I am proud and excited to share that TheFrugalLifestyle.com was chosen by the readers of The Squander as one of their 2018 annual Squander Awards for the best frugal living websites.
Every year, they award the best sites that help people live well without "squandering" all of their money. The "2018 Best Frugal Living Site Awards" are given to the best websites and blogs about living well on a budget.
What's the catch you ask? Well, about 6 months ago, my boyfriend and I attended a timeshare presentation with the promise of a free vacation. We listened to more than 2 hours of their sales pitch, but we've attended enough of these presentations knowing they are going to try super hard to convince you to part with your money, but you just have to be more savvy than they are.
Anyways, after we said "no thanks" multiple times to their timeshare offer, we got our free vacation certificate, where one of the choices was for a cruise. The timeshare company uses these marketing "freebies" to entice potential timeshare buyers to come listen to their spiel. After reading all the details and fine print on the vacation certificate, I filled out all the necessary information and mailed it to the designated travel agency handling the promotion vacation offer.
After confirming which cruise dates we wanted, the only thing we had to pay for was a $50 refundable deposit to the travel agency and port fees and taxes to the cruise line company. This is a great deal, most cruises are quite expensive! However, dealing with this particular travel agency was a bit of a nightmare. Everything was done via snail mail and the person assigned to our trip was not the most pleasant (or bright). She called us to upsell us on a better or bigger cabin, etc.. After saying "no thanks" multiple times, she became a irate and hung up.
Thank god, we got another letter in the mail from another agent about a week after speaking to that agent. This new agent said Carnival Cruise contacted them to extend an offer to us to upgrade to a cabin with an ocean view for the price of our deposit. Needless to say, we jumped at the chance, since we've already sent them the $50 check months ago.
To sum it up, the process to get this free cruise was long, frustrating and annoying at times, but in the end it was all worth it. We just got back from our cruise about 2 weeks ago and our experience was priceless. We will have many wonderful memories for years to come!
We have attended many other timeshare presentations and received gift cards, etc.. for our time. Read about how when we were staying at a resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico we attended a timeshare presentation and for our time we got enough vouchers to pay for our entire trip's meals! Savvy and frugal :)
I live in a city that has among the highest auto insurance rates in California. Knowing this ahead of time, I was still shocked to see my insurance premium double when it came time to renew my policy. I was determined to find a better insurance company before my current policy expired.
I researched all the major insurance companies and received quotes that were deceivingly false. The quote I was shown online was for a certain amount per month, then when I called to speak to an agent, somehow the quote was quite a bit higher! Needless to say, this was beyond frustrating and I was not going to fall for their bait and switch.
I did more research and found Metromile, they are a different kind of car insurance, they only charges you based on the miles you drive, putting you in control of how much you pay. I only drive approximately 300 miles per month, my average cost per month is about half of what my previous insurance was.
Traditional car insurance is unfair to low-mileage drivers. The number one risk indicator for drivers is how often they’re on the road. So if you’re already driving less, you should really start paying less. Pay-per-mile insurance costs less because it’s based on how many miles you drive. If you spend less time behind the wheel, you spend less money on insurance. Most people save an average of $500 per year.
How it works
With pay-per-mile insurance you pay a low monthly base rate plus a few cents per mile when you drive. At the end of the month, your bill is your base rate plus how many miles you drove at your per-mile rate. Just like with other insurance companies, several factors can influence your rate, including age, type of vehicle, and driver history. With pay-per-mile insurance, you aren’t charged for the miles you drive above 250/day (150/day in New Jersey). So if you go on a long trip, you’ll save big.
Measuring your miles
The key to pay-per-mile insurance is the Metromile Pulse, a small free wireless device that plugs into your car’s OBD-II port. Installation is easy, and once in place the Metromile Pulse securely counts your miles to determine your total monthly bill. Pay-per-mile insurance doesn’t consider other driving factors such as how fast you drive or how hard you brake, just how many miles you drive. With the Metromile Pulse in place, you have unlimited access to our smart driving app. This means you can keep track of your trips, monitor your car’s health and always know where your car is parked.
