Frugal Portland http://frugalportland.com Save 50%. Spend Consciously. Take Control. Thu, 30 Jul 2015 15:20:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Sonics at the Star Theater: Frugal and Fun Night Out http://frugalportland.com/sonics-star-theater-frugal-fun-night/ http://frugalportland.com/sonics-star-theater-frugal-fun-night/#respond Thu, 30 Jul 2015 11:25:26 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=6718 It’s summertime and along with the heat comes many local music festivals. This week the Pabst Project brought me to the Star Theater to see The Sonics, The Pierced Arrows and eyebrow raising locals Fireballs of Freedom. The ticket was a steal at ten dollars, following a trend of low-cost ticket prices at this venue....

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The-Sonics-at-the-Star-Theater

It’s summertime and along with the heat comes many local music festivals. This week the Pabst Project brought me to the Star Theater to see The Sonics, The Pierced Arrows and eyebrow raising locals Fireballs of Freedom. The ticket was a steal at ten dollars, following a trend of low-cost ticket prices at this venue.

The atmosphere at the Star Theater is quite aesthetically pleasing, apart from the unnecessarily flashy stage lighting. The staff is exceedingly friendly and helpful with knowledge of the surrounding neighborhood. The drink service was fast even at capacity; you can purchase a 16-ounce PBR or Tecate for only three dollars, so a decent buzz is easily attained on a moderate budget. There is also a wide variety of well-mixed drinks and craft brews if you have recently cashed a paycheck and are feeling fancy. When all that cheap beer catches up with you there is Mediterranean street food available out on the patio, which looks and smells delicious but there were not many veg options, so I did not partake.

As for the show, the sound could not have been better. The Sonics were dynamic and looked comfortable performing, having only gotten back together in recent years after decades of hiatus. Judging by the crowd’s reaction to the new material, I think it’s safe to say they made it all that time, with their great music sensibility still intact. The Star Theater offers many great vantage points including balcony access at no extra cost if your days of rubbing shoulders with sweaty shirtless men up front are behind you. Taking this all into account I look forward to taking in some more shows at the Star Theater, with comfort in knowing my wallet will make it out guts intact.

You can check out the Fireballs of Freedom supporting a stellar Australian garage rock act Royal Headache at Mississippi Studios on August 11th.

For information on upcoming events at the Star Theater, visit their website.

For more information on the bands, visit:

Support Local Music!

-Carsten

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The Magic of Portland’s Little Free Libraries http://frugalportland.com/magic-portlands-little-free-libraries/ http://frugalportland.com/magic-portlands-little-free-libraries/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 12:57:40 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=6700 If you haven’t seen Portland’s little free libraries yet, you need to start walking around our lovely neighborhoods more (Gardens! Yard art! Sparkly Portland magic!). These priceless gemstones in Portland’s crown are labors of love installed and filled by your most neighborly neighbors. Located along sidewalks on posts in people’s yards all over our fair...

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The-magic-of-Portland's-little-free-libraries

If you haven’t seen Portland’s little free libraries yet, you need to start walking around our lovely neighborhoods more (Gardens! Yard art! Sparkly Portland magic!). These priceless gemstones in Portland’s crown are labors of love installed and filled by your most neighborly neighbors. Located along sidewalks on posts in people’s yards all over our fair city, Little Free Libraries are glass-fronted boxes full of FREE BOOKS. Why bike all the way to Multnomah County Library when you can just walk to the corner?

Most of the libraries in Portland are registered, official libraries (http://littlefreelibrary.org – and there’s a map!). The motto of these adorable receptacles of free entertainment is “Take a book. Return a book.” It’s that simple, and it’s old-school honor system. Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy? And if you realize your personal shelves are a bit too full of books you’ve already read or know darn well you’ll never get around to, you can bring Ulysses, War and Peace, and Crafting with Cat Hair to your neighborhood library box and know the love will keep floating around Portland like a vast cloud of generous, Pacific Northwesty literary good karma.

