Smoothies Can Save Your Produce

Last night, Heath and I joined some of my girlfriends to a free event by Robyn Openshaw, aka Green Smoothie Girl. Even though most of us already knew about the health benefits of green smoothies and adding more whole, raw foods to our diet, it was a great reminder how nutritious green smoothies are for you.

This morning as I was contemplating about the stuff I learned from the event, I thought about how smoothies are a frugal person’s best friend.

It’s a great way to create a nutritious veggie/fruit cocktail with produce you have lying around before it perishes. Sometimes you get that fruit that has a little bruise or the greens that are starting to wilt and you know it won’t taste that great if you eat it, but you can just throw it in a smoothie and all is good in the world again. I do the same thing for leafy greens – when it starts getting a little wilty I just throw it in the smoothie instead of chucking it. It’s a great family activity to get the kids involved and experiment with different ingredients and concoctions.

All you need to make a great smoothie is a blender, water, veggies (especially leafy greens), and some fruit (like apples.) Heath and I invested in a Vitamix and it’s the best thing we have ever bought. We have definitely covered the difference in the cost just from the daily use we get out of it. Also, it makes smoothies truly smooth.

Try making some smoothies because in the long run, besides saving your produce, you are also saving your health.

 

New Home, New Jobs, and Consolidation

A lot of changes have occurred within the last couple of months and especially the last couple of weeks.

Heath and I were at a crossroads in our lives. A couple of months ago, we were feeling somewhat lost and confused in our work and our future. Then, we received our lease renewal letter in the mail and that was the initial decision point that helped shape our new changes.

Our rent had increased nearly $200/mo (because we were living in an area in which a big tech company was going to occupy – I’m using their product right now as we speak to even write this blog post..) We felt the money that we were losing was not worth it for only a 1 bedroom apartment, which didn’t include utilities and other necessities. Even though this was our first home together as a couple, the area was great, great apartment amenities, and we had such wonderful memories here, we knew we had to move.

When we started apartment hunting, it was such a huuuge pain. Rent was increasing everywhere! We were going to pay major moolah to live in a small dump. Then, Heath and I had to think really really hard. Is this decision going to work? Is it going to cramp our freedom? Was it worth it to save some money?

We finally decided to move in with my mom. My mother still lives in a 2-story 3-bedroom house in an affluent neighborhood by herself. She raised me half my life as a single mother and she has been paying for this house mostly on her own. If Heath and I moved in with her, she would be near family everyday, have people to help her maintain the house, and Heath and I would pay less rent while helping my mother financially. It was a win-win situation. However, the one thing that made me hesitant was whether my mom would put limitations on me because I was still her child.

My mom and I had a small talk and was really honest to each other. We talked about boundaries, what was accessible in the house, expectations in terms of house chores / responsibilities, but also about respect and privacy. I was an adult now and I’m not the same party-loving person I was 5-6 years ago. She can’t tell me what to do as long as I wasn’t harming myself or others. After this talk, Heath and I had to figure out who keeps what and what would be stored in the garage. As long as I had the Vitamix in the kitchen, I was happy.

The best thing about this decision was that I really don’t think this is a “downgrade.” If anything, I feel like we are “consolidating” – making use of unused space, being financially saavy, more people to help around and maintain the house, and creating a stronger bond as a family. In a lot of cultures, there’s a big emphasis on family, where children will continue living with their parents even after they’re married and have kids. Here in the American culture, it’s almost a right of passage for children to move out and settle away from their parents. Spending money for extra space and consuming more to fill that space.

So far, it’s been a couple of weeks and things are going great for us. My mom is really happy.

Best of all, though, is Heath and I got new job opportunities. When we first were applying, we were scared that we would be taking a financial risk. What if it doesn’t work out? How are we going to pay for rent? We were scared of taking opportunities because of rent. But now, we know that we can chase our dreams and search our true potential without worrying about our finances. Between our new jobs and living with my mom, we’re saving sooo much. If that isn’t financial freedom, I don’t know what is.

What big steps have you ever taken in your life to gain financial freedom?

 

November 2011 Update

There wasn’t any blogging going on in the month of October.

Heath and I have been struggling with work / life balance, which I’m sure many out there do.

We have both come to the realization that taking care of ourselves, our health, and our sanity is super important, and that we should not compromise those things.

