10 No Brainer Budgeting Tips

No-Brainer Budgeting Tips

10 No Brainer Budgeting Tips

Let me guess. You want to save money, but you don’t want to do math. Percentages and spreadsheets make you glaze over or break out in hives. The idea of a bunch of cash filled envelopes lying about just seems dumb. It’s okay. I’m here for you. I’ve got a few simple things you can keep in mind to help you save money without having to overthink it.

  1. Carry cash– In case you never figured out the name of my blog, I take out the equivalent of $20 a day from the ATM once a week on Fridays. Living here in Glasgow, that means I put £90 in my wallet each week, and that’s all the money I get to spend on incidentals like clothes, extra bits from the grocery story, drinks at the bar, etc. If you use your debit card for everything AND you hate doing math, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to lose track of how much money you spend. I find this amount to be just right for me. Some weeks I have money leftover, and other weeks, Thursdays are sad. That’s life.
  2. Stop buying crap– Become more intentional about what you buy. Before you make an impulsive purchase, ask yourself “Is this something I know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” I don’t know who said that, but it’s worked for me. You don’t have to be a stingy miser, but if you live in the real world, you probably can’t just have whatever you want. 
  3. Sleep on it– Since we’re trying to stop buying crap, I find it useful to walk away for a day from something I’m interested in buying, especially if it costs a little bit more than I would normally pay. It may be that you can look around and find it cheaper somewhere else, or it may be that with a little bit of space, you realize you don’t actually need it. If you’re still in love with the item the next day and you have the cash in your wallet, go back and get it.
  4. Think about how you’re going to get there– We don’t have a car right now, so our options are pretty limited, but I think it’s always worth it to consider walking somewhere. It’s free, and it’s great exercise. Yeah it takes a bit longer, but if I’m by myself, I listen to news podcasts and get smarter, and if I’m with my husband or a friend, it’s the perfect opportunity to have some great conversation without having your face stuck in your phone.
  5. Embrace store brand– There are a few things, like peanut butter, that I just won’t compromise on, but for the most part, I’m quite happy to save a bit of money on fancy packaging and advertising and just buy the store brand. If you find you don’t like the quality on a certain product, just don’t buy it again. Most of the time, though, you can’t tell.
  6. Pack a lunch– When I find my wallet empty at the end of the week, it’s usually because I’ve been forgetting to bring my lunch with me to work. When you’re putting leftovers away from dinner, pack them in single-serving portions so you can just grab something from the fridge on your way out the door. I can barely navigate my toothbrush in the morning. Forget about making a sandwich. Make your life as easy as possible.
  7. Check for a Groupon– If you haven’t checked out any of these types of sites in a while, it’s definitely worth checking out. Rememer #2. Don’t go buying stuff just because there’s a groupon, but you may find something you already needed or wanted for half the price, at which point it would be dumb not to get it. It’s a great way to try a restaurant or experience that may have otherwise been inaccessible because of price.
  8. Buy things that last– When you’re shopping for things that are non-consumable, take into consideration how quickly something may need to be replaced. I’ve had the same black pencil skirt since I graduated from college. If something is going to be useful to you for a long time, make sure it’s going to last. Spending a little bit more one time equals spending less in the long run if you end up having to buy it again.
  9. Invite your friends over– Instead of going out to a restaurant or bar to socialize with your friends, invite them to your home. You don’t have to do anything extravagant. Ask friends to bring stuff to contribute to the night. It spreads the cost around, but you can bet everyone will still spend less than they would going out. You’ll be able to hear each other talk, and sometimes your friends will even do the dishes. 
  10. Put some money away– Now that you’re being more conscientious about your spending, you’ll have some money to save at the end of the month. If you don’t, you may need to reevaluate your life a little bit. Here’s what I do. First, make sure you have a separate savings account that you can easily transfer to online. When payday comes around, I look at my last balance before the deposit. Subtract from that balance the amount you pay in rent (so you know you at least always have an extra month’s worth on hand at any given moment), then put the rest into your savings account. I know we don’t like to do math, so just round to the nearest hundred (or ten if you have to). Don’t overthink it. Then sit back and watch your money add up. 

Saving money, sort of like losing weight, isn’t really about tricks. It’s much more about changing your habits and your attitude. Say no to the pressure to consume. Don’t feel you need to deprive yourself, but don’t give in to every little whim to spend. If you’re feeling pressure to keep up with the Joneses, just remember that the Joneses aren’t actually as cool as you. Eventually, being awesome on $20 a day just becomes your life. 