There is a serious charm to the library boxes themselves, too. From Little Free Library’s website, folks can order from over two dozen cute-as-heck prefab libraries, although this being Portland, quite a few are handmade artworks on their own. Some sport recycled materials, some mosaics, some… just use your imagination. Or better yet, take a walk. At least one also has a tiny-cool-object-loan area, too.

Visit your neighborhood micro-library and you just might find something you never would have sought out, but actually NEED to read. Trust your neighbor. One book, traded in over and over for new books, will one day leave you so well-read and enlightened that you will have no choice but to install a Little Free Library yourself. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

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Frugal Road Trip: 24 Hours in Tacoma, WA http://frugalportland.com/frugal-road-trip-24-hours-in-tacoma-wa/ http://frugalportland.com/frugal-road-trip-24-hours-in-tacoma-wa/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 12:00:11 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=6688 Summer is a season of spontaneity and adventure; it’s a time to throw an overnight bag in your car and get out of town for the weekend. Being on a budget certainly shouldn’t limit the occasional excursion away from Portland. There are plenty of cities nearby, some underrated, that offer cheap and interesting activities for...

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picnic in TacomaSummer is a season of spontaneity and adventure; it’s a time to throw an overnight bag in your car and get out of town for the weekend. Being on a budget certainly shouldn’t limit the occasional excursion away from Portland. There are plenty of cities nearby, some underrated, that offer cheap and interesting activities for a mini vacation that will satisfy the summer wanderer within.

One such city is Tacoma, Washington–not as popular a destination as Seattle, its neighbor to the north–but vibrant and cultured nonetheless (also: BONUS closer to Portland!)

Here is what an overnight, frugal road trip to Tacoma might look like:

Picnic at Wright Park

Metropolitan Market

Upon arrival, you could go out to eat–Tacoma has plenty of great restaurants–but a great money-saving alternative, especially on a balmy summer evening, is to grab a box of food from the grocery store and eat in the open air. I recommend dinner from the Metropolitan Market–they offer healthy options at reasonable prices; their salad and sandwich bar is delicious, and they have great hot food selections as well.

The perfect picnic spot to enjoy your food from the market is Wright Park, a 27 acre arboretum in the middle of the city. The park contains over 700 trees, ideal for taking shade and spreading out a blanket with a date or friends.

 

Greenhouse Tour

W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory

After dinner, check out the W. W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory, a stunning greenhouse located in the park. The greenhouse collects donations, so for a dollar or two, you could stroll among the 550 plant species in its permanent collection.

Grand Cinema

Grand Cinema

A lovely later evening activity, just a short walk from the park, is a visit to Grand Cinema, a non-profit arthouse theater. The Grand shows independent, foreign or local film, and the atmosphere is absolutely charming: small theater rooms, real butter on the popcorn, volunteer staff. It’s a wonderful experience for $10 a ticket.

 

Corina Bakery

Corina Bakery

The next morning, a trip to Corina Bakery might be in order, for a breakfast under $8. The place is sprawling, and they have gluten-free, organic goodies like chocolate croissants and egg sandwiches to go with your iced americano.

 

Vintage Shopping

Vintage Shopping

For afternoon shopping that won’t break the bank, Tacoma has a lot of fun vintage shops. At a store like Urban Xchange, you can trade in your unwanted clothing for store credit. Just being in the store will inspire you: the space is well-curated and full of creative outfit ideas. They always have a wide selection of trendy clothes on their racks that you can get for a fraction of the price.

Waterfront Walk

Waterfront walk

Before you hop in the car for the two and half hour drive back to Portland, I recommend a walk along the waterfront. Tacoma’s stretch of sidewalk along the waterfront is impressive, and the view is amazing (and free!) A perfect send-off for a nice couple of days in a different city, a weekend away that left plenty in the bank for more adventures before summer’s end.

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Free Admission with the Washington County Cultural Pass http://frugalportland.com/8-great-portland-attractions-thought-pay/ http://frugalportland.com/8-great-portland-attractions-thought-pay/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 11:00:50 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=6665 Washington County Cooperative Libraries wants you to brave water slides and enjoy some of our area’s coolest attractions as part of your FREE membership this summer! What?! It’s true! I get so excited when I find a way to have frugal summer fun! Check out the Washington County Cultural Pass to Adventure. This my most recent...