The passing of Steve Jobs was a great reminder that, hey, life is short. Enjoy it while you can doing what you care about. You don’t want to look back and regret the things you have missed out.

I have enrolled and started a holistic nutrition and health program. I’m learning so so much about health and all the different factors that affect health. Things that are overlooked by health professionals because they want to fix you up super quick and get you out. Everyone has control over their health, but many fail to make it a priority. Health is an ongoing thing, it’s a lifestyle. But we trudge along doing what we know is wrong until something goes awry and we want a quick fix. It shouldn’t be like that; it’s not like that.

Anyways, in 6 months I will get my health coach certification so I can provide support and guide individuals who want to make a difference in their health. I want to include my health coaching with my current side business in the beauty industry. For now, to get more ideas on how you can improve your health, you can read my blog at http://realbeautyconcept.blogspot.com for subjects that I’m constantly researching and learning.

The holidays are coming up again so that means saving strategies as we start preparing for gifts. Heath and I will be visiting local relatives for Thanksgiving but heading to Missouri for Christmas to New Years.

 

6 months

I’m so glad that I made that career change and applied for the 6-month position because the position eventually became permanent. I would have had to pack my bags or transfer to another job mid-October, but I was able to continue trekking along.

However, I did notice that when my work future was unknown and all that was in my head was the 6-month mark, my debt was extremely low and I was super conscientious about my spending. The weeks following the news that I was a permanent employee, I noticed that my spending increased. Lunch here, small dinner there, presents, etc..it eventually became more.

My debt is still manageable, but I’m starting to realize that I take my permanent status and consistent income for granted, so I just toss rationale out the door and my spending is starting to outweigh my revenue.

I really feel like if we all lived thinking we only had 6 months left (or less!) until our income is gone, a lot of us would make wiser choices in our spending. We wouldn’t be so dependent on our jobs because we were financially prepared.

Most financial advisors suggest that you have an emergency savings worth 6+ months of income just in case something happens to your job, because by 6 months you will be able to bounce back or find other assistance. If you feel like 6 months is overwhelming, start small. Everyone has to start somewhere. Start with saving $100, then $200…$1000…and pretty soon you’ll reach your goal.

Will you be prepared if you were cut in 6 months?

 

Happy Labor Day!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. For those who got a day off from your employer, hope you had some time to relax and enjoy the long weekend.

Not too much has been happening in terms of Frugal Rich Life. Heath and I are still on the health streak, and if possible, maybe healthier? I’ve been reading more and more on nutrition and healthy living, so we have been incorporating superfoods and healthy practices into our life. If you’re interested, I started a new blog of my own about holistic health and beauty: http://realbeautyconcept.blogspot.com

A month ago, Heath’s cousin and mom came over from Missouri for a visit. It was great fun and it got Heath and I out of the house to experience some local touristy spots. It’s amazing what you find when you are tourist in your own town! Of course, we kept it frugal as much as we could without missing the fun. Hopefully, when we get some time, Heath and I will scramble up some pictures from their visit to show you.

For the most part, we’ve both been busy with work as the workload at our respective employers have increased.

I also signed us up for a 10K in April 2012, so that we would be more motivated to work out. Luckily, it’s a walk/run event and it’s not too intensive for our first race as a couple.

BTW, happy belated one year birthday to Frugal Rich Life. We opened our doors on August 20, 2010! Woohoo!

 

My Birthday Weekend

I wanted to share this past weekend with you folks. Burnette did an amazing job planning out the weekend. It was filled with laughter, relaxation and some amazing meals. I also want to thank my co-workers for dedicating their time to celebrate on Friday evening AND Tuesday evening!

Saturday night, we headed off to the San Jose Improv to watch Bob Saget. I was a bit skeptical on how the show was going to be, due to everyone well-informing me on how nasty he was.. That being said, we had an awesome time! *Frugal hint: Balcony seats are a little bit less expensive that showroom seats, but you get a better view of the stage.

Sunday, we started the day off with a couples Massage at Watercourse in Palo Alto, which has got to be one of the top places to go in the Bay Area for a massage. I would highly recommend it. *Frugal hint: They also accept SpaFinder gift certificates, which you can purchase at a discount ;)

After the massage we headed over to Joanies Cafe, also in Palo Alto. We ordered the salmon omelet and salmon eggs benedict. They both were absolutely delicious! They don’t take reservations, so you might have to wait a bit.

