Photo Credit: mwaseema via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: mwaseema via Compfight cc

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks then I know you’ve seen or have been challenged to do the ice bucket challenge. It’s a pretty genius idea that capitalizes on being able to make people do a stupid stunt they never would do so normally by daring them. I certainly wouldn’t like pouring a bucket of ice water over my head! Not something I’m going to look forward to! Nor anyone else of course. Since it’s a challenge though there’s a matter of pride attached to it. It goes back to truth or dare when the dares were always more fun and no one would wanna back out. Facebook has been covered with videos of people doing this and a lot of failed videos have really been circulating around. It’s great entertainment for a lazy night.

The ALS organization has also successfully raised about $80 million through this! It’s pretty amazing how many people have done this and have donated their money. Hopefully it will help fund research to cure ALS. There are arguments against this campaign that it doesn’t help spread knowledge about ALS, but the donations are pouring in. Many of these will be one-time donations but hopefully some people will get to understand more and actually become more frequent donors.

It was inevitable that I would get challenged eventually and of course I was by who other than my sister. Then I had my own little problem because essentially I would be wasting water while California is in a severe drought! No matter what I intended to donate anyway but one of my goals is to be as earth-friendly as possible. What’s a bucket of water going to do to help the drought? Well that’s one less bucket of water wasted! I’ve been cutting back my water usage as much as possible so just throwing away a bucket’s worth really doesn’t seem right to me. In the end I decided not to and made sure to donate to the ALS foundation. The campaign certainly did work and got me to donate a bit!

Have you been challenged to dump a bucket of ice water over your head yet?


Photo Credit: The JD Collection via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: The JD Collection via Compfight cc

For those of you who haven’t heard about In-n-out it’s a fast food burger joint mainly in California. It started with one place and now has ballooned to be all over California and in other states also. It’s a must have here and visitors who come request it! If you know what Shake Shack in NY is then this is the exact equivalent with one big difference, price! In-n-out prides itself on using fresh quality ingredients and on keeping the price point low. I know that it’s been said time and time again but in this case it’s absolutely true!

I have to admit that I’m a bit spoiled to be living in California with so many In-n-outs for me to choose from. I don’t usually eat fast food because it’s unhealthy but I make an exception for In-n-out. Prices are calculated based on the nickel instead of raising the prices to be almost dollar amounts. Everything is made fresh here and the menu is simple and easy. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries, and shakes is all that you will find here.

Quality with fresh ingredients
All their burgers and fries are made fresh to order. Nothing is previously frozen and everything is sliced or hand torn the day of. That means fresh beef, hand torn lettuce, newly sliced tomatoes, freshly chopped onions, and potatoes peeled and sliced right before going into the fryer! They even have their own warehouses to be able to butcher their own meat and keep the quality the same across all their locations.

Low price point
With all this emphasis on quality you would think that the price of a burger here would be at least $10. Try $2.05! For a cheeseburger you would play a whopping $2.35. Fries are $1.60 and shakes are $2.10. Pretty crazy low prices here. You can also add additional items to your burger without incurring extra costs unless you go for animal style. Animal style means that you get some thousand island dressing with grilled onions with your burger. It’s absolutely delicious and you can even do it for your fries. Other fast food places are feeling the pinch of the recession and have raised their prices. No longer is fast food dirt cheap. In-n-out has kept their prices low as much as possible.

How do they do it???
Unwavering commitment to quality and low prices has made In-n-out a favorite of everyone who’s ever eaten there. Okay, maybe not everyone, but I only know one person who doesn’t like it! Each burger is created using an assembly line format where one person does one thing and moves it down the line. They’ve definitely got that down pat and are doing it right. Never had a bad burger from there. They’ve created a cult following because of their quality, price, and ability to deliver perfect burgers each and every time. It’s amazing!

I could go to In-n-out often and I would still be saving money over going to other restaurants. Slap down $5 at the counter and I could walk away with a burger and fries with change to spare. Of course I would just ask for a free cup of water to wash down my deliciously frugal meal. I don’t know how exactly they pull this all off, but I just hope they continue.

I confess that I just ate at In-n-out tonight for dinner. I have a guest in town visiting and she requested it for dinner! I don’t go very often though even if it is a meal under $5.

Have you ever eaten at In-n-out before?


Photo Credit: Lida Rose via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Lida Rose via Compfight cc

It’s been six years since my husband and I first started going out! Hard to imagine but time has passed by so quickly. Last night we realized it was our anniversary after seeing a calendar notice actually. Pretty funny but sad in a way too since this year has gone by so fast. We both remember the date but just didn’t realize it. Our first reaction was to not do much since we’re trying to be frugal and save money of course. In the end we decided that it’s still important for us to celebrate even though it’s doing something simple.

Celebrating doesn’t have to cost very much or mean a fancy dinner where we have to dress in our finest. That’s of course what we did for our first anniversaries. Since then our priorities have changed and now its more about being together and celebrating in smaller ways. It’s nice to celebrate and focus on what really matters about the day.

