Your Personal Finance Pro http://yourpfpro.com Personal Finance for Young Professionals Fri, 20 Jul 2018 21:04:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 31591919 Can You Host a Thanksgiving Meal on a Budget? http://yourpfpro.com/can-you-host-a-thanksgiving-meal-on-a-budget/ http://yourpfpro.com/can-you-host-a-thanksgiving-meal-on-a-budget/#respond Mon, 06 Nov 2017 12:00:50 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7451 I’ve always felt like Thanksgiving is a holiday that is a bit under-rated. In comparison, it’s a lot less stressful than Christmas – except for the cooking, of course. Certainly there are fewer things to do, such as the decorating, shopping, wrapping, and parties you have for the Christmas holiday. For the most part, once […]

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Thanksgiving Meal on a BudgetI’ve always felt like Thanksgiving is a holiday that is a bit under-rated. In comparison, it’s a lot less stressful than Christmas – except for the cooking, of course.

Certainly there are fewer things to do, such as the decorating, shopping, wrapping, and parties you have for the Christmas holiday. For the most part, once the cooking is done, you can give thanks, eat more than you should, relax, and enjoy the company of family or friends.

But if money is tight, Thanksgiving can still be a bit stressful. Can you host a Thanksgiving meal on a budget?

Meal

What Thanksgiving is complete without a turkey and some pumpkin pie? To make sure your meal is scrumptious, plan the menu and shop for deals ahead of time. This is especially important when you are on a tight household budget.

If you can, ask other family members to pitch in and bring the side dishes, such as stuffing, potatoes, salads, and rolls. You could even get someone to bring a drink to help share in the expense. Make only the turkey and gravy yourself for about $30 to $40, depending on the number of guests.

Shopping ahead of time is an advantage, especially if you do have to prepare all of the food yourself. Scour grocery store sales flyers and clip coupons. Try to pick up canned, boxed, or non-perishable items when they are on sale and increase your savings with coupons if you can. Look for e-coupons to save even more.

Have you heard about those grocery apps you can get on your phone? Try one to keep costs in line.

Since you are the host you have control over what side dishes are served. Don’t include items that are out of season because they cost more.

Beverages

When you must host a thanksgiving meal on a budget skip the alcoholic beverages. Buying wine, beer, or other spirits will chew up your budget fast.

If alcohol must be served, add champagne to cranberry juice. It will still be a pretty holiday drink but cost you less than alcohol alone would.

Entertainment

There are plenty of ways to entertain while you host a Thanksgiving meal on a budget. You could pull out some board games or a couple of decks of cards. Or, play a lively gave of charades together. If you are too full of turkey to move, watching a movie together could be a quieter alternative.

If the weather is nice, go outside in the backyard or to a park and play touch football. Play a thankfulness game so each person can name what they are thankful for.

Decor

Be thankful for each other and don’t overspend or overdo the décor when you host a Thanksgiving meal on a budget. Keep it simple.

A couple of pumpkins, some pinecones, burlap, nuts and branches can serve as decorations. Jute string, burlap, brown craft paper and gourds are other items that may assist you in putting together creative displays.

Use what you have on hand to add to the mix too. Candles, Glitter, construction paper, and a bit of glue might pull it all together for very little cost.

Other Ways to Make it a Success

Other ways to make your Thanksgiving meal a success include doing as many things ahead of time as you can.

Set the table and check to make sure you have all of the ingredients you need the day before Thanksgiving. The last thing you want to do is run to the store at the last minute. You may end up paying extra for items that would have cost less if you had planned better.

Get your prep work done and don’t try new recipes. Use ones you are familiar with instead to avoid over or under cooking anything. It will cost you more and take more time if you have to make something else as a replacement.

Give yourself plenty of time to get all of the cooking done and reduce your stress.

Make sure nobody has any food allergies to take into consideration.

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to make you feel stressed. Use these tips and ideas so you can host a thanksgiving meal on a budget.

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Can You Save at a Farmer’s Market? http://yourpfpro.com/can-you-save-at-a-farmers-market/ http://yourpfpro.com/can-you-save-at-a-farmers-market/#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 11:00:44 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7407 I love buying food from a farmer’s market whenever I can. Since my husband and I own a farm of our own we want to support other farmers when we can as well. But another reason I like the farmer’s market is that there are many different kinds of foods sold there. This makes shopping […]

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Save at a Farmer’s MarketI love buying food from a farmer’s market whenever I can. Since my husband and I own a farm of our own we want to support other farmers when we can as well.

But another reason I like the farmer’s market is that there are many different kinds of foods sold there. This makes shopping at one fun and entertaining.

During the fall I love to buy squash, pumpkins, and other seasonal produce I can cook in a slow cooker at home. It all seems so much fresher at a farmers market since they are able to skip the middle man and sell directly to the consumer.

Perhaps you have also considered shopping at a farmer’s market but hesitated to do so. If what’s stopping you is wondering whether or not you can save at a farmer market here’s some information that can help.

1. Compare Prices

One way you can save at a farmer’s market is by comparison shopping. Check over the sales ads your local grocery store sends out before heading to the farmers market.

Looking over the flyer first helps you figure out what is available there and at what price. Once you arrive at the farmer’s market you can compare prices to see what the best deal is. However, keep in the mind the products offered at your farmer’s market may be fresher than what is on display at the store.

2. Be Flexible

Make sure your list, if you made one, is flexible. This can help you save at a farmers market rather than overspending.

For example, if you weren’t planning on buying tomatoes but they are on sale for a good price, consider buying them in bulk anyway and freezing for your future recipes.

3. Look Around

When you first arrive at a farmer’s market, take a walk around first and look at all of the booths before you buy anything. This allows you the opportunity to check the freshness, stock, and prices of the vendors.

Once you have made the circuit once, go back to the produce suppliers that interest you the most and had the lowest prices. Adopting this strategy can help you skip booths that were overpriced or had items that were not as fresh.

4. Take Cash

Farmers markets are often very busy because there are many other people shopping for good deals just like you. Taking along small bills such as ones, fives and tens can help speed up cash transactions.

When you make it easy and fast for the vendors who are selling to you, they will be happy to give you good deals. They may even throw in an extra item which can add to your savings.

5. Buy in Larger Quantities

I touched on this above already, but you should consider buying items in bulk. Buying in this manner can save you the most at a farmers market.

Let’s say you have plans to can your own spaghetti sauce with the tomatoes you find at the farmers market. If you buy in large quantities you may be able to haggle a little with the vendor and save.

