Some (potentially gross) ways I save money

We all have some things we do that are a little unusual, I just make sure that mine saves me money.

Image courtesy of via Ryan McGuire Photography

1.) I only do 2 loads of laundry per week – I never go over washing two loads of laundry a week. Now, reminder, I am one person and only have one person’s worth of laundry each week. Each load of laundry costs on average $1.52 per load. I use to wash 4 loads of laundry a week, this means on I’m saving $158 each year.

2.) I reuse hair towels – Ladies know the type, the small towels that you wrap your hair around after you get out of the shower. Well, yours truly reuses them. I never thought this was something that could be seen as gross until a small group of women told me it was. I don’t get it, your hair clean as you just washed it…what’s the big deal, so long as you dry it out on a drying rack as not to create mildew and only reuse once, you should be fine. I have to do this step to make #1 a reality for me, and for an extra $158 in my pocket each year, I’ll keep doing it.

3.) I use THINX – I don’t use this miracle product every single day, but I do use it for half of my shark week. I have 3 pairs, and have estimated that even though it cost me $80 for 3 pairs, since they’re reusable after a simple cycle through the washer, they’ve saved me about $100 a year on average since I started 5 years ago. An extra $500? Who is going to say no to that?

4.) I don’t turn on any lights – Well, I do turn on lights, but only after it’s pitch black outside. Otherwise I open all my curtains on non-sun facing windows, and let the sun do it’s job. The reason I don’t do this on sun-facing windows is because it would heat up my house and make my Air Conditioning unit work harder.

Image courtesy of via Jaroslaw Puszczyński

5.) I collect and return pop cans – and yes, they can get sticky and gross sometimes, but it’s worth it for me. The state I live in has a return policy of $0.05 per can, as an incentive to encourage people to recycle. I typically make around $3 each trip (meaning I am only returning cans from others and not myself). So not only am I helping the environment, I’m also making money. Even if it was $3 a week (even though it ends up to being more like $6 a week), it’s an extra $156 a year, so I’m not saying no to it.

6.) I always keep my AC at 72 degrees – I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not always comfortable at this temperature. I get very hot very easily, and sometimes ya’ girl can sweat, so this isn’t always the easiest thing to do. However, I used to keep my AC between 68 and 70 degrees. Raising the temperature to a minimum of 72 degrees has saved me at least 12% every single bill, which averages out to $8.40 per month for me, or $50 a year (the rest of the year, I have to use heat because snow).


An Open Letter to Businesses Everywhere: Signed Yours Truly, The Millennials and Generation Z

Contrary to popular belief, Millennials and Z-ers do want to work, they just don’t want to work the way their parents did.

Image courtesy of via Burst Photography

Dear Businesses Everywhere –

We hate to point it out, but you have to get with the times or you will never get back the loyalty of the 40 year employee.

Almost half the millennial workforce polled wants to quit their job sometime in the next 24 months, according to The 2019 Deloitte Millennial Survey. It is a fact that the two aforementioned generations change jobs more often than any generation ever before. Instead of assuming that means they’re lazy or hard to appease, I challenge you to ask yourself why they’re leaving jobs at unprecedented rates.

It could be a number of things, such as, but not limited to: no flexibility allowed in their work schedule, nonsensical requirements for a low salary (no, your ‘entry level’ $25,000/year job should not require a master’s degree), hostile work environments, and poor work-life balance.

Image courtesy of via Tim Gouw Photography

What they want:

  1. They want to work remotely – working remotely offers many benefits for the employee, but also for the company. A company will save money by not having to expand buildings or pay for all the toilet flushes, lights, heat, AC, desks, refrigeration units in the breakrooms…you get the gist, if you have fewer employees working in an office space you’re going to save money. Millennials want to work remotely so bad that they’re willing to take a pay cut for it because they value work-life balance and their mental health: they have kids, they have pets, they want to be able to work in a productive space that they are comfortable in.
  2. They want livable wages – please save the “back in my day” speeches of how in 1960 you worked for $2 an hour full time as a grocery store clerk fresh out of high school. Why? Let me tell you: your $2 per hour is equivalent to $17.33 per hour in 2019, due to inflation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today’s prices in 2019 are 766.75% higher than average prices throughout 1960. A lot of job postings today brag about how you can work full time for them for $14 an hour as a customer service representative as long as you have a bachelor’s degree. You see the disconnect, yes?
  3. They want you to let them do their jobs – I truly do believe that no one actually enjoys being micromanaged, but unlike their predecessors, Millennials are vocal about their dislike of it with HR and management. Instead of gossiping by the water cooler with Barbara and Jan about your ridiculous boss micromanaging your team, Millennials will ask for it to be addressed; if it’s not fixed, they’ll just quit.
  4. They want a job that provides a flexible schedule because they’re burnt out – “Millennials aren’t lazy, they’re workaholics”. You have to remember, this is the generation that graduated high school and college in the middle of the worst recession since The Great Depression. They saw their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. lose absolutely everything. They don’t want to become those people. So what do they do? They work themselves into the ground and then become burnt out.
  5. They want you to trust them – There is nothing worse than a boss looking you square in the face and them telling you that they don’t trust you. Millennials want you to trust them to bring you the results you’re looking for, rather than be babied or smothered by overbearing, unnecessary procedure; they want you to believe in them so that they can believe in you. Businesses don’t realize that when they don’t trust their employees, their employees won’t trust them. Much like respect, trust is a two way street.

Millennials and Generation Z’ers want to work, but they’re also not willing to compromise their values for a workplace. Businesses need to take note, because as seen so frequently in these generations, if they don’t like your workplace, they’ll just start their own.

Mental Health: Why it’s Important and Where to Get Help

Here I am finally introducing the ‘happiness’ portion of this blog, and it still feels a little ‘Debbie Downer’.

Image courtesy of via Burst Photography

I really wanted to do a post about how important mental health is, as I feel like a lot of the older generations tend to have this view that if you have mental health issues something is innately wrong with you; millennials and Generation Z-ers have the complete opposite view where everyone chats openly about their therapists and the medications they’re taking. In reality, there is probably a happy medium in between.

Mental Health is something that I have struggled with for a majority of my life, but it really only began majorly impacting my life in adulthood. Due to my frugality, I refused to go to the therapist, because I was not going to spend $100 a month for that when that money could go to debt, savings, etc…or at least that’s how I rationalized it. This was extremely detrimental to my overall health and my psyche, and ended up with me close to being admitted twice. Now, remember that thing about millennials where we tell everyone our mental health business? I get that’s what I’m doing here, but it has a purpose.

Image courtesy of via Nik Shuliahin Photography

Once I sought help – once I gave up the need to only think about money – my life changed immensely, for the better. Do I still think about money? Of course. Is it the end of my world if I don’t save $0.05 at the grocery store anymore? No.

I am happy to say that my current therapist is one of the best people that I’ve ever met in my entire life. I was immediately put on Zoloft, so if you’re my co-worker and you see me popping pills at work, this is why. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Primarily Obsessional OCD.

You’re probably reading this thinking about how awful it is to go to the doctor and get all these diagnoses, but in actuality I am so much happier (see, bringing it back full circle, this really is the ‘happiness’ portion!). I have learned how to use tools to redirect myself and being put on medication was one of the best things I ever did, even though I fought it for a long time. Is my life all smiles and perfect now that I know what’s wrong? No, it isn’t, but is my life so much better? Yes it is.

It was really important for me to write this piece because I’m afraid that someone similar to who I was a year ago, will start to read my blog and become obsessive with money. It’s okay to have a goal and try to actively achieve it, it’s not okay to let that goal completely hinder your life.

There are 350 million people in the world who experience some level of depression, so you should never feel alone.

