Photo Credit: Tangled Bank Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Tangled Bank Flickr via Compfight cc

 

Something I’ve been trying to do in the last year is to find more small businesses that I can support instead of just going to a big box retail store. The only problem with small businesses is that sometimes the price of the goods is so much more than at a big box store that can get better discounts on everything! It’s pretty hard to compare a place like Costco to a small business in terms of buying power. The sheet amount of buying power that Costco has is enormous! I have a place in my heart for Costco, but I really want to support the small businesses too. Places run by a small group of people with usually great customer service and a lot of heart.

There’s a huge fight of small vs big right now and all too often the big wins out. It is definitely easier for me to hop on over to Costco and target and basically get everything I will ever need all in just one stop. But then there’s the small mom and pop store around the corner that’s been there for years and is a cornerstone of the community. In order to survive, they need loyal customers to go there and spend their money! At the end of the day it’s all about where the money goes.

Finding the right places
Last year I was lucky to find a local natural health goods market in the neighborhood that wasn’t too crazily priced. This was at a point when I was trying to clean up my health and personal care items to be less chemical laden and better for my health. I loved the little store and the people who owned the place. It was this small cute place that had a decent variety of items. Today I just visited a small market with higher quality meats! I don’t know if it’s going to me go to meat market place but so far I bought something to try it out. It’s all going to be a big search and find until I find the right places that fit my lifestyle and budget. A lot of smaller businesses in LA also tend to be in trendier higher end neighborhoods and the price of the goods just is too high for me.

Sacrificing convenience
All these smaller places definitely don’t have everything I need in one stop, but the workers are more invested in their goods and definitely care about what goods they have. Each one will have a different set of goods that they feel fits their store the best but might not necessarily always be what I’m looking for. Target indeed does have the widest variety of say for example, shampoos. But the small store will have the best of the best shampoos that they think re worth it rather than everything possible. If I trust the store, then it’s a much quicker way for me to find an item than trying to wade through 30 types of one item.

A local toy store I was able to find is now my intended go to place for any gifts for kids, babies, and maybe adults too. I love the curation they did with the different eco-friendly and educational toys. I’ve even found the prices of some items to be lower than what I could find online!

Actually going there
I was extremely saddened to realize that the natural health market I loved had gone out of business near the end of last year! I always thought of it, but I never went there enough. Yes, myself alone probably wouldn’t have made a difference in the store closing, but if ten of me had gone there more often then that wouldn’t helped! Making the effort (and kicking myself in the butt to not be lazy) to go frequent these places is what I need to do.

It’s just a way better experience
Big box stores honestly can be extremely stressful to get in and out of in LA. There’s a ton of people in the big city and since I work normal weekday hours I have to run all my errands on the weekend when everyone else is out too. Holidays especially are hard times for me to go out because of the crowds. I’m a Midwest girl at heart and crowds are just not my thing. Being able to stop into a smaller place that’s not crowded elbow to elbow is just a much nicer shopping experience. Also being able to easily talk to someone who works there for advice or help. It’s a lot friendlier environment and everyone in the store isn’t super stressed out trying to get out of there!

 

The best part about being careful with my money is that I have more control about what I can do with it! It’s a nice luxury that I have now that I don’t live paycheck to paycheck and instead get to choose to make my money count. Supporting smaller businesses is definitely something I think is worth doing. Maybe one day I’ll have a small business myself! Who knows right?

Do you have a small business that you love supporting?


yosemitefalls_smallIt’s the first year that I actually have Memorial Day off since I work for a smaller business. My husband got Friday off too though so I decided to take my floating personal day (cause no one has to work on their birthday) early and have a 4 day weekend too! What better way to celebrate than to check out some national parks?

Admittedly I haven’t really visited a lot of national parks. From LA I am within a day’s drive of quite a few of them actually. Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon, and Zion are just a few examples. This weekend wasn’t the best time to go as it was busy everywhere, but what’s a working woman to do? I don’t have a lot of 3 day weekends! It’s also not the best time to try to be budget friendly as we didn’t plan this vacation far enough in advance and it wouldn’t matter because everything is pricier. I still tried my best though!

The Plan
I had 4 days to go wherever I want. Of course I want to maximize my time but relax at the same time. We headed out Friday morning to Yosemite first since it’s farther away. Then on Saturday afternoon we headed down to Sequoia. Monday we headed home in the afternoon after one leisurely late breakfast. We did our due diligence by researching things we want to do, and also buying any tickets we needed before we go. Yosemite was absolutely insane and Sequoia was pretty busy too. We lucked out on finding parking spots before they closed off the lots but it was still tough getting through all the people. Apparently there was one distraught woman who was hitting the shuttle bus at Yosemite because the bus driver wouldn’t let her get on the crowded bus.

