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?


With gas prices being at a lovely $4 per gallon here in LA it’s transformed the city into one filled with Prius cars. There are definitely way more Prius cars on the West coast than anywhere in the country. Everywhere you look you can find a Prius pretty easily around here! As we all know I have one of those! Gas prices will never go down and the gas savings and earth friendliness of the car drew me in. It’s not stylish at all, but I’ve never put much stock into how a car looks. It’s really more for getting me from point to point. Lately I’ve heard rumors about how the government isn’t getting enough money from taxes on gas because of the trend toward gas efficient cars. Instead they’re thinking of taxing people per mile driven each year!!!

Everyone wants to get their share! It’s pretty infuriating because it would defeat the whole purpose of making gas efficient cars and the entire reason why I bought a Prius! High gas prices are encouraging people to get hybrids and electric cars. Which in turn spur car companies to be more innovative to develop these new technologies and further them along. Now the government wants to basically slap all of us in the face and reward gas guzzling drivers? It’s just a rumor that I’ve heard about and I really doubt it would ever pass, but weirder things have happened. It would mean a lot of progress we’ve made will be lost.

How would taxing per mile driven work?
In theory every single person with a car would have cheaper gas at the pump because it wouldn’t be taxed per gallon anymore. What we would have to do though is log our miles driven once a year and report that to the government to find out how much more tax we need to pay. Most likely this would be lumped into the annual tax season and just be another line on the form to fill out.

Potential implications
If this proposed law ever came to the ballot it would be a pretty big deal. Can’t even imagine it. California especially has been pushing its agenda for a greener environment and here it is showing it’s greed. The reason why there is a such a huge demand for hybrids and electric cars is to save money. Some people do it because it’s green, but most because they’d rather save money. I bought a Prius to use less gas, save money, and not be at the gas pump all the time. If I was taxed per mile then some of the savings would be offset. Many people who live here in LA commute long distances for a good chunk of their day. Having to pay per mile driven would just be another nail driven into the coffin.

The people who own electric cars would definitely get the shortest end of the stick. Electric cars are still pretty expensive compared to a gas powered car. They spent a lot more to not use any gas at all. Wouldn’t be very nice to then tax them per mile driven.

If the demand for hybrids and electric went down then so would any incentive for car companies to keep pushing their limits. There are laws that make them raise gas efficiency, but many car companies have far surpassed those levels because of consumer desire.

 

I hope this stays a rumor and never ever comes to light again! Instead of buying a Prius I could’ve bought a more style car instead. I made my choice though because I want to be green and save money.

Have you ever heard of taxing per mile driven before?

 


Photo Credit: kainet via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: kainet via Compfight cc

The house I live in was built in the 1950′s and there are still some things I’m pretty sure haven’t changed since then. Well…I guess I could say that its changed in that it’s gotten older, grimy, and more beaten up by the long years but it’s still the original!

One of these original items that came with the house is a 50 amp electrical panel. Most houses now have at least 100 amps while a good amount have 200 amps. Since houses have become more modern so has the amount of electricity being used gotten higher. On the flip side appliances and lights are becoming more energy efficient and thus use less power. It’s a good idea for us to upgrade our panel because we don’t have any emergency breakers in place if there is a power surge or overload. This means that it could start a fire. Deciding between a 100 amp or 200 amp panel was pretty interesting. The cost of the panel itself is about a 700 difference and most of the costs are associated with the labor and installation. Would a 100 amp panel work for us or should we just pay the extra money just in case for a 200 amp panel?

While trying to figure out if we even needed a 200 amp panel we discovered how little energy we actually use! My green habits have paid off for something! We looked at what we currently use energy for now, and also projected any potential items in the future. We also had to keep in mind that we wouldn’t actually turn on every single appliance/device we have at one time.

Calculating the amount of amps we actually use
There are websites and guides that help with calculating how many amps something uses. It’s a general estimate but it’s better to go a little over than not estimate enough. For everything we currently have we would only ever use 50 amps if everything was turned on! Our major appliances are all gas and barely use any electricity. Even adding central air wouldn’t put it over 100. An electric car charger could get us closer, but usually those charge at night when nothing else is on.

Finding a reputable electrician
The electrician we are thinking of going with is also of the old school variety. Honest and knowledgable they’ve already helped us a lot and we haven’t technically hired them yet! Of course we won’t know how good they are until they actually do the work. The one thing that really shows how honest they are though is if they try to upsell you with the reasoning of “just in case you need it later.”

 

It’s really tempting to go with the 200 amp panel just because we would definitely be covered for almost anything. Realistically though we would never install central air, and if we did get an electric car it would charge at night only. $700 is a lot of money to do something. If the difference was smaller then perhaps, but in the end it is money spent. The 100 amp it is! I tend to like to be safe rather than sorry, but in this case there’s just not a lot of justification for the pricier option.

I’m saving $700 today by doing research and not paying more money to get a bigger upgrade. It’s always easier to just go with the larger upgrade because you’re definitely going to be covered, but if it’s not necessary then that’s a waste.

Would you get something just in case or only what you currently need?