Photo Credit: maxxcarrental via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: maxxcarrental via Compfight cc

 

With all this talk about saving money I think a lot of us now have conditioned reflexes to really veer toward lower dollar signs! I know when I’m shopping I do tend to do that now and I have to take a step back and tell myself to think objectively and not just grab the cheapest item. This happens with a variety of things and a lot of times I end up buying something that’s higher quality even if it’s not the lowest price. I want things I own to last longer and not break within a few months. Still, my eyes have a tendency to light up when I hear something that sounds like a good deal, but in reality isn’t.

With family incoming in a couple of months my husband and I have started planning a little bit in terms of what supplies we have/don’t have and also anything we need to consider. It’ll be 7 people total including us and the last time this happened we decided to rent a mini-van to save time and hassle. A couple hundred dollars we didn’t love spending but it worked out well since then we didn’t need two cars driving at all times. Also not a fun thing in LA!

It was time to look into renting another mini-van for the week family would be here. Yep…the dreaded mini-van.

“I’ve always wanted to drive a mini-van!” Said no one ever. It’s clunky, not stylish, bulky, and the only reason you would ever get it is if you needed something to haul around a lot of people. The style of a mini-van hasn’t changed in decades with good reason. No one’s dream car would ever be a mini-van. Yet, we really could use one for just one week. Driving two cars for hour long trips really isn’t fun and there’s the question of whether or not our cars could even fit everyone plus kid car seats. The gas used on both cars too would probably amount to the same as one mini-van. Not to mention that it would be much more stressful to drive two cars than one.

A quick check and mini-vans currently are running about $30 a day. And…..full-size vans are at $22 a day! Whoa that’s like dirt-cheap considering how much more you get! Isn’t America all about getting more for your money? For $8 less a day I could get two times more metal and capacity! What a deal!

But wait…is it?

Nope, not at all.

  1. If no one ever wants to drive a mini-van then who the heck would want to drive a full-size van????
  2. The parking spots in LA are the size of compact spots elsewhere in the country. Parking would be a nightmare anywhere we went and we’d have crying kids and grumpy people in the car.
  3. The street lanes in LA are pretty thin and even in my Corolla I wish I had more space…what if we ended up side-swiping another car?
  4. I can’t imagine how much gas a full-size van would consume.
  5. I don’t want to park this thing in front of my house.

 

I don’t even want a full-size van at all! It’s just like buying something at the store that you weren’t looking for but was on sale that you couldn’t pass up, then realize that it wasn’t a deal at all because you don’t even want it. In this case I realized before I have a full-size van lounging outside my house. Other times, might not have been so lucky with impulse purchases.

What’s something you bought for a good deal then realized it wasn’t at all?


Photo Credit: Anna Bieniek via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Anna Bieniek via Compfight cc

 

Alright, I have a confession! I’ve been spending money like crazy the past few weeks!!!! I’ve fallen off the frugal wagon and gone for a long run and money has been flying out of my purse like no other!!! It all started with wanting to get great gifts for people on my list, then of course there were all these great deals that started popping up that I could get for myself. Sadly, it’s easy to break habits once you start! And thus…I’ll have to buckle back down and get back in the habit of not spending so much on material goods. All the same though, I don’t feel that guilty about buying more than I usually do since it’s mostly gifts, and the stuff I’ve bought for myself actually isn’t very pricey when I add it all up. Kinda funny how being frugal changes my perspective on things.

Gift-wise the good thing is that I’m almost done with getting gifts for all my family and friends. I have a pretty long extensive list so I’ve actually started months ago. Yeap I know. Extensive crazy planning so I don’t stress out over all this trying to do it all in one month. It’s a lot of money spent but every single one of these people are important to us! We buy as smartly as possible with the most thoughtful gift for each person. It’s something I do really enjoy and I don’t ever regret it since we save mula throughout the year for this.

Now back to me spending way too much according to my frugal standards. These are the brand spanking new items sitting round my home now…
$60 new microwave
$25 drip coffee device (not a machine!)
$20 new medium size pot (we only has small and large before)
$30 handvac
$125 bike rack

Total is $260 spent on items I normally wouldn’t have bothered with. It’s really really hard not getting sucked into all the sales going on right now…and obviously I have been sucked in! Haha some of those items we’ve been meaning to buy and saw the sale and went for it. Others ones we could’ve passed but oh well. I honestly don’t regret it much since we are frugal for basically the entire rest of the year. As long as we don’t continue this spending trend!

