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 TripAdvisor.com. 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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hills_in_San_Francisco). 

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: http://www.sfcityguides.org/

To my readers in New York and Chicago, I just did some searches. Here you go: http://walkingtoursmanhattan.com/ & http://www.walkchicagotours.com/

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 #20

Sharing is caring!

Peer to peer ridesharing has exploded in popularity in my opinion. Everyone I know in San Francisco had has taken a Lyft car, Sidecar, Uber car or is actually a driver. Gone were the days of waving down a taxi and giving a tip at the end when you really felt the driver did not deserve one. Now, we can review feedback from our peers on the drivers and hire them directly without exchanging any cash all within our smart phones. Brilliant!

After finishing your ride & submitting payment via mobile, be sure to log into your email to view your receipt. If you scroll down, there is a code you can share to a 1st time rider via social media or direct email. If the 1st time rider uses your code for the discount, you will get a discount on your next ride. 

One of the best times to share your code is during high volume usage of rideshare vehicles. I recently noticed my code was on fire during San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival. The weekend after, I booked several dinner dates and it was a smoother ride knowing that my ride was free. Likewise, you can search Twitter codes for Sidecar, Lyft, Uber to obtain discounts for yourself when you need a ride. Tip: Talk to your driver! I met some amazing folks including two musicians with singles on iTunes, a man who started a Non Profit, someone who does housecleaning on the side, and two candidates I ended up recruiting as potential employees . Hoping to land that referral bonus (cha-ching!).

By the way, here is my shameless plug of my code: NEVILLE2 (hehe).

My Sidecar Code: NEVILLE2. Be sure to follow Frugal Nev on Twitter: NEVBB

My Sidecar Code: NEVILLE2. Be sure to follow Frugal Nev on Twitter: NEVBB

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 http://www.ildado.com/roulette_double_zero_wheel.html)

C’Mon Black 24
(Picture borrowed from http://www.ildado.com/roulette_double_zero_wheel.html)

 

Frugal Idea #17

To stay on point with your finances, try earning the points!

I remember swiping my debit card for a purchase and my friend asked why I preferred to use my debit card instead of my credit card. After all, you can earn points with your credit cards. You can then use your points to earn cash back, pay for trips, or buy gift cards. The only catch: you must pay off your card in full.

I had to admit, I was not in the right situation to swipe the credit cards. I had run a large balance during and after college and I finally had grasped the concept of managing your cash and NOT using credit cards. I wanted to freeze my cards, cancel them, or shred them to bits and pieces with a pair of scissors. While the cards had bought me lots of good memories (on credit), I also had a lot of guilt, remorse, and hatred towards them for the debt and troubles I found myself in.

I started off small. I would use credit cards to only purchase gas. I then paid it in full. No harm there. Working in a role that requires a lot of business development and team bonding: treating a client out to lunch, driving to a business meeting, or buying a co-worker lunch just because you wanted to, I decided to be brave and add work expenses to my list of approved credit card purchases. I noticed my points were adding up nicely.

After some time, the practice became close to perfect, and I now use my credit cards for majority of my purchases – large and small. To stay on top of my spending, I downloaded the credit card apps on my phone for easy access. I check my activity once a day. I make sure that I am always aware of my credit card balance and to make sure I can pay it off within the next month. After some practice and discipline, you will learn your “safe spot”. The safe amount you know you can pay next month in full.

I also created a list of my rewards:
Virgin America
Chase
Citi Bank
United
Southwest
and so on….

I then evaluate who gives the biggest point for purchases. Example: Citi offers more points for restaurants. If I eat out, I will use that card. Also, Citi offers travel points for flights, while Chase does not offer travel points for flights – just hotel & cars. Since I love to travel, I tend to gravitate towards Citi. I also learned that I can earn points for United by eating at certain restaurants (sync your cards to your account!). I then choose restaurants that I know earn me points via credit card AND by visiting. Let’s just say, I love when a friend or client asks me to choose the spot. SURE!

Thanks to the points, I have booked a hotel and will have a discounted flight with my next flight in September. I have also earned gift cards when it was time to buy a new suit for work (and more business lunches).

I really am glad that my friend pointed me in the right direction.

Frugal Idea #13

Have you ever been on the Muni when it is hot, cramped full of passengers, and you are just hoping & praying that someone cracks the window to let some air in? The bus stops & the doors opens and you wonder how anyone else can really fit on this bus. You sway side to side as the bus goes up the hills and makes the turns. You politely say “excuse me” when you have lightly kicked the left shoe of someone fortunate enough to grab a seat 10 stops prior by the Embarcadero. It is one of those unusual sunny Bay Area days and everyone is out and about to cherish the incredible weather. Your forearm cramps as you grip the handlebar above you tighter as the bus speeds on. Finally, a popular stop arrives, and a good amount of passengers depart the bus. You quickly grab a seat and now you have no choice but to stare at someone’s glutes and think how lovely their designer jeans are. You finally notice how dry your mouth is. At last, your stop has arrived, and you are thankful that you are free. As your feet step onto the pavement, you can not help but stare at the bus that drives on full of suffering people. I am parched.

I stop and give a moment of thanks for I had brought my Nalgene water bottle that still possessed melting ice cubes. I pause and have a large sip of cool crisp water. I think of all of those times I was dying of thirst at special events, concerts, sports events, movies, and those amazing Las Vegas trips where you had no choice but to buy bottled water. My eyes would blink twice as I was rung up for my buy and repeat the price to the cashier in disbelief: $4.00? Really?!

I was guilty of buying bottled water all the time. I bought 24 packs of water for the home, for the car’s trunk, for road trips, well, for the hell of it.  I bought gallons of water because that became easier to carry to and from the grocery store. I would buy individual water bottles for friends who visited for 15 minutes and as we hugged farewell, I noticed the half drunken bottle and thought what a waste of water. That eventually switched to the thought of what a waste of money!

If I buy a $1.00 bottle of water a day that would amount to $365.00 a year. I tried to justify this for the fact that I did recycle and would earn some money back. I took control of the situation once I was inspired by friends who offered me water from a Brita water filter pitcher. I remember visiting a friend once on Sutter & Hyde. We talked about our days and she spoke about her dance class as I watched her fill my glass. With a smile explaining her day, she moved the pitcher under the sink faucet to re-fill it with more water. The cost for more water: $0.00. Intrigued, I made my way to Target to buy my own Brita water filter pitcher. The filter will need to be replaced at least twice a year, but the cost savings (and time & waste savings) is undeniable. Along with my Naglene water bottle, I have saved money and improved my health by drinking much more water throughout the day. Granted, I also use the bathroom so much more, but I take that as a good thing. Heading there now after this last sip (Pic included).

https://www.brita.com/products/water-pitchers/

 

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