6. Buy Produce that is in Season

If you buy fruits and vegetables that are in season you will be able to get them at a lower price. Also, foods that are in season will likely be ripe and ready to be eaten.

7. Buy Passed Over Produce

Another way to save at a farmer’s market is to buy what has been passed by. When other people do not buy perfectly good produce that is misshapen or bruised the vendor may discount it.

Furthermore, farmers do not want to pack up and take home the produce if they can help it. This is an advantage to you and your wallet.

8. Know Your Farmer

Get to know the vendors at the farmer’s market, especially if you plan to go often. Developing a relationship with them can often get you discounts for being a repeat customer.

Complement them on their products and offer goods or services you have available to them as well. Let them know what you really liked about your last purchase. They love hearing from their customers because it helps them know how to change or not change what they are doing.

9. Don’t Let Bad Weather Stop You

If you really want to save, go to the farmer’s market even if it is raining. Likewise, if the weather is hot, you may get a discount from sellers who do not wish for their produce to get spoiled.

10.  Shop Late

When it is possible, shop later in the day. Using this tactic you may be able to get good deals because, again, the vendors do not want to take their produce back home.

As you can see it is possible to save at a farmer’s market if you know what to do when you get there. Use these 10 tips to help you save the most on your food budget.

Have you ever saved money by shopping at a farmer’s market?

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Alternatives to the Fancy Valentine’s Day Dinner http://yourpfpro.com/alternatives-fancy-valentines-day-dinner/ http://yourpfpro.com/alternatives-fancy-valentines-day-dinner/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 14:30:20 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=5887 I’ve never been a big fan of spending a lot of money on Valentine’s day and things seemed to have worked out ok for me 🙂  Today, PF Pro contributor Melissa Hoffman takes a look at some alternatives to a fancy Valentine’s day dinner.  Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and with it generally […]

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I’ve never been a big fan of spending a lot of money on Valentine’s day and things seemed to have worked out ok for me 🙂  Today, PF Pro contributor Melissa Hoffman takes a look at some alternatives to a fancy Valentine’s day dinner. 

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and with it generally comes spending money. Whether you’re spending money on flowers, a card, or dinner and a movie out, in all likelihood, you are shelling out some amount of money this Saturday. This year, the National Retail Federation estimates 91% of people are planning on treating their significant others/spouses for Valentine’s Day. According to those surveyed, people are planning on spending an average of $142 on Valentine’s Day this year. This is up from $133 last year!

However, anyone can have a typical expensive Valentine’s Day dinner and a movie. What will set you apart is an alternative to the fancy Valentine’s Day dinner date – and hopefully you’ll save a little bit of money in the process! If you prefer alternatives to the fancy Valentine’s Day dinner, check out the following ideas.

Alternatives to Candy

This year, 53% of people plan on buying candy for their loved ones on Valentine’s Day. More people are planning on buying candy than even flowers (53% versus 38%). Personally, I’d prefer flowers to candy, but hey, clearly not everyone agrees. Looking for alternatives to the typical Valentine's Day dinner dates? Look no further!

Instead of going to a fancy candy store (or your local grocery store for an overpriced box of Valentine’s Day candy), consider making truffles with your loved one instead!

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to spend a little money, consider taking a truffle-making class. Not only will you learn how to make truffles with your honey, you’ll get to sample your creations and take some home for later enjoyment!

Some truffle-making classes include wine pairings, which is extra decadent, and won’t cost even as much as a typical fancy dinner and movie night.

Looking for something a little more frugal? Make your own truffles! Making truffles doesn’t involve any complicated kitchen gadgets beyond a saucepan and parchment paper. Use this recipe by Alton Brown for inspiration. If you don’t have a melon baller, you can use a spoon!

Turn it into your own truffle-making classes by buying a bottle of your favorite wine ahead of time, and surprising your loved one with all the ingredients already purchased.

Alternatives to Flowers

For the most part, flowers on Valentine’s Day are going to be overpriced and of poorer quality. Due to higher-than-normal demand, you’ll pay more in terms of shipping and likely won’t get the best flowers of the season.

The best way to save money on flowers is to avoid purchasing pricey flowers on Valentine’s Day entirely. However, if you know your significant other/spouse is really looking forward to flowers, surprise them with something that isn’t roses! While roses are the typical Valentine’s Day flower, you could save money by getting a bouquet of colorful, in season flowers from your local florist.

Scout out your local florist a few days before Valentine’s Day (basically, now) and see what they have available and what they recommend for in season flowers. Compare prices between your local florist and your grocery store, as sometimes the local florists have better prices than big-name grocery chains. Don’t forget to think local in terms of the flowers too: while pretty much all flowers in Boston are probably going to be pricey (because they won’t be local), you might be surprised by the variety of flowers you can get in the southern half of the US, especially California, Arizona, and Florida.

Alternatives to the Fancy Valentine’s Day Date

Ah, the big Valentine’s Day date night itself: how can you save money on this and still keep it romantic? One of the best alternatives to the fancy Valentine’s Day dinner is the date itself. Don’t celebrate on Valentine’s Day!

On Valentine’s Day, especially since it falls on a Saturday this year, restaurants are more likely to be crowded. Many restaurants will offer Valentine’s Day “specials”, offering you an appetizer, entrees, dessert and maybe wine, but at a price likely more expensive than you would typically spend.

Avoid all the extra expense and additional wait times by celebrating a few days before or after February 14. Sure, you’ll miss the Valentine’s Day experience, but you’ll make up for it in price and time spent waiting. You’ll still get to enjoy a nice dinner, too, but on your own time, peacefully.

If you won’t be able to get away with celebrating Valentine’s Day on a different day, change your thinking. Instead of a dinner out, think about what your significant other/spouse would really appreciate. Would they prefer a massage, or for you to plan and make dinner? Would they prefer quiet time with a relaxing bath and book? Think about what makes them the happiest and incorporate that into your Valentine’s Day celebration.

If all else fails, maybe you can book a trip to Portland this weekend for Cuddle Con. Cuddle Con is a new convention that “aims to promote platonic cuddling in a positive light.” While the cuddling at Cuddle Con is platonic, you can bring your significant other/spouse and try something new!

Now, I can’t guarantee your spouse will love all of these ideas. Some people really like the typical Valentine’s Day dinner and a movie and would be unhappy if you changed things up. Hopefully you know your significant other/spouse well enough to determine if these ideas would be good or would end up with you sleeping on the couch. However, if you’re looking for alternatives to the fancy Valentine’s Day dinner date, these are unique (and frugal!) options for you to enjoy.

