Photo Credit: Aih. via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Aih. via Compfight cc

Whoop whoop! June is my birthday month and it’s always full of surprises and fun! I don’t really plan on doing a big celebration but I’ll see what my husband has in mind for me. Usually I just do a small dinner with friends and family. I also get a few packages this month from people I exchange gifts with. As the years pass by though I’ve been trying to be smarter about gifting and more thoughtful when giving both ways. Of course the best part about it being a birthday month is all the freebies you can get from restaurants!

Take advantage of birthday freebies
If you haven’t already joined all the clubs of your favorite restaurants then you need to! Especially if they offer birthday freebies. Some of the offers that are given are pretty lame with the stipulation that you must purchase something else first, but many offer a free entree. Many places don’t even require you to join a club and just give you a free birthday meal.

For birthday freebies, and a ton of others, I’ve already made a handy list.
Freebies Galore!

Make sure gifts are practical
I love exchanging gifts but it’s important to me that it’s something that they will really want and use. Of course since that’s how I feel I know that others feel the same too. Instead of just guessing it’s sometimes better to just ask the intended giftee what they want or what they need. Since I’m pretty frugal I tend to not buy things if I really don’t need them. It’s great for when my birthday month comes along because then I have some suggestions for gifts that I’ve been putting off for a while.

Ask for charitable or green donations
An alternative to a physical gift is to ask for a donation to a favorite charity or earth-friendly organization. It would be something that would mean a lot and it wouldn’t take up space in your home! My cousin actually just donated to UNICEF in my name which I thought was pretty nice.

Treat someone out
I’m not saying to you should call up all your friends and force them to treat you out to a meal, but if a friend calls you up then I would say yes. Just have to make sure when their birthday rolls around that you do the same for them! Celebrating birthdays doesn’t have to involve gifts and can include some nice catch up time.

 

My birthday month could really be one of excess, materialism, and lots of spending money…but that isn’t the way I want to celebrate it. It’s hard to avoid exchanging gifts (especially if you’re a lady) so I just try to make it as practical as possible. One thing I’m certainly going to do is to take advantage of as many freebie meals as possible!

What’s your favorite thing about your birthday month?

 

 


 Photo Credit: wvs via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: wvs via Compfight cc

Print is on its way out and many publications have had to adapt to an online presence and smaller subscribers. I mostly read and keep up on current events online, but I do love having a physical magazine to leaf through. Especially magazines about saving money, personal finance, house diy, and of course ways to save the earth. I don’t like paying for the subscriptions though! I certainly don’t buy magazines singly off the rack since that’s a total rip-off! I’m currently subscribed to two magazines currently for free though! Yep free! How did I get them for free you ask?

There’s a nifty site that I joined a few months ago where I can earn points for today earth-friendly activities! Then I can use points and get rewards like coupons and magazine subscriptions! It’s really easy to do and the points rack up pretty fast. I’ve already redeemed enough points for four free magazine subscriptions already. Pretty awesome to be rewarded for activities I already do. It’s entirely free to join and there’s a ton of people on the website.

What is Recyclebank?
This is a company that wants to motivate people to be more earth-friendly by providing resources and easy ways to earn points for rewards. They’ve made it as simple as possible and have some great content. All you have to do is earn some points, get rewards, spread the word, and become more earth-friendly.

How to earn points
The simplest way to earn points is by reading articles about recycling and related topics. You can also browse through ways to further your green habits and pledge to do things like use less water or recycle more. If you participate in Terracycle’s programs you can also hook that up to Recyclebank and earn points when you send stuff in! That reminds me that I have to do that next time I send a shipment. There are a ton of fun quizzes that test your knowledge and further it along. They also partner up with other green organizations and you can earn points by buying products. It’s amazing how easy it is to earn points and it’s all stuff I already like doing.

What are the rewards?
There a ton of coupons for restaurants and stores on here that you can redeem for. For example a $10 off at Ruby Tuesday and a $10 off $30 for Bed Bath and Beyond. There are also a ton of magazine subscriptions too. Some are digital only and others are the physical kind. I am subscribed to Real Simple and This Old House. I sent my sister a subscription for Real Simple and a friend of mine Cooking Light.
It’s great to be rewarded for doing things that benefit the earth! Yeah!

