Catchin’ up to saving $1,000 in 30 days

As promised, here’s a list of five more tips to save money this month.

Tip #19: Save money, eat well and look hot in less than an hour. This tip is quite similar to Ramit Sethi’s tip #11, to never pay full retail price for clothes again. It’s all about discount shopping websites. This tip entry however, was a guest post written by Susan Su. She prefaces her entry by stating that she’s a “snob” that eats organic, loves designer clothes, buys premium pet food and hates Old Navy. If this sounds like you, then this entry is definitely a must read. If not, you should still read it.

Su lists off a bunch of her favorite discount shopping websites. Personally, I’m not obsessed with designer clothes, so if I find something cute at Target or Forever 21, I’ll buy it. I am not going to going buy a $400 outfit that’s on sale for $200. Sure, a 50% savings looks like a steal, but for $200?! I can buy three or four outfits from Forever 21 for that price! A couple of my favorite listings she did write about though were Etsy, Amazon, and a newly discovered CSA (community/consumer supported agriculture). I was unsure of exactly what this was. When I did a Google search for local CSAs in Temecula though, Inland Valley CSA, I immediately fell in love. I bought a trial membership/pledge for $130, which is $30 per box plus a $10 one-time membership fee. I figure I am saving about $5 to $10 a week on the organic fruits and vegetables I purchase from the store. I am also saving time from rummaging around the grocery store produce aisles.

The CSA is a mutual commitment between a farm and a community. You pledge to pay your farm for a portion of the season’s harvest. That pledge helps to pay for the farms equipment, seeds, fertilizer, equipment, and labor. In return, you get a box delivered to a convenient pick-up location every week full of that week’s harvest. Last week, member’s harvest boxes were full of beet greens, broccoli rapinni, collard greens, dandelion greens, lemons, oranges, kale, and a salad mix. If you’re unsure of what some of the fruits or vegetables are, their website offers a produce ID page along with various different recipes that incorporate that particular fruit or vegetable. The trial membership is only for four weeks. I am going to test it out, and if I like it and use it well, I might bump my pledge up to eight weeks. I think it’s a great way to get fresh organic produce and know where it’s coming from and cook healthy dishes. It saves time visiting the grocery store and allows you to try out a bunch of different things you wouldn’t normally purchase when you do go to the grocery store. Not to mention, it’s great for the planet as well. And who doesn’t feel better about doing something for our planet?

What websites do you shop on to save money?

Total savings: $20 to $40 per month.

 

Tip #20: Change the date of Christmas. This posted tip is also a guest post from author Erica Douglass. She says that it was cheaper to fly out to see family one week before Christmas. She saved over $1,000 by doing this. She also says that you can do this for any holiday or even birthdays. Luckily for me, my family lives within driving distance. So getting there for the holidays isn’t a problem for me at all.

Total savings: $0

 

Tip #21: Save thousands by pre-paying your debt. This post is mainly about paying of loans, not credit cards. I have only one loan, my car. But I got a great deal and pay 0% interest on it, so this tip doesn’t necessarily apply to my loan. The point of this tip is to pay off as much or as little as extra as you possibly can towards your loans. That extra $100 each month could save you thousands of dollars in interest in the long-run. The same concept applies to credit cards though. It could take you years and thousands and thousands of dollars to pay off a credit card with a high interest by just paying the minimum amount due. If you put an extra $100 towards that payment each month, it’ll knock off a lot of money.

How much more could you save by paying more for your loans? How much would that save you? Calculate your savings using this loan calculator.

Total savings: $0 since I don’t have any loans that I am paying interest on (not including credit cards).

 

Tip #22: Analyze your progress on the 30 day challenge. This tip asks you to take a step back and really look at how much you’ve saved so far.