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Free Admission with the Washington County Cultural Pass

nelson1

Washington County Cooperative Libraries wants you to brave water slides and enjoy some of our area’s coolest attractions as part of your FREE membership this summer! What?! It’s true! I get so excited when I find a way to have frugal summer fun! Check out the Washington County Cultural Pass to Adventure. This my most recent favorite find and you couldn’t get a better deal for these great staycation destinations:

FREE ADMISSION to ALL of these Portland area attractions!

In Portland:

Lan Su Chinese Garden 

Portland Chinatown, 2 adults and 2 kids

Pittock Mansion 

Portland West Hills, 2 adults and 2 kids (ages 6-18)

Portland Japanese Garden 

Portland West Hills, 4 adults and ALL children (from same household)

A Short Drive Away:

Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark & Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum 

Both attractions in McMinnville, pass good for 2 admissions

 

A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village

in Salem, up to 5 guests

The Oregon Garden 

near Silverton, 2 adults and 4 kids

 

Rice NW Museum of Rocks & Minerals 

Hwy 26 @ Helvetia, up to 4 people

Washington County Museum

in Hillsboro, admission for one family

Have a guest coming and want to show them what the Portland area has to offer without making your wallet cry? Lived here forever and still haven’t made it to Pittock mansion to see the holiday lights? Heard about the water slide park and wonder why you’re not there splashing away stress? A bit of planning and a trip to the library and you’re there. For free.

Any of these adventures are fun enough on their own, but with the generosity available with most of these passes, the whole family can afford to come! My boyfriend and I love to take our niece and nephew out, but can’t splurge constantly. I added up the savings based on two adults and two kids. The passes will save us well over $400!

How the Washington County Cultural Pass Works

nelson2

All you have to do is go to one of the 15 Washington county libraries and sign up for a library card. It’s free and took me about five minutes. Make sure to bring your ID with your current address. Washington, Multnomah, Clackamas county and residents from parts of Clark county can join. Once you have your card you can make a reservation. If you call to make reservations, you even get to talk to a real live person! That’s rare these days! Each participating library has their own set of passes to check out.

Plan Ahead

If you know how get the good camping spots at the beach, this will be familiar! During peak times, you may have to wait a month or more for a reservation if you don’t plan ahead. Pick out a few dates that work and plan your daytrip!

One Day Only

You can check out two passes a day, but they are only good for that day. Your pass will only be held for you at one library, the library you reserve it at. You can only pick it up there and you can not keep it overnight!

This page has the rest of the info you need. There’s a list of destinations near the bottom of the page above the map. By clicking on any of destinations it will take you to a page with details specific to each pass. Most of them are available year-round, but some are seasonal or offered for a limited time. Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge… get your waterpark reservations soon!

Day trips do not have to be disastrous to the budget to be a lot of fun, and you save so much money skipping hotels and sleeping in your own bed at night. Pack the snacks to stay healthy and save cash. Go with a friend for built-in fun and to share gas money! Each of you can pick up a pass at the library closest to you on the way to meet up. I’ve always loved supporting libraries in general; who knew they would support my need for constant fun? Let me know what you learned from using your passes and any good spots you stopped along the way!

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6 Free Places to Hide from the Heat in Portland http://frugalportland.com/6-free-places-to-hide-from-the-heat-in-portland/ http://frugalportland.com/6-free-places-to-hide-from-the-heat-in-portland/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:03:45 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=6653 With temperatures into the triple digits, Portlanders are bracing for an especially nasty summer. No disrespect to the sun worshipers – I know some of you are loving it – but for the rest of us, it’s time to seek shelter and wait for the heat wave to break. If you have AC at home,...