Pros and con
In my opinion, there are many positive benefits in switching to Metromile. I now have control over how much or how little I drive on a monthly basis. For example, I will choose to walk to the store to grab a few essentials instead of driving. Metromile's app and website tracks how many miles I'm driving on a daily basis, so there are no surprises at the end of the month. Another benefit I experienced was I got a text alert that I was parked on a street cleaning day, which saved me getting a ticket.
Some people might have reservations about installing the Metromile Pulse device on their vehicle. I personally don't have a problem with this, anybody on social media already has their data exposed to the social media companies already. This company and others like them is an industry disruptor on how traditional car insurance has been operating. The future for auto insurance and insurance in general will continue to shift. If you drive less than 200 miles a week you could save a ton of money on car insurance. I recommend you try Metromile as an affordable and frugal auto insurance option.
Disclosure: This post contains a refer-a-friend reward if you choose to sign up via my referral link.
Tax day freebies this year (and previous years) are freebies given out by businesses on the day taxes are due, which this year falls on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. The Balance list these tax day freebies that can make an otherwise dreary day a little bit brighter.
Free Shaved Ice at Kona Ice (April 17, 2018)
Kona Ice will have their trucks all over the country to give out free shaved ice on April 17 to give you some sweet relief to your Tax Day woes. Stop by the truck and you'll get a free cup of shaved ice. Search to see where a Kona Ice truck is near you.
Free Cookie from Great American Cookies (April 17, 2018)
Great American Cookies is giving out a sweet tax day freebie that you won't want to miss. All customers who stop into their local Great American Cookies store on April 17 will get a free Cookies & Cream Cookie. There's a limit of one cookie per person and you'll want to call ahead to make sure your local store is participating. If you want to save even more at Great American Cookies, they have a free rewards program that will save you some great discounts and freebies.
Free Original Turkey or Veggie Dog at Hot Dog on a Stick (April 17, 2018)
Customers who visit Hot Dog on a Stick will get a free original Turkey or Veggie Dog on Tuesday, April 17th.
There's no purchase necessary and it's limited to one per customer.
Free Massage From HydroMassage (April 14-21, 2018)
After mailing in those taxes you're going to need a relaxing tax day freebie like this free massage from HydroMassage. Contact your local HydroMassage for more details.
Free Document Shredding at Office Depot/Office Max (Now-April 28, 2018)
Here's a tax day freebie that will help get you organized for another tax year. Bring in this coupon to Office Depot/Office Max now through April 28, 2018, and you can get 5 pounds of documents shredding for free.
Free Chips and Queso at California Tortilla With Purchase (April 18, 2018)
Stop into California Tortilla on Tax Day, April 18, and say the password "Tax Crunch!" to get free chips and queso. A purchase is required and this deal isn't valid with any other offers.
These aren't quite free, but they're some great deals that are being offered on tax day, Tuesday, April 17, 2018.
Dine in at Boston Market on April 17th and get a $10.40 Tax Day Special that includes a Half Chicken Individual Meal with two sides, cornbread, and a regular fountain beverage.
Get a big bagel bundle at Bruegger's for $10.40 April 11-17. That includes 13 bagels and two tubs of cream cheese.
Get the "IRS", Irresistible Rib Special, on April 17 that includes a half-price Sweet & Smokey or House Dry-Rubbed Rib Dinner.
In our busy day to day lives, I am reminded of this inspirational classic story that I read a few years ago. Back when I was working in the corporate world, it seemed that the purpose of my life was to climb up the ladder and achieve financial success. All that change almost 10 years ago, when suddenly I didn't have a "job". My perspective on life changed, one of the results is my now frugal life and this blog. Today, I focus on the blessings each day brings - no matter how big or small. I am grateful for what I have and I constantly strive to simplify and enrich my life with less. I hope you too will be inspired by this parable of the Mexican fisherman.
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then L.A. and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
March is my birthday month - not only do I celebrate on my actual birthdate... I celebrate ALL month long with most of these free birthday treats! Take advantage of these great birthday freebies and celebrate YOU.
Have you made vacation plans yet? Although Summer is the most popular season to go on vacations, trips, or holidays -- many people travel during Spring as well. Whether your destination is a far away exotic land or a little closer to home, it's smart and savvy to plan ahead of time to maximize your travel experience!