Here’s how I am doing:
• Packing my lunch: $10 to $20 per week. About $75 for the month
• Turn thermostat down: $0. I did it, but I don’t see the bill. My rent is a flat $560.
• Sell something on eBay (Etsy in my case): $0. I posted items, but nothing has sold yet.
• Involve your friends: $20. Involving my friends/family has resulted in me just telling them I can’t afford things. I tried to get them to actually save with me, but no one really followed through.
• Optimize cell phone bill: $0. I already did this a year ago, which doesn’t really save me anything this month that I can add to my goal.
• Fuel hedge fund: $24. I have set up my savings account to take out $6 every week.
• No spending day: $20. I wanted so badly to go shopping last week. But I didn’t.
• Cancel subscriptions: $10. I let my Hulu Plus account expire.
• Buy new to replace old: $0. I haven’t bought anything new for me this month.
• Use credit card rewards: $25. I used my cash rewards points on one of my credit cards to be credited back to my card.
• Never pay retail for clothes: $0. I haven’t purchased any clothes this month.
• Use coupons/discounts when going out: $5. I used a coupon at Sprouts.
• Negotiate car insurance: $0/TBA. I haven’t heard back from my insurance broker yet. Grr!
• Share how much you’ve saved: $0. Still not sure how this tip is helping me actually keep money in my bank.
• Dinner party: $100. I am eating in more often with my boyfriend rather than going out and spending money on food, drinks and tip.
• Cancel large purchases: $0. Fail. I bought plane tickets to Vegas for my birthday next month.
• Buy generic: $10. Bought generic laundry detergent and bulk produce from Costco.
• No Christmas gifts: $5. Taking small percentage of money out of my checking into my savings to prep for December.
• Buy online: $5. Joined a CSA and am saving money on fresh, organic produce.
• Change date of Christmas: $0. No need to travel. I live close to my family.
• Prepay debt: $0. No loans with interest to pay off.

Grand total: $239

Not quite what I was hoping for, but it’ll do. I’ll have to work harder. It will go up once I find cheaper car insurance too, which is my highest bill other than rent.

 

Tip #23: Go cash only for 15 to 30 days. Using cash cuts your spending because you are consciously spending the money in your wallet. You have to watch the limited amount of money you withdraw dwindle. Starting next week, I decided I am going to take out $200 maximum and use that for the next two weeks. No credit card or debit card purchases. I am pretty confident right now that I will actually have money left over, but I guess we’ll see. Ramit Sethi suggests using the “Envelope System” (shown below).

Total savings: To be determined…

 

Tip #24: Cut your commute expenses by 40 percent. This post may have helped me four months ago when I was still in school, but now…not so much. Sethi suggests that you either carpool to work or work from home. I mean, as much as I would love to become a cocktail server and bartender from home, I don’t see that happening. As for carpooling, I don’t necessarily have a set schedule at the restaurant to carpool. I could have done so if my roommate still worked with me, but she doesn’t, so we can’t carpool. I only work 15 minutes away too. If I were still having to drive 65 miles away to school every week, then I could see the point. If I find a job in San Diego, Los Angeles, or Orange County…ok, I’ll look into a carpool (or a new place to live).

Total savings: $0

I am officially all caught up on my savings posts. I will post savings tip #25 tomorrow. Check back soon.

Carina Jaynes

Five more tips on saving money

As promised, I said I would post five tips everyday to catch myself up. Here are the next five in the challenge.

Tip #14: Use self-persuasion to share how much you’ve saved so far. Well, I find this tip just silly. I am kind of already doing that by blogging about it, right? So this tip isn’t saving me any money. I think it was more of just a way for Sethi to get an idea of how many people read his blog. Next.

wineTip #15: Forget going to a bar– ask people over for dinner. This one I have actually already started implicating this month. I definitely do not go out nearly as much, for food or drinks, and have been eating in and having some wine with friends when they come over.

Sethi has a great excerpt from a book on hosting people at your house by Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone. It shows how easy a dinner party can be. Tiny space? No furniture? No cooking skills? No problem. Grab some folding chairs, a roast chicken from the deli at your local grocery store, cookies, brownies or ice cream for dessert, and lots of wine, beer or spirits and you’re all in for a good night. I have tried hosting dinner parties in the past with co-workers. We all had a great time. It ended up more like a dessert party with tons of sweets, but it was a lot of fun. We just sat around the table and talked and took pictures instead of going out to a restaurant or bar and spending $50 or more on food, cocktails, tip, taxes, gas, taxis, etc.