And of course here’s the website link!
Recyclebank


FacebookWell I knew it was only a matter of time, and it finally happened this weekend. My mom has joined Facebook! This means that she’ll see everything I post on there! Haha it’s kind of funny. I don’t actually mind since I don’t post too much bad stuff on there anyway. Mostly just pictures of major events and small musings of mine. No crazy party photos of any sort. I’m beyond the crazy college phase of life for sure now.

Social media has definitely gotten pretty big in the last few years. On Facebook, you can find generations of families on there! The grandma, mother, and daughter! It’s a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. Twitter and Instagram have also blown up! Companies have now gotten on board and most have a Facebook page or Twitter account. You can use social media to save money too! Read on to find out how.

Special deals and promotions
Many companies will host contests and promotions only on Facebook or Twitter. If you like your favorite companies, then you can find out when they have something going on. Even by just liking their page, you can sometimes get a coupon or code. I’ve gotten a lot of free items from companies on Facebook. Samples of shampoo and vitamins and things like that.

Another source for customer service
Since everyone is on social media these days, companies are trying very hard to keep their image online unstained. If you hate calling and waiting for a representative to help you, messaging companies through social media may do the trick instead. It all depends on how active they are though.

 

Facebook and Twitter do have their uses other than updating your status and stalking people. I guess it used to be considered cooler before mothers and grandmas got on there, but I know tons of people using it still! My age might be the cut off point though haha. It seems like teenagers aren’t using Facebook anymore. Apparently the average age of users is about 45 years of age. Ulp, oh well.

Do you use social media to get freebies and deals? Have you ever tried contacting a company through it?


From the Halal Guys food stand in NYC!!

From the Halal Guys food stand in NYC!!

I love love love food! It’s a pretty big part of my life to try new foods through cooking or by going to different restaurants. I eat almost everything with the exception of bitter melon and durian, two horrible things that you don’t want to know about. Eating is a big part of Chinese culture, and since I’m Chinese it’s important to me. Moving out to Los Angeles opened up the spectrum of foods I could try. There are so many restaurants and every single type of food here! A person could go out to eat for every single meal in a year and still not have been to every restaurant in this city.

To find the best restaurants to try, a lot of people use Yelp. Most people love using it to check out restaurants to make sure they are going somewhere good. Others hate it because they think the reviews are skewed or inaccurate. For the most part, the reviews are from legit people who aren’t paid to write reviews. There are reviews though that are obviously friends of the business or people who work there trying to boost the Yelp rating.

I myself love using Yelp! It’s not just for restaurants, it’s for every type of business you can imagine. I love going on there to see what people are saying. It’s amazing how many people are on it writing reviews! I decided to start writing reviews 4 years ago and am still going! I write so much in fact that I became Yelp elite after a few months! I try to be as fair as possible to give each business it’s due credit. It’s loads of fun for me to be able to write reviews! I get free food and drinks too! Sometimes they give out free tickets to concerts and events. You don’t have to be Yelp elite for that. Read on to see how.

Scoring free food and drinks and swag
As a Yelp member there are free perks! Want free food and drinks? Then get on Yelp and become an active member! When I say that, I don’t mean just signing up for an account and reading reviews. Write a few reviews yourself and send comments to other Yelp members. Yelp holds tons of free local events that you can attend. They usually have a limit on those events though, and they usually choose active members over non-active members. These events usually are held at a local business trying to promote themselves. Sometimes it’s a new business and other times it’s businesses trying to remake their image. They usually serve tons of free food and drinks and you can grab some Yelp swag! I have wristbands, sunglasses, mints, chap-stick, pens, and shot-glasses.

If you write a lot of good reviews and are active also you can try becoming a Yelp elite! This will open up your free events to elite only events also. Bigger events with more food and drinks! It’ll also get you into the big Yelp events faster than non elite members. In LA, they hold a huge party once a year. Elites usually can get in an hour earlier than everyone else. Most of the time, you’re also allowed to bring a plus one to these events. That plus one person doesn’t even need to be a part of Yelp. My husband is one lucky guy! You can nominate yourself to be elite. Another way is to get to know the local ambassador on Yelp and become friends with them. If they notice that you’re elite material, then they will nominate you.