And so…I’ve just spend a lot of mula on myself, others, and it’s time to get back to being frugal!

How have you been doing on spending this holiday season? Have you been shopping a lot?


Photo Credit: SquireHaggard via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: SquireHaggard via Compfight cc

 

It’s official!!!! This week will be Thanksgiving and officially the craziness of the holidays start! The stores have been prepared for Thanksgiving and Christmas for weeks already. Cue the Christmas music that will play endlessly and forever stuck in my head through the beginning of next year. And of course there will be all the crazy sales and people trying to get the newest products. Another holiday season, another few month of trying to stay sane and remember the real meaning behind the holidays.

Each year that passes by it seems like the holidays get crazier and crazier. The stores begin crazy sales in October it feels like and there’s a lot of potential stress with trying to find the perfect gifts and hold the perfect holiday celebration. It’s always a good thing to remind myself about why the holidays are here and what they are really about.

Keeping it real
This is the one thing I need to tell myself over and over during this time of year. It’s too easy to go overboard and get really stressed out when really it’s time to celebrate with family and friends. It’s so easy to lose track of that in this materialistic time, but doing so will keep me grounded and hopefully as stress-free as possible. Oh and more mula in my wallet I hope.

Gifting
I have a pretty long gift list and honestly it can be pretty stressful and money can fly out the window quickly if I’m not careful enough. I actually started shopping a long time ago to give myself a ton more time to buy people gifts that are actually useful and hopefully things they do want (and on sale or on clearance too!). One thing I started last year that I’m continuing now is to give charitable donations instead of physical gifts. Or a small gift paired with a charitable donation. It’s the thought that counts right? I have a lot of fun buying gifts though so I don’t want to stop entirely. Giving myself plenty of time though ensures I do it smartly, with less stress, and can budget my mula correctly.

Everything does not have to be perfect
Being a perfectionist is the one thing I’ve been fighting a lot. In the end if it’s not perfect it doesn’t mean I’ve failed. It just is. I don’t need to have a live Christmas tree that’s 6 feet tall to decorate the house. Some stuff across the fireplace is just fine too. Every gift I buy doesn’t have to be amazing either. Only for my sister. Hehe.

Avoiding the crazy shopping days
Admittedly…I am one who loves to go Black Friday shopping. I don’t wait in line on Thanksgiving night or anything, or go to the big box stores. I would go to the outlet malls and shop all day. The bargain hunter in me loved the great deals I could get on kitchenware and clothing. This year I’m going to avoid doing that at all! I really have everything I want and my gift list is already pretty complete. I’ll just relax this year and avoid the temptation of another set of Pyrex. The one thing I might do is small business Saturday just to support the local businesses. That should be a lot more chill than Black Friday!

 

It’s the holidays!!!!!!! I’m going to spend time with family and friends and just enjoy the moment as much as I can.

What’s your game plan this holiday season to enjoy it and not spend all your mula?


Photo Credit: GotCredit via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: GotCredit via Compfight cc

 

It’s crazy looking at the calendar and seeing November across the top of the month. Where the heck did my entire year go? Stores are already geared up for Christmas and I’m already hearing about black Friday sales. A lot has already happened this year and I’m pretty ready for it to wind down. It’s certainly a good time to remember what goals I had for this year and see if I’ve been able to reach them or what I can do to reach them.

And……….I just maxed out my 401k for the first time ever!!!!!!! This was my major goals for this year and I did it with time to spare. It’s such an amazing feeling to know I was able to do this! Of course I’ve always wanted to but never even got close until now. Things like high cost of living and a smaller salary unfortunately got in the way. It’s been one of my goals since I started learning more about personal finance and I finally got there!!!!!

Better yet…my husband is on track to do the same this year too!!!!! He didn’t start his 401k plan until midway through the year but we’ve ramped up his contributions and it’ll get there before 2016. That would be his first time maxing out too!

With that said and done…I think I can go celebrate and be lazy for the rest of the year. But oh wait…it’s holidays time and it’s when money gets sucked out of my purse like no other. I guess I still have some work to do before 2016.