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6 Free Places to Hide from the Heat in Portland This Summer

With temperatures into the triple digits, Portlanders are bracing for an especially nasty summer. No disrespect to the sun worshipers – I know some of you are loving it – but for the rest of us, it’s time to seek shelter and wait for the heat wave to break. If you have AC at home, staying in is the easiest option, but not always the cheapest (just wait for those electric bills.) If you’ve been making due with fans and cold baths, it may be time to venture out in search of cooler places to live, work, and play. Accomplishing that without spending money takes a little more effort.

I’ve divided this list into two sections. First, the longer-term options. If you’re planning a whole day in the city and would prefer not to melt or catch fire, here are six free places to hide from the heat in Portland:

1. Libraries

Multnomah County Central Library downtown is an obvious place to start, but all the branches are air conditioned, and some of the others are going to be less crowded. To find the branch closest to you (or to try and outfox your fellow Portlanders and find a quiet corner), check out the locations list here.

For those on the west side or willing to drive, there’s also the much less crowded and always comfortable Beaverton City Library. It’s one of the most recently built library buildings in the area and never gets crowded in the same way that Multnomah Central does. Plus, it has the bonus of a public fountain a block away.

2. Malls

If you’re anything like me, the idea of hiding in a mall sounds a little backward. I spend a fair amount of effort hiding from malls and avoiding them at all costs. But the 100-degree heat makes for strange bedfellows. The public areas of malls like Pioneer Place downtown or the Lloyd Center on the east side can be great places to set up, whether your plan is getting work done or just reading. Granted, you’ll have to deal with the cacophony of teenage drama all around you, but that’s a small price to pay for free AC.

3. Powell’s

We’ve talked about malls and libraries, but what if there were a happy medium between the two? Powell’s, the world’s largest independent bookstore, is just that perfect mix. I know more than a few people who use this Portland institution as a library anyway, sitting and reading for hours. Like any business, there’s only so long you should stay without buying something, but I won’t judge. Besides, anyone who can stay in Powell’s for more than half an hour without buying something deserves some reward – it’s no small accomplishment.

The rest of the items on this list might not keep you sheltered for hours at a time, but they still offer valuable cooldown opportunities for exactly zero dollars each.

4. Brewery Tours

Speaking of Portland institutions, what could be more quintessentially Portland than a visit to one of the over 50 breweries that help make the Rose City the beer Mecca that it is today. Several of our biggest breweries and brewpubs run free tours, including Widmer Brothers, Bridgeport, and Hopworks. If you do end up staying for a beer afterward or even taking a free sample, be careful: alcohol can make dehydration much worse, and make the heat you’ve been trying so hard to evade that much more painful. If you’re interested in a tour at a brewery other than the three I’ve listed here, call first. No need to go out into the hot yuck only to get turned away at the door.

5. Public Fountains

Air conditioning is nice, and all, but nothing cools you off on a hot day like getting yourself well and adequately wet. Be aware that once the highs hit the 80s, the fountains start to get crowded. When the 100s rear their ugly heads, they become total madhouses. But in this kind of heat, it’s any port in a storm. Just wait your turn and try not to knock over any kids. Check out this Google map of some of the city’s many public fountains.

6. The Washington Park MAX Station

This one is oddly specific, I know, but bear with me. If you are taking the MAX on the west side, you must, I repeat must, stop at the Washington Park / Oregon Zoo station. Portland’s only underground rail station also happens to be the deepest such station in North America, at 260 feet below the simmering surface. When the rest of the city is burning, this set of platforms is still nice and cool. There are also displays of natural history and cultural facts along both platforms, so you get a mini museum visit in along with your cool-off. Win win.

Where do you go to beat the heat?

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Portland, 100 Years Ago and Today http://frugalportland.com/portland-100-years-ago-and-today/ http://frugalportland.com/portland-100-years-ago-and-today/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:52:18 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=6660 This is really awesome — narrated by a centenarian (or so they’d have you think), this video shows today’s Portland overlaid on top of the Portland from 100 years ago: Yesterday’s Tomorrow – A Portland Journey from Uncage the Soul Productions on Vimeo. Live a today worth celebrating tomorrow.

