Wednesday, August 10, 2016

When Cash Back Is Cash Back



“Spend $1,000 for the first three months and you will get $100 cash back.”

This is just one of credit card promos that I get almost everyday. It usually ends up in the shredder. I am not about to put myself into debt just to get $100 cash back. A small cash back is not enough to convince me to go on a shopping spree. 

It is stupid.

That was my rhetoric until our favorite warehouse company decided to drop our current credit provider and contracted another one. We had no choice but to go along with the changes to keep the cash back that we have accumulated with the previous card.

Problem is, we really like doing business with our old credit company. When someone stole our card information and used it to pay for bills, they stopped it right away and gave our money back without a hassle. When we call, they do not put us on hold for a long time. That is a big deal for us.

To be able to continue doing business with them is to open a new credit card that we do not need. 

Then an idea came when we received a bill for our car insurance, then my health insurance, then the utility bills, then…

I did not wait for another second. I filled out application for the new credit card. Because we were old customer, the application was approved right away. When I received the card, I put all the bills that were due for that month.

I got the $100 cash back without adding any expenses. We pay all those bills regularly anyway, why not get cash back from it, right?


The secret is to pay all the credit card balance on or before the due date to get the cash back. If you don’t, it will just go to the interest payment.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Have Fun Locally and Save Money!



Happy as a kid in a candy store. 

That’s how I described my husband as we board the train going to Los Angeles Union Station. (Psst, it was his first time to be on the train.)

We were talking about spending the day in Santa Monica Beach but the thought of driving in a busy Freeway and expensive parking almost prevented us from having a fun time.

I started researching if there are other ways of getting to Santa Monica Beach without the aggravation of driving.  City bus was not an option because it will take us maybe three to four hours to get to the beach. We would end up spending the day in the bus. Taking Uber or Lyft is kind of expensive so it was not considered.

I started researching the train option and BOOM! Problem solved. 

Metrolink tickets took us to Santa Monica and back and for only $11. Yes, it is way cheaper than driving and parking. We were able to see so many interesting things that we would not usually see when driving. We left the house at 8:00 AM and we got to the beach at 10:00 AM. For two hours, we strolled by the ocean and the pier. Around noon, we decided to walk to the nearby mall and had a delicious Mexican food for lunch.

We were home before 3 PM, happy and satisfied.


By the way, do you know that on weekends, you can get a Metrolink day pass for only $10? Yes, you can visit different Southern California beaches for that amount. What are you waiting for? Enjoy and save!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Lies And Savings? What's The Connection?

A few days ago, a teenage foreign student approached us and begged us to rent her a room in our house. A red flag appeared right away. A minor making decision for herself? No, dear.

Then she went on and told us to keep it secret if we do let her live in our house. Another red flag. More hush, hush request and finally, we flatly told her we do not like lying. She finally stopped trying to make us partakers of her lies.

I am not saying that we never lie, we all do, but living in lie is something that is very exhausting in my opinion. It all starts in one little lie, then another lie to cover up the previous lie, then more lies to try to cover up lies and on and on and on…

Whew!

Lying can have grave consequences. The guilt, the fear of being found or caught. Losing the trust of the people around you, especially the people you care about. You open yourself to disaster and destruction. And in many cases, you will find yourself alone.

Believe me, when the trust is gone, it is very hard to gain it back. There will always be a suspicion about your words, motives and actions. No one would want to be around with a chronic liar.

Most of all, it is a SIN!

Proverbs 12:22 says, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.”

So SAVE yourself from misery and guilt. Be truthful.


Friday, February 26, 2016

EAT GOOD AND SAVE

My husband is not fond of leftovers and neither do I. There are times when I would eat leftovers but only because I feel bad about wasting food. I hate to see them just go down to the trash. Composting leftover food is good but it is still a waste of money.

To avoid these kind of wastes, I have to plan to cook or buy food that we both like. 

Easy, right? 

Well, in a household that came from different cultures and background, it is not so easy. I am an     Asian. It means, my diet usually composed of rice, fish, cooked vegetables. My husband, who is an Italian/German/American, does not like these type of food. He would tolerate it sometimes, but only because “he loves me”. He prefers bread, pasta, sandwich, salad, pizza, hamburger, everything that I consider not real food.

On top of that, we welcomed Bob into our home. He is a high school student from China. You would think it would be easy for me because he is Asian, too. We may be both from Asia but our food, as I discovered recently, are not really the same. In fact, I am finding out that Filipino food compared to authentic Chinese food is very bland. Theirs have so much flavor and aroma. And yes, it is also different from the food they serve in Chinese fast food here in the United States. Buying those for Bob is not an option.

So, how do we eat together without cooking three different meal and without costing me so much money? It took a couple of months before I started to learn to cater to my household’s meal preference. Here is what I learned.