In my travels - pun intended, I've discovered ways to save money and time so I was able to enjoy every moment of our vacation. Enjoy the journey, from the planning to the final destination - the memories are priceless! Here's my top 10 frugal travel tips ... bon voyage!
1. Set A Budget
Determine what your overall budget will be for airfare, accommodations, food, transportation, etc.. as well as pocket money. Log how much you've spent so far in a travel journal so that you can estimate how much money you have to work with for the other categories.
2. Use Travel Booking Sites
It's beneficial to use a booking site that compares prices for flights, lodging, transportation, packages, etc.. with several companies. I highly recommend BookingBuddy.com, where you can save money and time planning your entire trip!
3. Book Unpopular Times
Pick travel flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays - they are usually cheaper than other days. The best time to purchase your tickets is Tuesday at 3 p.m. Eastern. You can also select off-season or non-peak periods for better prices. Red-eye flight times also tend to cost less.
4. Check Out Travel Deal Sites
Save a lot of money by checking out travel on great vacation destinations. The travel deal sites I recommend are EndlessVacations.com for great last minute vacations. You can also become a member of Extreme Savings Travel Club so you can be your own travel agent.
5. Use a Rewards Credit Card
Use or sign up for a credit card that will give you great travel rewards. Make sure to only use this card if you can realistically pay off the balance soon. Some perks of reward credit cards are free flights or hotel stays. Do your research ahead of time to see if it's a good option for you.
6. Sign Up For Airline Mileage Memberships
Most airlines have memberships where you earn mileage points towards free airfare or other perks. Each airline's threshold towards free flights is usually very high, but it's a good idea to sign up for them anyway. You can also redeem your travel miles for free magazines at MagsForMiles.com.
7. Share Travel Cost
If you are traveling with friends, you can split the cost of not only the accommodations, but also food and transportation. If you are staying in a place that has a kitchen, split the cost of grocery shopping and eat in. This saves you all a lot money instead of going out to restaurants everyday! Keep all the receipts so the total can be calculated at the end and split accordingly.
8. Plan A Staycation
If you can't afford a vacation in a far away land, stay local. You can have a fantastic staycation in your own city or nearby. To feel like you are on "vacation" without hopping on a plane, stay one night in a cozy rental and explore the neighborhood for a fresh new experience.
9. Go On A Road Trip -
Although this is a less expensive option than flying, however factor in the cost of gas for your road trip. Utilize websites and apps such as GasBuddy.com to compare the best gas prices on the road. Make sure to pack a cooler for the ride to avoid stopping at greasy food joints.
10. Consider Vacation Rentals
An alternative way of booking affordable accommodation, which has become very popular. Instead of booking hotels (which are generally more expensive), consider renting a condo, apartment or an entire house for much less. I've booked great inexpensive and great apartments in Rome and in Paris using HomeAway.com. Plus, you feel more like a local vs. a tourist.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, where I earn a small commission when purchased thru my link.
There are many reasons to start a frugal lifestyle. For people who haven't dipped their toes in the frugal pool yet but want to, it begins with consciously committing to practicing this way of life so that it becomes second nature.
I hope to empower others to adopt this lifestyle without giving up what they are accustomed to. Being frugal not only saves money, but energy and time as well.
Here are my Top 10 Benefits of why someone should consider living a frugal existence... if not all the time, at least some of time. It starts with choosing to do it versus having to do it. Some of the wealthiest people in the world are frugal and most live below their means.
10. SAVE MONEY
This is the obvious reason for most people. Choose to spend your money wisely and smartly only the necessary things in life. But allow yourself a special treat when you have the extra cash in your budget.
9. A SIMPLER LIFE
Life is less chaotic and easier to manage when you pare down to just the essentials you need. Avoid buying "stuff" that has no meaning or purpose. Start by decluttering, purging and eliminating things that have no room in your life. Start organizing and consolidating things so that they are easier to find or manage, which in turn saves you time and money. Read more about ways to simplify your life here.
8. TIME FREEDOM
Learn to say no to invitations, favors, tasks, etc.. that zap precious time and energy out of you. By politely declining parties or other events from someone you are not exceptionally close to, you save money on gifts and gas, which equates to time for more important things in your life. By choosing how, when and whom you spend your time with gives you more freedom overall.