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This is really awesome — narrated by a centenarian (or so they’d have you think), this video shows today’s Portland overlaid on top of the Portland from 100 years ago:

Yesterday’s Tomorrow – A Portland Journey from Uncage the Soul Productions on Vimeo.

Live a today worth celebrating tomorrow.

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AirBnB Portland: Great Portland Neighborhoods http://frugalportland.com/airbnb-portland-great-portland-neighborhoods/ http://frugalportland.com/airbnb-portland-great-portland-neighborhoods/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 12:00:40 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=6631   We’ve talked about AirBnB in the past. I love it. It’s my favorite way to vacation. We’re going to Las Vegas Heck, I even AirBnB’d on my honeymoon! But we’ve never talked about where to stay when you come visit Portland, and that’s a shame. Hotels are very expensive here, and they’re mostly downtown....

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We’ve talked about AirBnB in the past. I love it. It’s my favorite way to vacation. We’re going to Las Vegas Heck, I even AirBnB’d on my honeymoon!

But we’ve never talked about where to stay when you come visit Portland, and that’s a shame. Hotels are very expensive here, and they’re mostly downtown. Now, there’s nothing at all wrong with being downtown, but it’s only a fraction of the Portland flavor you see on TV.

So, where should you stay when you visit AirBnB Portland?

Great question.

I did a little digging, and thought, if I were coming to Portland, where should I stay? Which means, of course, only “entire homes” were eligible, since Brent just is not a fan of staying in someone else’s space.

There are a ton of awesome AirBnBs, but on first glance, many of them are in somewhat remote areas of the city. When you come visit, you want to be in a neighborhood. You want to walk to a coffee shop. Get that “keep Portland weird” vibe.

So, here are my suggestions of awesome AirBnBs in great Portland neighborhoods:

Downtown

Get to these by going to AirBnB (use that link to save $25!), then selecting the “entire place” filter, then filter by neighborhood and choose “downtown.”

Downtown is a bit pricey, but still less than a hotel room in the summer. For between $100 and $150, expect to get a studio or a small one-bedroom apartment.

Downtown Portland AirBnBs FrugalPortland.com

NW Portland/Pearl District

Get to these by going to AirBnB (use that link to save $25!), then selecting the “entire place” filter, then filter by neighborhood and choose “Northwest District” and “Pearl.”

Situated a bit west and a bit north (we’re talking maybe a mile) from downtown, Northwest Portland and the Pearl District seem to be about the same price, but instead of itty bitty studios, you get more space. Plus, you get more funky layouts, and you’re still what would be considered downtown if Portland weren’t so determined to name every six block square a neighborhood. My friends used to live in this neighborhood. You could spend your whole trip eating and drinking and shopping here and you would leave fat, happy, and in love with Portland.

NW Portland Pearl District FrugalPortland.com

 

Funky Southeast

Get to these by going to AirBnB (use that link to save $25!), then selecting the “entire place” filter, then filter by neighborhood and choose “Richmond.”

This neighborhood is the hippest part of Portland (and you can believe me, because it’s not my neighborhood!). SE Division street runs through this neighborhood, and there’s something new there every time I go over there. Here’s my suggestion: find the cheapest place you can tolerate in this neighborhood and spend your savings on coffee, restaurants, and beer.

Funky SE Portland AirBnB FrugalPortland.com

Inner North Portland/Mississippi Ave/Williams Ave

Get to these by going to AirBnB (use that link to save $25!), then selecting the “entire place” filter, then filter by neighborhood and choose “Boise-Eliot.”

Now, this is the neighborhood adjacent to mine, so I can’t be as unbiased here as I was about Division. This is a cool urban neighborhood. The major eateries are on Mississippi Avenue and Williams Avenue, which is a major bike corridor. You’re not too far from downtown, and there are plenty of awesome-looking places here. If you stay in this neighborhood, tweet at me and let me know! Maybe I’ll have a cup of coffee with you. Or some Thai food.