Food Stuffs
Grand Canyon was such a beautiful place to visit, but the food was pretty horrible. It’s pretty much the same thing for all of these places. It was crowded, touristy, overpriced food all around. Instead of stocking up at an overpriced last stop shop at the parks, we did some grocery shopping and hauled it there. This saved us when we didn’t have time to go find food at Sequoia when we were trying to make a cave tour reservation. It wasn’t real food, but it was something to fill our tummies until we could get somewhere else.

Places to Sleep
This could’ve been the biggest money saver. We could’ve camped at Yosemite for $12 a night. Well, we stayed in hotels. Definitely more than I would like to spend but it’s worth it for me! After running around all day I definitely appreciated my comforts even more. A good night of rest was essential to keep my energy up through the busy weekend. For three nights of hotel stay we’re at about $450 because of the holiday weekend. It’s pretty cold in Yosemite and Sequoia at lows of 30 degrees though so there’s no way I would even consider camping. The hotel at Yosemite is much pricier though so we decided to only stay one night there at least. At both parks we ended up staying about an hour outside of the parks to save a bit of mula too. It was insanely expensive closer to the park! That meant we had to drive quite a bit to get to where we wanted to go though.

Year Pass for all National Parks
It’s $30 per park for a pass that’s valid for 7 days. For 2 parks that’s $60 already. Luckily my husband went on an all guys road trip to Zion a week ago and had the foresight to spring for the $80 year pass! It’s unlimited to any national park whereas the week pass is only to that specific park. His friends chipped in $20 so the price of this pass is already at $60 for us. Of course to take full advantage of this we’re going to try to use it at other parks too.

 

Overall this was a decently pricey trip because of the hotel accommodations. It was pretty insane at Yosemite and it kinda felt like home with crazy drivers there! You’d think on a national holiday like Memorial weekend that people would be nicer, but alas no. I still had a great time though and we made the best of it. Today we were debating on going back to Sequoia in the morning but with the crazy winding roads and how tired we are of crazy people, we just took our time to get home. It’s good to be home for sure!

What did you do for this Memorial Weekend?


7468313382_01dca95e64When it comes to pointing out who is the most frugal in the relationship, it’s a no brainer that it’s me and not my husband! My brain is always constantly searching for ways I can greenify life and save money at the same time. I introduced budget sheets into our relationship (yowza maybe that’s why he married me?) and I wouldn’t spring for the extra $300 to get the pearlescent white paint for the Prius. He recycles now because of me too hehe. I still have my weak points though…I’m such a sucker for personal stories.

Mostly what gets me lately is local goods. Striving to make a bigger difference with my money by buying local face-to-face with the people who grew the food or made the goods opened up the floodgates a bit to spend more if it’s locally based. When I find someone who is trying to do something good I also can’t resist wanting to help them too!

The reel in: I can’t resist an earnest face as they tell me their personal story
Just today I was walking through a festival area with lots of little shops. I snagged a free lemonade (yay!) and then happened upon a stand selling handmade soaps. There was a father standing there with his little girl. He told me his story of how he started making soaps for his daughter because she couldn’t use commercial soaps due to psoriasis. It didn’t help that his wife was also there. It was a family business! The soaps smelled really quite nice made from essential oils but they were pricier than I would normally ever buy soap for. The most I had ever spent on soap bars were $5 and these were $8 apiece. I got sucked in first through that little story.

Pushing me over the edge: I can’t resist helping if it’s charitable
Already more than halfway there I then found out that they donate 15% of their profits to charity! They sponsor kids in third world countries and actually go to visit them too! So not only would I be helping out this family if I bought something, I would also be helping out these kids who need it too. That definitely put my over the edge and I was definitely buying something at this point. A company that tries to do good by using fair trade and natural ingredients is awesome, but if they give back then even better! It’s how Tom’s got so big with their buy one give one concept. They certainly weren’t the first to do that but it made Tom’s look really good.

The kicker: Appeal to my money saving side
Still my frugal side was pretty strong. These soap bars were pretty pricey so I was thinking of maybe just buying one at least. That’s when I noticed the sampler packs! Four smaller sized bars for $18. Perfect! Bundling items always makes people feel like they’re getting a better deal. Ding ding! I was sold. If only I had ice encasing my heart…instead I walked away with some new soap and a pouch loofah.

 

Either this family was really just a good ole family trying to do something right and make some money, or they are master salespersons! They certainly sucked me in and I felt good about buying something from them! Haha. I definitely don’t regret it at all though.

