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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The Best Juicy Frugal Tips Starting with Coffee

Maybe it's because I live in Louisiana.  This part of the country drips with warm weather, great food and drink, and a constant stream of live music. 

And we share some of the same European "squeeze the juice out of every moment" daily lifestyle habits.  Coffee cup and coffee pressLike the love of coffee.  It's a $4-6 per day habit in my house, even when I make most of it at home. 
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! 


1) It's 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.   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 to enhance your 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)  Use your best coffee cups.  Enjoy the ceramic or china in your life.  The coffee cup in my photo is pure bone china featuring tiny flowers and berries.  

coffee service at the bar at Luke's Restaurant in New Orleans.  Cafe AuLait
Coffee at Luke's
3) 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, based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is one of my favorites, of course. 

4) And you can order coffee instead of alcohol at any of the bars.  Pictured below is a service at the bar within Luke's on St. Charles Avenue in the downtown area of New Orleans.  The casual brassier dining pub has some of the best coffee service.  An inexpensive and somewhat sober way to really enjoy the city.  

How do you take your coffee? Cafe Au Lait?  Or just  black?


Friday, October 22, 2021

Hitting Your "Number." Top Three Things You Must Do

Five years in one sentence:  A catastrophic flood, three hurricanes, two moves, a condo sale, a home purchase, a dream job assignment come true out of the blue, an engagement, a once in a lifetime freeze in the tropics, a parents' death, my first grandbaby, and a pandemic.  No wonder I didn't post any blog updates.   

But I've graduated from work-life again!  And I hit my number with a big safety margin this time.  

So what were the top three things I did, free of charge, that helped me survive those swings?  

#1)  LBYM. Living Below Your Means gives you a McGyver tool kit of skills to survive financially, no matter what.  

If you don't know where to start just look at how much you spent over the last three months. Was there more income than outgo?  If so, that's great!   Because that "spread" is how much you truly earned in the quarter.  

Let me repeat it -- if you spent $1,000 less last quarter, then that's the increase in your Net Worth.  Your Assets.  Your Capital.  Everything else went to somebody else's paycheck.  If you want to quibble about your house note, okay, a tiny bit of it went to equity.  Let's be real.  What, about $200 a month maybe?   

Your next, most glorious step toward freedom, is to increase your net worth as much as possible in the next quarter by reducing your expenses.  

Every quarter I check my net worth through Personal Capital's software.   It's free.  You can use a spreadsheet or even just a pencil and a notebook, which is what I did for many years.  If I haven't added to your net worth, then you are just a wage slave and need to do some major adjustments.  

#2)  Don't Buy a New Car.  Ever.

Out of all the big expenses in today's consumer economy, housing and transport usually come up as 1 and 2 unless you are older and healthcare gets on the list.  (Oh, let me rant about that on another post!) 

It takes time and effort and energy and yes, money, to downsize your home and its expenses.  It is much easier to keep your automobile expenses low. 

Buy a car that is at least one-year-old or more.  

Real Life Money example:  I own a 2011 Honda Insight with 140K miles, paid $12,000 cash for it in 2014.  

This website estimates average maintenance costs of $341 for a 10 year old car! 

I've only paid about $250 a year for maintenance, other than tires and a AAA battery replacement that was all my fault.  That $250 per year was cash ($1,800) I paid in 2021 to a local mechanic to get it ready for another 7 years of use.  Preventative maintenance.  

No car note, just insurance and about $50 a month on gas, maximum.  Even with day trips.  

But but but!!!!  What about warranties and safety?!!!  

1.  The warranties from the manufacturers are still available on preowned and pre-cerftified slightly used cars, so don't throw that one at me.  :-}  
2.  If you are going on a long car trip and don't want to risk it with your older car?  Rent a Car!  Heck, you can even Air BnB a car now.

But but but!!!! What will the neighbors think? 

Buy a used Ford 150 and they will think you might be a millionaire next door. 

#3)  Get Your Side Hustle On - Carefully and Mindfully

Not all side hustles are worth it, I hear you!  If I get one more email about Ibotta grocery store coupons or online interviews that never pan out, AAAHHHHHH!!!  Tried them all and just ended up wasting my time. 

Solopreneurship and sole proprietorships are a step up.  And not only do you make extra cash, you also have tax write-offs like office space in the home, that help with housing costs.   
- No employees, ever.  
- You aren't trying to scale a business
- You can try and fail fast
- Hanging out with your favorite people can make it profitable.

As long as you make a legitimate effort to sell your skills to the marketplace, it's a legit business, as per the IRS.  

This is one of the better, easy to consume blog posts I've found about solopreneurship.

My Real Life example:  I operated as Stansbury Creative Consultants providing AdWords consulting and marketing support as a side hustle for many years.  It brought in between $2 - $10K per year and allowed me to write off 50% of my new computer supplies and a percentage of my housing costs.  

More importantly, it has allowed me to do fun projects with people who "get sh*t done" without worrying about corporate objectives.  And I can continue to use my new side hustle brand to work on whatever appeals to me throughout retirement.  

What say you?  Have you survived a life of one dumpster fire after another and have wisdoms to share?