I was going out to dinner with my boyfriend every week, spending around $60 a night or more. That adds up quick. Now we stay in, cook and drink wine with each other. It’s kind of romantic too because we’re doing it all together and spending quality time with one another. This tip kind of ties in with tip #12. I have only gone out to eat three times this month, which has saved me probably over $100 already. This is probably one of the most cost-effective tips of them all. Going out is typically one of the biggest expenditures we all have.

Have you hosted any dinner parties? How much do you save compared to going out?

Total savings: $50 to $100

TVTip #16: Cancel/defer any large purchases this month. Read this tip a little too late. I just splurged and bought Rob and I plane tickets to Las Vegas for our birthdays next month. Another big purchase I have been wanting to make is a new windshield for my car though. Two weeks after getting a brand new car, a rock flies up and cracks my windshield. Just my luck. Windshields and I apparently do not get along. I have had to replace a windshield at least once in all of my cars. I am thinking that if I don’t end up needing to use my fuel hedge fund in a couple months, I will use that money to put towards a new one.

The idea behind this tip is that it helps you to evaluate whether you really need this big new purchase. You may realize you don’t need it, especially as your savings grow. Second, if you wait on purchasing a new TV or grill, in a month, the price will probably drop. Set up a reminder to check it out in 30 days.

What big purchases are planning to defer this month?

Total savings: $0, since I already bought plane tickets. Damn.

Tip #17: Buy generic stuff for the stuff you don’t care about. The stuff you do care about, spend more. De-prioritize. One thing I really don’t splurge on is expensive wines. What’s the point? I’m no wine connoisseur and like almost all of it. So when I go to the grocery store to buy a bottle or two, I buy the cheap stuff that costs like $10 instead of the high-end name brands that cost $20 or more (and then I repurpose the bottles). On a blind-taste test, not many people can recognize the difference between them all anyway.

I have also experimented with name brands and generic on simple things like toilet paper. I usually get the soft, more expensive kind. Recently though, my roommate bought the cheaper generic brand. Ouch! It feels like sandpaper on my butt! So that is one thing I will continue buying the better quality of. But the point is, I tried it. The things that I could stop buying name brands of are toothpaste, water (when I am in a rush and need to get one at the gas station), Q-tips, paper towels, vitamins, clothes, shoes, etc. Here’s an article from CBS News about brand names vs. generic.

What items could you save money on buying generic instead of brand names?

Total savings: $10 to $25

And finally…

Handmade Chistmas gift ideasTip #18: Skip the expensive Christmas gifts this year and instead give something more meaningful. This was my original plan for this past Christmas. I was going to give everyone something handmade or vintage, not necessarily by me (I bought gifts on Etsy). It didn’t turn out quite like I expected. I still ended up spending more than I would have liked to. This year though, I am prepared. I’ve set up a sub-savings account within my ING Direct Savings just for Christmas that I am putting 5% of my total monthly savings into. At the end of the year, I will use that money to purchase supplies to completely make my own gifts for Christmas.

Sethi’s tip on his blog actually says not to spend any money on Christmas this next year. He says to tell your friends and family that you simply can’t afford to buy them anything this year but that you’d be willing to help out around the house or host a dinner party. Me? I am determined to get this next “Handmade Christmas” right. So I am going to stick to buying supplies to make my own gifts this year. Who knows, I may even get started early.

Do you spend tons of money every Christmas and find yourself in debt in the New Year? How do you plan to avoid that this year?

Total savings: $50 to $500

That’s it for now, but I have five more tips coming your way tomorrow. Be on the lookout for them.

Carina Jaynes

A brief update on my saving $1,000 challenge

I realize I haven’t been posting about my savings as frequently as I should, so I am going to try to post five tips a day over the next couple of days so I can catch up. I will admit, I haven’t exactly stayed on track with it. My grocery shopping spree did not help me out at all. However, the groceries were needed. It’s keeping me from going out all of the time, and I have enough food in my fridge now to last me the rest of the month. It did all cost me around $175 though…a lot of what I had saved. I have decided to reduce my savings goal for this month to $700, which is a lot more realistic anyhow and is what I should have initially started with.