How do you plan on spending Valentine’s Day this year? Are you avoiding the crowds, or do you already know you’ll be jumping right in?

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How’s My Shun Knife Holding Up After Two Years? http://yourpfpro.com/hows-shun-knife-holding-two-years/ http://yourpfpro.com/hows-shun-knife-holding-two-years/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:45:29 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=5503 Almost two years ago, I wrote one of the top 5 most popular articles on this site about my brand new Shun Chef’s Knife.  I didn’t know it at the time but apparently there are a lot of inquisitive minds out there when it comes to high end knives.  At the time, I wrote that […]

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Shun Knife

Credit

Almost two years ago, I wrote one of the top 5 most popular articles on this site about my brand new Shun Chef’s Knife.  I didn’t know it at the time but apparently there are a lot of inquisitive minds out there when it comes to high end knives.  At the time, I wrote that article because I was in love with my new Shun Chef’s Knife.  I’ve always liked to cook, but that was the first real knife I ever owned and it made a huge difference in the kitchen.

If you don’t cook often, then a standard $30 block knife set will probably do you just fine (I actually use one of these in conjunction with my Shun knife).  But if you cook as much as one big meal per week, with lots of chopping and cutting, your life will never be the same after a knife like a Shun.

Wear and Tear After Two Years

I’ve probably used my Shun 1-2 times every single week for the past two years.  Now that’s not a ton of use, but my wife has probably also used it once a week for the past two years too.  So together, it gets used 2-3 times a week (probably closer to 2) and it’s held up surprisingly well.

For those who aren’t aware, the Shun has a very thin but extremely sharp blade.  You can cut your finger just by touching the blade, that’s how sharp it is.  But since the blade is so thin and sharp, it isn’t meant for cutting things like bones, avocado seeds, etc.  This really hasn’t been a problem for me in my two years of ownership and I can only think of a couple times where I had to get a more heavy duty knife out.

The only major damage my knife has ever sustained in its two years of existence was a small chip in the center of the blade and a slight bend at the tip.  The chip was barely noticeable and didn’t affect cutting at all but it was still kind of an eyesore with a blade as beautiful as a Shun.

Keeping The Blade Sharp With Free Sharpening

They say that the best way to test the sharpness of your Shun blade is to see how easily it can cut through the skin of a ripe tomato.  It should be able to slice it without much resistance.  This is actually a pretty good test and after about a year of ownership my blade could no longer pass.

Shun has flip-flopped on its free sharpening policy a couple times but as of today, they currently offer free sharpening.  You have to pay for shipping both ways but that’s relatively inexpensive and they have a pretty quick turn around time.  I sent in my blade and it came back as good as new within a week or two.  They were able to get rid of the chip and straighten the knife out.  And the best part was that it was free!

I got quite a few recommendations on how to sharpen a Shun knife using a whetstone in the comments section of my last article but for me, all that hassle just isn’t worth it.  I only own one Shun (although I’d love another) and it’s a lot easier for me to just mail it in once a year for sharpening than it would be to figure out how to sharpen it using a whet stone.

My Knives Going Forward

My latest knife purchase was actually a Wusthof bread knife.  This might seem like kind of an odd purchase for a second knife but it’s amazing how well these knives can cut bread!  I eat a lot of croissants, bagels, etc and it’s tough to cut those suckers without a sharp bread knife.  Now I can slice through pretty much any pastry in no time.

Going forward, I think I’d like to add one to two more knives to my collection but I have no idea which one.  I really like the Shun knives for the more delicate cutting and chopping but I think I prefer Wusthof for the more brute force cutting like with bread, bones and meat!

If you have any suggestions for me or feedback about Shun vs Wusthof, I’d love to hear your take in the comments below.  What do you think would be the next logical knife pick to help bolster my collection?  Is it weird that I really love my bread knife?

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By the way, if you’re considering buying any of these knives, I receive a small commission if you use any of my Amazon links.  Happy Chopping!

-Harry @ PF Pro

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Never Buy a Cup of Coffee Again: Buy a Keurig Coffee Maker http://yourpfpro.com/never-buy-cup-coffee-buy-keurig-coffee-maker/ http://yourpfpro.com/never-buy-cup-coffee-buy-keurig-coffee-maker/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 16:19:33 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=4883 There was a time where I actually didn’t like the taste of coffee.  I would drink a frappucino every once in a while, but let’s be honest those things taste more like a milkshake than actual coffee.  But times have changed, and one of the reasons why I now like coffee is because I actually […]

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Never Buy a Cup of Coffee Again: Buy a Keurig Coffee MakerThere was a time where I actually didn’t like the taste of coffee.  I would drink a frappucino every once in a while, but let’s be honest those things taste more like a milkshake than actual coffee.  But times have changed, and one of the reasons why I now like coffee is because I actually enjoy the taste.  I usually add a tiny bit of creamer or a small amount of milk but that’s about it.  I’m not sure how much of a pick me up it gives me but mentally the caffeine definitely helps.

You’ve probably read the truism over and over that if you cut out that $5 cup of coffee you could end up with $100,000 in retirement or some absurd amount like that.  I’ve never cared about the little things when it comes to personal finance, but I do care about the big things like starting multiple sources of income or figuring out the asset allocation that will determine 90% of your investment returns.  Coffee isn’t one of the big things but it’s still an expense that nearly every American has to deal with.

Generally, I don’t mind paying a price premium for a product if the quality is there.  If the coffee I bought at Starbucks tasted 10 times better than the pods I use with my Keurig machine then I’d be all for it.  But I actually think they taste about the same.

My New Keurig Machine

A few months ago, we got a Keurig machine as a gift and at first, I was a little skeptical.  But after using it for a few months, it is basically my new best friend.  We got the Keurig K60/K65 Single Serve Coffee Maker and it has worked really well so far.  We had a couple problems with clogging but once we started using filtered water, they all went away.

The machine is pretty simple to use and it has settings for brew temperature, size of the cup, etc.  One of the cool features that I like is that you can set it to turn off and on at certain times.  Since I only drink coffee in the morning, I set it to turn on at 7 am and turn off 2 hours afterwards.  That way, it’s already on and ready to brew when I go to work.  And on the weekends when I wake up around 8:30 am, it’s also on and ready to brew.  It only takes about 2-3 mins to warm up but still it’s nice to not have to wait.

