3 Master Life Hacks to help you Save Money for the rest of your life!

Let me know in the comments if you find this interesting!

When it comes to advice on money, things tend to be repetitive and kind of basic: create a savings account with limited access and put money there, make your own food at home, BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET!

These are of course not bad places to start when it come to being frugal- but it’s easier said than done. Below are some great life hacks that can help you get in the frugal mindset and save money for the rest of your life.

Think In Terms Of Time Spent Rather Than Dollars Spent.

If you have a very relaxed attitude about money, like I many people, then thinking about throwing away $50 on something or other doesn’t disturb you. If that’s the case, then you should start thinking about a purchase in terms of your time rather than in terms of cash. Think about how many hourly wages you will spend on something.

Always have enough Cash to back up any purchase you make, decrease the expense with cashback credit card programs.

Only buy things when you can afford to pay for them in full- take advantage of credit cards cashback offers to save $$ and pay off your bill in full each month. You can save 1-5% on your purchases this way.

Eliminate Impulse buying

Every time you want to buy something, anything… Just wait 1 week. Think about it or don’t think about it. The real goal here is to get out of the mindset of impulse buying. Investing in this good habit will save you money time and time again.

How much do you spend on Coffee?

Do you know how much you spend per week on coffee?  There is calculator at the bottom of the article. Let me know in the comments if you find this interesting!

For many people who live and work in the city coffee is a way of life. The case is especially true for Seattle- where Starbucks Coffee originates.

Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans, which are the seeds of berries from the Coffee plant. Coffee originates in Africa- but is now grown over 70 countries worldwide because of how popular it is. It’s one of the fastest growing multi billion dollar industries in the world and one of the most in demand commodities. I’ll get back to this point and why it matters in a minute.

The coffee craze is driven in part by the fact that people need an extra kick to get them through the day- which I understand completely. I’ve drunken my fair share off coffee and there were times when I was younger I briefly followed the growing Starbucks army.

I would have 2-3 cups of coffee per day. Easily coming to $10 dollars depending on what I would get where. 5 days a week- 50 weeks a year…

I was spending easily $2500 dollars a year on coffee! THROWING IT AWAY.

As soon as I realized this I knew I had to correct my course of action. At the time that was a sizeable amount of income. Now this blog and other projects of mine would cover that cost passively ;). I’m still going to save the money and consider it a double savings for not having spent it.

I had many options in front of me- the most obvious one at the time was to buy a Mr. Coffee and cheap grounds to make at home. However I then learned that some countries will add various things- including ground corn and dirt to ground coffee during coffee shortages (largely brought on by my point above…)

The next logical step was to buy whole beans and grind them myself. I didn’t mind making the one time cost into a high quality grinder– however the reoccurring cost of fresh beans was still kind of high when I compared it to the cheaper ground coffee. So I ultimately decided to cut coffee out of my regular day to day life and I think that was the best decision for me. I could of also reduced my intake but I figured it may be nice to try going without coffee for a while.

However if you still want to drink coffee- buying the beans your self and grinding them at home will absolutely cut your costs down by a factor of 90%. For me, that would mean I’d spend about $250 a year- which is far more manageable. However it also involves much more effort for which my time has been sparse. So I decided to pocket the rest of the money and save the time as well.

monday morning coffee GIF

It actually wasn’t to hard for me to stop drinking coffee cold turkey- but a lot of people do experience withdrawals and get caffeine headaches. So for some it may be a good idea to slowly reduce your consumption first.

More Info and External Sources:

Your coffee might have dirt in it

The Coffee Craze

Coffee Spending Calculator

Coffee is a Waste of Money

Average Coffee Expenses

3 Minute Read: Extreme Budget Breakdown 101…

If this is your first time making a budget, this guide is the straight forward breakdown that will leave you feeling refreshed. There’s a bunch of guides out there online as well as plenty of helpful books… but you won’t need any of those here. What I’m about to describe to you may sound extreme but it’s really not so crazy.

There’s a lot of categories to consider in when creating a budget and they have been debated over for ages but were going to keep this simple. I want you to focus on just the following areas: Housing, Utilities, Food, Transportation, Health, Insurance, Personal Expenses, and Savings.

Housing 25-35%
Utilities 5–10%
Food 10-15%
Transportation 10–15%
Health 5–10%
Insurance 10–25%
Personal 10-15%
Saving 25-35%

Okay, that doesn’t seem so insane… but that’s not what I’m here to suggest. Or at least, the above budget should be your starting point for a far better extreme saving budget goal. I started with the above two years ago… and I realized that I could optimize it to put even more money away. This didn’t happen over night- it took time, patience and experimentation to find what worked best for me.

This might now work as well for you- or your needs may be different, You should adjust accordingly but keep your focus on maximizing the bottom column: SAVINGS.

This is my current breakdown:

Housing 17.5%
Utilities 1.5%
Food 6%
Transportation 1%
Health 5%
Insurance 5%
Personal 6%
Saving 58%

Housing: It’s hard to optimize this number in Seattle… we are still years away from being able to afford a home- but that is our goal. Right now we pay roughly $24k  in rent per year. As soon as we can get a house, we plan to put the difference to savings.

