Savings September In Review

Hey everyone! I have a little different type of  post today. As some of you may know DJ and I have an annual tradition of doing a lil’ something we call Savings September. We have noticed that summers tend to make a big ole’ dent in the spending arena, so every September we use to refocus, re-establish good habits, and look for ways to be smarter about spending, especially leading up to the holiday season. We don’t want this to be limited to September either- the goal is that by creating these conscientious, yet practical, habits we will be able to take what we have learned and apply it to each month thereafter.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to make a post initially; I never have in the past. However, this year was particularly successful, and a few of you have expressed interest in ways we have saved! SO without further adieu, here are some little easy tips and tricks that helped us save 42% of what we spent in August. Yes-42%!!! Something we predominately learn each time we do this is the little expenses and choices add up!

1.Limiting Eating Out.This one is probably not a big surprise that it’d be a saver & it didn’t mean we never ate out. Basically, we limited our eating out to either social hangouts with friends or date nights together. I tried to be diligent about prepping more and making sure there was something DJ and I could easily have for lunch rather than him buying lunch every day at work. This used to be a routine for us, but it definitely fell through the cracks through the summer. Feels good to be back in the swing!

 

2. Limiting Coffee Out. I definitely still had my Peet’s <3… but I used up old gift cards with a couple dollars sitting on them here and there at various coffee shops. I tried to only go to Peet’s once or twice a week when the school load was extra heavy and ordered a small most times.

3. Groceries. This is probably where we saved the most. I tried to use up every little thing we had in the pantry/freezer/fridge before going back to the store. I would create meals surrounding what we already had. For example, I knew we had fish in the freezer, so I would go get rice and a veggie to “fill in” a meal with what we needed to use up. I also tried to be attentive to making the wisest decision among choices. For instance, usually when I get tomatoes, I don’t pay too much mind to the couple cent difference between the Roma and the cherry tomatoes. But when you opt for the cheaper one and apply that mindset to every item you are buying over weeks, months, years it really adds up- especially on things that you don’t mind a slight difference. Oh, and buying the on sale in season fruits makes a HUGE difference too- and taste better!

img_5590

4. Skipping on the non-essentials. I loveee myself some carbonated bevies, especially “ICE” waters. But the thing is, they ain’t cheap when you buy them often! I always throw in a couple bottles when I’m at the store along with some gum from the cash register- but with how frequently I chew gum, it just isn’t a wise investment and a habit that needed some breaking. Rather than buying ICEs, we bought 3 large packs of Bubbly water for $10 and stopped buying gum entirely. I do have mints in need of freshening up my breath on the go though. Not only has this saved monetarily, but I no longer even crave the ICEs or gum. This doesn’t mean I won’t grab a pack here or there, but I don’t have the desire for a piece of gum every hour of the day.

5. Poshmark!!! I sold quite a bit on Poshmark this past month, and then had credit in my account available with the sales. I noticed I needed new face-wash, but my favorite face-wash that I discovered through Fab Fit Fun costs around $34. Ugh! That’s how they get you. I decided to check Poshmark to see if I could find some for cheaper. I negotiated for two bottles that would be about 1/2 of the price using the Poshmark credit. Score! It makes me wonder what other items I can find on there.

6. Being cognizant of saving electricity. I have a bad habit of keeping lights on going room to room (It drove my mom nuts growing up). We have both been extra diligent in making sure to turn lights off upon leaving a room and when we leave the house. It’s a great habit we have developed, and now it would bother me to keep them on and leave.