  1. Learn from “hit and miss”. I learned to observe what kind of food that we all like. Every time we sit down and eat together, I make a list of food that everyone seems to enjoy. I learned that we all like potato, egg, beef, chicken. From these basic ingredients, I just need to be creative so I do not feed my household with same meal everyday. Thanks to worldwide web, there are tons of recipes that I could use with one click. I learned to cook several meals that my family enjoyed. 
  2. Designate an evening meal that focuses on one of the household member’s most favorite food and just eat it. It is not going to hurt anyone to compromise.
  3. Learn the exact amount of food to cook so there will be no leftovers. I also found out that Bob, like us, does not like leftovers either.  It is really important that in every meal, everyone will be satisfied and full but no leftovers. It took me a few weeks before I mastered everything but it works. I pretty much eliminated food waste.

So there! 

Monday, April 6, 2015

How To Have Fun With Grandchildren Without Ruining Your Budget?

Enjoying Her First Pony Ride

          Lately, our 9-year old granddaughter has been spending time with us on weekends. She is the type who wants to be entertained constantly. My husband and I sat down to plan and find ways to let her have fun and at the same time, not break our budget.

         These are the ways we found:

1. Check your local community if there are places or activities for children.

We are blessed to live in a community that do so much for kids specially in the summer. A nearby park has a newly-remodeled swimming pool and water slides. Residents can use the facility for a very small fee. For the three of us, we only pay $9. When we get hungry, we can literally walk home to eat.

There is also another park closed by that offers pony rides for children. For $3, your kids can have a blast!

2. Pay the membership fee instead of just a single day entrance fee to your favorite park. 

My husband and I love Huntington Garden and luckily, our granddaughter likes it, too. There is a children’s area where kids can do so much activities, educational or just for fun. If we pay a single day entrance, it would cost us at least $60 just for the day. By paying for annual membership, it only cost us $90 for one year and we can bring our grandchildren for free. Not only that, every time we renew our membership, we get 2 guest passes that we can share with adult friends and families.

We always bring our food and drinks so it would not cost us extra. There is a designated area where you can eat your own food.

3. Ask around for free passes.

Our church have this ministry group where people can offer unwanted things for other people in the group to use. In the same group, you can also ask for something you need and in most cases, people respond and offer what they have. I see so many people who ask for passes for places like Disneyland, Legoland or Zoo. Believe it or not, there are people in the group who have those kinds of passes sitting in their drawers. They are always willing to put them into good use.

You may not have a group like this but I am sure you can ask friends and relatives who might know somebody who have those resources.

4. Do something productive around the house.

  I love gardening and although our granddaughter is scared of bees, she loves to help me tending my vegetables. I let her plant some seeds or pull weeds. She is into bugs so she spends so much time looking for them under the bushes. 


I also loves to sew so the next time she spend weekend with us, we are planning to make a new dress for her. She is looking forward to it!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Don't Waste Your Left Over Brewed Coffee


Every Friday morning, it is my routine to clean up the coffee pots that I used for the Bible Study that is held in my house on Thursday nights. I usually get 10 to 15 women so I make sure that there is enough coffee for everybody. It is better to have more than less.

While I was pouring the left over coffee last week, it occurred to me that maybe I could use it to fertilize my plants instead of wasting it. I have been using used ground coffee for years, so why not the left over brewed coffee? I stopped what I was doing and started searching the internet. Voila! I found three helpful articles about it.

No more wasted leftover coffee from now on. I only need to dilute it then sprinkle my vegetable garden and flower garden with it. You can find the information on this link.

Monday, April 7, 2014

BIG HOUSE, Small House


I always enjoy talking with my neighbors, who are mostly retired, and listen to their stories growing up. Some of them grew up in our neighborhood and knew each other since they were little. One of them used to swim in our swimming pool (now covered with a redwood deck) in the summer when he was about seven or eight.

Back then people would buy a house and they would stay in it until it is paid off. Neighbors had time to know or befriend each other. Their children grew up or grew old together. Retirement was easier then because there were no mortgages to worry about.

It is very common these days that after building up a little equity, people would sell their house to acquire a bigger and fancier one. There is nothing wrong with doing that, IF you can afford it. If it will put your finances in jeopardy, DO NOT DO IT. 

There are so many things to consider before deciding whether buying a bigger house is the right thing to do. You have to ask yourself the following questions:  

  1. Do you have enough time and money to pay your mortgage off before you retire? 
  2. Can you afford to pay higher monthly mortgage?
  3. Are you prepared to pay higher property tax and home insurance?
  4. Can you afford the upkeep of a bigger house?

By staying in the same house they bought long time ago, my neighbors are still paying the property tax based on the original price of the house. The value of their house is also way up compare to the original price they paid. 

The same thing helped us kept upfloat after losing some of our investment income. Having no mortgage to worry about and having a very low property tax made it easier for us to adjust to our new budget. We would really be in trouble right now if we had a mortgage to pay.

If you ask my neighbors for tips on how to retire comfortably, they only have one thing to say; plan on paying off everything while you are still working. When you retire, the only bills you should have are the utility bills.