7. SAVE ENERGY
By simply unplugging from your phone, the internet, the TV or any other electronic device, you not only save money on energy cost, but you have more time and life energy to enjoy life beyond technology. Read more about tips on how to save money on energy costs here.
6. LESS DEBT
While it would be nice to have zero debt, most people have some form of debt. Tackle your lower balanced loans or debts first and try to pay those off right away. Once you've eliminated or at least reduced your debt, you will feel a sense of freedom that's priceless!
5. EARN SOME CASH
Why not make some extra money by selling unwanted items around the house. My best tip is to sell your stuff via Craigslist or the LetGo app. It's free and it's easy. Another way to make a little cash and declutter you house is to have a garage sale. Any item that does not sell can be donated to Goodwill or your favorite thrift store, which is tax deductible. Check more ways to earn extra cash here.
4. EAT HEALTHIER
By eating out less (especially at fast food restaurants) and preparing meals at home is one way to not only save money but also make healthier choices. Although dining out to a favorite restaurant is always a treat, it can be costly vs. making food at home. Read more on how to buy and eat organic foods without breaking the bank here.
3. LOSE SOME WEIGHT
What an awesome benefit... by choosing eat healthier (see #4), one can actually lose some weight. By eating foods that are either organic or fresh vs. processed our bodies tend to burn more fat. Check out this option for a healthy weight loss supplement.
2. GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Instead of throwing stuff away, evaluate whether you can either recycle, repurpose, or reuse it somehow. For example, by bringing bottles, cans, newspapers, cardboard, etc... to your local recycle center you can also get cash. Also, if you have a piece of furniture that just needs a new coat of paint, why buy a new and expensive piece when the one you have is perfectly fine. Less waste means we can all make a contribution to save our planet.
1. A RICHER LIFE
Be smart in how you choose to spend your money, your time and your energy. Prioritize and take control of what's really important, by accomplishing this, you can truly enjoy a more rewarding and richer life.
Back in high school, I wrote an essay titled "The Agony of the Feet" - a play on words from the saying "agony of defeat". The essay was about how my feet would hurt every time I wore high heeled shoes. I have avoided wearing any shoes that had heels higher than 2 inches. I have worn mostly flats or shoes with low heels ever since then. In hindsight this probably contributed to my "flat feet", which I will explain later.
Within the last year I've been experiencing heel pain, which I believe is plantar fasciitis. I tried many natural remedies to "heal" my heel pain, such as: apple cider vinegar foot soaks, heel stretches, as well as several sessions of Myofascial Release Therapy or MFR. What exactly is MFR? It's a manual physical therapy (not massage) that connects deeply with the connective tissue (fascia), using sustained traction or compression for an opportunity to heal long term. Although I got some benefit from these sessions, I honestly did not feel any major change in my heel pain. I decided to halt my sessions, since they weren't giving me any relief and was not financial savvy either. I was also considering the chiropractic route, but after a "free consultation" with one chiropractor, I decided I would try to find a better and a more affordable solution.
So my search continued for a frugal way to eliminate or at least manage my heel pain. I bought several insoles and heel cups from various companies, but I ended up either returning them or never using them again! I found out through my research that I have over pronation or flat feet. Over the years of walking and wearing shoes without enough support, my arches have collapsed, which caused extreme stress on my plantar fascia.
Although most "experts" will say that wearing flip flops are a big no-no for plantar fasciitis, I have found great relief with Dawgs' original flip flops. However, I can't wear flip flops everyday - and I have several shoes that I like and would prefer to not have to buy several new pairs of shoes with arch support. I do however have a pair of Skechers that are my go to slip on sneakers when I walk the dog.
I was so happy when Laina Gossman, CEO and founder of Soul Insole reached out to see if I was interested in receiving a pair of their insoles - then do a review about my experience. Needless to say, I said yes! The Soul Insole is a unique washable, reusable, micro-sized orthotic that adds support and comfort for various hard to fit shoes and sandals. This sounds like the answer to my dilemma of not having to buy new pairs of shoes!
I've been using the Soul Insole shoe bubble for a few weeks now. So far, I feel they've address my flat feet issue because the shoe bubble provides arch support where I need them most. I can now wear my favorite pairs of shoes and be comfortable all day! There's adhesive under each insole which helps keep them in place, but I can still adjust them if necessary.