If you or someone you know needs help, they can find free or low cost counseling services by visiting the following organization’s websites:

1.) OpenCounseling
2.) GoodTherapy
3.) BetterHelp
4.) Free Clinics
5.) If you’re a college student, the school you attend will offer free mental health counseling, visit your university’s website for more information
6.) If you’re religious, a lot of pastors or regional pastoral centers will offer free counseling
7.) If you don’t have insurance, or your insurance does not cover therapy sessions, most therapists have an option to be charged an amount based on your income rather than their standard visit fee schedule

Amazon Series: Why You Need to Purchase the Fire Stick

The Amazon Series: I am an avid shopper of all things Amazon, and I live and breathe my Amazon Prime account. I do try to shop local, when it’s cheaper (and sometimes it actually is much, much cheaper), but for the most part Amazon has afforded me to save a lot of money over the years. This is the first installment of the ‘Amazon Series’, where I’m here to show you how Amazon can save you a lot of money too.

One way we’re all trying to save money is cutting the cord when it comes to cable and satellite companies. The Amazon Fire Stick was the way that I did this. The device is $39.99 and allows you to download thousands of apps to watch television, check the weather, play games, and browse the internet, all on your television.

I originally purchased this so that I could watch Netflix and Hulu on my television without needing to hook my laptop up to it via an HDMI cable. I figured $39.99 was a small price to pay. I was right. Not only do I get to watch Netflix and Hulu on it, I can watch anything associated with my Amazon Prime watchlist, as well as IMDBTv, CBS, NBC, ABC, etc. all for free. So, even if you do not want to pay for Netflix and Hulu, you will find lots of television shows and films that you can watch completely for free on the Fire Stick. You can watch live television on some apps for free too, or purchase cable television channels as one-offs – like Starz, HBO, Showtime, ESPN, Disney, etc. – to watch what you’d like.

The Fire Stick works by connecting to your internet as a streaming device. It connects into one of the multiple HDMI ports in the back of your television, and then requires an electrical plug for a power source. In my set up, you can’t even see it, or any cords, which I love. It’s a great alternative to permanently damaging your walls by putting holes in them to get cords to not be visible.

The device is Alexa compatible; so, if you have an Alexa, you can ask Alexa to turn on your television (after you sync the device with your TV), ask her to open Hulu, and watch your favorite TV show, without needing the remote at all.

As of the date of this post, Amazon is even offering 2 months of HBO for free with the purchase of a Fire Stick. Make sure once it’s in your cart that you select the option for ‘Fire TV Stick + 2 months of HBO for $39.99’.

Exercise Equipment Hunting: For Poor People

Picture courtesy of via Khusen Rustamov Photography

Are you sick of paying $70 a month for a gym membership that lets you cancel at any time – or even the $20 per month you pay to be locked in to a 5 year contract (I’m looking at you Anytime Fitness)?

What if I told you that you get could your entire at-home gym for under $20 or even for free?

You don’t believe me? I know you can, because I’ve done it. It’s not the most beautiful thing, but it serves it’s purpose and keeps me financially sound.

I’m currently building up a home gym in one of the empty bedrooms of my first house, and so far everything has been free: I have an 1980’s manually powered exercise bike that I got for free, a table that I got for free, and a television with a built in DVD player that I got for free. I don’t pay for cable, and I considered buying another Amazon Fire Stick for the room’s TV, but then I remembered this handy-dandy thing called a library card, in which I can get DVDs – you guessed it – for free, to give me something to watch while I bike.

Photo is Property of The Land of Money and Happiness

Here are some places you can scour for free or low cost exercise items:

1.) Facebook Marketplace – Finding free exercise equipment can be as easy as logging into Facebook. You can search whatever item you’re looking for in the search bar at the top of Facebook’s home page, OR select ‘Marketplace’ on the left hand part of the home page and search there. Voila, you are sure to find hundreds of people that are in the process of moving that are giving away their exercise equipment for free or for 5% – 10% of the original cost, which is a 90% savings minimum and a wonderful steal.