Utilities: We pay $40 dollars a month in the summer because 1)  we don’t have AC and 2) we haven’t broke down and bought a portable AC because we’re cheap. >:) In the winter, the bill is at it’s highest $150- but we have found multiple ways to cut it down by bundling up in some warm blankets and watching Rick and Morty or The Path.

Food: We try to eat healthy, and keep cost low. We cook 95% of our meals at home and eat out  maybe once a month.

Transportation: We walk places when we can, and mostly commute to work and to shop. We both have to drive to work, but we carpool together and that saves us money.

Health: I have some minor bills and my wife has some regular medical bills. Nothing serious.

Insurance: Car and Cheap health plans for myself, work plan for my wife.

Personal: We have some fun money 😉 But we usually allocate way more than we need. More often we just play Scrabble together.

Savings: This is the area that we seek to maximize. My next goal is to get to 80% income saved. I’m still years away from that. Hopefully I’ll be able to link back to this in the future. 🙂

Thanks for reading!  Please like, share, and comment with your thoughts down below.

 

 

 

5 Best places where $200,000 is enough to retire!

While most of my post are dedicated to saving money or being frugal, I could help but think it might be nice to throw out some more affordable retirement ideas.  I myself am spending a few weeks in Thailand before I get back to normal life. The list below is essentially a list I put together to decide where I wanted to go… not realizing cheap vacation spots also makes for AMAZING retirement spots. Please like and share if you find the be info useful.

Thailand

With its tropical climate, Thailand’s hot season can hit temperatures upwards of 105F (40C) from March to May. The best time to enjoy all Thailand has to offer is between November and March, when the weather hovers around a balmy 86F (30C).

The price of living varies among different areas, but you can live as cheaply as $500 a month or more luxuriously for $1500-2000 a month. A full Thai dinner with beer for two costs less than $10. Thailand also ranks among the world’s 50 best health care systems, according to the World Health Organization. The best private hospitals are in Bangkok and hospital fees cost a fraction of what you would pay in US or Europe.

Mexico

Mexico’s lovely towns and villages offer some of the most popular retirement destinations in the world. Along with gorgeous beaches and historical colonial towns, just $200 a month can get you a one-bedroom apartment to live in, and a few dollars a week will buy bags of fresh produce and fish from local markets and fishermen.

Mexico also has all the amenities you could want, including cable TV, internet, and modern appliances. Here, private health insurance gets more expensive as you get older, so many retirees hold on to medical coverage plans from their home countries and opt to pay out of pocket for minor medical fees in Mexico. A specialist appointment in Mexico costs about $25, while a local doctor outside cities costs only about $10 a visit.

Costa Rica

Year-round t-shirt weather and long stretches of golden beach are punctuated by eateries, bars, and all the amenities you need. While the locals speak Spanish, you’ll find plenty of folks to chat with in English, too.

Health care is very affordable in Atenas, Costa Rica. This town has a public health clinic, pharmacy and emergency room at its center. Some expats choose to pay from $75 to $150 for full coverage under the national public health insurance system, called Caja. Private consultations with Caja doctors cost less than $20 per visit, and private and national public hospitals are just a short drive away from city centers across the country.

Malaysia

Malaysia is South Asia’s most popular destination for retirees. English is widely spoken by expats and locals alike, and temperatures range between an ideal 77F (25C) and a humid 95F (35C) throughout the year.

An inexpensive local meal goes for $3, or you can get a two-person three-course dinner for $15. Renting is also affordable: a one-bedroom condo in the city center costs about $550 per month. Life in the cultural melting pot of Penang is even cheaper, with a one-bedroom apartment in the city costing only $265 per month.

Malta

Malta is a lesser-known international retirement option but it’s one of the best for English speakers! English is the second official language after Maltese, making for an easy transition for North American retirees.

The islands of the Maltese archipelago have year-round sunshine, an extremely temperate climate, and offer a unique mix of prehistoric and colonial history, lovely architecture, and outdoor fun.

Why everyone is running away from Facebook, and that’s a good thing.

Back in 2016, you may of gotten responses like many of the people in this article if you told your friends you were leaving facebook:

  • “But. Why would you?”
  • “Don’t you need it for work?
  • “How will you know what’s going on? Where will you get your news?”
  • “But…what if we get engaged and you’re not on Facebook?” (Love you, dear.)
  • “That’s gonna be tough, man. Not sure I could do that.”

People leaving Facebook is great for so many reasons- but the most important one is people are waking up. They are waking up and becoming aware of this new all digital future where everything they do leaves a trace somewhere.

But in the last year that’s changed, more users are now aware of Facebook’s less than good privacy practices have cause them to become the product on the platform. Largely due to the news that Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm that worked on President Trump’s 2016 campaign, was able to gain access to private data through the social network has sparked an unusually strong reaction among its users. Despite this recent headline, this and similar nefarious activity has been going of for years. Those who are outraged have moved to things like twitter and other social media sites. But others have just outright left the ‘social media’ bubble completely.