Keeping it simple
Definitely didn’t want to do anything crazy! We have so much going on this year already and we finally have our honeymoon coming up in a couple of months too! It’s nice to go out and do something and not have to plan something huge too. Easy, stress-free, and relaxing. In this case super relaxing since it involved eating! One of our favorite pastimes of course.

Focusing on what really matters
By taking all the stress and craziness out of the situation then we could really focus on enjoying today. Well, technically we were working all day long so we really only celebrated for an hr or so. Either way since we kept it simple then we didn’t need to think of any details we missed and worry about a huge amount of money slipping through our fingers either.

Future anniversaries
Only six years in and all we’re doing to celebrate is a casual dinner? I wonder what will happen 20 years from now? 30 years from? And so on and on. No matter what I still want to make sure we always do something to celebrate. It’s the act that means a lot more than what you end up doing. Remembering all the good things that have passed and why we’re still together.

 

Some people go super extravagant when celebrating and others don’t even bother doing anything at all. I’m way past the extravagant part but celebrating is important to keeping the relationship well.

What’s the most you’ve ever spent on a celebration?


Photo Credit: Mindful One via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Mindful One via Compfight cc

The word frugal still has a generally negative connotation to it. It brings up images of cheapskates who penny pinch every little thing. They are of course wearing worn faded clothing and you would never see them inside of a restaurant. At the grocery store they are picking through every little fruit and vegetable making sure every green bean and tomato they buy is perfect. They walk right past any sort of donation and get into their 20 year old car to drive home. Never ever ever would you see them spend any money on anything at all unless they were forced to. It’s a tired image that just isn’t entirely true. There are parts in there that are but being frugal doesn’t also mean that you’re a cheapskate. Big difference still!

I would say that I’m frugal but I wouldn’t call myself a cheapskate. I save money in most areas of my life but I spend more for things that are important to me. Being generous with my money is also another thing. I’m not giving out money left and right but I know I have a weakness for overspending a bit much on gifts. It’s very much possible to be frugal but still generous in life. Sounds like it doesn’t work together and would cancel each other out but there are plenty of ways to be generous without giving money away.

Giving your time
Many people I know that don’t have a lot of money instead volunteer their time or help someone out. This can go so much farther than just giving someone money. Time is money also even if you don’t directly get cash from it.

Monetary donations
The best part about being frugal is that it does increase your ability to be able to donate to worthy charities if you want to. Certainly wouldn’t donate all the money I’m saving, but putting $25 towards my favorite charity is something I am able to do.

Free stuff
On the flip side it’s really easy to get sucked into the mentality of “If it’s free then I don’t need to do anything!” True when it comes to small giveaways, but not so when it comes to friends and family being generous and helping out or passing on items they don’t have a use for. They aren’t looking to get anything back, but if possible I try to at least respond to their generosity by doing something for them. Growing up in a family that’s always been very generous with what they have has also really taught me to pass it on. Even if I can’t do something for them I can be generous to other people.

 

Being frugal doesn’t mean you turn into Scrooge McDuck. It means taking control over your finances and not falling in line with consumer driven America. I certainly still do plenty of things that make me happy and probably aren’t considered frugal though! There are plenty others who really fit the term frugal much better than I.

In what aspects of your life are you generous?


It seems like with most of the earth covered in ocean that we would never ever run out of water. Safe and usable water of course though is something that can be pretty scarce. Here in LA we’re in our third year of drought and our governor has asked us all to conserve water. There are incentives now to convert grass to astro turf and landscapes to desert type plants that use much less water.

I’ve always tried to conserve water but after buying a house it’s been much harder! If I could just not water the grass and garden then I would save a ton of water. Of course everything around me would be brown and dead too. Not really something anyone wants to see. We even have the hardiest grass possible. It’s this slow growing kind that is pretty tough compared to the usual lush grass that most people have. Saves a ton of water though and it doesn’t die easily. To really save water though we need to think of what we can convert to a desert landscape with plants that don’t need a ton of water to stay alive.

Better off in the long run
It’ll take a ton of work to dig up plants and convert the soil to be ready for new types of plants. There’s a small portion of our front yard that used to be a pretty nice garden but now is pretty ragged. The only thing I really like there is a hydrangea. Other than that there is a very spiky succulent (which I want to get rid of because I’ve run into it before), a tree stump, a lot of weeds, and some random small trees and bushes. It takes a lot of water to keep those things alive. If we have cacti or succulents instead then we would only have to water it once a week or every two weeks. That’s a lot of water and money saved!

Still visually appealing
It’s not quite what I initially think of when it comes to gardens, but a rockscape with cacti and succulents can be done beautifully also. Some of our neighbors have converted to it and it looks pretty low maintenance and beautiful. One house nearby has converted their entire yard while another just parts of it. Most likely the latter is what we’ll go for since we still want some grass.

Incentives
The water utility companies are offering residents credits for if they convert their lawn to astro turf or use desert friendly plants. It’s not enough to cover the cost of it all but it’s better than nothing!

 

It’s going to be a long time before we actually get this done! First thing we have to do is figure out how to get that tree stump out. We need to fix up that portion of the yard anyway and now is a pretty good time to turn it into something that saves water and money.

Have you converted your yard to save money?