcomed the age box of 35-40. I welcomed my mid-30s.

As I embraced my new look, the energy I once wasted on worrying, focused on new positive outlooks. One outlook I had gained passion for was my path to Financial Freedom! As I gained more knowledge of living a frugal lifestyle and also a  lifestyle of minimalism, I noticed some of my actions were old habits I had yet to break free from. For example, when I showered, I still used the same amount of shampoo and conditioner when I had a full set of hair! I had shaved all of my hair off, yet the Head and Shoulders squirt into my palm was way too much for what I needed. I needed to flake on the Head & Shoulders badly.

I wanted to take action and be present in my actions. I needed to break old habits! I know longer wanted to be a robot who followed patterns and routine. Some of the small adjustments you choose to make can go a long way – if you only acknowledge it. I hope these questions can help you save time, save money, and help you be in the now & present.

  • Do you use the right amount of toothpaste? Do you really use all of the product before throwing away the tube?
  • You make a spill in the kitchen. Do you naturally reach for the paper towels when there is a cloth towel not too far away?
  • Do you try on multiple articles of clothing in your closet to gain the perfect look for the day and are too lazy or rushed to re-hang them? You then forget if they are clean or dirty, so you just assume its dirty when it comes to laundry day. You now have a larger load of clothes or dry cleaning to complete.
  • Do you buy bottled water and never take the last sip? Do you do the same with your sodas and bottles of beers?
  • Do you buy food and never eat it because you forgot about it in the fridge? Or because your friends have asked you out to eat every night this week?
  • Do you forget to look in your cabinets and realized you have products past their expiration date?
  • Do you buy new shoes when they just need a cleaning or re-heel?
  • Do you get your articles of clothes pressed when you can simply iron it at home?
  • Do you get sucked in the new television show and skip prepping for next day’s lunch and breakfast? You then overslept because you watched an extra hour of TV and find yourself running out the door with no lunch or breakfast resulting in spending up to $30 for the day?
  • Do you drive until your car is running empty of gas and go to the nearest gas station – regardless if it is more expensive?
  • Do you get your car washed professionally, but did not take time to check the weather forecast for rain?
  • Do you keep your social life so busy, you forget to pay a bill ending up in late fees?
  • Do you not plan for the upcoming weekend and forget to withdraw cash from your local bank or Credit Union? You end up pulling cash from an ATM resulting in bank fees.

Take notice of what you waste and what you do not use. Love who you are and love what you do. Lastly, use what you have and use what you have available.

About the Blogger:


Neville (Nev) Bendiola grew up in the Mission District of San Francisco, California until the age of 10 before relocating to Sacramento, CA.  Growing up in a low-income family, he slept on the floor most of his young life until he got his own twin size bed at the age of 10 – a memory he will always remember. Nev relocated back to San Francisco for college where he continued on in a career in Staffing Sales and Recruiting. Achieving financial success, he spent more than he earned using credit cards along the way. He found himself  carrying debt through the recent recession. Inspired by friends and reading success stories online, Nev moved into a Studio apartment in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district where he minimized his spending and material items. He is currently focused on saving money and sharing the ride with his readers along his journey to financial freedom.


Twitter: NEVBB

Frugal Idea #21

I once waved to the tourists on the double decker bus. 

It never fails to see a big, red double decker tour bus turn left onto Post Street from Van Ness on my way to 24 Hour Fitness on Post & Van Ness. I enjoy seeing their stares at the locals walking below them and at the beautiful historic buildings that I have fallen in love with – they are truly classic San Francisco. I must confess that I have toured San Francisco on that bus at least 8 times. I was lucky, my friend worked for Open Top Sightseeing (now Big Bus Tours), so I was able to get complimentary tickets every now and then. This was perfect for friends and family who were visiting. Looking back, I am truly thankful that my friend provided complimentary tickets when he could. It did come with a price. The price was to write a review on Easy! Done and Done. If the opportunity to receive complimentary tickets never happened, the price point would have hurt quite a bit (pricing found online). 

Now that I have exhausted my touring enthusiasm (there is no way I am riding on that bus any time soon), I searched for affordable touring options. I discovered an amazing (and FREE) option to tour San Franciscowalking tours! You can choose the day & time that works for you and choose the neighborhood of your choice. Since I am trying to lose some weight, the walking was perfect since there is no doubt you will have to overcome one of San Francisco’s 49 hills!  

(See all 49 hills at 

I decided to choose the Castro walking tour first. The tour is hosted by a volunteer and he was very knowledgeable. It was a sunny day and our tour group included folks from Canada, New York, and Germany. I discovered a memorial I had never visited, history on the beautiful Victorian homes, and was educated more on the life of the amazing Harvey Milk.

Business Tip: come prepared with business cards. You never know who might need your services!

The next tour I am planning will be the Pacific Heights Mansions. Two reasons: Pacific Heights is definitely all hills and will be great for the thighs and a great opportunity to recite some affirmations when no one is looking; “I believe I can afford a mansion one day.” Why not?

Visit San Francisco’s Walking Tours page here:

To my readers in New York and Chicago, I just did some searches. Here you go: &

You can easily search walking tours in your city. I just typed in “Walking Tours San Francisco” into Google.  Now step up and put a step on it. Let’s Walk!

Walking can sometimes get you to a location faster than driving!

Walking can sometimes get you to a location faster than driving in San Francisco!



