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?


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?