Photo Credit: I Believe I Can Fry via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: I Believe I Can Fry via Compfight cc

Just another day in LA with accidents backing up traffic on the highway in the morning and even in the evening! Usually traffic is already pretty bad but whenever there is an accident it gets even worse. Somehow one accident also sets off more in a chain reaction as rubbernecks slow down to see what happened and instead cause another crash. Traffic is pretty common in LA and so are accidents. I always have a back-up plan just in case it’s one of those days when I don’t need to get home right away and can do something else to wait it out. Definitely helps with my stress level and blood pressure!

That back-up plan? Of course since it’s me it involves food most of the time! Sometimes if I have errands to run I figure I might as well but for the most part I decide that i might as well enjoy a good meal. This worked out really well tonight as my husband took me to a Mexican place to try it out. We saw a line out the door and didn’t know why. When we got closer we saw the big sign advertising the Tuesday special of $5 for a burrito, quesadilla, salad, or a taco plate. Score! We would’ve paid the normal price and been happy but finding an unexpected deal was even better.

Weeknight dining means nightly specials
It’s always the weekdays and nights that have the best deals on food! During lunch there are always specials that are usually under ten dollars or so. During the weeknights there are also usually great dining deals. A common one around here is taco night where you can nab a taco between $1-$2. Whole Foods has specials also every weeknight. One night they offer any pizza for $10, another night it’s $2 off their hot/cold bar.

Not as many go out to eat on weeknights and restaurants have to find some way to lure people in. Some specials aren’t so great of course but tonight dinner for my husband and I was only $10.90! It would’ve been $18 without the Tuesday night special. It’s also a great pick me up to occasionally go out to eat on a weeknight after a long day at work. Otherwise I can be inclined to sink into my couch and turn into a lump.

Online or call ahead ordering
Great specials mean that it can be pretty crowded and busy. It took us a long time to finally get to the front of the line to order. Many restaurants have online ordering or call ahead pickup that can cut down on your wait time. Next time we might try that before we leave. The guys behind us actually did try calling to beat the line but I think they ended up waiting just as long. We saw them exit after we were seated and munching away.

Don’t get so excited you leave your purse (murse) behind
It can be a great special but don’t leave your stuff behind! We saw that someone had left their purse on a seat. I can only assume that they were so excited to only pay $5 for a great meal that they then ran off afterwards forgetting all their important worldly possessions. We left it with one of the cashiers so hopefully she/he gets it back!

 

The hardest part about having a frugal lifestyle is cutting out dining out as much as I did before. I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point of dining out once a month like super frugal people. Well until I have kids that is. I hear that you’re forced to when that happens! I’ve cut out a lot of fancy dining options and have definitely tried to cut back to a few times a week only. For someone like me who loves food so much it’s a pretty big deal.

Do you have a favorite restaurant you go to that has a great weeknight deal?


 Photo Credit: guillermogg via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: guillermogg via Compfight cc

When is the last time you actually paid attention to the tag sewn to the inside of a shirt? Usually when I go shopping the tag I look at is the price tag to see if it’s affordable or not. It’s not until recently that I started being more aware of what materials go into making all our clothes.

Most of the clothing sold in the USA is made of synthetic fabrics like polyester and rayon. Stuff that is cheap to produce and thus means a cheaper price tag. It confirms to the American demand for cheap and plentiful products. Those materials aren’t great for you though and can be smelly and pretty hot on a warm day. Even though those clothes might be cheap initially they also don’t last very long. I’ve been being more careful to always check the type of fabric before I buy anything. 100% cotton is much harder to find that I thought! Organic and recycled fabrics are even harder to find.

Pricier but lasts longer
This isn’t always the case but overall I’ve found that brands with higher price points tend to have better quality items. The upfront cost will be more but then the clothes will last much longer. I used to shop at places like Forever 21 where everything inevitable gets a hole or a few holes in it. Everything is pretty inexpensive there but they don’t bother making the clothes well because they figure most people change their wardrobes every season.

Better for my health
I have sensitive skin and a lot of things can set off some irritations. Breathable fabrics like cotton are much better and feel more comfortable. It doesn’t stick to me as much and as I wear it gets softer over time.

Earth-friendly
Synthetic fabrics are made using petroleum and chemical processes. Organic cotton and alternatives like bamboo and hemp uses process with less chemicals and no bleaching. It’s definitely more expensive to buy but if it’s better for the environment I’m for it!

 

Slowly my wardrobe is turning over from cheap synthetic fabrics to ones that will last much longer. A lot of my tees and tanks actually have holes in it but I’m trying to be frugal and use it til it falls off. Haha the life of someone trying to save money!

Do you ever look at the tags when shopping for clothing?


vanillaextractSometimes it’s pretty fun trying to make your own ingredients. My sister made a big batch of homemade vanilla extract and used it for Christmas gifts! Pretty smart and saved a ton of money. She saved some of the leftover beans she had and gave them to me to try it out myself. The beans were pretty dried out but I decided to try making it anyway. It’s pretty simple and fun and I’m hoping it will turn out even though the beans are a bit old.

Costs involved
Vodka – $5.99
Vanilla Beans – FREE! Though I would’ve spent about $6.30 for the amount I used.

Potential Uses
Not only would I have a lifetime of vanilla extract but I can also use this for gifting too. All I need to do is buy some small bottles and then gift it away. Hehe, not an original idea of course because my sister did do it before me. Doesn’t mean I can’t do the same thing too! With homemade vanilla extract I can also keep adding more vodka as I use it up. The extract intensifies for 6 months until I’m supposed to strain out the beans.

Here’s the recipe so you can try it yourself.