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

C’Mon Black 24
(Picture borrowed from


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.

Frugal Idea #11

Got Pot? A Crock Pot that is. 

It is quite amazing what sun can do for someone. Daylight Savings/Spring Forward has arrived. As I scrolled thru my Facebook News Feed, I couldn’t help but notice the comments and #hashtags on sun & light. A miracle has happened!

“The sun is still out on my way home from work! #Blessed

“I am taking advantage of the sun #SunglassesOn

“The sun feels so good on my skin #FlipFlopsAndTanks

It went on and on. For those with a long commute (raises hand) and only hope that you get home before 6pm (again, raises hand) to see the sun, a Crock Pot is a must have. Living in Uptown Tenderloin, I am surrounded by scrumptious & affordable cheap eats. To my right, we have Little Saigon, where I can have Pho or even better, Bun Rieu. Or how about Lee’s Bun Mees. To my left, I can get a piping hot Indian plate of Saag Paneer & Lamb Curry from Lahore Karahi; and just at the bottom of my stairwell, I am forever tempted by Lil’ May’s Gumbo, Lobster Mac & Cheese, & Ribs served at her infamous and award winning Hyde Away BBQ. I remember when I fist moved here, I was dropping money literally at every corner (for food). Not very FrugalNev is you ask me.

To understand where your money is dispersed, you must pay attention to your spending habits. I was typically exhausted from work and the last thing I wanted to do was pull out a pot & pan to cook. Take out dinners became the norm. I had to change my habits. I became obsessed with the idea of the Crock Pot. I watched YouTube videos, searched recipes, inquired ideas from co-workers, and after I jotted down a few ideas, I purchased my Crock Pot at Target for $29.99. Believe it or not, that was 50% of what I spent in one take out dinner! I guess you can say my eyes were bigger than my stomach.

To master the Crock Pot, I needed to be realistic of what I would eat as leftovers and what veggies I would really want to eat stewed vs. steamed (my preference). Explore and practice. Find out what works for you. So far, my favorite has been buying a whole chicken on sale (I got one for $5 recently). I seasoned it well and turned on the Crock Pot before bed. In the morning as I brewed my homemade coffee, I pulled the chicken out and placed into tupperware. I now had lunch AND dinner ready. I am a dark meat kind of guy, so the white meat (which can be a bit dry) became soup in the next two days.

Of course, as a self-proclaimed Foodie, I still enjoy trying food outside of my home. However, I am focusing on limiting eating out for time with friends, birthdays, and family time. With all of the money saved, you can be rest assured that your meal at Gary Danko or any other Michelin rated restaurant is something you truly can afford …. and enjoy. While you are at it, go ahead and ask for that dessert menu. Who is with me? (raises hand).

Picture: Crock Pot cooking beef stew, potatoes, and carrotsImage

Frugal Idea #10

Over an amazing Thai dinner in the SOMA district of San Francisco, a group of friends caught up. As we paid our bill, it was time to split up.   We embraced each other and said our goodbyes, stopped to take one group picture, and then we walked in groups to each parked car (safety first!). No one walks alone. I happened to be the only one in this group who currently lives in San Francisco and rode the Muni bus. Kindly, everyone offered me a ride. I had my clipper card ready to be used and the bus was coming in 7 minutes. No need to have anyone go the extra mile.

As I walked with two friends to their car, I was telling them that if I did not have to commute to work, I would sell my car. My car has been paid off, but yet I still have expenses:

  • Monthly parking
  • Gas
  • Insurance, tires, oil changes, maintenance, car washes, etc. etc. etc.

I remember someone telling me that they bought a new car and when I heard what the monthly payments were, I had a feeling this person could not afford the car. I remember having monthly payments of $283. I made every payment on time, but what I realize now, is that I never calculated the TRUE value.

The true value of your expenses should always be calculated. Our monthly rent is not the true rent cost. Keep in mind of your PG&E bill, cable, internet – all of the little things that add up to just LIVE there. I now evaluate my true costs to my purchases.

If I had a car payment of $200 per month, I need to change the fact that I can afford $200 to this true amount:

  • Insurance: $60 at 12 months = $720
  • Gas: $50 at 52 weeks (1 year) = $2600
  • Oil Changes: $50 x 4 (Quarters) = $200
  • Car Washes: $20 x 12 (Once a Month) = $240
  • Registration: $250
  • TOTAL:  $4010
  • $4010 divided by 12 months = $334.16 + $200 = $534.16

The true cost of having your car is about $534.16! So, the question should be can I afford $534.16? And not a response of “I can afford a monthly payment of $200.00.”

This can be used in all aspects of your life. List all things related to the house (furnishing, cleaning, light bulbs, etc).  List all annual events you know you have to spend to realize what you really can afford (anniversaries, birthdays, employee recognitions, baby showers, weddings, etc.). I have also realized that I have shorter legs, so the true value of the pants I buy come with the costs of hemming!

Being true to your spending habits can take you a long way. As I waited for the #47 Muni bus to arrive, a car full of 20-something year olds stopped for the red light. They offered me a beer. With a smile, I declined. The bus came and on the bus ride home, I stared out of the window along Harrison and up Folsom. We routed back onto Van Ness and in 10 minutes I was home. Thankful to have my car in the secured parking structure and that a $2 bus ride can get me back so quickly.