YTD goals completed

  • Continue to raise our net worth
  • Contribute continuously to investments (even if stock market keeps swinging)
  • Do a full kitchen renovation
  • Pay extra on mortgage ever single month (automatic so we don’t even notice)
  • Max out my 401k

 

I’m feeling pretty accomplished!!!! After years of practicing frugality and adding on different methods to save and automate mula, it’s all paying off and it’s so easy!!!! It amazes me too since so much has happened this year that definitely we spent more mula on than normal. We had a lovely trip to the grand canyon earlier this year. Four weddings total this year with 2 being out of town weddings where I was in the bridal party. It’s a sure way to spend money when you are in a bridal party. I just found out that my best friend and her husband will be coming to LA to spend Christmas with us!!!

Now I need to figure out how first of all not overspend during the holidays, and secondly splurge a bit when my friend is here but at the same time not go full on crazy! I’ve already started Christmas shopping months ago and have bought gifts that were on sale/clearance that I thought would be good for people. That definitely gives me more time to shop around and get good deals instead of mad rushing last minute! Now as for the holiday festivities, I’ll have to figure out a good mix of frugal/fancy things to do. I have to admit that my mind already did jump to getting a 6 foot live tree….but then shut it down after realizing how wasteful that is (money and earth wise). Perhaps a small potted plant?

Either way my work isn’t done yet for this year! Some big accomplishments already but always more I can do!

 

How has your year been going and have you accomplished any goals you’ve set for yourself already?

 


Photo Credit: jacobsas via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: jacobsas via Compfight cc

 

Well it’s October and Halloween is just in another short two weeks!!!! I already see lawns being decorated like crazy with all sorts of monsters, ghouls, witches, inflatable cats and all other random stuff. It’s time for to think of what I want to be for Halloween and if I want to give out candy to the hordes of children that will overrun my neighborhood. It’s hard being frugal when it comes to the holidays!

Halloween is the start of the holiday season which means my wallet will be pulled into a million different places starting now! With every single holiday comes a set of money sucking decisions to be made. Decorations made specifically for each holiday alone and all the festivities that come along with it! Usually I end up making a lot of decorations by hand to save some mula and cutting down on those “must have items.”

Handmade everything!
For Halloween costumes I definitely cannot justify buying a pre-made crappy costume that I will only wear once. I usually end up throwing something together out of items I already have available or with minimal cost from a craft store. Luckily I do have a lot of materials lying round from other projects that I usually can scrap something together out of felt. It’s also kind of fun scrapping something together and seeing if it works or not. Last year I was a gnome and made a hilarious tall cone hat and beard made out of felt. Pretty funny. Cost was nothing since I already had materials on hand! Fun!

Use what you already have or make sure you can use it again
If I can’t make it I usually try to re-purpose something I have around. For a gnome outfit I used my husband’s bright blue collar button down shirt with a belt across the middle. This year I had to buy some socks to complete my outfit unfortunately but at least it’s something I will wear again.

Candy for the kids
Last year was my first time ever handing out candy in my home! I had no idea what I was in for. I bought a Costco sized bag (150 pieces) of good brand name candy and thought I would be set for the night. An hour and a half later I was out! I had to turn off my porch lights and hide in my house so that kids wouldn’t come trick or treating. For the next two hours after that every time I looked out the window it looked like a Halloween movie set with kids covering the sidewalk. Most of these kids aren’t from the neighborhood but since it’s a safe area they get dropped off by the truckload. This year I’ll try two big bags of candy to see how that goes and then shut off my lights. I could get cheaper stuff but when I was a kid this was the stuff I was excited to get. Well, in truth I was excited to get full size candy bars but I’m not willing to shell out money for that!

Decorations
I’m skipping out on these for sure. As much as I would like to I figure I’m already buying a ton of candy to give out. Kids will come up to my door no matter what anyway. Plus I’m honestly not so into Halloween that I need to have tons of decorations to celebrate! Perhaps if anything I’ll take a look at the sales after Halloween to see what there is. Most of it is pretty cheesy though so I doubt I’ll get anything.

 

Another Halloween another year of dressing up and getting bomboarded by a bunch of kids. Fun! Haha and thank goodness it’s once a year.

How are you keeping Halloween low cost this year?