Help local businesses
Most people tend to write only when they have something bad to say. Good businesses deserve reviews too! It’ll help that business out if you have something good to say and write a review. Plus, someone has to write those reviews you’re reading!

Save some money
Obviously, by reading reviews before you give a business your money, you’ll have a better chance of not wasting it! Plus, sometimes businesses have Yelp deals. Read the reviews and save some money before you go there.

 

There’s a 99% chance that you’re already using Yelp to read reviews and finding new restaurants to eat at. Ramp it up and start writing some of your own! It’s tons of fun and you’ll score some free food and drinks! Sounds like a win-win to me!

Are you a Yelper? Did you know about the free Yelp events?


An assortment of locally grown veggies can be found at farmer's markets. Check out these little tiny squash!

An assortment of locally grown veggies can be found at farmers markets. Check out these little tiny summer squash!

In Los Angeles, we have farmers markets year round and it’s great! Always a good variety of veggies and fruits that are locally grown from farmers around the area. You’ll find a lot more interesting items and see produce in their real form! Vegetables grow in all different odd shapes and sizes that you don’t get to see in the grocery stores. Grocery stores filter out the “undesirable” looking produce because they don’t think they will sell. You will also see different colors of produce you thought were one color only. For example, carrots can be purple, orange, yellow, and light orange! Grocery stores only get the carrots that are the bright orange color, but they come in so many different colors. Farmers markets are definitely a fun way to shop for your groceries, and you’ll be putting your money into the local economy too. They usually have more than just produce. You’ll see bakeries, hot foods, seafood, raw meats, clothing, jewelry, and all sorts of other vendors.

Shop local
All the vendors at the markets are small local farmers that usually depend on markets to sell their food. Many of them are organic certified too! Other vendors are also locals who probably set up their booths at markets each day of the week. You’re definitely ensuring that your money gets put back into the local economy.

Interact with the local community
People from the community usually come out to these markets in droves. They are usually weekly events that locals know about and will be sure to go to as often as they can. Sometimes vendors are people who also live in the area. I’ve always had a good experience at these markets and everyone is usually very friendly. It’s hard to find anyone who isn’t smiling or having a good time.

Earth-friendly
Since all the vendors are local, you know the food you buy isn’t trucked or flown in from another country. Less transportation to get the food to you! This definitely saves on gas and there will be less pollution in the air. It’ll be some of the freshest produce you’ll be able to get, other than growing your own food. When food has to be imported from far away, it’s already been picked for a few days and is beginning to lose its freshness.

Greater variety and buying in season
You can get fruit of any kind at the store, but it might not taste the way it should. When produce isn’t in season, then it really doesn’t taste very good at all. There are certain peak seasons for every kind of produce. Farmers markets will always be selling what’s in season at the time. You won’t see any berries in the winter or melons in the spring. In Los Angeles, our growing seasons are much longer than other states and we get a lot more variety year round.

You’ll also be able to find purple carrots! Some booths sell all different kinds of pluots and plums and oranges. The grocery store usually has only one kind of each fruit. I found these purple bell peppers in the picture below this weekend actually. The person I talked to didn’t even know if they had a specific name. I’m just calling them purple bell peppers. They are about as sweet as red bell peppers, but these were much smaller and thinner. It’s a lot more interesting to shop at a farmer’s market to see all the unusual produce that aren’t allowed into the grocery stores.

Purple bell peppers!

Purple bell peppers!

Farmer’s market deals
What would this post be without some kind of tip to save money? The prices at farmer’s markets I usually find depend on the area. Most of the time they are very reasonable and comparable to shopping at a brick and mortar store. Sometimes, I feel like the prices are higher, but the produce is fresher and is more worth it most of the time. The best way to score deals is to go at the last half hour the market is open. Vendors will mark down their prices to try to sell as much as possible so that they don’t have to bring it back home. Another thing you can do is to buy more and ask for a lower price since you are buying a lot. Many vendors are willing to make deals and don’t mind this at all.

Do you frequent a local farmers market? What’s the most unusual item you have found so far?