Keurig K60/K65 Single Serve Coffee Maker

The actual brew process only takes about 15-30 seconds depending on the size of the cup you want and you can even make hot or iced coffee.  For iced coffee, you fill up your cup with ice and set it to the 6 oz sizing.  Make sure you do it in a plastic cup or traveler mug since you don’t want the hot liquid and ice to mix in a glass cup.  After the brew process is done, I usually top off with a couple more pieces of ice, add a bit of creamer and you have an awesome ice coffee.

The Pods

Keurig machines are so easy and simple to use because they use small plastic pods that make clean-up and brewing super easy.  All you have to do is put a new pod in, brew and then throw it in the trash.  No mess, no hassle, I like that.  I was a little weary of the pod pricing at first but I actually found some great pods on Amazon called San Francisco Bay Coffee.  They look a little different than normal pods but they work exactly the same and taste great.

Normal pods are enclosed in a plastic cup with an aluminum foil type cover but the San Francisco Bay pods have more of a filter type bottom and aluminum cover.  I actually prefer these because when you open up a new bag (they’re packaged in groups of 8) it actually smells like coffee.  If you buy an 80 pack on Amazon the pods end up only costing 36 cents each!

Here are some of my favorite flavors:

San Francisco Bay Coffee Breakfast Blend

San Francisco Bay Coffee Fog Chaser

San Francisco Bay Coffee French Roast

Readers, what do you think about the Keurig brewing system?  Have you ever tried making an iced coffee or heard of San Francisco Bay Coffee Pods?

-Harry @ PF Pro

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Loophole of the Day: Free Costco Membership For Everyone http://yourpfpro.com/loophole-day-free-costco-membership/ http://yourpfpro.com/loophole-day-free-costco-membership/#comments Fri, 07 Feb 2014 13:45:42 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3478 For regular readers of my blog, you probably know how cheap I am by now.  Any time I have to make a purchase of significant value I make sure to weigh all my options and figure out if I really need that product.  Sometimes I’ll ask myself, will this product improve the quality of my […]

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Loophole of the Day: Free Costco Membership For EveryoneFor regular readers of my blog, you probably know how cheap I am by now.  Any time I have to make a purchase of significant value I make sure to weigh all my options and figure out if I really need that product.  Sometimes I’ll ask myself, will this product improve the quality of my life or make me happier?  If the answer is yes then I’ll buy it.  But if the answer is no, I’ll pass and move on with my life.  I’ve even been known to buy a product and not open it for a few days just to get over the initial excitement.  Then I’ll decide if I want to keep the item in question or return it.

One of the things I struggle with on a monthly and yearly basis is membership fees.  For some reason, it really pains me to have to pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee, even for services that I use all the time.  And the one membership I’ve been contemplating lately is my Costco membership.  I know people have mixed opinions on Costco but I usually buy a lot of food related products that just aren’t sold elsewhere(for comparable prices).  My co-workers and I actually used to run a small exact vending machine setup in the break room(we donated the profits to charity) so Costco was great for stocking up on snacks and candy.    My favorites include:

  • Meat and Fish: Costco has an amazing flank steak and their salmon is pretty awesome too.  I also like buying their frozen shrimp because it’s cheap and most of the shell is already peeled off.  Their fresh chickens aren’t bad either and they are very cheap compared to the supermarket.
  • Frozen Foods: My mom used to buy the mini frozen pizza brand from Costco called Sabatasso’s.  I used to live on these things when I was a kid so I always make sure to buy them when I go there now.  My fiancee recently turned me on to some of their frozen pastas too which are very tasty.
  • Bakery: Costco’s muffins and croissants probably aren’t the healthiest items but they taste amazing.

Those are just a few of the staples I buy on my Costco trips.  I’m sure there are things I’m forgetting but as you can see, my list is dominated by food.  I’d rather have all my household supplies like laundry detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, etc delivered via Amazon Prime for free.  That’s much more convenient in my book and if you buy them when they go on sale, you can get them for almost as cheap as at Costco(but minus the lines, traffic, parking, etc).  Definitely worth it in my book.

Free Membership Loophole

This year I actually let my membership expire.  I didn’t think it was worth it to pay the membership fee since I was only going a few times a year.  Last year though, when I was a member, Amex and Costco had a Twitter sync deal that gave me $25 off a $100 purchase on Costco.com.  Since I had 5 Amex cards at the time, I bought 5 cash cards for $100 and instantly saved myself $125 at Costco.  That savings was nice but it’s been a year now and I still have about $250 left on 3 cards but no membership.

The cards have actually just been sitting in my car for a while since I’ve been waiting for someone to take me to Costco so I can spend the money.  A similar Twitter sync deal popped up this year and I wasn’t planning on doing it since I still had cards left over but then I read about the membership loophole.  This is straight from the Costco website:

You must be a Costco member to purchase or reload Costco Cash Cards.  Members and non-members may use the cash cards to shop at any Costco location in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and online at Costco.com or on Costco.ca. Costco Cash balances may be used toward membership or merchandise.

You might have missed it but the key sentence was: “Members and non-members may use the cash cards”.  I’d heard about this trick before but I’d never seen it in writing until now.

In order to buy a cash card, you do need to be a Costco member though.  Costco cash cards can be ordered online or in-store so if you have a friend who’s a member it might be time to ask them for a favor.  Once you get your hands on a cash card you just flash it at the door just like a regular membership card and you’ll be able to shop.  Now not every employee knows about this policy so you might find some resistance here and there but if worst comes to worst, just call a manager over and have them explain the store’s policy to the employee.  If you exhaust the balance on your card, you can pay for the rest of your balance with an Amex card or cash/debit.

I was near a Costco the other day and low on gas so I thought I’d see if I could buy gas using a Costco cash card and it couldn’t have been easier.  All you have to do is swipe your Cash Card at the pump instead of swiping your membership card and you’ll be pumping gas in no time.

Readers, what do you think about the Costco membership loophole?  Do you think it’s wrong to take advantage of it or will you be all over it next year when it comes time to renew your membership?

-Harry @ PF Pro

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Does Brewing Your Own Beer Save You Money? http://yourpfpro.com/brewing-beer-save-money/ http://yourpfpro.com/brewing-beer-save-money/#comments Mon, 18 Nov 2013 13:45:00 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3098 I’m not sure how many of you have picked up on it, but I like to drink(alcohol, that is).  I don’t spend my weekends binge drinking, but I love to enjoy a glass of wine while I’m cooking or a nice cold beer after a long day of work of exercising.  I’m probably the furthest […]

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My First HomeBrew Boiling Away

My First HomeBrew Boiling Away

I’m not sure how many of you have picked up on it, but I like to drink(alcohol, that is).  I don’t spend my weekends binge drinking, but I love to enjoy a glass of wine while I’m cooking or a nice cold beer after a long day of work of exercising.  I’m probably the furthest thing from a beer snob though, since I’ll drink everything from Natty Light to Corona.  But if I had my choice, I’d probably go with a nice microbrew like Fat Tire or Sierra Nevada.