Vanilla Extract

Ingredients
-1/4 lb of beans for every quart of vodka you have
-vodka
-clean bottle with cap, green or brown work best if you have it to block light

Instructions
1. Chop beans into 1/2 inch pieces.
2. Place vodka and beans into bottle.
3. Keep bottle in a cool dark place.
4. Shake bottle daily for one month. May use at this point but leaving the beans in longer will allow it to intensify.
5. After 6 months strain out the beans.

If this ends up working then I’ll have 24oz of vanilla extract. Guaranteed without any preservatives and additives. If it doesn’t then I’ll have some vanilla flavored vodka. It’ll be fun to see what happens!


Photo Credit: ecstaticist via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: ecstaticist via Compfight cc

It’s the middle of September and I can’t believe how fast the year has gone by. Months ago we my husband and I booked our honeymoon and now it’s almost here! We’re extremely excited to take some time off from our busy life every since we got engaged. It’ll be our last chance to really take a nice long vacation out of the country as we’re probably going to switch tracks soon and start prepping for a family. Our last hoorah before we get entirely tied down! We really wanted to do something nice, but of course try not to spend too much money on it since we have other goals we want to hit. We’ll be going on a lovely 9 day cruise to the Greek Isles, Turkey, ending out trip with a few days in Rome.

All inclusive

If you have never been on a cruise before then you really need to try it! Cruises are all inclusive which means that you don’t need to pay for any of your meals on board. There is usually one or two fancy restaurants that are extra, but all food buffet style and in the dining room are inclusive. It’s basically a big hotel that also feeds you day and night. There are a ton of extras you can definitely shell out for, but all the basics of a vacation are in the price already. There are tons of free activities you can do and of course sunbathing on the deck is absolutely free!

Getting a nicer room but with a lower end cruise company

The only other cruise we have been on was a Carnival cruise. It’s the lowest priced cruise company but we still had a good time on it. Other people told us that for our honeymoon we should definitely try a nicer cruise company like Princess. We went with Royal Caribbean so that we could book a nicer room that is still lower than the price of Princess. We also heard that it was mostly older people cruising on Princess. Royal Caribbean usually attracts more people of our age.

Giving ourselves a budget

We’re going to try to set ourselves a budget for every single day and try not to go over it. We’ll most likely be more lax than usual though because it’s not easy to get to Europe. Don’t want to be so frugal that I end up not getting something I really want! Still we’re going to try to stick to that budget!

Researching and planning out some days

There are some ports where we can simply walk around and others where we would need to join a tour or rent a taxi to get somewhere further inland. The cruise does offer tours but they can be pretty pricey. We might end up doing just one though if it happens to be one we really really want to go to. Most people will say that I would be wasting my money by doing so, but I do have on-board credit that I most likely won’t use for other items. Plus if it makes it much easier for one day to get to where I want to be then I’m not going to miss that $100.

 

Only a few more weeks to go until I set off on my cruise! Pretty darn excited!

What tips do you have for saving money on a cruise?

 


Photo Credit: fiftynightshades via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: fiftynightshades via Compfight cc

After a long Saturday spent doing some proper painting of the bathroom to a light gray, my husband and I were pretty relieved to be finished. It was a three day weekend but we had essentially planned on the worst case scenario and not planned anything for the entire weekend in case things went wrong with painting. We even primed and did two coats of paint and were able to finish it all in less than a day. With the exception of a big splotch of paint in my hair from trying to get the area behind the toilet we were pretty fine. Along came Sunday and we realized we still had Monday off.

The conversation pretty much went along the lines of something like this:

Husband: It’s labor day tomorrow.
Me: Yay and we both have tomorrow off.
Husband: We should do something.
Me: Yes we should.
Both: Invite some people over and bbq?

After this we made a few calls to some friends to see if anyone didn’t have plans for the next day. Lo and behold some people didn’t! Then we realized that we needed to get a ton of food and it had to be somewhat easy and ready to cook already. A trip to a crazy packed Costco was the solution to our problems. We went through and tried to find the easiest items possible for a last minute dinner. Certainly not what we would usually do, and we definitely paid more money to get some pre-made items!

Saving mula by cooking from scratch
Whenever we throw a party, no matter how small or large it is, we generally like to plan two weeks ahead of time to make sure people have enough notice and to be able to make a lot of the food ourselves. We both like to cook and we’re pretty decent at it so it’s a fun time to flex our muscles to see what we can come up with. This usually involves marinating items a day before at least, homemade baked goods, and of course freshly made dishes. Making a ton of food from scratch saves us a ton of money and then we don’t feel like we’ve just thrown a bunch of money away. Pre-made items tend to cost more because it’s been prepped and/or cooked already. It also allows us to have more parties without feeling too guilty. Most of our friends also like to contribute and bring a dish or two. We do end up doing the majority of food but it helps.

Not being able to control the quality and taste
We ended up grabbing some pre-marinated pork ribs and a veggie tray from Costco to minimize how much work we had to do. Price-wise it wasn’t really too bad at all but we weren’t sure how the ribs were going to taste. Luckily it ended up being pretty good and we were pretty happy. Other pre-marinated ribs we’ve tried have ended up having a store bought generic taste that we don’t want to eat and wouldn’t want to serve to guests.

With our habits we ended up still not spending a ton of money, but I’m sure we could have planned it better if we had planned ahead! We also could have saved ourselves some headache by not having to go to Costco at one of it’s busiest times. It was a pretty good labor day for us and the “bbq” went off without a hitch. We didn’t end up bbq’ing anything at all and just used the oven to slow cook the ribs til they fell off the bone.

How was your labor day weekend?