As a result, more and more people are leaving Facebook. They are tired of being a product and having their information used against them for marketing reasons.

People leaving Facebook is great for so many reasons- but the most important one is people are waking up. They are waking up and becoming aware of this new all digital future where everything they do leaves a trace somewhere.

Sources/More Info:

Facebook Abandonment at all time high

These are the people who are quitting Facebook

(2016) Why I am leaving Facebook and so should you

Simple approaches to Midfulness Meditation

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and sensations. It’s also known as Vipassanā.

Mindfulness is being in the moment.

There are many approaches to Mindfulness meditation and increasing overall focus and awareness of your surroundings. Here are two simple approaches that will help you get started. I talk much more about Mindfulness Meditation and several other techniques in Meditation: Benefits and Techniques for Beginners.

  1. Meditate in a quiet space
    • It’s good to do this for at least 15 minutes per session. Sit up straight but not stiff. Find a fixed point in the room and make this your focal point. Next, focus on your breathing. Isolate the sensation of your lungs filling with air. Feel every muscle in your body stretch as you fill your lungs with air. Feel them relax as you exhale.
    • After you’ve gotten into the rythem of breathing, maintain focus of whats in front of you.
    • If your attention drifts, do not stress out or become upset! Do not fight it either! Drifting is allowed and apart of the process. This helps you discover what is on your mind. After your attention drifts, gently focus your attention back to your breath.
    • At first, your thoughts will be varied and seem like constant interruptions. Don’t be discouraged because this is normal. In fact, to achieve mindfulness, you will need to practice to counter your minds habitual urge to jump from thought to thought. In time, you will learn to truly be in the moment.
  2. Meditate throughout the day in places where there are distractions
    • Precisely the same as above, except instead of finding a quiet space to meditate, you meditate pretty much wherever your are. Places like work, a public park, or even on the bus. This is naturally more difficult because there are more distractions. However, some prefer this. If your busy and don’t have time to meditate it’s another fantastic strategy.

 

Take some time and spend it in the moment. Exercise your mind. Take time to process your emotions, thoughts, and sensations. Observe the world around you with every breath. 🙂

 

How to Meditate when you don’t have the time to

About a decade ago I started to learn about Meditation and Mindfulness. In that time, I have learned so much about myself and the world around me through the benefits of meditation. I’m almost done with a brief ‘How to’ guide that will teach you various Buddhist and Hindu Meditation and Mindfulness techniques. I don’t have a title yet, but I will soon. I am so excited to share my domain knowledge on Meditation with others, that I have to post this excerpt from my book here.

This excerpts from this part of the book are dedicated to all of the hard working people who don’t have time to perform more traditional meditation. Using these techniques, you can still get some of the benefits associated with traditional Mindfulness and Meditation such as increased focus and less stress. With busy 40-60 hour work weeks, these techniques will fit into your schedule easily.

Walking meditation – by far my favourite

The best exercise for all age groups is to walk out in the open. Walking helps the blood to circulate throughout the body and revitalizes you. Early morning or evenings are ideal times to go for a walk. While walking instead of thinking unwanted thoughts, be mindful of your steps and how your legs move one after the other. Think about the rhythm you’ve set to walk. This will help you to be focused.

Start walking meditation by staying still in one place. Be aware of your body weight being transferred to your legs. Think about the soles of your feet and how they’re carrying your weight. Start to walk. Focus on your feet and feel all the sensations as your feet move. Be conscious of how your toes are touching each other and how your socks are keeping them all together. Move up to focus on your ankles and then your calf muscles, knees, thighs and hips. There is no need for you to soak in any feelings. Simply observe them dispassionately.

Breathing exercises

Breath is life; yet we don’t give importance to it. All of us do shallow breathing and land up with several ailments. Deep breathing can help you to resolve half the illnesses. Relax your shoulders and place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Inhale deeply and count from 1 to 5. Hold your breath for a second and then exhale. Repeat this for five to ten minutes. This will help to calm the mind and keep you relaxed. It’ll wipe out all negative thoughts and your mind will be fresh to think positive. You can perform this while travelling to work, at office during lunch time and at home. There is no specific time or place to perform deep breathing exercises.

Tea meditation

Getting up early in the morning before sunrise and looking out of your window is a wonderful practice. The first thing that comes to mind on waking up is to drink a hot cup of tea. This humble beverage rejuvenates and keeps you cheerful throughout the day. In case you don’t have time to exercise, meditate or perform yoga take to tea meditation. 

Add a spoon of tea leaves to boiling water and see the color turn golden brown. This increases your thirst to savor it. Add a couple of holy basil leaves (optional) and cardamom to it and feel the aroma wafting all around your kitchen. You can also add a small piece of crushed ginger (optional) to the tea. Strain the liquid once it is boiled.

PS – Following my blog gives you a chance to be put into a lottery to receive a free copy of my book!

-> Checkout my post on how to make an extra $30 a day, so you can make more time to meditate!