$20 a Day in the Closet: 10 Tips for Cheap Clothes

$20 a Day in the Closet


$20 a Day in the Closet: 10 Tips for Cheap Clothes

I am a long way from a fashion icon, but I’m not completely frumpy, either. It’s sometimes a struggle trying to be both cheap and cute, but I believe it can be done. Here are my tips for how to maintain a pretty great wardrobe without making your wallet cry.

1. Don’t buy a ton of crap

This almost too obvious, but if you want to save money, you just can’t have a ton of crap. Sorry, it just doesn’t work. When I go to the mall, it’s more like visiting a museum. I look, sometimes I even try on, but I rarely ever buy. 100 years ago, average people were lucky to have like five outfits, so just learn to live with less.

2. Don’t throw anything out

Just the other day, I got several compliments on a top and a skirt I’ve had for probably 10 years. If your clothes still fit you and aren’t torn, stained, or otherwise inappropriate, you can probably hold onto them and figure out ways to give them new life. Most people aren’t going to care or even notice that you’ve been wearing the same dress forever.

3. Buy classic pieces

 Pencil skirts in black and tan, black pants, white and black button down shirts, and comfortable but awesomely hot black heels will never ever go out of style. You don’t even have to spend a bunch of money if you’re patient enough to find good stuff at discount stores like Ross or TJ Maxx. Take good care of them, and you’ll be able to make a million outfits for years.

4. Go shopping with a plan

Before you step into the shop, think about what you actually need. Don’t just randomly shop impulsively. It’s the same effect as going to the grocery store hungry. You end up spending money on things you don’t actually need and will probably never wear. 

5. Try on in store then shop online

If you’re buying from a major chain like Old Navy, they’ll probably send you a bajillion emails with all kinds of great coupon codes. It’s kind of annoying until you need something. There’s a pretty good chance you can get 20% off or more if you can be patient.

6. Don’t buy stuff just because it’s on sale

If you spend $20 on a $50 piece that you never actually wear, you didn’t save $30, you actually wasted $20. A sale, in and of itself, is not a good enough reason to buy something. I mean, if you need something and can get it on sale, that’s obviously good, but I think you get the point.

7. Always try stuff on

If you’re anything like me, there’s a good chance you’re too lazy to actually take stuff back to the store if it doesn’t fit right, so make sure it’s going to work before you get it home. 

8. Don’t buy stuff unless it makes you feel awesome

Similar to #6, if you buy the cheap version of something you need, but you don’t love it, you’re probably not going to wear it. Money wasted. It’s worth it to spend a little more on something that makes you feel excited about getting dressed in the morning.

9. Have fun with accessories

I’m a scarf and hat girl, personally, but you can pick up a few fun accessories to add a pop of color to your wardrobe and stay on trend. You’re gonna have a lot of classic pieces and old stuff, so play around with the little cheap things.

10. Don’t feel guilty

You deserve to look good, even if you can barely afford a fashion magazine, let alone all the stuff inside. If you want to save your pennies and splurge on something that makes you feel like a movie star, don’t beat yourself up about it.  We all know that material things aren’t what really matters, but you don’t need to feel guilty about buying something beautiful every now and then.

You deserve to feel awesome. With a little patience and creativity, you can collect a wardrobe of reliable pieces, throw in a few trendy accessories, and look and feel totally rad. Everything is possible.

6 Awesome Summer Wines Under $10

6 Awesome Summer Wines

You know I love a good happy hour as much as anybody, but most of the time, I prefer to enjoy a drink in the comfort of my home, or sip a glass of wine discreetly while grilling at the beach. Even if you find a really cheap happy hour, it’s never going to be as affordable as a bottle of wine. 

There are plenty of great white wines to be had for under $10, and if you’re lucky enough to live in a state that sells wine in the grocery store, they’re extremely convenient to pick up for a weekend dinner party or a Wednesday night that needs a dose of calm. Here are some of our favorites in no particular order. I’m not a wine expert. I just like what I like.

Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio is crisp and refreshing. I find it works well with food and isn’t too sweet.

Menage a Trois Moscato is one of Geoff’s favorites. It’s definitely sweet and best for sipping after dinner. I’ll admit that I prefer moscato with ice. I find it calms the syrupy quality that moscato can sometimes have.