I was lucky to live in San Diego for 10 years since it’s probably one of the top cities for microbrews.  I think only Portland, Oregon compares when it comes to quantity and especially quality.  There are some amazing breweries in the San Diego area and some of my favorites include Ballast Point, Mission Brewery and of course Stone Brewery.  My house was about 5 minutes away from Ballast Point so I was always filling up growlers there.

MicroBrews Aren’t Cheap Though

The great thing about a Bud Light is it costs around 75 cents a can.  Once you step up to the big leagues though and start drinking microbrews, you start paying anywhere from $1.25(if you’re really lucky) to nearly $2 per beer.  I like beer and all but paying $2 per beer is just way too much for me.  And one thing I’ve noticed is that the retail(supermarket) price of beer is very close to the business price.  I can usually go out and get a pint of microbrew for $4-$5 at a bar but that same exact beer will still cost around $2 at the grocery store, not much of a difference.  Compare that with beverages like sodas, which you can buy for 25 cents a can on sale and usually cost nearly 10x that at restaurants.  That makes buying beer at the grocery store kind of seem like a rip-off.

Inspired by LivingSocial

I didn’t start brewing my own beer to save money though.  I saw a LivingSocial deal for a beer-making starter kit from Midwest Home-brewing Supplies and I thought it would make for a fun hobby.  The living social deal was $64($126 value) plus $12 for shipping and included the Brewing Basics Equipment Kit for, a 5 gallon recipe kit and a $25 voucher for a future purchase.  That deal is expired as of today but you can still get the Brewing Basics Equipment Kit for $69.99 plus shipping.  A 5 gallon recipe kit is only $26.99 more.  Here’s everything that’s included in the starter kit:

– 6.5 Gallon Fermenter and Lid
– 6.5 Gallon Bottling Bucket with Spigot
– 4 Oz. of Easy Clean No-Rinse Cleanser
– Airlock (Keeps air out of the fermenter)
– Hydrometer (Determines alcohol content)
– Bottle Brush
– Twin Lever Black Beauty Bottle Capper
– Bottle Caps
– Liquid Crystal Thermometer
– Bottle Filler
– Racking Tube with Bucket Clip
– Siphon Tubing

The only other thing you’ll need in addition to this kit to brew your first batch is a brewing pot.  The one thing I learned from all my brewing research is that you want to avoid boilovers at all costs during the brewing process.  Most people do a 2 or 3 gallon boil so I would highly recommend getting a much larger pot.  That way, you can pretty much just let it boil for an hour and not have to hover over it the whole time.  I ended up buying a nice 32 qt(8 gallon) aluminum pot that has worked out perfectly.  It’s pretty big so I never have to worry about boilovers and at the time it was only $30 plus free prime shipping on Amazon.

I also bought an auto-siphon for $10 to make the process of transferring the beer from the fermentation bucket to the bottling bucket a little smoother.  This product is optional but I think it makes things a lot easier.

Cost of the Kits

Most of the kits I buy on Midwest Supplies are priced in-between $20 and $30.  You can spend a lot more but I’ve found that you really don’t need to in order to get the high quality taste you want.  I usually spend around $30 per kit including shipping and it makes around 45-55 beers.  If we conservatively assume an output of only 45 beers, that’s only 67 cents per beer.  My only recurring costs are bottle caps, which are very inexpensive at around 3 cents each bringing my total cost per beer to 70 cents.

The nice thing about the starter kit that I bought is it includes everything you need.  There’s a whole bunch of other crap you can buy like carboys and wort chillers, but if you just like drinking your own beer like I do and giving it away, this kit is perfect.  The only problem I’ve had is collecting beer bottles.  I can’t seem to drink them fast enough and every time I need to bottle I have to go scrounging around for beer bottles.  This might not be a problem for some of you 🙂

The Results

So far I’ve made three different batches and they’ve all turned out great.  It’s kind of a long process since you have to let them ferment for a few weeks and then leave them in the bottles for another few weeks but once you get going, it’s pretty addicting.  Brewing isn’t too time intensive either since the brewing portion only takes about 2 hours and the bottling portion takes just over an hour.

I actually like brewing my own beer and find it to be a fun and rewarding hobby.  The fact that it also saves me money is just an added bonus.  I also think it’s a lot cooler showing up to a party with a six pack of homebrew as opposed to something you bought at the store.

Readers, have you ever though about brewing your own beer?  Did you know that you can actually save money by brewing your own beer and they will taste pretty good too?!

-Harry @ PF Pro

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A Tribute to the Greatest Chipotle Article of All Time http://yourpfpro.com/tribute-greatest-chipotle-article-time/ http://yourpfpro.com/tribute-greatest-chipotle-article-time/#comments Tue, 29 Oct 2013 12:45:37 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3230 If you missed my first Chipotle article, then click here to go back and read it before you start on this one!  Enjoy.. When I first started this site almost two years ago it was with the intention to discuss topics like saving for retirement and investment strategies.  But I quickly realized that those articles […]

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A Tribute to the Greatest Chipotle Article of All Time

If you missed my first Chipotle article, then click here to go back and read it before you start on this one!  Enjoy..

When I first started this site almost two years ago it was with the intention to discuss topics like saving for retirement and investment strategies.  But I quickly realized that those articles were pretty boring to read and to write.  That’s why you see articles today ranging from travel hacking to saving money at Chipotle.  The latter has actually become one of the most popular articles on my site and today it has over 5,000 total views.

I thought it might be a good idea to do a follow up article and touch up on some new tips and tricks I’ve learned for saving money at Chipotle.  It’s still one of my favorite restaurants of all time and I know a lot of my friends and readers love it too so here you guys go:

Chipotle’s Secret Menu

I always knew that Chipotle was very flexible when it came to ordering: you can ask for more of this or more of that but I never knew they had a secret menu.  One of my favorite things to order now a days is called a Quesarito.  It takes a little longer to make so I only ask for it if there’s not much of a line.  People behind you tend to ask for one too if they see it being ordered and the workers don’t like this.

