5 Frugal Ways to Bust the Summer Heat

A heat wave is crashing down on my home sweet home Chicago for the next few days…and when I say heat I don’t mean that dry heat that all those Phoenix folks are always bragging about.  I am talking about the humid wet blanket kind of heat that wraps itself around you and smothers you to death.  Yes.  It is that brutal.  On the upside, as a long time resident of the nary-a-wind-in-sight city, I have found some frugal ways to keep cool whilst the city melts around me.

Must be wicked hot outside….
 

1.  Go to the Library!  Free fun for the whole famdamily…books, movies, CD’s, free wifi and internet, magazines, story times, and the list goes on.  One of the best features of the Chicago Public Library system is their museum passes.  You check them out like a book and they give you free entrance to local museums provided you have at least one child under 18 with you.  More info on the link provided above.  Which brings me to #2… Continue reading “5 Frugal Ways to Bust the Summer Heat”

The Power of the Penny – 1 to 1 Million in 27.5 days!

Some people like to joke that they are worth more dead than alive.  Ummmm, no – no you’re not.  No matter how much insurance you have on your life, when you are alive you still have the power to make money and money MAKES money.  Perhaps your financial worth is less at this moment but it won’t always be so…

Think about currency in our country’s smallest form – the penny.  One single cent.  Oh man, the poor penny gets a bad rap.  People leave them behind in tip jars, couches, and tossed on a floor.  I know many people who won’t bend over to pick one up…even when said penny is heads up!  Shame, I say!!  This is FREE MONEY from The Money Gods!!

Ugh… Regardless of what those people may think, the penny has great exponential power – let’s consider it as a jumping off point.  There are so many things you can do with pennies…

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Continue reading “The Power of the Penny – 1 to 1 Million in 27.5 days!”

Being Thrifty With Spendy Friends

Ugh – I made my friend cry.  And not the single tear shed type of cry but a weepy, snotty, high pitched squealy type of balling that can make some recoil in horror.  Mind you, these tears came a flowin’ after us polishing off a bottle of wine so regardless of the topic I am pretty sure the end result was inevitable…

Anywho, here’s how it went.

Her – Girl, I miss you!!  We need to hang out like this more often!

Me – Yes, we do!  But, I have to be honest, as much as I love seeing you, I can’t afford to hang out with you!  Every time we go out I come home with a spending hangover that takes me days (sometimes weeks) to recover from. 

Now her eyes start to tear up…

Me cont… – Well, that’s not true.  It isn’t that I can’t afford to go, I just choose to spend my money in different ways.  And that’s ok!  I have asked several times if you want to go for a walk or I’ll bring wine up to your pool deck and we can hang and chat, but you always want to go out instead.  Going out like you do (every day) is a major splurge for me and my lifestyle so it is something I have to limit myself in doing.

Her eyes are spilling over and the lip is quivering…here it comes!

Her – But we all have the same job and make the same amount of money!  I am sick of people saying they can’t afford to go out with me!!!

Apparently, I am not the only one telling her this…

Me – Yes, we all make the same amount.  But we all choose to spend it differently.  You like your nice centrally located apartment with the finest of furnishings, lovely labeled clothing, and fine meals out.  I love hanging with my dog, traveling on a dime, and my small Ikea furnished condo off the beaten path.  I love to cook and drink wine from a box (it’s a new thing I’m testing and although I love the environmental impact of fewer bottles and packaging, I am still not sold on the wine itself).  So we have a lifestyle conflict.  Of course, we are still friends, but I need to be more ME in this friendship.  

Now – if it wasn’t for our other friend at the table backing me up, I am pretty sure she would have gotten up and walked out.  But she didn’t and so the conversation continued.  We assured her that we love her no matter what but we were making choices in our financial lives that no longer align with hers (not that mine ever did but softening the blow in these situations is a more effective approach).  Our friend just had baby #2 and I am within 6 years of financial independence.  Those are OUR priorities.  She took a moment to listen and then declared:

Her – Well, I have chosen to live in the moment.  

Me – And I LOVE that about you!!

End scene.