And if anyone else wants to buy some soap check it out here: Morning Blossom Studio

What are you a sucker for?


teslamodel3

I put a $1000 deposit down on the Tesla Model 3 to reserve a spot!!!!!! Yay!

Trying to cross something else off my dream list! I wasn’t really quite serious when I added a Tesla to my dream list, but as the Model 3 got closer and closer to it’s unveiling I kept thinking about it in a more serious manner. Plus I was skeptical that it was actually going to be in the $35,000 price range that rumor kept saying. On the day of the unveiling though, while I sat at home only a few miles away from the live event, it became a reality that this was going to happen! A fully electric earth-friendly car that looks gorgeous in a price point I could actually reach! My husband and I both didn’t intend to really get one, but since they were accepting refundable deposits to even get in the waiting line for the car…why not?

AM I CRAZY?
Okay okay first of all, putting a deposit down doesn’t mean that I have to buy the car. They aren’t even rolling out the first of these cars until the end of 2017 (or even later if things don’t happen on schedule) so until they actually get to our names on the list, we don’t need to decide if we’re actually going to get one or not. It’s entirely refundable if we decide we don’t want to buy it after all, or it’ll go towards the price of the final car. Most likely I’ll have a good 3-5 years to save up the mula and decide if this is something I really want to do. Yes I’m out $1,000 now, but if I don’t have that kind of money then I’m doing something wrong.

Common knowledge also says that new cars are the worst thing to sink money into. I’m scrimping and saving every step of the way only to throw all my money away on a new car? If it makes me happy, then yes.

Is it really worth the money
This is a fully electric car that starts at $35,000. Pretty darn hefty price tag but it’s comparable, or even lower than other electric cars! The Chevy Bolt is supposed to start at $37,500, and the Nissan Leaf starts at $29,000. There are federal and state rebates also out there but I’m not going to calculate that into my decision right now because they might not be around in a few years. I’ve been considering an electric car to further be eco-friendly, and now I might be able to get one that looks good too! It’s certainly going to be a big decision that I won’t come to lightly but it’s certainly a contender in the electric vehicle race.

It’s something to dream about
I never imagined that I would actually be considering a car that costs $35,000! Even buying the Prius V at around $25,000 was a huge deal for me. It’s the nicest car I have ever owned and before that it was my Corolla. If there are rebates still available and at the level it is now, then the Tesla Model 3 would actually cost the same as the Prius V! Whatever my decision in the end, it was pure fun to be able to put that deposit down to dream about getting a nice car that’s eco-friendly also. It’s certainly a worthy dream to work towards in the next few years.

 

My goals definitely will change once my husband and I start a family and kids take up all my money. For now though, it’s nice to dream about having a sporty electric car.

What’s a dream that you’re currently working towards?

 


Photo Credit: Anna Bieniek via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Anna Bieniek via Compfight cc

 

Alright, I have a confession! I’ve been spending money like crazy the past few weeks!!!! I’ve fallen off the frugal wagon and gone for a long run and money has been flying out of my purse like no other!!! It all started with wanting to get great gifts for people on my list, then of course there were all these great deals that started popping up that I could get for myself. Sadly, it’s easy to break habits once you start! And thus…I’ll have to buckle back down and get back in the habit of not spending so much on material goods. All the same though, I don’t feel that guilty about buying more than I usually do since it’s mostly gifts, and the stuff I’ve bought for myself actually isn’t very pricey when I add it all up. Kinda funny how being frugal changes my perspective on things.

Gift-wise the good thing is that I’m almost done with getting gifts for all my family and friends. I have a pretty long extensive list so I’ve actually started months ago. Yeap I know. Extensive crazy planning so I don’t stress out over all this trying to do it all in one month. It’s a lot of money spent but every single one of these people are important to us! We buy as smartly as possible with the most thoughtful gift for each person. It’s something I do really enjoy and I don’t ever regret it since we save mula throughout the year for this.

Now back to me spending way too much according to my frugal standards. These are the brand spanking new items sitting round my home now…
$60 new microwave
$25 drip coffee device (not a machine!)
$20 new medium size pot (we only has small and large before)
$30 handvac
$125 bike rack

Total is $260 spent on items I normally wouldn’t have bothered with. It’s really really hard not getting sucked into all the sales going on right now…and obviously I have been sucked in! Haha some of those items we’ve been meaning to buy and saw the sale and went for it. Others ones we could’ve passed but oh well. I honestly don’t regret it much since we are frugal for basically the entire rest of the year. As long as we don’t continue this spending trend!

And so…I’ve just spend a lot of mula on myself, others, and it’s time to get back to being frugal!

How have you been doing on spending this holiday season? Have you been shopping a lot?