I’ve always been the type of person to brown bag their lunch because I don’t want to waste my money eating out, plus I’d blow my entire lunch break just driving back and forth to get food (not to mention waste money on gas). Even in the past when I had a 60 minute lunch break, compared to the half hour I get now, I would rarely go out to eat. Besides the money, it was also due to pure laziness – I didn’t feel like walking down to my car, driving somewhere, and then trying to get back to work on time. I’d rather relax with a book while I eat my lunch.

My current employer has a microwave in the break room, but I’m not fond of using it since that process can easily eat up 10 minutes of my 30 minute break. The problem is finding self-stable or refrigerated foods that don’t require a microwave. I’m not a huge sandwich fan, so I can get burnt out on them very quickly. For awhile last summer I was bringing homemade strawberry chicken salads for lunch but now that strawberries aren’t in season I haven’t been making that. I do sometimes make a big batch of Hawaiian fried rice on a Monday so I can bring it to work Tue-Thu (yes, I love it that much that I don’t mind eating it three days in a row, plus I like eating it cold).

Lately I’ve grown bored with my limited lunch options. I’d love for some suggestions on inexpensive homemade lunches I can make the night before, so please share in the comments!

Netflix

Ok, hear me out! The reason I say that is because ever since I subscribed* to Netflix, I find myself working out on my elliptical machine much more regularly – every day after work on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and first thing in the morning on Mondays and Fridays. That’s five days a week, which is incredible in my eyes. Granted, I only work out for an average of 20 minutes at a time, but it’s still way better than nothing. And the reason I have Netflix to thank is that I can easily prop my iPad up on my elliptical machine to watch stuff while I exercise. It’s the motivation I need to engage in an otherwise boring activity.

In addition, I have found having Netflix makes cleaning the house and cooking more enjoyable because I bring my iPad along with me to binge-watch shows. My most recent favorite is Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which I highly recommend. I finished the 13-episode season within days, so I’ve moved on to re-watching Parks & Recreation. I find it extremely difficult to just sit and watch tv while doing nothing else, so I love this!

Do you have any favorite shows you watch while getting your chores done? Yes, I consider exercise a chore!

* It’s funny how not too long ago I wrote about signing up for unnecessary subscriptions and since then have subscribed to both Amazon Prime and Netflix. While neither is a necessary expense, we can afford it, plus we’re looking at dropping cable very soon, so they will serve as our primary means of entertainment.

Sometimes all you need to do to save money is just ask. I’ll give you a few recent examples:

1) I purchased some Christmas gifts at Amazon.com in late November and a few days later two of them dropped in price. I started a chat with Amazon customer service and pointed this out and they promptly refunded me the difference.

2) A friend alerted to me to a deal a particular site was having where if you purchased a certain value of e-gift cards you’d get bonus e-gift cards for free. After I placed my order and didn’t get my free cards I contacted customer service who told me the promotion had ended (even though the website indicated otherwise). I pointed this out, had to talk to a different clueless rep, and then email someone from another company who was handling the promotion for for this company, but I did end up getting my bonus e-gift cards!

3) I ordered something from a website and a day later they sent me an email about how the item I had just ordered was now 20% off for a limited time. I started a chat with customer service expressing my disappointment and explaining how Amazon will refund the difference if the price drops within a week. While they wouldn’t do that, they did place the difference on my account as a credit for the next time I place an order.

Had I not inquired I would have been out more money in all these examples. So it does in fact pay to ask.

It’s that time of the year again – time to receive your annual performance review. It’s a perfect time to take advantage of what will hopefully be an increase in your annual pay.

Why not take a % of the increase and move that to your 401k? After years throughout a career it could make the difference between retiring and not.

Let’s use an example of an employee who will receive a 3% increase on their annual merit. Why not take 1 or even 1.5% of that merit review and increase your 401k by that amount? It’s like a double bonus! You’ll receive more in your paychecks and at the same time you’ll be contributing more % to your 401k. That’s called a win-win!

Some employers have adopted an option where your 401k will automatically increase by x% each year based on your selection. It’s like the old adage, money burning a hole in your pocket. If you tuck it away before you have it, you won’t be tempted to use it.

You know how they say that planning a trip is sometimes just as good, if not better, than actually taking said trip? I feel that way about purchases for things I want too. I like to contemplate the purchase for awhile, particularly if the item is $25 or more. I go online and do my research by reading reviews and checking prices. Sometimes I just add the item to my wish list, or flag it via CamelCamelCamel.com to notify me when it hits a price point I’d be happy with. For me, window-showing can be just as fun as owning the item.

There are things I see every day, whether online or in person, that I like, but when I start to contemplate actually owning them I tend to ask myself, “Do I really want this? Am I going to use it, or will I regret the purchase later?” And more often than not, I decide against purchasing the item.

When I do make the decision to buy something, though, I still don’t necessarily make the purchase right away. I sit on it for a bit looking for deals so I feel good that I got a fair price.

Recently I decided to start shopping for an oil diffuser so I could use the jasmine essential oil my husband had given to me for Christmas. I went through my normal research process and had finally come to the conclusion that I was willing to spend up to $50 to get a highly rated diffuser. As as I was on a website perusing their selection, something about one of the diffusers triggered a memory and I quickly ran upstairs to check our master bedroom closet. In it I found a long-forgotten mini humidifier I had used years ago at a former job.

Humidifier

I wasn’t sure if there was necessarily anything special about oil diffusers compared to a humidifier in terms of results, but figured I had nothing to lose since I hadn’t used the humidifier in years. I added water and a couple of drops of the oil and turned it on. Sweet scents of jasmine quickly filled the air and I got pretty excited! Not just because I finally got to use my essential oil, but because I had just saved myself $25-$50.

Had I rushed to make my purchase I would have wasted money and kicked myself later when it dawned on me that I could have used my old humidifier.

Is there anything in your home you ended up re-purposing to save money?