Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Home Brewed Benefits (Coffee...yum)

I love coffee so much. I recently adjusted my sleeping habits from 3am-11am to about 12am-8am. Even though it's the same number of hours, I feel more productive. Before it felt like by the time I became a functioning person, the rest of the working world was closing.

Part of the reason I got on that sleep schedule was because I couldn't find any motivation to get up at an earlier hour. I am not in school. I am not working (on disability). And because I didn't have a schedule for myself, I just floundered.

Then someone gave me a French press and coffee grinder, and they changed my life. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, haha, but hear me out.

I find the process of brewing coffee to be very calming and methodical. I start with beans that are Fair Trade Certified, so I know that they are great quality and that the farmers who grew them were paid fair wages. Then, while I'm heating up the water, I typically wash out my French press from the previous morning, haha.

During this whole process, I focus on each step. I consider each a small accomplishment. I know that sounds weird, but I somehow tell myself that I could be brewing the easy way. This way is longer, does not require a paper filter, and achieves a tastier result.

When I measure out my beans, I get a small whiff of coffee scent. By the time I'm done grinding the coffee, the scent fills my nostrils and man, it smells so good. I finish up all the steps, the most fun being when I push down the plunger and there is a thin line of foam forming at the top of the press.

Then I add my coffee creamer - chocolate caramel - and wow. Delicious. You wouldn't believe how many cups of coffee I can get out of that one creamer container. Which, by the way, costs about the same and sometimes less than one fancy coffee at Starbucks. Do not get me wrong - I love getting coffee at coffee shops, big chains and the little guys. We just can't afford to buy it on a daily basis.

At the end of this process I sit down in front of my laptop and I am ready to take a look at my agenda for the day. I feel like I've accomplished something small and it's time to tackle something else. I feel like I did the right thing for farmers by buying Fair Trade Certified coffee AND the right thing for our budget.

Brewing my own coffee puts me in the right mindset for most of the day. I'm sure you could substitute this process with smoothie making or something. It's funny how making a big deal out of the smallest of accomplishments can really shape your thinking.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Keeping PG&E Costs Down - Special Programs

We live in the Central Valley of California. It gets pretty hot here, although I feel terrible saying that since I've been to the south during the summer. We don't have the high humidity to deal with at least. Still, as I look at the weather prediction for this so far beautiful day in May, I'm already dreading the late afternoon. Should be getting into the 90's. Sigh.

Not fun for a house with no air conditioning!

This will be our third summer with no central air conditioning. We have a small wall unit, but it just can't cool down our three bedroom house.

Well recently we signed up for a weatherization program through PG&E, and I am so glad we did! A man came to our house and counted how many doors and windows we have. He also took inventory of how many large appliances we have, and what year they were manufactured. Before leaving he gave me a breakdown of all commonly used appliances in a house and how much they cost per minute/hour to run. It was extremely helpful.

Then the workers came out a week later. They checked every major appliance to make sure they were energy efficient. I've heard from friends that if you have outdated appliances, they will sometimes replace them, including your refrigerator, furnace and/or water heater. The woman who sold us our house had just recently upgraded most of ours, so we were okay in that area.

They moved on to making sure our filters were clean (we do have a furnace fan). One man went throughout the house and replaced every light bulb with an energy efficient one. He also replaced both of our shower heads.

I left them with my husband for a while and by the time I came home they had replaced our laundry room door from a sliding door to a nice white one with slats (matches our trim perfectly!). They applied caulking around the windows and installed weather strips in each doorway.

Pretty awesome for a free program. If you can meet the low income requirements, then DO THIS!

Since then I've continued to research ways to keep our house cool during the summer. Here is a link I found today:

13 Free or Cheap Ways To Keep Your Home Cool This Summer | One Caveman's Financial Journey

Monday, September 14, 2009

Costco: Membership Benefits Beyond Food

My husband and I received a one-year Costco membership gift card for Christmas. I'm embarrassed to say that we didn't turn in our paperwork until a couple months ago. Luckily the membership period starts from the date of activation! I've always heard about the awesome deals you can get at Costco - especially the bulk food items - but I was surprised by all the other benefits that come with membership.

With the holidays just around the corner, I'm trying to keep my eyes open for good deals. Costco's website has a lot of great deals in their "Gifts & Tickets" section. Here are a few that caught my eye:


For only $24.99, the Ultimate Premiere Movie Pack includes two Premiere Super Saver Tickets and a $10 Concession Gift Certificate.
Premiere Super Saver Tickets have no restrictions and no expiration dates. The Gift Certificate can be used for concession and box office purchases and has no expiration date, as well.

Ultimate Premiere Movie Pack tickets are valid for any movie, any day, any time at any Regal Cinemas, Edwards or United Artists Theatres nationwide - without ever expiring. There is a $1.50 surcharge if redeemed at any Manhattan, NY location.
Visit www.REGmovies.com for showtimes and locations nearest you.