I wash my insoles after a couple of days wear. I love how easy it is to keep them clean - just rinse under water and magically the adhesive regenerates! Their website also states that they can be worn with sandals and flip flops.
Since my arches have collapsed, my entire alignment is off. I have been experiencing some pain in my left hip area. Since wearing the insoles, I have noticed that my posture is slightly better. One of their many benefits is that the insoles promotes good balance and alignment.
I addition to wearing the Soul Insole shoe bubble to help relieve heel pain, I also rub Arnica Cream on my heels and ankles every night before going to bed. I believe I have found the best solutions that work for me. I have saved hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on products and treatments by combining different non-invasive and affordable methods of healing my "agony of the feet".
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, where I earn a small commission when purchased thru my link.
It seems like the U.S.’s healthcare crisis will continue throughout 2018, as Congress and the current administration have yet to decide whether to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act. Recently, the Trump administration had threatened to withhold payments to health insurance companies. Reuters noted that health insurance premium fees may increase by 20 percent in 2018 if this plan follows through. If payments are terminated, it is expected that 5 percent of Americans will be living in places that have no insurer in the individual market.
As it is, people are already dealing with expensive premiums. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services detailed the rising premium costs, citing that the average individual market premiums have more than doubled since 2013. From $2,784 per year in 2013, it soared to $5,712 in 2017, which is a 105 percent increase.
With these alarming costs, it can be helpful to examine how health premiums are typically calculated. The Balance summarized how the costs are determined, stating that it boils down to five essential factors: age, income, family size, location, and the type of health plan.
Health insurance plans under Obamacare fall into four categories: Bronze plan, which offers the lowest premiums but covers the least percentage of health care costs (60 percent; Silver plan, which covers 70 percent but has higher premiums; Gold plan, which pays 80 percent and has premiums higher than Silver, and; Platinum plan, which has the most expensive premiums but accounts for 90 percent of health care expenses. These provide a skeleton on the price range of your premiums.
Age is then considered, and insurance companies charge higher initial premiums for older people. A person’s initial pricing will be based on the time the plan is issued. The premiums may decrease as you age.
Health insurers also take note of where the person lives because they have to take the cost of living into consideration. Healthcare costs may be higher in some cities than in others because of the average wealth.
The fourth factor insurers analyze is the person’s household or family size, since this helps them determine how much subsidies he or she should receive. Furthermore, some companies offer deals for couples to take plans from the same provider. Others meanwhile, give discounts if the person lives with other people over the age of 18.
Then of course, there’s income. If a person earns significantly less than the federal poverty level, he or she is qualified for expanded healthcare, meaning he or she won’t pay for any health costs.
Aside from these factors, other external factors come into play. The soaring prices of prescription drugs and medical treatment for example, may force insurers to increase their premiums. The provider network is also worth evaluating. When doctors, nurses, clinicians and other practitioners charge lower rates, the premiums may also follow suit. Interestingly, the mode of payment also influences the pricing of premiums. Some companies prefer electronic funds transfer, and will provide discounts to those who use this method.
There are some health insurers that take unconventional routes in determining premiums. Their approach may be considered rewards-based, as the patient benefits from the policies. For instance, innovative startup Health IQ veer away from the traditional, and often outdated route of assessing family history before deciding on insurance premium rates. They believe in a more data-driven approach that focuses on the lifestyle the applicant leads as they feel this ultimately impacts their life. This also enables people who live a healthy lifestyle the chance of getting lower insurance rates because they eat clean, have lower health risks and can therefore reduce the chances of incurring medical expenses. On the other hand, insurance companies may also charge higher premiums for those who smoke regularly or have chronic conditions.
As the aforementioned indicators go to show, you can save a lot of money in the long run if you invest in a healthy lifestyle. It may be intimidating at first, because people perceive eating healthily to be quite expensive. But that’s a myth, because there’s always a way to stay frugal while going making a lifestyle choice. In case you need tips, The Frugal Lifestyle previously discussed how to buy organic food while saving money.
With so many aspects to consider, some people decide to remain uninsured. However, it’s still best to find a health plan that can offset the unbelievable costs of healthcare in case the unexpected happens. The important thing is to look for an insurer that suits your needs and preference.
Some of our popular articles