Starting from this year, Joseph and I aim to approach frugal living, not only because of our financial situation, but also because we want to live a simple life with less material burden.
One change for frugal living that we start to make is to eat out less. We used to eat out at least two times a week, plus my lunch out with colleagues for about 1-2 times per week. The total cost was usually around $100. Since the beginning of this year, I cook more at home, and $100 can usually cover all our grocery spending for one week.
In a previous post, I shared a fried tofu balls recipe. Today I will share another dish using Tofu. I will call it Spicy Fried Tofu.
It is important to make the best use of benefits of credit cards as a family. I want to share in this post how Joseph and I managed credit cards for different living expenses.
Our Grocery card is American Express Blue Cash Preferred. The annual fee is $95 after the first year. Amex also has a Blue Cash card which does not require annual fee. Then why do we choose Preferred with $95 over the regular blue cash? Let me explain it.
Preferred offers a 6% cash back at supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, while regular blue cash offers a 3% cash back at supermarkets (also up to $6,000). In our example, our monthly grocery shopping expense is around $600-800, so it is a total of at least $7200 a year, which is over $6,000. For $6,000 spent on grocery, with preferred card, we can receive 6% cash back which is $360, minus the annual fee we still get a total of 275 cash back; while with blue cash, we can only receive 3% which is $180 even though there is no annual fee. So what is the threshold when preferred card is better than regular blue cash? In math, then it is at which point 6%*(your annual grocery expense)-95>3%*(your annual grocery expense)?
Joseph and I wanted to go to Cancun for a long time. The past December we finally made it! We really enjoyed the sunshine and beach there, especially for us who live in Michigan. The sea is the bluest and purest we’ve ever seen!
I have known that hotels in Cancun are quite expensive and our budget was kind of limited. We agreed to spend at most $2k on this trip. And to be honest, with the hotel and airfare expenses during the holiday season, it was difficult to make this happen. So what we did was: use Chase Ultimate Reward points for airfare, applied a Hyatt credit card and received a two free night bonus, and out of pocket money for the rest of the expenses.
We spent a total of 6 nights from December 21st-27th at Cancun hotel zone in two all-inclusive hotels, and booked a one-day Chichen Itza & Ik-Kil Cenote tour. Our total cost is around $1,241 (see below), which is even less than we originally planned.