North Portland-Williams-Missisippi Ave FrugalPortland.comNE Alberta Arts Area

Get to these by going to AirBnB (use that link to save $25!), then selecting the “entire place” filter, then filter by neighborhood and choose “King” and “Alameda.”

This is where I live, and if you know me, you should stay with me when you come, because you know I have guest rooms! We also have a studio apartment in our house, which we are renting to someone on a long-term basis, but I have thoughts and dreams of turning it into an AirBnB when our tenant leaves (which hopefully won’t be for five or six more years). There’s a bus that will take you straight downtown and a bunch of things that will keep you entertained should you not want to leave the neighborhood. Alberta Street is so fun and funky. Let’s go have tea one afternoon!

NE Portland Alberta Arts FrugalPortland.com

If you stay in a hotel, you get to see one side of Portland, but if you stay in an AirBnB, you get to see a lot more of the city. Portland is remarkably bike friendly and public transportation is abundant. Come visit, and get a real sense for the city I call home.

 

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Don’t be Afraid to Change http://frugalportland.com/dont-be-afraid-to-change/ http://frugalportland.com/dont-be-afraid-to-change/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 16:19:44 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=6642 The following blog post is part of  The Road to Financial Wellness Blog Tour. Over a period of 30 days, the Phroogal team will go to 30 locations to raise awareness about financial empowerment. Today they will be in Portland! Our goal is to help people learn about money by starting the conversation. We understand...

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Don't-be-afraid-to-change

The following blog post is part of  The Road to Financial Wellness Blog Tour. Over a period of 30 days, the Phroogal team will go to 30 locations to raise awareness about financial empowerment. Today they will be in Portland! Our goal is to help people learn about money by starting the conversation. We understand that local conversations can help bring about national awareness.

June has been a big month of changes for me, and for Frugal Portland.

On June 1st, I gave two weeks’ notice.

On June 12th, I went on vacation.

On June 23rd, I started working for myself full time.

On June 24th, I reached out to more Portlanders who can give this site the local flavor you’d expect from a site called Frugal Portland. This move is two years past due. I’ve been hesitant to start talking about Portland because all my friends who read this aren’t Portlanders (although that would be awesome!). But it’s time. I need to move past the “dear diary” posts and embrace our funky little city.

On June 25th, I learned that my Kickstarter failed.

Today is June 26th, and I’m wrapping up my first week of self-employment.

I have to tell you, it all feels awesome.

I wake up excited to get to work, knowing that the effort I put toward work will have a direct impact on my life (the other side of that coin is fear, I know, that when I don’t “feel like working” I am not making any money, but I have plenty of tasks that don’t feel like work that are just as important).

I talk to my partner every single day (at least once), and we keep each other on task.

But the best part?

I feel like I’ve freed up more than eight hours of my day.

The time I’ve saved makes plenty of sense. I was a dedicated employee at my last job, not a slacker. So I was already not getting paid for “butt in chair” time — I was working that butt off!

But it’s more than that.

Don’t Be Afraid to Change

The fear I felt before acting was nearly palpable. My friend Robbe wrote an excellent post about fear, and how you’re only afraid of something if you’re seriously considering it. His example was how his mom isn’t afraid of skydiving, because she’s decided that she’s never going to do it. Plain and simple.

I wasn’t like Robbe’s mom. I was seriously considering “skydiving” and it scared the snot out of me.

But once I talked to my boss, and told him honestly where I stood, the fear subsided.

Am I making eight bajillion dollars a month, sipping drinks with tiny umbrellas on the beach?

Of course not, and anyone who tries to tell you that’s what online work is like is either lying to you or themselves.

Online work is work. And I’m not replacing my income right away. I wish I could say that in four days, I’m already making what I did.

But I’d be lying if I said that, and this blog has been a space for raw, sometimes ugly, honesty.

How am I Going to Make Money?

My focus is on building my own brands (Frugal Portland, For Profit Blogging, Stacking Benjamins, and The Free Financial Advisor) to the point where we’re making a livable income.

I started writing again for Babble, so watch for those posts.

I’m doing freelance presentation design for a few companies, which is something I really enjoy (hello, stock images!).