But as the name would imply, it’s basically a quesadilla and burrito all rolled into one.  They’ll add the cheese first and melt it in the tortilla press, then you can go ahead and add your fillings like you would with a normal burrito.  You won’t save money by going with this option but it does taste pretty awesome.

Alternatively, you could also have them make a burrito for you and then ask them to press it in the tortilla press for a few secons to get the outside nice and crispy.

Individual Tacos

I had a friend in college who absolutely lived by this trick.  Not only did he love Chipotle more than me, he was also cheaper than me too.  And since you can order tacos individually he would usually order 2 tacos and completely load them up.  My friend would ask for rice, both kinds of beans, fajitas, meat, all the salsas, etc and he would end up with about the same amount of food as a burrito but spread out across two tiny taco tortillas.  That way he would only have to pay 2/3 the cost of a trio of tacos.

$3 Halloween Burrito

Chipotle used to offer free burritos on Halloween if you were dressed up like a burrito but this year they’re charging $3 for a bowl, burrito or tacos.  Still not a bad deal since you can load up on double meat and guacamole though.  The lines tend to get pretty crazy so the earlier you go the better; the deal starts at 4 pm and goes until closing time.

Free Burrito

It doesn’t happen every year but Chipotle usually offers a Christmas and graduation deal where if you buy $30 worth of gift cards, you get a free burrito on your next visit.  The most recent deal was last year around Christmas time when they offered a free burrito on your next visit if you bought $30 worth of gift cards.  The great thing about the free burrito is that there are no restrictions, so feel free to get double meat and guacamole.

Truly Free Soda

If you live nearby a college campus, the local Chipotle may offer free sodas to students.  Most college ID cards don’t have dates on them so they could potentially be good forever.  I actually still have my college ID(and an extra one) and it comes in handy every once in a while to save me a few bucks.

Alternatively, if you feel like doing a little work you could always go for an ‘East County Lemonade’.  That’s a San Diego reference, but essentially you fill up your water cup and squeeze a bunch of the free lemon slices in there, add some sugar and you’ve got a free lemonade!

Reader Submissions

My last article generated a lot of passionate comments and e-mails with some unique ways to save money.  And by ‘unique’ I mean illegal(haha) but here are just a few of the ideas my readers came up with:

  • Free Soda – Since Chipotle is self-serve sodas and their water cups look just like soda cups, you can pretty easily steal a soda here.
  • All You Can Eat Hot Sauce – Chipotle carries three different types of Tabasco hot sauces – Regular, Chipotle and Green Pepper.  If one of them should make their way into your to go bag, you’ve just earned yourself a free bottle of hot sauce, haha!
  • The Lettuce Trick – This is one of the most creative ways I’ve ever heard of to get free guacamole.  It borders on illegal/negligence but I think it’s worth a shot.  We all know that it’s $3 extra for that amazing guacamole but if you add on a ton of shredded lettuce at the end of your burrito bowl they may not notice the guac when they ring up your order.  According to one reader, this trick has a 50% success ratio.

I’m glad to see my site is breeding a passionate band of bandits and deal seekers, that’s what I like to see!

Readers, what do you think about the follow up piece to my most popular article of all time?  Who would have thought so many people were interested in saving money at Chipotle?

-Harry @ PF Pro

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Why I Always Order Food and Drinks To Go http://yourpfpro.com/always-order-food-drinks-go/ http://yourpfpro.com/always-order-food-drinks-go/#comments Mon, 14 Oct 2013 12:45:45 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3100 One of my favorite topics is taxes, or more specifically avoiding taxes.  Every year I go to great lengths to delay or even avoid taxes to the fullest extent of the law.  I max out my 401k, Roth IRA and HSA.  I itemize and take huge deductions for property tax and mortgage interest but I […]

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Why I Always Order Food and Drinks To GoOne of my favorite topics is taxes, or more specifically avoiding taxes.  Every year I go to great lengths to delay or even avoid taxes to the fullest extent of the law.  I max out my 401k, Roth IRA and HSA.  I itemize and take huge deductions for property tax and mortgage interest but I still find myself looking for more ways to save.  That might make me greedy but I really hate paying taxes, especially when I know that the money is going to get wasted by the government on stupid things.

Living in California doesn’t help matters either.  There’s a hefty income tax and a nice plump sales tax on all goods sold across the state.  But recently, I’ve discovered a way to avoid paying sales tax on certain food and beverage items.  The rules are pretty complex and your results may vary but it’s definitely worth a shot.

I Eat Out a Lot

If you couldn’t tell by all my food related posts, I love to eat.  I try to cook a few times a week but I also find myself eating out quite a bit.  I don’t go to real fancy places, in fact, most of my meals outside the house are at small hole in the walls or anywhere cheap that has great food.  Most of the time, I’ll eat lunch at a restaurant, but I almost always take dinner back home.

I was having lunch with a friend the other day and I noticed that he ordered his food “to go” even though we were eating in the restaurant.  The place was a small hole in the wall sushi joint in a strip mall and the seating barely qualified as dining in but I didn’t know that some businesses won’t charge sales tax on “to go” items.  Although the laws in every state are a little different(since we’re talking about state sales tax here), in California, cold food “to go” is not supposed to be subject to sales tax.

YMMV

The sales tax law in California on food is extremely complex.  Merchants are supposed to charge tax if 80% of their sales are from food and drinks and an additional requirement states that 80% of the food and drinks have to be able to consumed on site.  Confused yet?  Merchants can also petition the Board of Equalization to exempt to go hot foods(like coffee), bakery goods and cold food(like sushi or sandwiches).

The only problem is that it’s pretty much like the Wild West out there when it comes to enforcing all these rules.  Some businesses follow the law, others don’t even know the law exists.  I think it makes sense though to just always order your food “to go” and see if you get charged sales tax or not.  Like I said, there are some pretty weird laws out there relating to sales tax and it can’t hurt to just get everything “to go”:

Here’s a personal example of just how confusing the whole “for here” vs “to go” tax situation can be.

The Subway Conondrum

I decided to test out this theory over the past few months so I went in to Subway and ordered a chicken breast sandwich for $5.  I got the bill and it was $5.44!  “Dammit, what the hell?”  I asked the cashier.  And she told me that since I got a hot sandwich, they have to charge tax on it.  If I would have ordered a roast beef or a turkey sandwich, then there would be no sales tax.

A few weeks later, I went back into Subway and got a turkey sandwich with everything on it.  I got the receipt and it was still $5.44!  I asked why and the cashier told me that since I got the sandwich toasted, it’s now considered “hot” and I have to pay sales tax on it.  See how confusing the whole thing can be?