 

Old boots

Tip #9: Only buy something new when replacing something old. This especially works with clothing. If you need to buy some new shirts or jeans, throw another pair out, or better yet, donate them to charity. If you can’t part with anything, you can’t buy anything. Sethi says this tip is especially psychological.

“The psychology of having to open up your closet, decide what to give away, and to get it to the nearest charity (or garbage can) is enough to stop many of us from buying something new.”
-Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich

This is tip is also very goal-driven. For example, I am not going to go out and buy a new pair of boots (although I do really really want some new ones) if my goal is to save money. This one requires me to be very conscious about my spending habits. The other day I was at Hobby Lobby looking for waxed linen cord for a piece of jewelry I want to make. They didn’t have what I was looking for, but I ended up with items in my cart anyway. After almost reaching the cashier’s counter, I looked at my cart and realized that I would be spending the money I have been trying so hard to save. So I stopped and left without purchasing a single item. It actually felt pretty good. I felt accomplished because I had worked towards my goal.

Total savings from this tip: $20 (which is what I would have spent at Hobby Lobby if I didn’t step away from my cart)

credit card rewardsTip #10: Use the free rewards from your credit cards, car insurance, and workplace. These rewards often go ignored and unused. In fact, I have never even used them myself. Well, I have redeemed my cash back rewards on one of my credit cards. They give you 10% back for every 2,500 points you earn, which is then credited back to my credit card.

I just went to one of my credit cards rewards page and found a couple deals that I could use. With April soon approaching, my credit card offers 15% cash back when I file my taxes with H&R Block Online, which I was actually considering using over TurboTax this year. Now I just got that extra push to switch. If I don’t like it, I get some money back and won’t use it next year. They also offer 5% cash back on iTunes purchases until next month. I don’t necessarily plan on spending money on iTunes, especially since I am trying to save money, but if I do, now I know I can get a little back on my purchases. A lot of credit cards and car insurance companies offer travel discounts. My Bank of America credit card does, but I am trying to pay this one off, so I don’t plan on using it any time soon.

What kinds of rewards do your credit cards or memberships (i.e. Costco) offer?

Total savings: $25 by redeeming my 10% cash back on one of my credit cards, plus 15% of whatever it is I am going to be paying for my taxes to get done (probably around $6 or so).

 

shoppingTip #11: Never pay full retail price for clothes (or eyeglasses) again. This sounds nearly impossible to do. However, it really isn’t at all. You don’t need to shop at Macy’s or Nordstrom to buy all of your clothes. There are discount stores everywhere. My personal favorite is TJ Maxx. I find all kinds of great things there. Clothes, purses, home goods. Usually when it comes to shopping at discount stores, like Nordstrom Rack for example, I never have any luck finding something I really want. TJ Maxx always has something for me though, and at a fraction of the cost any of the other retail or department stores are offering. Ramit offers a few of his favorite sites, like Overstock.com and Gilt on his blog too. He also suggests buying online. Not only is it so much easier and more convenient to shop straight from home, but they usually have some great deals and can be a lot cheaper than in the store.

Then again, I am trying to save money rather than spend it buying clothes. I do however need ink for my printer, HDMI cables, a wireless internet card, and an optical video cable for my new surround sound (a wonderful Christmas present my my ever-loving boyfriend). I almost went out to Best Buy and Office Depot to buy these, but decided to check Amazon.com first. I could save around 50% from buying online than in-store. I decided to wait until next month to make the purchases, but buying from Amazon will save me around $50 on all of these items. These little things add up.

Have any other places you like to shop for discount prices?