We’re considering doing one-on-one consulting for people who need our help.

That’s not exactly a five-year-plan, though, is it?

That should scare me even more than simply quitting.

But, as one former colleague wrote, when she heard I was leaving, “No guts, no glory.”

So here goes. Don’t be afraid to change. Remember, job security is a false security blanket. It might feel warm and cozy, but it could be snatched away from you at any moment.

 

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How to Create a Budget That Allows You to Save More http://frugalportland.com/how-to-create-a-budget-that-allows-you-to-save-more/ http://frugalportland.com/how-to-create-a-budget-that-allows-you-to-save-more/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 11:00:12 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=6617 Saving money is already a bit of a challenge but when your bills and expenses eat up most of your income and money is already tight, it can be extremely hard to continue to put money aside each month. If your paycheck seems to disappear days after it reaches your account, saving can be the...

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How to Create a Budget That Allows You to Save More

Saving money is already a bit of a challenge but when your bills and expenses eat up most of your income and money is already tight, it can be extremely hard to continue to put money aside each month. If your paycheck seems to disappear days after it reaches your account, saving can be the last thing on your mind when you are just trying to maintain and cover all your bases.

It’s no secret that saving is extremely important in the grand scheme of your financial success. Saving money can help you prepare for unexpected expenses or financial hardships, pay off debt, reach milestones like purchasing a house quicker or sending your kids to college, and help become more stable overall.

When I talked about wanting to save half of my income each month, I mentioned how the whole idea of being able to save half seemed like a fascinating concept that I’d never be able to achieve. Clearly I was wrong.

Whether you want to save 50% of your income or just increase your savings rate a little more, you need to create a budget that allows you to save more.

The Accuracy of Your Budget is Key

Creating a solid budget to withstand all your temptations and spending discrepancies is crucial. If you’re not a fan of budgets, you kind of need one in order to increase your savings rate. Even if your budget is just a sheet of notebook paper with a rough outline of your spending categories, that’s a start. No one said you had to be fancy.

I redo my budget periodically throughout the year or when things change. We recently moved so my rent has increased slightly but I’ve lowered a few other expenses as well.

Be Realistic

When you recreate your budget, it’s important to be realistic and 100% honest with yourself. For example, if you claim to be able to spend $0 on entertainment every month or just $20 on clothes and gifts when you know that’s not the case you’re only cheating yourself. What looks great on paper (or your spreadsheet) isn’t always the easiest to actually do.

Decide which variable expenses are more important to you and set a reasonable amount to spend on select categories. For the categories you don’t care about so much you can always enter a lower spending amount to increase the money you can save.

In my new budget, I added an extra $10 on a few categories like groceries, dining out, and household goods and toiletries just as a financial cushion in case I went slightly over budget. Slip ups happen and there are times when we don’t make the best financial decisions or go over budget. It’s very common, but being prepared is the best way to combat a budget failure.

Reduce Your Fixed Expenses

A lot of people talk about reducing variable expenses but forget to do anything about fixed expenses. Predictable expenses like insurance, utility bills, and rent/mortgage payments can be reduced to free up more money for savings.

You should never let your housing expenses take up more than 30% of your income to avoid becoming house poor. If your mortgage or rent is too high, you most likely won’t have much left over to save each month. You can always try to refinance your mortgage, move to a more affordable area or bring in a roommate to help lower housing costs.

Commit to reducing energy usage around the house and be mindful of your utility usage overall so you aren’t overpaying for electricity, water and gas each month. With insurance, you can always bundle to save money on your rate by obtaining auto, life and renters/homeowners insurance all through the same company. For your cell phone bill, there are so many quality prepaid options out there to use with a smartphone so that you can ditch the expensive contract cell phone service. I currently use Republic Wireless and I love it!

Start Building a Slush Fund

When you have to pay extra for something throughout the month and you don’t want to use credit or withdraw from your emergency fund, the money usually comes out of your savings contributions for the month. Extra expenses throughout the month often translate to a lower savings contribution but it doesn’t always have to be this way.