There’s no way I was going to eat a third Subway sandwich so I stopped my experiment right there.  But I’m assuming that if you order a truly cold sandwich from Subway and take it “to go” you won’t have to pay taxes on it.  I guess this is just one example of why our tax code is so messed up since I need a CPA just to figure out the true cost of my freaking sandwich.

Readers, have you ever noticed a difference in sales tax price on food “for here” vs. “to go”?  If so, what state are you in and do you always order “to go” or are the savings not worth it?

-Harry @ PF Pro

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Is Restaurant Week Even a Good Deal? http://yourpfpro.com/is-restaurant-week-even-a-good-deal/ http://yourpfpro.com/is-restaurant-week-even-a-good-deal/#comments Thu, 10 Jan 2013 02:34:27 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=1635 Have you heard of restaurant week?  Most large metropolitan cities have some form of it, but the general idea is that you pay a discounted rate for a three course price fixed dinner at a top restaurant in your city.  In San Diego, the options are for $20/$30/$40 dinners at over 150 restaurants.  There are […]

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Restaurant_Week_Food_PornHave you heard of restaurant week?  Most large metropolitan cities have some form of it, but the general idea is that you pay a discounted rate for a three course price fixed dinner at a top restaurant in your city.  In San Diego, the options are for $20/$30/$40 dinners at over 150 restaurants.  There are obviously quite a few options and three courses for $20-$40 may sound like a good deal but I’m here to tell you, it’s not.

The premise of restaurant week is that restaurants you may not normally visit will lower their prices and offer their best dishes or most creative items in order to lure you back in the future.  If this is what actually happened, I’d be all for restaurant week.  But all too often, restaurant week brings out large crowds, menus are extremely limited and the value just isn’t there.  The whole process reminds me of my argument against using Groupons since generally these businesses turn to these extreme methods for attracting customers for a reason: their food isn’t very good.  That’s not quite the case with Restaurant Week but I think it’s important to take a step back and see if you’re actually getting a good deal.

RW Brings Out the Masses

Restaurant week in San Diego has a pretty loyal following so when the time comes you can expect all the top restaurants to be packed.  Weekends are generally booked weeks in advance at the best restaurants and should you get a prime reservation, expect the service to be lacking.  Participating restaurants are taking in less money than normal, which means tips will be lower and lower tips means unhappy servers.  Would you want to work restaurant week if you knew you’d be getting paid less and working harder?

Now I know not every restaurant is like this during restaurant week, but I’ve had more bad experiences than good over the past 10 years.  Nowadays, I like to look for restaurants that do an extended restaurant week the week after or the week before RW.  That allows some time for the crowds to die down and you can expect better service when you dine.

Mac N Cheese…Really?

Although restaurant week started out as an opportunity for restaurants to showcase their cuisine, I think it’s turned into more of a marketing gimmick.  Most restaurants seem to offer more of a low cost meal that allows them to still make a profit.  Here are some items I’m tired of seeing on restaurant week menus:

  • Mac N Cheese – No matter how much cheese and what types of fancy named cheese you put in there it still tastes like Mac N Cheese.
  • Truffle Fries – When did french fries topped with fancy oil and parmesan become a french delicacy?
  • Short Ribs – I love the taste of short ribs, but it’s one of the cheapest cuts of meat and no matter what you dress it up with, it’s still a fatty piece of meat.

Even with a limited menu, some restaurants are still a good deal, but ordering drinks can eat into your savings.  There’s no restaurant week prices on alcohol so you could blow all your savings right there.  It’s hard for me to pay $40 for a meal and another $20 for a glass of wine but I’m a lot cheaper than most people.  I would probably just sit there all throughout dinner thinking how my wine cost half of the price of my dinner.

There are definitely some good deals to be had for $20 or $30 but I usually won’t bother with any of the $40 options because by sharing an appetizer and dessert I could probably beat out the restaurant week pricing with my fiancee.  If we don’t order drinks, we can go to pretty much any top restaurant and share an appetizer, each get a main dish and share a dessert for less than $80.

So if you’re considering dining out this restaurant week, make sure you do your research.  Take a look at what will be served on their fixed menu and if you could re-create something better on another night of the week.  If you think you’ve found somewhere that’s worth it, then go for it!

Readers, do you find restaurant week to be a good deal?  I’ve found one great meal for $20 that I may go back to this year, but other than that I’ve been pretty disappointed.

-Harry @ PF Pro

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Do You Invest in Expensive Kitchen Knives? A Review of my Shun Chef’s Knife http://yourpfpro.com/do-you-invest-in-expensive-kitchen-knives-review-of-my-shun-chefs-knife/ http://yourpfpro.com/do-you-invest-in-expensive-kitchen-knives-review-of-my-shun-chefs-knife/#comments Mon, 05 Nov 2012 03:24:51 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=1378 If you’ve ever been around someone who loves to cook, you’re probably already familiar with the names Shun or Wusthof. They are two of the top knife-manufacturers in the world and most professional chefs carry one or the other. These knives may be top of the line, but so is their price tag. Most knives […]

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invest_shun_8_inch_premier_chefs_knifeIf you’ve ever been around someone who loves to cook, you’re probably already familiar with the names Shun or Wusthof. They are two of the top knife-manufacturers in the world and most professional chefs carry one or the other. These knives may be top of the line, but so is their price tag. Most knives in this elite category can cost you upwards of $150(for a single knife, if you find a good deal). Meanwhile, you can get a solid set of knives for around $30(I purchased this set 3 years ago).

I also bought a Shun 8″ Chef’s knife at the same time for around $150 plus tax. But compared to my generic set, the difference in quality has been astounding. I cook on average around two times a week, so I’m not using my knife every day, but it’s amazing how much sharper this knife is. I actually feel like I’ve gotten pretty spoiled since I started using this knife and now I won’t chop with anything other than my Shun.

One Knife vs. 5 Sets of Knives

I paid around $150 for my Shun knife two years ago and around the same time I also bought the Ginsu set of knives referred to above. The set included: an 8-inch chef’s knife, an 8-inch slicer, a 7-inch santoku knife, a 5-1/2-inch boning knife, a 5-inch utility knife, a 3-1/2-inch paring knife, and six 4-1/2-inch steak knives, plus a pair of shears. Now the only knives I really use out of that set are the steak knives and the slicer(bread knife) because I use my Shun for almost everything else.