Later that evening, after letting our stomachs settle, we headed off to dinner at The Grill on the Alley in downtown San Jose. We ate here last year on my birthday and I had the Ahi Tuna Steak, which I remembered being freaking awesome. I was actually trying to order it again, but it could not be found on the menu as it was a special last time. So, I mixed it up and tried another special, the goat cheese and spices fillet mignon. I don’t think that’s the exact name, but it was absolutely amazing. My taste-buds seemed to take full control which in contrary led to my eyelids shutting on me. So good! *Frugal hint: We had purchased a discounted gift certificate through restaurant.com.

On Sunday before dinner, B’s mom had stopped by and dropped off some birthday gifts, which included a home grilled smoked salmon. So delicious! I think she’s got me figured out.. :)

I also received an awesome surprise package from my parents. Which included a surprise attack nerf gun, air popcorn popper and jalapeno popcorn seasoning. I can’t wait to try out the popcorn popper. I’ve been thinking about getting one for awhile since it’s supposed to be a much healthier way to cook popcorn.

Thanks again to everyone that made my birthday so special. Including you, Facebook friends! :)

 

Unplugging from Cable TV


Heath and I have been completely unplugged from cable TV since we moved in together. Before that, I had local cable which I barely used and only got it to watch “The Bachelor / Bachelorette, ” (again, don’t judge.) Even then, I stopped watching the show completely after Ali’s season – all the catfights and roomful of douchebag testosterone was just too much for me, so the cable gradually started collecting dust.

Since going unplugged, we get most of our television and cinematic needs through Netflix and Hulu. We actually joined Hulu Plus for a bit, just so we could stream old episodes of shows that we’ve been wanting to watch, but since Netflix has announced their price hike, we actually canceled our subscription to Hulu Plus and will just stick to the Netflix plan.

For all the people moaning and groaning about the Netflix price hike, remember the Blockbuster era of having to get into your car, drive to the nearest Blockbuster location, and pay $5 for a DVD, which you only had a limited number of days to watch and return? OMG! Craziness!

Don’t even get me started on $10 movie theater tickets. Our children will never know what it was like to be able to go to the movies and spend just $10 (including movie ticket / popcorn / drink) – truly unjust world.

So yes, the price of Netflix’s $16 for UNLIMITED streaming and one DVD at a time isn’t too horrible, considering you get to sit in the comfort of your home, comfy in PJs (or naked, if you’re into that kinky stuff,) all the food and drinks you want without breaking your wallet, and watch a good movie without any annoying hecklers, screaming kids, and that annoying individual in the middle who has to make some type of commentary about everything.

I think the frosting on the cake is that you don’t have to adjust YOUR schedule around a movie or show’s schedule. You can have marathon showings of “Glee” or watch “How Harry Met Sally” a million times – not that I’ve done ANY such things – on your OWN time with Hulu and Netflix.

For the sports fans who are afraid to unplug because they will miss the games, you can search live streaming sites online so you don’t miss the action. You can also hang out at the nearest sports bar and really get your blood running with some crazy fans just like yourself. Bonus: maybe make a new friend or two, or possibly get a chance to check out any hot guys / girls while you’re there.

 

Free Hobby: Reading!


The last couple of weeks I’ve been stampeded bombarded by work, leaving very little energy except to obtain sustenance, quasi-workout, quasi-social life, and to curl up in bed to read or play Bubbles on my iPhone (don’t judge – it’s FREE!)

One of the things I vowed to put into practice this year was to recreationally read more.

I remember when I was in elementary school, every start of summer I would get the Summer Reading List from the local library and spend my summers in the depths of my imaginary adventures. Considering I had no money and couldn’t drive, it was the only pastime available for an introverted, nerdy child.

After high school, it was textbooks, non-fiction, blogs, and short articles that were mainly used for reference.

I forgot how much I loved to read until last year, when I nearly missed a flight to my European vacation because I was so fixated on the novel I was reading right in front of my departure gate.

I declared I would start reading again after that, but somehow I would start a novel, then I would allow my busy schedule to get in the way, and I would stop and forget about my book altogether.

Recently, I just joined a book club through Meetup. It has held me accountable to continue reading, but also be able to meet some intelligent women who also know how to cook (there’s a potluck at every meeting!  FTW!)