A slush fund or cash buffer is your first line of defense when extra expenses pop up or you miscalculate your spending for the month. If you have an extra $20 or $50 here and there, you should definitely set it aside to use in non-emergency spending situations.

My ‘Save Half’ Budget

By utilizing all of the tips mentioned above, I created my new and improved budget that will allow em to save 50% or more of my take home income each month.

Living Expenses
Rent $430
Auto Insurance $95
Healthshare $131
Groceries $160
Fuel $140
Bed $25
ComEd $80
Water: $25
Phone $12
Entertainment. $50
Dining Out $60
Clothes $30
Household $30
Credit Cards $150 (Include my tollway pass for the interstate, misc. purchases)
Slush $82

Total: $1500

Savings
$250 Emergency Fund
$140 Student Loans
$900 Car
$100 Car Savings
$50 Small Savings Goals
$100 Retirement

Total: $1540

Have you ever struggled to save when money was tight? How do you adjust your budget to increase your savings rate?

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Is it Easier to Save Half Your Income When You’re Single? http://frugalportland.com/is-it-easier-to-save-half-your-income-when-youre-single/ http://frugalportland.com/is-it-easier-to-save-half-your-income-when-youre-single/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 14:06:27 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=6610 As more and more of my friends and peers get married, settle down, and start having babies, I think spend more thinking about being single and the effect it has on my life. Once in a while I get all “Debbie Downer” about it and find myself thinking married people have it easier financially than...

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Is it Easier to Save Half Your Income When You're Single

As more and more of my friends and peers get married, settle down, and start having babies, I think spend more thinking about being single and the effect it has on my life.

Once in a while I get all “Debbie Downer” about it and find myself thinking married people have it easier financially than those of us who are still single. I even wrote a post recently questioning whether my goal of full-time self-employment is even possible because of my being single.

But after some back and forth in the comments and further reflection on my part, I’ve come to realize that no matter if you are single or married, you need to embrace where you are in your life and make the most of it. Plus, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Both single people and married people have reasons to celebrate, and I’m going to start celebrating my “benefits” of being single.

In my last post on Frugal Portland, I shared that I’m not really socking away half of my income for savings each month, instead I’m putting the majority of that 50% toward debt, which may be better anyway. Today I’m going to explore some of the reasons that I think it might actually be easier to save half of your income if you are single instead of married.

Your Other Half (Probably) Has Baggage

When you get into a relationship, you have to realize that your honey probably has a different background, a different upbringing, and probably different financial habits than what you do. They may not even be frugal. They may come with some financial baggage, read: debt, that slows down your progress toward saving half of your income.

This can become even more of a liability for you if you and your spouse end up splitting ways and everything you acquired during the marriage is split in half. You might have accumulated more on your own without your spendy spouse and be closer to financial freedom if you’d remained single.

Couples Tend to Spend More

Even if your other half is a financial saint with no debt, it can be more tempting to spend money in certain areas when you are married or in a serious relationship. Gift-giving will probably be more expensive as couples tend to feel pressure to get each other the “perfect” gift for anniversaries, Christmas, birthdays, and more.

Plus, as long as you have your frugal act together, you don’t have to worry about a spouse’s spending habits while they aren’t with you. One of the worst habits my ex-husband had was spending $5-10 on snacks and junk food every-single-day and then complaining when I wanted to buy $50 of groceries.

Tax Considerations

Most people consider marriage to be a great way to get a tax break. For example, if you earn $50,000 annually and your new spouse earns significantly less, this may bring your household down into a lower tax bracket than if you were single. However, this rule can also come back to bite you in the butt if you and your spouse both earn a high income, which can sometimes put you in a higher tax bracket than you would be in if you were still single.

I know people don’t typically decide to get married or not based on these criteria, but maybe they should at least consider them before walking down the aisle and saying “I do”. Money is one of the biggest causes of fights and divorce, and therefore it warrants some serious consideration. After all, money isn’t everything, but it can sure have a huge impact on your life.

Can you think of any other ways that being single might make it easier to save half your income?

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