I contemplated buying the Shun for a while because like I said, you can literally buy five sets of knives for the price of one. However, I’ve been happy with my choice because the blade on my Shun is like no other. I was actually pretty nervous about using it for the first couple months because I didn’t want to cut my finger off, that’s how sharp it is.

It’s hard to say if the quality of the knife is 5 times better than my knives set but it’s close. I just had my Shun sharpened for the first time and it looks and feels like a brand new knife. I still use my other set all the time but they’re getting close to the point where I may have to throw them out soon. I think it’s best to get an expensive all purpose knife like a Shun or Wusthof because you don’t need the highest quality when you’re cutting bread or slicing into a juicy steak.

Maintenance of a Shun Knife

I had absolutely no idea how to take care of my knife when I bought it and I didn’t know anyone with a Shun, so I did most of my research online. Here’s what I learned about my Shun:

  • A Shun knife has a very thin and sharp blade, so it can’t be used to chop things like bones, avocado seeds, etc.
  • The chef needs to chop in a back and forth motion instead of up and down
  • Always cut on a soft wood surface like bamboo

After about 6 months of using my Shun, I noticed that it had lost a little bit of its sharpness. I could no longer cut through a ripe tomato with minimal effort so I knew it was time to get it sharpened. Here’s where I made my first mistake. I bought an electric sharpener from Shun for $30 and sharpened the knife myself. It helped a little bit but it definitely didn’t bring it back to its original state. I later talked to some experts and they told me how bad this was for my knife. Apparently, there is a whole art to sharpening that an electric sharpener will never achieve.

My options were a little limited though because I was too cheap to send it in for sharpening. I had a couple chips in the blade and they charged per inch of sharpening so I think it would have come out to around $20 plus shipping both ways for sharpening. But luckily, they brought back their free sharpening service this year so I sent it in. I think the free sharpening service makes the knife a much better investment. Now that I’ve got it back and I’m using it again, it’s just like brand new. They somehow got rid of the chips in the blade and restored it to its original state.

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Overall, I really love my Shun knife and I think using it in combination with a cheap set of steak knives has worked well. So what type of knife or knives do you have in the kitchen? Do you think it’s worth it to get a top of the line knife and if so how do you keep it sharp?

-Harry @ PF Pro

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How to Really Save Money at Chipotle http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-really-save-money-at-chipotle/ http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-really-save-money-at-chipotle/#comments Wed, 19 Sep 2012 06:11:24 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=1197 This post was inspired by an article I read the other day entitled: 15 Ways to Save Money at Chipotle. Now I don’t want to throw another blog under the bus, but man were their ideas lame(google the article title to find it).  I’ve actually been obsessed with Chipotle for a while now and I […]

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Chipotle-Money-Saving-tipsThis post was inspired by an article I read the other day entitled: 15 Ways to Save Money at Chipotle. Now I don’t want to throw another blog under the bus, but man were their ideas lame(google the article title to find it).  I’ve actually been obsessed with Chipotle for a while now and I even read the book The Chipotle Effect because I just love the place so damn much.

In college, my friends and I stopped at Chipotle at least 1-2 times a week for dinner for three years straight, so I consider myself something of a Chipotle expert 🙂 We were on a budget and after a long day of school, and three hour volleyball practice, the thought of going home and making dinner sounded like way too much work. There was really no better value for the quantity and quality we could get at Chipotle.

After years of trial and error, I think I’ve found some of the best ways to maximize your dollar at Chipotle. Even though Chipotle is was owned by McDonald’s they are still one of my favorite restaurant(fast food?) chains. I didn’t eat Chipotle for a solid two years after I graduated because I was so burnt out, but now I eat there about once or twice a month. I don’t eat there as much as I used to, but I still employ some of the following tips and tricks to help save myself some money and get more bang for my buck.

Get a Burrito Bowl

This one should be obvious, but have you seen the burrito bowls at Chipotle? They are freaking huge! Load up a bowl with everything you want and you’ll definitely get more than a regular burrito. The bowl and the burrito are the same price so this is a no brainer. What we used to do is ask for a tortilla on the side with our bowl(which is free) and make a burrito ourselves and still have some leftovers in the bowl. Alternatively you can get free taco shells or 3 mini tacos with your bowl if you ask nicely.

Half and Half

I like everything at Chipotle so I ask for everything on my burrito, literally. Ask for white and brown rice, pinto and black beans, and you’ll get more than a normal portion. Sometimes I even ask for half and half meat since they tend to give you a little extra. I also load up on salsas: medium, hot, mild and corn salsa. These are all free although they might look at you funny.

Extra, Pretty Please?

Chipotle has a strict policy against giving out extra meat, so I never ask for it. But you can ask nicely for a little extra of anything else. A little trick I use is to wait until they put the item on before asking for more. So if they ask me if I want sour cream, I’ll say yes and once they put it on, I ask for a little extra.

Bust the Burrito!

If you can get enough stuff in your burrito to make it impossible to roll, they’ll add another tortilla for you. I usually go for the bowl, but this is a good way to get two mini burritos for the price of one.

Free Burrito on Halloween

If you stay in touch with Chipotle via social media you’ll hear about their occasional free burrito days. Their most famous one is on Halloween, where you get a free burrito if you dress up like a burrito. We used to just take some aluminum foil and wrap it around one of our arms and they’d give us a free burrito.

Gift Card Deals

Once in a while, they’ll have a gift card promo where you get a free burrito for buying a $25 gift card. If you manage to get a hold of a free burrito coupon or stumble upon a free burrito day, you should be able to turn this into a free $10 burrito. I wouldn’t go this far with the add-ons since they are treating you to a free burrito, but don’t be shy about asking for extra guac or double meat.

Mix It Up

This one won’t save you money, but I like to ask them to mix up the bowl or burrito so that all my bites will be evenly mixed and I won’t eat any huge chunks of one element.Beware though, they might shoot you a dirty look if you ask for a mixture because this request will usually start a chain reaction of mixture requests from the people behind you.

A Final Word

Now these tips won’t help you retire early or anything but if you have a big appetite(like I used to!) you can get absolutely stuffed off of less than $7. I think that’s a great deal and I don’t know how healthy Chipotle is but it’s gotta be better than eating fried fast food like KFC or McDonald’s. I also get a weird sense of satisfaction knowing that I got the most out of my money. I know Chipotle is still making a ton of money so if I can get a little extra food, great.

Readers, do you have any tips or tricks that you use at Chipotle? Are there any other restaurants that you have money saving tips for?

-Harry @ PF Pro

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