Reading is truly a guilty pleasure – you get wrapped up in this fantasy world in which the author guides you through but you ultimately create for yourself. You can read anytime, anywhere…electronically, paperback, hardback – similar to a rendezvous if not better.

Also, I’ve increased the use of the right side of my brain and I think, I really want to believe, that my verbal skills have improved.

Plus, did I mention it’s FREE?!

In Levar Burton style, “take a look, it’s in a book…” I think I just revealed how old I am.

 

Happy 4th of July!

This weekend has been much different then previous 4th of July celebrations, but overall it has been an amazing three day weekend for us. I feel like it has been a fresh reminder of our freedom and independence.

We kicked it off by heading to San Francisco after work on Friday for some fondue at Melt! – where we used our GroupOn that was soon to expire. We followed that up with gelato for desert!

During our walk to the Gelato joint, we began analyzing how much GroupOn’s helped us save.

We had purchased a $20 GroupOn for $10. In this case, you’re getting $10 for $10. Which is basically the same thing as a 50% off coupon. Like a coupon, GroupOn’s have an expiration. The difference is, you loose money if you don’t use the GroupOn, the coupon you can just throw away.

Our conclusion came to be that it offers a unique way to find new places at a discounted price that you might not have came across. The savings definitely add up, especially on higher end GroupOn’s. (Ex. $25 for $50)

Keep in mind to check if the company has any coupons, deals or specials on their website before purchasing the GroupOn. As, you might be able to find even better deals.

Saturday night we headed off to the New Kids On The Block / Backstreet Boys concert. When Burnette originally told me that she had purchased me a ticket I was very hesitant about going.. I’m not sure if that was my testosterone speaking or just the thought of how unenjoyable it would be. Either way, I sucked it up and agreed to go. I have to say I was very impressed and had a great time! I have a feeling this will make great conversation at work on Tuesday.


Sunday, late morning, we met up with some friends to go hiking at Sunol in Livermore, CA. It was extremely hot but the heat definitely added to the adventure. We hiked the “Little Yosemite” trail where we traveled across the golden hills, taking advantage of each tree’s shade offerings. We continued until we came across a beautiful freshwater spring that included small pools of water. We hadn’t planned on going swimming, but at this point, we really didn’t care. :)

Monday we went to a BBQ where we grilled tri-tip, salmon, portobello mushrooms, sausages and corn on the cob. We also had fresh salad, fresh potato salad, fresh guacamole and fresh fruit salad. I’m probably forgetting a few things, but you get the point. It was a feast. I’ve attempted to grill and smoke salmon in the past with hardly any success. Today it turned out perfect! The trick is to soak slabs of non-treated hickory to place the salmon on. (this helps add flavor and keep the fish moist). Burnette’s mom had bought a smoking kit for the charcoal grill. It consisted of two metal containers to place the soaked wood chips in. So when you place them on the coals, they don’t burn up immediately. The salmon took about 20 minutes to cook.

Starting tomorrow, we’ll be getting back to our workout regime. Indulging in food this weekend has heavily inspired that.

To wrap things up, I haven’t seen one firework this weekend, except through Facebook. Although, I’ve been listening to them all night long.

I have to say, this year has been a bit different then my normal 4th of July celebrations, but it’s definitely been a memorable one! :)

Thank you everyone that made this such a great weekend! Including you B!

Once again, Happy 4th of July!

 

FREE – Online Business Services

I’d like to share with you some of the companies and services that I’ve done business with in the past for FREE and that I’ve been greatly satisfied with. I’ve also included sites that have been recommended by friends.

I’m always looking for the best deal with costs in mind; although, I feel like we all forget to utilize the free services that are readily available. Google has acquired a large portion of the free services market. Many startups, small businesses and enterprise companies utilize googles services daily. If size doesn’t justify the reasoning, it’s most likely within the companies efforts and policies that justify if this decision is the right choice for them.

You’ve probably used, seen or heard of most of the companies that I’ve listed. If you haven’t, you should totally check them out.

Conference Calls

Instant Messaging

File Storage

Photo Storage

Video Storage

Profiles / Website Creators

Blogging

Website Analytics

Outreach / Social Media

Merchant Accounts

Mac Applications

Google (email, phone, calendars and documents)

Please leave a comment below if you know of any additional services or applications that you feel a company could greatly benefit from! (free, cheap or paid)

 
 
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