For only $37.95, you can also purchase five Premiere Super Saver tickets, valid for any movie, any day, any time at any Regal Cinemas, Edwards or United Artists Theatres nationwide - without ever expiring. There is a $1.50 surcharge if redeemed at any Manhattan, NY location.

Visit www.REGmovies.com for showtimes and locations nearest you.

Other Awesome Gifts from Costco, many of which beat the retail value. Example: You can buy six $15 iTunes giftcards (a $90 value) for only $74.99!

Happy Shopping!

*All information and images are from Costo's website

Friday, July 17, 2009

Kicking Your Mortgage into High Gear

My husband and I bought a house last September. Shortly after, we started receiving all kinds of promotions in the mail. Gift certificates for Lowe's and the Home Depot, policies promising protection (if you die tomorrow, we'll pay off your home loan!), etc. Most of it went into the recycle bin, but I did find one offer of value. It was an advertisement for something called Equity Acceleration. We didn't sign up for it right away, but I wish we would have! We will significantly reduce our loan's interest, gain equity at a faster rate, and knock years off of our would-be 30 year loan.


Most people I know do not get paid monthly. In most of our jobs, my husband and I have been paid weekly, bi-weekly, or twice per month (ex: the 1st and the 15th every month). Currently we are paid bi-weekly.

Now let's say our monthly mortgage is around $2,000 per month (just as an example). With the EAP, we'll now pay $1,000 every payday instead. In our case, our payment is automatically withdrawn the day after every payday. Now, those who are paid bi-weekly probably know that there are two months per year in which there are three paydays (typically months with 31 days in them). So in those months we will pay three $1,000 payments instead of two. The extra payment is applied only to the principle of our loan. By doing this two times per year (in those months in which we receive an extra paycheck), we will be making one extra full payment toward our principle, without any strain on our budget.

By making only one extra payment on our principle per year, we now:

- Save over $40,000 in interest over the life of our loan,
- Build over $10,000 more in equity in 10 years, and
- Reduce our loan term by up to approximately 6 years!

Although our budget is tight, we didn't even notice the change. If anything, it makes things easier because they really did tailor our due dates to fit our paydays. And what a dent we'll be putting into what seemed like a never-ending loan!

I would definitely recommend speaking to your mortgage company and finding out if they offer a similar program that will work for you.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Trip to the Carnival - Third Edition

Welcome to the 3rd Edition of our Recession Obsession blog carnival!

There are two contributors to Recession Obsession, but I (Eish) am the one who typically has the time to read through all of our blog carnival submissions - and trust me, I do read through ALL of them!

The reason I love hosting these carnivals is that we receive such a wide range of information from a wide range of individuals. And while I find many blog entries to be interesting, my favorite submissions are the short/simple and positive kind.

Two submissions that stuck out to me this time around were from Erin who presents Financially stressed? 5 ways to feel better fast posted at PlinkPlink: Moms Talking About Money

...and from nickel who presents Lending Money to Family and Friends posted at fivecentnickel.com.


Browse through this list and I'm sure you will find something of interest. Thank you again for all of your submissions!

Buck Weber presents Are Thrift Shops Running Dry? posted at THE BUCK LIST.

ishanbansal presents 10 Tips to Reduce Car Expenses posted at Save Few Bucks.

ishanbansal presents Work From Home Call Center Jobs posted at Save Few Bucks.

Verna Morris presents Top 25 ETF Tweeples Worth a Follow on Twitter posted at ETFdb.

Cody Butler presents What Is Forex Trading? posted at Investment-For-Beginners Blog.

nickel presents How to Deal With Job Loss posted at fivecentnickel.com.

Bohden James presents 8 Easy Ways To Save Money Right Now posted at How To Save Money.

MBR presents Housing Rebound posted at Monitor Bank Rates.

Credit Shout presents Best Cash Back Credit Cards posted at CreditShout.

Credit Card Addict presents Outlawing Retroactive Interest Rate Changes posted at Credit Card Addict.

Money Tipper presents Monitor Bank Safety Online posted at Money Tipper.

Homemaker Barbi (Danelle Ice) presents 5 Surefire Ways to Recession Proof Your Job posted at Homemaker Barbi.

Tiffany Colter presents We are tired of talk posted at The Balanced Life.

Friday, March 20, 2009

100 Yummy Dinners for Under $10

While browsing today, I came across an AOL food page with links to 100 yummy dinners for under $10. Some look really tasty and I can't even get fast food for all 4 of us for under $10 so I immediately thought of all of you, our loyal readers when I saw it. Here is the link. Be sure to comment if you find a killer recipe!

Frugal Feasts