Total savings: around $50

 

grouponTip #12: Save money on eating out. For myself, and many people I know, this is one of the biggest expenses. Before I went on my grocery shopping spree, I would eat out almost everyday because I didn’t have food in my apartment. Although I spent quite a bit on groceries, I typically spend about $200 per month on dining out, and sometimes more (according to my Mint.com November budget, I spent over $300 on eating out). Yikes! That doesn’t even include the money I spend at work on food. So in the long run, spending $175 on groceries for practically an entire month’s worth of food doesn’t seem too bad. The good news about that is that I won’t have to spend that much every month. It was more of a jumping off point to get started.

Anyway, this tip is all about saving money when you do go out. Using coupons sounds like a good way to start. I am not a coupon clipper by any means, but if I do see a coupon for a restaurant I frequent or would like to visit in my mail, I’ll save it. I think I need to hit up Groupon a little more too especially since Rob lives in Orange County, where there are a lot more deals available. I am trying not to eat out as much though. Rob and I have been staying in and cooking dinner when he comes to visit. Thus far, I have only eaten out about once a week this month, which is saving me some money.

Do you save money when going out by using coupons? What kind and where from?

Total savings: $150 to $200

And finally…

 

car insurance policy

Tip #13: Negotiate your car insurance. This is actually something I really need to do as soon as possible. I unfortunately was extremely irresponsible a little over a year ago and got a DUI. Along with that DUI came higher insurance rates and the requirement to have SR22 insurance for the next three years. This meant that my parents were no longer going to be paying for my car insurance (I guess we all have to grow up eventually, damn). I shopped my policy and discovered that my current insurance company, Mercury, was the cheapest–$205 per month. Then I got a new car. A safer car even. For some reason, that changed everything. My insurance went up $70 per month! It’s outrageous! I can’t afford to be paying $275 every month for the next three years! Is it because it’s a new car? I don’t understand why it increased so much?

I keep putting off calling my insurance broker to ask them to shop it for me, but this tip is pushing me to finally do so. So I just emailed my broker (because they’re closed on the weekends and I’ll probably forget to call on Monday) asking her to shop around for me. My roommate did this recently because his rates went up too (he also had Mercury. Hmm…?) and he is paying a lot less. Hopefully I will have a few quotes to share with you next week and will be able to calculate my savings from this tip then.

Until then, let me know if you know of any good insurance rates around right now and what kinds of deals and discounts they offer.

Total savings: To be determined…

Carina Jaynes

Lazy rainy day…

I’ve been a bit lazy this past week and haven’t posted. It has actually been a fairly busy week.

Unfortunately I did not go to the Long Beach Antique Market on Sunday. My roommate/uncle and I decided to forgo it to save some money, which in turn adds to my savings goal. Rather, we decided to go grocery shopping, which I did spend quite a bit on, so that whole not going to save money thing, didn’t turn out so well after all. I also probably spent more on groceries than I would have on antiques. The difference, now I don’t eat out and am eating a lot healthier. My roommate started a six-week weight loss challenge through our gym, CrossFit Inland Valley. He is on a strict paleo diet, which means clean whole foods– lots of protein, some fruits and vegetables, and little nuts. No grain. No dairy. We bought a lot of food. A lot of good food. We didn’t buy any bread or any milk, which we thought was going to be tough at first, but it’s not that bad. Then again, I am not necessarily on the diet, so I did go out for Thai food and had a cupcake. Whoops! For the most part, however, I am eating better and cleaner.

After all my hard work at the gym and eating healthier, you’d think I’d be losing weight. Sadly, I am bloated and in some pain because I started my hormone injections on Monday for my next egg donation. I am donating now for the third time. If you want to find out more information, read my previous post “The ins and outs of egg donation.” It is really a great feeling, being able to help someone in such a huge, life changing way. I am giving the intended parents (who remain anonymous unless we both choose not to) the potential gift of life. The gift of a child they cannot conceive on their own. A lot of people ask me why I do it and many say they don’t think they could. Me? I am still unsure that I want kids. I was actually just talking with my roommate about it this morning. About how if I do eventually want them, it won’t be for another six to 10 years I don’t think. I am lucky that I also found a guy that feels the same way about it. He and I are on the same page about practically everything. It is amazing. I love him so much.