2.) Facebook Groups – Similarly to the Marketplace feature, there are tones of local groups that you can scour for you city, county, state, etc. A pro-tip to finding them is typing in your city’s name with ‘BUY’, ‘SELL’, or ‘TRADE’ keywords, and I guarantee something close to you will pop up. Once you’ve found the group, search for your treasures!

3.) Your Local Goodwill or – Goodwill now has an online platform that merges together the large Goodwill stores around the country, and you can buy items from them that way. Beware that shipping fees can be astronomical, but if it ends up being cheaper to purchase your equipment this way, it can save you money. You can also visit your local Goodwill to find everything from Dumbbells to an exercise DVD to a Nordic Track.

4.) Craigslist – Ah Craigslist, the site where you could end up with gold or absolute crap. Do your research before buying anything on here, and make sure that you actually see the item in working condition before purchasing. The site is incredibly helpful if you’re looking to go the ‘free only’ route, as it has a section titled ‘Free’ for your local page that helps eliminate any equipment that costs money. You will likely find newer equipment if you search the for sale page.

5.) Ebay – Ebay, like Craigslist, can be completely hit or miss. Your shipping will be crazy expensive like with ShopGoodwill. However, even if you pay $500 for an item including shipping charges – $500 for a Nordic Track Commercial Studio Style Exercise Bike barely used is still cheaper than a brand new one at $2000+.

The wonderful part about buying used equipment isn’t just the savings, or even the health benefit, it’s that you’re reusing something instead of it being thrown in a landfill. An item is getting a new life with you, and you’re helping the planet in the process. It’s being healthy, frugal, and environmentally kind.

Do you have a home gym? What is your favorite exercise equipment to use? Any tips you have for me on setting one up?

Multiple Income Streams and Why Frugal Peoples have them

Image courtesy of via Shopify

This sounds pretty self explanatory, I know. “Multiple Income Streams? Who wouldn’t want that?” Exactly. I’m not sure I know very many people who would be upset by getting money from multiple places. However, it can be a lot of extra work, and on top of a full time job, pets, marriages, kids, etc. it can be extremely tiring.

I won’t lie to you, it’s not easy – you have to be motivated. When I say in my blog’s title that ‘nothing is free, but everything is worth it’, I mean it. You have to be motivated and you have to be willing to sacrifice something now, so that you can have what you want later.

Multiple income streams can be something as big as having a side hustle that makes you $50,000 a year, or something as small as using receipt apps to make an extra $10 here and there. The point of it is that you never have every penny of your income coming from one source.

Since the start of the 2008 recession, 8.8 million people lost their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If these people did not have additional income streams, they were – to be frank – S.O.L. There were little to no new jobs being created and competition for positions was fierce, so what were people supposed to do? This is why multiple income streams are important.

Having multiple income streams will make it so that even if you lost your job, depending on how committed you are, you’d likely be okay…or at the very least have something coming in to help you not become destitute.

Frugal people have multiple income streams to that they are able to protect themselves. Their income streams are essentially a form of ‘insurance’ that you don’t have to pay someone else to have – they give up time for money so that they do not have to incur debt or homelessness because a job has been lost.

Do you have any side hustles? How long have you had them?

September 2019: Budget Transparency

Image provided by via Icons8 Team Photography

It’s September! That means it’s time to budget as best as any girl can. I haven’t lived at my place long, which is why my budget this month is rough. Please note that my mortgage is not due until October 1, so I am not including it in my budget this month.

Please note that my estimate for electricity was based on the budget billing from the previous owners of the house, my Hulu is free due to having Spotify Premium, and this is based off take home pay bills (meaning that health insurance, life insurance, and 401k costs are not included). I’ve also filled in the amounts of expenses I’ve already had to pay for September.

Image property of The Land of Money and Happiness

My hope is that I’m able to lower my utilities significantly in September and October, so that I’m able to raise my percentage of contributions to my 401k. As the economy continues to decline, I plan on investing more and more money as, theoretically, I should be able to buy more shares with less money.

What do your budgets look like? What do you enjoy spending your money on? Do you have a guilty pleasure?