7. Buying in Bulk. At some point I noticed we were running low on some cleaning supplies, toilet paper and other essentials. I remembered I had received a coupon from Bed Bath and Beyond to get $20 off $80 spent. I bought all the stuff that we needed (including a couple fall candles-  autumn necessities 😉 ) all online. We are stocked up on tons of cleaning supplies, a new shower liner we desperately needed, dishwashing soap, and toilet paper for way cheaper if I had bought them at a regular grocery store. The delivery also came with 2 $60 gift-cards towards HelloFresh. Also, at Target you will sometimes see if you buy a certain number of items, you can get a $5 gift-card back. I always try to stock up on laundry detergent and household essentials when I see those promos going on. Right now if you get a flu shot at CVS affiliated with Target- you can also get a $5 giftcard to Target (just call before you go to make sure they are doing the promotion). But get yo flu shot, peopleeee!

img_5591

8. Using Cosmetics I already Have. I don’t know about you, but I have a bunch of little “samples” sitting around of makeup, shampoo, body wash, etc. Rather than just buying something new when I ran out of something, I gathered up all my samples and have been using everything up. Those little samples go a long way! Not only have I discovered some products I really like along the way, but I am clearing up space in the cabinet too. Oh! And I’ve started using olive oil to remove makeup- it works wonders and is so gentle- no more needing to buy makeup remover!

9. Having fun, restful weekends at home. I love to be busy and plan, plan, plan. But even seemingly cheap plans can become expensive, especially around here- you’ve got unexpected parking expenses, food, gas money, etc.. Not having a ton of weekend plans reminded me how important (and fun) just a weekend at home is for rest & rejuvenation. I also was able to get ahead on some school projects, so that always feels good! Oh, and DJ definitely needed the time to breathe now that the season has ended. I’m excited to plan some lax dates this month when we carve pumpkins, watch Halloween movies, make homemade wine together, practice baking soufflés, and have picnics with the lovely autumn weather!

10. Mint. This financial management app is incredible. It is super easy to use and understand. Being conscious of where every dollar goes, seeing our budget clearly, and having alerts when we are about to go over a set budget has been tremendously helpful in being good stewards of our money.

We also have some other just general saving tips that we have used for a couple years or gained over past Savings Septembers:

  • We love Groupon . This is where we get some restaurant deals & most of our hotel deals  (along with Orbitz to collect Orbitz bucks!)- always make sure to get points or rewards for your travels! It’s a free night in a hotel or a free plane ride eventually. I also have accounts with hotel.com & booking.com for when they have the cheapest comparative rates.
  • Installing Wikibuy into your Internet toolbar is a big saver! Every time you are about to make a purchase, Wikibuy will scour the internet for coupon codes, deals, promos, etc. and automatically apply it to your order if it finds one. You also get money back many times and can use that toward other purchases.
  • Sometimes I like to peruse Coupons.com before making a purchase to see if there are any coupons for something I may need too.
  • I have subscribe and save on Amazon for certain things we rebuy every few months- like shavers and Swiffer refills. This saves 5% for each purchase, and we would buy that stuff every couple months anyways- so why not save 5%?

As you can see, a lot of the savings do not come from really any novel ideas, but simply being conscious of each purchase. Hope this was somewhat helpful for someone! If you have any tips and tricks I’d LOVE to hear them too! Have a beautiful week, everyone 🙂

xo <3

submark

 

Advertisements

San Diego: Part One- Mister A’s, Coronado Beach Brunchin’ & Mission Beach

Long time no see!!! But I can’t say long time, no SEA! This past week, DJ and I zipped to San Diego (MY FIRST TIME) for an impromptu getaway. On a whim, I requested a couple days of PTO, not thinking it would get approved. But I’lllll be all the darned, I got em’!!! We quickly planned our trip, and I’m pretty confident I spent more time planning than we were actually there. I LIVE to plan a trip.

Since last year, I have been sick sick sick (overly dramatic use of the New Year). This virus is hanging around much longer than the usual.

It’s actually kind of entertaining— like “What form will it take this week?!” Behind week one we have a runny nose! Behind week two we have a dry nagging cough! Feeling adventurous- week three has a sinus infection and body aches! I thought I was getting better around the second week, but the last day I worked on the 12th, I entirely lost my voice by the end of my shift. Trying to give report to other nurses was painful.

