Frugal FI

The pursuit towards financial independence

Frugal Friday: A Lunch a Day Keeps The Retirement Away

… Your Meals Aren’t Actually Costing you Retirement

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One of the best things about working in the city is that there’s a ton of great restaurants and dining areas surrounding me. Delicious grass-fed burgers, fresh sushi with ingredients containing locally caught fish, all organic vegan sandwiches, and probably my favorite, the local McDonald’s joint with its piping hot fries and juicy McPick 2 for $5 deals.

When you’re working in corporate, chances are, you’ve got a lot going on with crazy deadlines and overly demanding customers. A good way to start your day is with a cup of coffee. Then, lunch time rolls around and you’re either interested in ordering from Peach or going downstairs to the Italian joint to pick up a box of pasta. What you don’t realize is, on top of spending $3.50 for your cup of daily Joe, you are also paying more than $12 for your lunch meal. Every. Day.

Let’s say on average you work 250 days of the year. Let’s also say your lunch on average is $12. If you were to buy lunch every work day for $12, you would spend $3,000 a year. If lunch was on average $14, that cranks you up to $3,500 a year. What about that morning cup of Joe for $3.50 a cup? $875.

What’s crazy is that the people that work around me do this everyday. Actually, some of them will have two cups of coffee everyday (their morning cup as they walk into the office and another after lunch). Some of my colleagues buy their lunches everyday as it is easier to get take out, come back to their desk, and finish on what they were working on.

At 3 years, you have spent $9,000 on lunch meals. If you think a cup of coffee a day or two is why you are living paycheck to paycheck or not being able to save money… You are wrong. That is not the complete reason, it is only partial. It is not even the lunch meal. It’s your spending habit. If you are not realizing how a cup of coffee or even a lunch-a-day is impacting your ability to save money, it is because you need to work on your spending.

I mean, wouldn’t it be GREAT to put $3,000 away into savings? Whether you want to use it for retirement, an emergency fund, or to save up for a car or a house… That is $3,000 more. But you can’t get there if you are buying take-out everyday.

Now stepping back, let’s look at the bigger picture. Of course, I am not saying don’t get takeout or buy lunch, ever. I mean, even I find myself buying lunch a few times a month at work! The point is, something as “small” as buying lunch can add up quickly. After all, if you look at your bank statement, you’re not just spending money on lunches and coffees. You’re buying all sorts of things everyday. The best way to get in control of your spending is to… Review it! And then, find areas to trim from.

TIPS

  1. Review your spending habit. Duh! Divide your costs into categories to figure out where you are spending the most of your money. Plus, you can figure out what the crazy costs are and see if there are ways to trim your spending.
  2. Find alternatives. For example, if your biggest spending area is food, can you make your own cup of coffee? Can you pack your own lunch?
  3. Are you paying for what you aren’t using? Do you really need that gym, Netflix, HBO, Spotify or World of Warcraft membership?
  4. Pay in cash. If swiping a plastic card makes buying things easy for you, how about switching to cash instead? Give yourself a budget by having a certain amount of cash every week or month to spend and try not to resort to using your card.

 

Flipping on Craigslist to Pay for College

Making Money on Craigslist

When I was a kid in high school, I started a new hobby. I decided to try  my luck in snowboarding and found it rather fun (but super difficult in the beginning). I didn’t want to continue renting from the local mountain, so I decided to buy a snowboard off a friend. The snowboard was a cheap beginner board that I eventually grew out of. I decided I wanted to sell the board in order to buy something better. I decided to try out Craigslist for the first time by selling the board I had originally bought from my friend.Capture.JPG

Something had clicked once I sold that first snowboard. I realized, I could… make money selling something I knew about. Lightbulb!!!

Know your Audience and Market

Essentially, I sold snowboards for 2 years to help me accelerate towards my goal. I bought gently used snowboards on Craigslist and turned around to sell them at a higher price that I thought was their true worth. I enjoyed this experience a lot because I realized I was good at negotiating and learned how to make effective sales without taking too much of my time. For example, I looked for snowboards that were known or popular brands,

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We Bought a Truck…

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Yes, indeed, we bought a truck! Unfortunately, it is not a click-bait title! Fortunately, it is something my SO and I have researched deeply into and do not regret the purchase at all. Let’s dive right in.

Truck Shaming

To start off – I’ve read many, many threads on Reddit’s Financial Independence sub and I’ve seen the countless posts about whether people should buy a truck and the enormous amount of folks commenting that they shouldn’t. Safe to say, I was one of them. And now here I am, being a hypocritical queen! I mean well… After all, trucks are expensive, their fuel mileage isn’t fabulous, and… do you really need a truck?

But a few things happened over the span of 6 months that allowed me to be more open to the idea of making this purchase and I’d like to share with my readers.

Current Vehicle Problems

Our Subaru was breaking down, with windows that didn’t roll up, gas leaking into the ventilation, A/C and air unit starting to degrade, and struts, brakes, and brake calipers that needed to be replaced. We carpool to work together and we often stressed about the car each time we got in and out of the car. Naturally, we started talking about whether to get a newer vehicle or to fix all the issues. For a $4,000 vehicle, we decided it was not worth all the fixes.

A Vehicle to Meet Our Needs/Wants

  1. We wanted to look into a vehicle that would meet our future needs without the fear of it breaking down on a highway stretch far from roadside assistance. We were fine with the struts creaking when we turned, but we were definitely scared when the brakes started to lock up, squeal and pull us to one side. We did end up paying to have the brakes fixed – nobody would buy a vehicle with a potentially life-threatening issue anyway

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Monthly Net Worth Update – April 2017

April Net Worth Update

I am happy to finally exceed the $70,000 mark! To be honest, I haven’t done anything special aside from saving money, trying to keep my expenses to a minimum, and to ensure I am putting money into my rIRA, index fund, and most importantly, my 401K.

Fancy Numbers

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Bought a Car and Dealer Wanted to Increase Interest Rate After Signed Contract

Dealership Tried to Raise my Interest Rate after Spot Delivery

I bought a used car towards the end of the month in April. To be exact, I bought it on April 30!  It was an exciting, easy and fun process and the car had everything I wanted (I’ll go into details about it later).

Now for the turn of the worse. What I really wanted to focus on was the shitty experience I received yesterday with the dealership. So as of 24 hours ago, I’ve had the vehicle for 7 business days (or 9 days) and I received a call in the afternoon from the finance manager at the dealership informing me that my APR rate needed to increase from 3.19% to 3.4%.
I was immediately annoyed and asked him, didn’t I already sign a contract for 3.19%? Why do I need to sign a new contract? The finance manager stated that the bank we worked with could only qualify for the 3.19% if we had financed over a certain loan amount. Since we didn’t we could no longer get the 3.19% financing.
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OK. I hung up and ran to my car and looked through my paperwork. Boom. I found my contract and noticed one important thing: the dealership had 4 business days to work with the bank on the loan application, contact me, rescind or change anything about the terms of the loan or any part of the deal. 4 business days. Fortunately enough, he called on the 7th business day.

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