Friday, March 27, 2015

Financial Freedom: The Best Frugal Tips Starting with Coffee

Maybe it's because I live in South Louisiana, sometimes called "French" Louisiana.  This part of the state just drips with warm weather, great food, free music festivals and other creative talents shared with all.   

And we share some of the same "frugal, squeeze the best juice of every moment" lifestyle habits as the Europeans.   

You don't have to live in Louisiana or Europe to recreate these same delightful daily experiences!   

Take  coffee.   It's a $4-6 per day habit.  Some say cut it out of your budget, it's a waste.   I say that's ridiculous.   In fact,  I propose that you cut something else out of the budget just to keep coffee in! 

Why?  1) It has been proven to be good for your health (and this is from the people and research at Harvard, mon ami).  2)  It's one of the best inexpensive ways to add a frugal juiciness to every day of your life. 

The Belgians love coffee so much that they serve chocolate with every cup -- free of charge.  It's a visual AND a gastronomical treat.    If you want to immerse yourself in the Belgian way, check out this blogger's post  about the Belgian café society.     "Drinking good coffee is a spiritual experience..."    Just reading the post made me happy! 

Other ways I like to enhance my  daily coffee: 

1)  Using a French press when you have time.  This is a photo of mine.  Nope, I don't make any money from Mr. Coffee recommending this French press!  I started with a Bodum, but I like my Mr. Coffee better.    Here is a nice visual tutorial if you are interested. 

2)  Try to limit drinking out of a paper cup.  Enjoy the ceramic or china in your life.  

3)  I try to buy coffee at the .50 cents per pound limit.  Frugal also means practical, of course.  I make sure to save my pennies so I can buy the best. 

Sometimes Tuesday Morning has a deal on European coffees pre-ground that are around $6.00 for 12 ounces.  Trader Joe's coffee is also about .50 per pound.  Community Coffee is one of my favorites, of course, and you can often get a coupon code for it from Retail Me Not

4)  Or sometimes I just  go to Lukes on St. Charles in New Orleans.   Chef Besh's casual dining pub has some of the best coffee service at the bar.   An inexpensive way to really enjoy the city. 

Coffee at Luke's

How do you enjoy your coffee?  Please share tips! 


Monday, January 27, 2014

Is Frugal Becoming the New Black?

I like how we are beginning to think in the blogosphere (and in the real world!) about money.    Bigger is not always better.  Less can be more.  You aren't defined by what you own.  Debt can suck the life out of you -- avoid it at all costs.

See this post from June of 2013 that is still attracting comments.

I'm constantly reminding myself that Frugal didn't always mean "cheap."  It derives in part from the Latin word frux, "fruit, produce," and "value, success."  Juicy!    As Vicky Robin says in the audio version of "Your Money or Your Life," -- it's about squeezing all the juiciness out of every expenditure so that your life is as fabulous as possible.   

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Escape from the Cube: Financial Independence - Being a Rental Lord

It's middle of month 4 of the Landlord Challenge, and so far so good.


1.  I've  cleared about $300 or around $100 a month!   Doesn't sound like much except that $300 is on top of the renters paying for all of my maintenance costs savings ($200 per month), all of the manager's fees, property taxes, all of my mortgage interest, the mortgage itself and building my equity - about $150 per month.

2.  I'm only making $28 a month on a savings account of $28,000.   I've got $50,000 in equity in this town home, so I'm thinking making  $100-$250 a month is good return.

3.  My utilities at my new place are only $50 a month for electricity and $21 for water/sewer/trash.  I'm living in a luxury condo in the middle of the city, within walking distance of coffee shops and grocery stores, for about the same cost as living in my suburban town home with the long work commute.

1.  Rent is coming in as expected, although it is a little later than I would have hoped. The management company's bookkeeper quit and they are in process of training the new one.  By the time the management company processes the checks, it is around the 15th - not the 1st - and I'm usually so nervous about it, I go pick up the check myself.   I am looking forward to the day when that check just shows up in my mail box, as I expected.

2.  The air conditioner went out on the Friday before Labor Day.  The temperature in my part of the country averages around 98-100 degrees on that weekend!   The maintenance guy I had lined up for such an emergency was a complete waste - thank goodness for the management company.  They took over and had it fixed before 5 p.m. that day.

3.  Renters, being college kids, forgot that they had to pay for water as well as electricity.  Their water was shut off and a panicked phone call to the manager occurred on a Friday afternoon.   All was straightened out and again, I'm in debt to my rental manager.

Like I said, so far, so good.  Next month could be a completely different story!    But for those hoping to take this risk as well -- the moral so far is "hire a good manager, and stay on top of the rental checks..." 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Escape from the Cube - Financial Independence: Rental Income Big Gamble Part 2 - Decluttering

Prepping to Rent and Move:

The last week has been all about decluttering and staging.  I'm decluttering because I'm going from 1200 square feet to 697 square feet.  I'm staging because I'm putting the townhouse on the market July 1st.   The property manager has been hired (cost 1/2 first month's rent, 8% thereafter per month).

Decluttering has been emotional -- but freeing!  My declutter Go-tos for inspiration have included the book "Get Organized:  the Clear and Simple Way" by Marla Dee,, and any resource for ADHD organization such as the National Association of Professional Organizers.    

washroom after removing mini-trampoline
Dee approaches organization from an emotional purging/mental envisioning and mapping perspective.  She suggests taking photos of the space.  It worked better for me than most other approaches such as, "do you love it? use it?  No?  - then toss it."     For example, throwing out the old mini-trampoline that didn't work so well anymore was easier to do when I took a photo of the room where it was stored,  after the trampoline was moved.   I wanted that cleared out space for myself.  The tossing process became a gift to myself:  of a beautiful, daily used space instead of the loss of an object that wasn't used that much anymore anyway. 

Since I had to take photos anyway for the online lease posting, this helped get me going on the photo taking recommended by Dee.   Another example of how this works --  I didn't realize how the golf clubs got in the way of the pic until I viewed it through the camera lens and saw them in the photo of the washroom.   (PS - I'm keeping the clubs, just giving them to a friend to store.)
woodburning fireplace

By the way, it took abut two hours to stage and take about 10 photos of the townhouse. Here's one of the woodburning fireplace.  (notice the coffee table was moved, and you can see the built in bookshelves.  Oops, that reminds me -- I need to declutter the cabinets underneath!)

Do you have too much clutter getting in the way of your space?  What resources do you use to inspire the big clean out?

Other posts you might like:

How I sold my pool table on craig's list
Escape from the Cube: Part 1