The next morning (The 13th) I woke up with a swollen, hoarse, scratchy throat, horrifically runny nose, and swollen face. Happy 24th birthday to meeee! I felt all the body aches and allll the sick. Luckily, I was fueled up my hot coffee and ibuprofen which alleviated the symptoms a ton. PS. Get your flu shot if you haven’t. This year it is SO bad, you guys. Not something to mess with. I get that it is only 10% effective.. yadayadayada.. but majority of those who have become severely gravely ill did NOT have their shot.

Anywho, I was adamant I wouldn’t let this bug get in our way. Mind/matter. I was ready to rally through it and not miss a beat of what we had planned. “Rally” became the theme of our trip. Every time I felt like utter crap, I just said, “But imma rally!“.

The sweet guy gave me the greatest birthday card in the world and this flower birthday cake before hitting the road. I meannn come on now, how ingenious is this since obviously we wouldn’t be there to actually consume a cake. Even now (on the 22nd) the flowers are still in full bloom, without a wilt in sight. And it said, “Hope your birthday takes the cake”….

img_7263img_7262

I blew out those candles with all the energy I could muster and we jotted over to San Jose’s airport. Neither of us have been in this airport before, and we loved it! Easy & simple and much closer than the SF airport for us.

Naturally…. had to get some Peet’s with LOTS of honey and cinnamon lathered all over the foam of my cafe au lait.

img_7264

We flew Alaska and loved it! Granted, it was only about an 1.5 hour flight, but we were in the air much quicker than it seemed usual for most airlines, and it was all over a pleasant flight.

img_7266

We made it…500 tissues later!

img_7267

I turned a corner in the afternoon and was feeling much better by the time we landed.

Since this is a travel post, I will include quite a bit of information on the more practical travel side (skip this if you aren’t planning on visiting anytime soon, or ever, which would be a crime, and I may try to convince you otherwise)……

When DJ and I were trying to figure out the most cost friendly/ location convenient way to do San Diego, we found that doing the package deal seemed the way to go. We were able to snatch a flight, hotel, and rental car for <$1,000. Granted, parking is a bear, especially at The Westin where we stayed, it was $50 a night!!!! We found a lot directly across from valet that was much cheaper, but overall- that’s something that definitely needs to be taken into account when visiting. We debated if uber/lyfting vs. driving was cheaper, and honestly with all the parking fees it probably would have been about equal, but at least with a rental you have the convenience to get up and go wherever you would like at any time. But like I said- parking is a pain in the neck, so we would definitely consider just ubering next time). We also were able to walk to Gaslamp from The Westin which helped immensely. If you want to do San Diego, I highly suggest staying right in downtown so you can walk most places and not have to pay the uber fees at all (except for when visiting other beaches/Coronado island). ALSO, if debating Westin Gaslamp vs. Downtown 100% stay at the Downtown location. It is maybe a 0.3 mile difference, and the Gaslamp hotel is much more expensive. We loved the Westin downtown complete with a pool, hot-tub, amazing workout facility, beautiful views, super clean, an in-room coffee maker (essential), quiet, awesome bar, and friendly staff. Like I said, only downsides would be the parking cost & the fact that breakfast is not included. But the breakfast is tremendous if you vouch for it (it’ll be included in my last San Diego post).

This is the view from the hotel window. If you want to explore the Westin downtown, click here!

img_7268

We got all snazzed up and headed to our first destination in America’s Finest City: Mister A’s.

img_7575

Despite having totally lost my voice at this point, I had not lost my appetite. I’m one of those people that only lose my appetite if I have the literal plague. I actually usually get more hungry when sick, especially with colds. The ibuprofen definitely helped with the swallowing ailment too.

Mister A’s is located on the twelfth floor of a building overlooking San Diego. It promised to have the best view in San Diego, and the best food. Can’t pass that up, am I right?

img_7271

This is one of the classiest little restaurants we have ever been to.