Barefoot Refresh Crisp White is the perfect pool or beach side sipper. It’s a little bit bubbly, a little bit sweet, quite crisp and completely refreshing. It seems to have a low alcohol content, so you won’t be stumbling about after a few glasses.

Woodbridge Sauvignon Blanc is a great choice when you need a large bottle of wine. It’s still just under $10 and pleases most any palate. 

Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc is on the green side, which I really like, especially in warm weather. 

Chateau St. Michelle Riesling is possibly my favorite wine. It’s made not far from where I grew up, so it has a sentimental attachment for me. Plus, rieslings are just the right level of sweet for my taste. Not too syrupy, not too dry. It works well with food or on its own.

I almost never buy a wine that costs more than $10. They’re not always great, but they’re rarely that bad. These are all wines I would gladly drink again and again. Feel free to bring a bottle.

What are your favorite summer wines? What will you be drinking at your Labor Day celebration? 

How to fix a torn moped seat for under $10

How to Fix a Torn Moped Seat for under $10

How to fix a torn moped seat for under $10

So you followed my advice and bought a moped. You’ve been zipping around town feeling awesome because you’re only spending $5 a week on gas while your insane car driving friends are spending ten times that. You’re wearing your helmet because it’s better to look like a dork than have your brains splattered on the pavement. After all, your brain is your most attractive asset. You’re feeling pretty rad. 

But then you get a  tear in your seat. It rains all winter and the water soaks into the cushion and you keep showing up to work with a wet butt. It costs at least fifty bucks to get it replaced, and that sucks. What’s a cheap girl to do? 

Duct tape! Duh. You can fix something broken, and personalize it for less than ten bucks. It’s just bursting with win.

I went to my local office supply warehouse (Fisher Hawaii in Kakaako) where they have about twenty different colors and patterns of duct tape. I bought one roll of black and one roll of a black lace pattern. Get whatever you think is awesome.

How to fix a torn moped seat for under $10

First, I covered the whole entire seat with the black duct tape. Just start on one end and pull the roll across. Use scissors to get a nice clean edge and tuck the ends up under the seat a bit to make sure you have full coverage. If you just have one tear, you may not want to do the whole thing. I thought it looked more uniform to cover the whole seat. I had a lot of damage.

I then added the lace tape in diagonal stripes just for fun. I think it looks pretty fun. You might also try a chevron pattern if you’re good at geometry. 

I’ve had the tape in place for a few weeks now, and it hasn’t started peeling off at all. I also noticed that it’s actually easier to dry off the seat now. The water just beads on the tape, and you can wipe it right off. It’s pretty genius. I also had plenty of tape left over for other duct tape type emergencies. 

How to fix a torn moped seat for under $10

Why spend money on new stuff when you can fix what you have with something cheap and make it even better? And now you’ll have money left over for cheese and chocolate. That’s what it’s all about.

DIY Air Conditioner

DIY Air Conditioner1

Hey there, Geoff here! It’s been a while! 

The temperature is rising rapidly in paradise and summer is looming. I use the word ‘looming’ reluctantly because I love the summer…just not the soaring temperatures and sweat-inducing humidity. We don’t have air-conditioning in our humble abode so during the day it becomes unbearable!

Checking online for something that might help brought up a few designs for a do-it-yourself air conditioner so I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring with a budget “Awesome-on-20” AC unit! 

First off, you’ll need something that keeps the cold in and the heat out. I chose a cheap $2.99 polystyrene cooler from Safeway.

Secondly, you’ll need a cheap fan, preferably one that’s been lying around at home for a while.

Thirdly, you’ll need some ice…It’s that simple!

DIY Air Conditioner2


Take your cooler and cut a hole in the lid. Make sure that the hole isn’t bigger than your fan but big enough that most (if not all) of the fan’s power can be directed down into the cooler.

Next, you’ll need somewhere for the air to come out again. For this, you just need to cut two holes in the side of the cooler. The two plastic pipes ($2 from a hardware store) I added are optional. These will give you more control of the air direction. Remember, the smaller the holes, the faster the air will blow through them and the more breeze you will get.

Add in some ice, plug in the fan and away you go. We filled a gallon milk carton with water and left it in the freezer overnight. Although any and all ice should work for you!

DIY Air Conditioner3

I’m not going to say that this is the best AC unit ever. . . it’s not. . . but if you want something to sit on the desk next to you while you are writing the next chapter of your novel and drinking Pimms and lemonade…you’ve got a winner.

Enjoy mes amigos! 

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