This past Tuesday was also my first “No Spending Day” of the month. I got gas the night before, but didn’t really leave the house until I had to go to work that night. Instead, I stayed in and let my creativity have a fun day. I did a few crafty DIY projects. I am putting together a blog post on how to repurpose glass bottles, like wine and beer bottles. I really liked the results I have gotten so far. I am still working on a couple more projects and then it will be ready to post.

Rob and I at the beachMy previously mentioned amazing boyfriend, Rob, came out to visit Tuesday night and stayed until Friday morning. It was so nice to spend some nice quality alone time with him. We usually go to a Kings hockey game every Thursday, but decided not to this week so we could just spend some time alone together. We worked out together then went out and ran some errands and went to lunch. We cooked dinner together instead of going out. It was great.

Now here I am, a week later, about to get ready for work. It’s been a very lazy day too. I woke up had breakfast then passed out again. I didn’t wake up until 2:30 p.m.! I think my body is just exhausted from working out so much and taking my medications for my egg donation.

Be on the lookout for my next post late tonight when I get off work.

Carina Jaynes

Let’s get dirty and save some money

January is all about change. A new year, a new attitude, a new you. The problem is sticking to those resolutions we set in the beginning of the year. That’s one of the reasons I decided to blog about my progress of saving money and getting healthy (two of the most common and cliche new year’s resolutions). I feel as though I have a responsibility to post about it, which in turn, makes me want to try even harder.

Today I registered for a local 5k mud run, the Temecula Mud Run. I have done one run my entire life, a 5k Race for the Cure a few years back, which my mom signed me up and forced me to do. I have always hated running. Now however, I have forced myself to do it. When my mom registered for me to run, she paid and I didn’t care for it because it wasn’t my money and didn’t effect my wallet. The thought of that is sad and I feel pretty pathetic, but now, I paid the $50 to do it. I don’t want to see my money go to waste, so now I will care more about it. Plus, it’s just another stepping stone to reaching my goals.

I have never done a mud run in the past but I’ve heard the stories of how fun they are from my friends and family. I am trying to recruit my coworker, friends and family to run with me. Although there is running involved in CrossFit, it’s one of the things that I struggle with and slows me down during my workouts. I decided on the days that I am not at CrossFit Inland Valley, I will head to the gym at my apartment complex and run on the treadmill. I found this podcast called Podrunner that helps train you in preparing for a run or just for enjoyment. It’s an interval training program that has music that changes to let you know its time to run or walk. It starts out slow with 95 seconds of walking then 60 seconds of running and moves up and up until you’re running the entire 5k, 8k  or whatever your goal is. I enjoy it. And it helps to start me slow and learn to appreciate running and build my stamina for when there is running in the CrossFit WOD.

Long Beach Antique MarketTomorrow is the monthly Long Beach Antique Market where over 800 vendors bring a bunch of antiques, repurposed objects, and flea market finds to the public at Veterans Stadium. I’ve been once and didn’t even make it through the whole thing. I am also excited to be going with my uncle/roommate who has discovered his love you DIY and antiques not too long ago as well. I will be sre to take lots of pictures and blog about it.

As for my money saving, it’s going ok. The next tip doesn’t really pertain to me that much because I have implemented it in the past. Tip #8 is implementing an “a la carte” method. In other words, cancel those useless subscriptions you think you need. The money disappears every month without you really knowing it. When you cancel those subscriptions and buy them individually instead, like magazine subscriptions or Netflix, you’ll realize how much you’re spending because now you are doing it consciously and watching the money leave your pocket. One subscription I did cancel only a few months ago was my Disneyland pass. It was costing me $35 per month ($350 annually), and although it did pretty much pay for itself because I did go to Disneyland more than four times, I decided not to renew my membership and save the money. If I want to go to Disneyland now, I realize how much it costs ($99 for a park hopper) because it is coming out of my wallet right then and there. When you sit down and look at your monthly subscriptions, they really do add up. It’s an easy place to start to eliminate some spending.

Total savings from tip #8: $35

Carina Jaynes