Now, the foooood. Let’s chat food. I’m eating spoonfuls of PB while writing this to keep the hunger at bay. I suggest you do the same.

img_7272

Prior to the meal they brought out bread and butter with a complimentary little bread nugget with a light whipped aioli and hummus creme.

img_7273

Even their butter is served in the most beautiful fashion!

img_7274

Do you spot the sea salt below? We have never had anything like it. It was out-of-this-world delicious. It was unlike any sea salt I have ever had. I could actually go on for days about how much I loved this stuff. I need to find out where it is from and how I can acquire these little guys.

img_7276

I nearly ate their physical menu everything on it looked so good. After much YELP research, we decided to try what seemed to be two of their famous apps- the black mussels provencale with garlic, shallots, and fresh herb butter and their plancha grilled octopus with romesco sauce. I’ll tell ya what, those octopi are the closest I have tried to Marco Prime’s (the best octopus dish in the world). If you follow, I have been on a hunt for that flavor ever since. Gosh, this stuff was good. DJ LOVED the mussels, I preferred the octopus, but still thought they were savory and scrumptious as well. I even asked if the seaweed was edible, and the waiter goes, “Well it’s more for garnish, but I guess technically?”. I joked that he could leave the empty plate so I could savor the seaweed. He thought I was serious, and looked a bit horrified.

img_7275img_7277img_7278

For the main course, I had their main scallops with champagne butter, savory cabbage, walnuts, and parmesan. Oh. so. stinking. tasty.

img_7280

DJ had their lobster tail served over zucchini and basil. It was easily one of the most generous servings of lobster tail I have ever seen!

img_7283

We also tried their truffle mac as a side and ya know, we thought it was pretty subpar. It needed more salt (luckily we still had our handy dandy sea salt on hand). I’d suggest trying a different side, everything else was phenomenal, but the mac and cheese we could have done without (shocker, I knowww).

img_7282

We ended the exquisite edible extravaganza with decaf coffee (for me), a sweet complimentary slice of carrot cake (YAASSSS) & their chocolate royale with dark and white chocolate mousse, caramel ganache, and praline crunch (highly recommend).

img_7284img_7285img_7286

Sometimes my eyebrows have a life of their own, but gotta let them live, ya know?

img_7287img_7289

The views did not disappoint. It was a perfect end to the evening.

img_7288

We waddled back to the hotel with a “no regrets” food coma and had plans to visit Gaslamp. I even got dressed up in something a little more versatile to walk through the historic district….but the minute I sat down I realized I couldn’t do it. I ‘d hit my limit for the day and needed to go to sleep. We decided to explore and rally into the night the next day!

In the morning of the 14th I was feeling tremendously better. I even was able to squeeze in a few miles before hitting the town. I LOVE working out on vacation. I feel like I always am more motivated to get up at the butt crack of dawn and crank it out. Plus, it was very important to create an extra stomach for this trip!

img_7290

While some people say breakfast is the most important meal of the day (which I would usually concur), if brunch is in the running it may have my vote. According to the Internet (the most reputable source), Hotel Del Coronado hosts the best brunch in all the land in their Crown Room. We made reservations on Open Table and woke up two eager beavers to see what all the hullabaloo was about.

img_7320

First, Hotel Del Coronado was more gorgeous and breathtaking in person than one could fathom. It was simply captivating, a historic landmark that inspired not only awe, but wonder. We agreed that one day we would have to actually stay there.

img_7293img_7294

The Crown Room was spectacular. It was much larger than I envisioned from the pictures. I feel like I am writing about something sacred while describing this experience. It was easily one of the BEST meals we have ever had. We agreed that if you are going to be in San Diego on a Sunday, it is worth every single cent and more. It is an experience of a lifetime and everyone needs to add this to their bucket list ASAP. There is no amount of pictures, words, or BOLD TYPING that can do this justice. It was a few hours in time that will forever be reminisced between the two of us.