All she needed was to realize that she was making a choice as well.  Now that she has a mantra, she will be able to go out and feel good about the choices she is making – regardless of what others think.  And besides my favorite money mantra, A million dollars starts with one cent, I have adopted a revised version of hers…

I will live in the moment provided I won’t regret it in the morning.  🙂

** Have you made a friend cry or do you have any spendy friends you are avoiding?  Have you made it work with them in another way?  Share your knowledge!!  I feel I may be up for round two with this friend in the months to come! 🙂 **

Until next time…

7 Ways To Achieve Financial Independance

I am frequently asked how I prioritize my savings.  And I frequently ask myself if I am taking the best course of action.  Well, I think the proof is in the pudding.  Last year was my first introduction to the FIRE (Financial Independence and Early Retirement) movement.   I’m not sure which blog or blog post I read that lit my own fire, but I know the result was to set some new goals.  First on my list was to challenge myself to max out my 401k.  That was a big undertaking – it isn’t like money was falling from the sky…


It would have been much easier if I had had this stroke of genius at the beginning of the year, however, it took my mind some time to wrap my brain around socking away 18,000 dollars!!  That’s a lot of cabbage!!  I was already contributing 10% but in the last quarter of 2015, I had to up that to 30% to make it work out.  My new goal amounted to a few tough months but they were totally worth the sacrifice in the end.

With the new challenge, I also began saving more in general.  I started unplugging things in the house, I stopped being wasteful of food and other resources, I stopped buying stuff, and in November I opened an investment account with the extra savings.

Here was my financial plan of attack.  There are many ways to prioritize so by no means is the end all and be all, but here is what I suggest: Continue reading “7 Ways To Achieve Financial Independance”

Miss Mazuma – Vampire Slayer!!

We have all heard of the Energy Vampires living among us…And, no, I’m not talking about the Debbie Downer that you sit near at work (though, they are THE worst!!).  I am talking about those everyday items we leave plugged in that suck your wallet dry at such a gradual pace that you don’t even realize it is happening.  You get your monthly electric bill and just assume that that is what you used so you pay it.  But wait!  You didn’t even get the benefit of using it!  Those nasty vampires are stealing from you…

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Well, I have taken matters into my own hands.  I’ve pulled out my sword and am cutting costs – its gradual, but it’s working!!  I started by unplugging my wifi and cable modems at night.  To make it easier, I put everything on the same power strip with my TV, DVD player, and cable box.  One quick flick of the switch and they all go off together.

Weather is a huge factor for energy use in Chicago.  In the long dreary winter, I lower the heat drastically when I am out of town and even this year I even concealed some ugly plastic insulation behind my blinds for some added winter protection.  You couldn’t even tell it was there!  My condo is practically ALL windows so every bit helps.  Now that it is summer, the air is off until my thermostat says 78.  I could keep it off longer with just the use fans but with Bubba wearing a fur coat all day long (she’s very fancy), I try to spare her the sweltering humidity.  I unplug my chargers and computer before leaving the house or after charging is finished.  Nothing is getting by me now – all phantom energy suckers are being slayed ruthlessly.

My boyfriend, John, thinks I’m insane…but the following chart is proof!

So based on my numbers, I have lowered my energy costs almost every month.  If I was a little more nerdy I would calculate the percentage saved each month (and I’m kinda wanting to!), but for now this is good enough.  Now, I’m not sure what happened with my gas the past two months.  The weather has been warmer and we haven’t been using the heat…was I really cooking that much?  Perhaps it is a fluke, but if it happens again next month I will have to do an audit.

Looking at the electric, there is one factor to be noted – in January I bought a new smaller fridge.  I will share pics of the old beast and my kitchen before and after but I don’t think that fridge alone could have caused such a huge drop in my electric costs.  Both the old and the new fridge are energy star rated.

From this:

To this:

Though the fridge cost me some bucks, it was well worth it to open up the space.  I also added an island and got rid of the open storage shelves to the right.  It looks so much better now!!  I plan to write about my teeny tiny kitchen later but I think we can all agree that a full-size fridge for myself was a waste of space and energy, not to mention my food costs have gone down.  When you have a small fridge you learn to shop accordingly.  🙂

Along with the obvious energy vampires that were lurking in my home, I dealt with one that had been hiding.  My old computer.  I use it one or two days a month for work then leave it to collect dust the other 28 days…but I have been leaving it PLUGGED IN!!  For years!  That all ended this year.  Now the old computer is attached to a power strip with the printer.  I turn it on for the 2 days I use it and completely powered off and unplugged the rest of the month.  I can totally hear pennies falling from the sky!!

Looking back over the past 6 months I am quite pleased with myself and my savings!  Now go out there, don your cloaks and swords, and slay some vampires!!

** What changes have you made this year to save some dough?  Have you noticed any difference?  Shoot an email or post a comment – we can all use some money saving tips!! **