img_7583

This brunch had EVERYTHING you can imagine. EVERYTHING. I took a bajillion pictures and probably didn’t even snap half of it. We are talking endless lobster, crab legs, sushi, a make-your-own-donut bar, make-your-own smoked salmon bagel bar, endless unique drinks, a Bloody Mary bar, desserts on desserts on desserts to your heart’s delight, waffles, pancakes, prime rib, beef, veggies upon veggies, cheese from every sector of the world and fruit, parfaits, a candy bar, NYC cheesecake……. I’m not kidding.. I haven’t even covered the half of it.

img_7295img_7297img_7299img_7296img_7311img_7312img_7313img_7315img_7316img_7314img_7576img_7579

At the make your own donut bar, they even had a flamer that toasted the marshmallows on top of the donut if you wanted to make a “S’mores” donut!

img_7302img_7301img_7303

THERE WAS A LOBSTER TAIL IN MY BLOODY MARY. WHAT IS HAPPENING.

img_7304img_7308

And guess the heck what- DJ said he finally found some all-star pancakes that rate up at the top. (If you follow, we have an ongoing hunt for the best pancakes for DJ).

img_7306

Below is a donut DJ made, too cute not to snap a shot.

img_7307

There were crown chandeliers hanging all over… you know I couldn’t resist..
img_7310img_7319

Highlights from the brunch included- the crab legs, biscuits and gravy, smoked salmon, pancakes, mimosas (I didn’t actually prefer the Bloody Mary although it was their signature drink), the NYC Cheesecake, and their shrimp… good lawd, it was the freshest doggone shrimp I have had. I also have to say our waitress was perhaps the sweetest lady of all time. She was such a doll and made the whole experience even that much more terrific.

***Cue the food coma***

I questioned if I would ever be able to eat again quite honestly.

After that experience of a lifetime, we made our way back to the car to change into some beachy gear!

Gotta still represent the SJ in the SD!!!!

img_7338

We perused their shops and views.

img_7321img_7322img_7330img_7323

Finally we made our way to the beach, greeted by the most terrific sand castle I have ever seen.

img_7328

We breathed in the fresh salty air, sunk our feet into the soft sand, and let the sound of the waves overwhelm our senses, saturating our lungs with calm.

We laughed watching the sea gulls fly high into the air and drop a shell from many feet up, hoping to discover an edible gem inside. We mainly laughed at how close the shells came to plopping on people’s heads half the time.

img_7333img_7331img_7332img_7337img_7334img_7342img_7582

After the amazing time frolicking on the beach (DJ HATES when I use the word frolick), we headed to our next destination: Belmont Park at Mission Beach.

img_7347

Oh how this screamed Santa Cruz to us!!! It is truly the Santa Cruz of San Diego.

img_7340img_7339

We had to ride the historic Giant Dipper! This one and the one at Santa Cruz are the considered National Historic Landmarks.

img_7341img_7344

It was actually way more fun than I expected for being such an old coaster!!! But I think it can also guarantee a headache after a few rounds 😉

We walked along Mission Beach, definitely a more boisterous beach than Coronado’s. I’d suggest Mission or Pacific if you are looking for more a party, upbeat, and laid back crowd. Coronado is more calm, quiet, and sophisticated.

img_7346

We then headed to La Jolla for an epic sunset. I will include that in my next post! I may have to break this into three parts because there is just far too much. It will probably take another post to just finish the 14th, and we were there till the 17th. Oh boy, haha.

img_7348

I am still stuck on the couch after working all weekend long and never really recuperating too much, but that means I’ll have a couple days to catch up on here. I haven’t opened WordPress for a few weeks and am excited to sit down and respond to y’all soon and see what you are up to!

PS. If you have any San Diego posts, please feel free to leave in the comments below! I’d love to explore yours too!

xo <3

signature-1