Welcome- saving money to afford living in Hawaii

Image may contain: sky, ocean, tree, cloud, outdoor and nature
Actual photo I took at a nearby beach on a Saturday out with the toddler. Paradise doesn’t have to be a wallet breaker.

Thank you for visiting. This blog is focused on saving money by being sensible, (and sometimes ridiculous), cooking delicious food for yourself, so you, too, can afford to live in paradise. Where ever that paradise may be for you. I was born and raised in Hawaii- a notoriously high cost of living area (HCOL), and had been trying to be able to move back home after years working in the Mainland. We achieved this by aggressive savings, conscious spending, and being more efficient. Do we spend money on useless crap? Of course! But we try to keep it to a minimum- and have fun making food, finding free things to do, and appreciating living in paradise. 

A HCOL living area does NOT have to be prohibitive to early Financial Independence. Remember: it’s not what you make, but what you keep- cut out the unnecessary and unappreciated- and you will free up your wallet for more savings.

Frugal Hawaii- Central Oahu

Rainbow seen over the Waianae mountain range

After offering some suggestions to a member of the Choose FI Facebook group about places to go that are frugal (and worth the trip) for someone that is visiting her son that’s stationed on Oahu- living in Mililani, I thought I’d write up my little love-letter to Central Oahu and North Shore.

Here’s my suggestions for things to do and restaurants or grocery stores to go to if you are in the area.

DIY cleaning your glasstop stove

Yes. I admit it. I abuse my stove. I don’t wipe it down after every use. Stuff drips on the heating element…and gets burned to a crisp.

But once in a while, I show it some love, and give it a good cleaning.

If you are unsatisfied with the heating capabilities of yours- give it a good cleaning first, and see if that helps.

Psychologically, taking care of your stuff makes you keep it longer, too. (I mean, who would WANT a new stove when you’ve put plenty of time and effort into the one you have?! Plus, if you are maintaining it….it wont look grungy and dirty and crap out on you so early).

Witness— the progression of cruddy to sparkling (almost) brand new.

The mini dust pan shows how much junk was scraped up.

All you need is a scraper, and some of that glass stovetop cleaner with a mildly abrasive sponge.

Witness—-its practically new again!

Don’t throw crap out just cuz its scuzzy. Clean it up and make your life sparkly (for at least 10 minutes until your husband uses the stove again and doesn’t clean up after himself).

Budgeting travel time

photography of airplane during sunrise
Photo by Anugrah Lohiya on Pexels.com

You’ve got a 14 hour trip….what to do with that time? How to make it go faster? How to be comfortable on those tiny airplane seats?

I have an answer for the first two…the third one is beyond human abilities to do.

For work, I have to travel long distances pretty often, and have been trying to fill my time efficiently and enjoyably.

I’ve also been trying to shorten the total travel time without adding more stress (like: am I going to make my f*%$%^g connection?! type of stress).

How do you do that?

Most of these suggestions are free- and one is just much lower cost than the default consumer alternative.

Read more here. Please.

2 roads to FI: save more vs make more

person holding coins
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Last week I attended a local Real Estate Investment (REI) meetup at Kailua beach park. I know…what a terrible place to meet! (it was actually a little rainy. Please play a small violin for me).

A bunch of members are from the Choose FI groups and from the Bigger Pockets group. And a few follow Mr. Money Mustache.

See what I did there? I name dropped the biggest names in Financial Independence, Real Estate Investing, and Frugality/practical finance blogs.

Which path to FI is better? Save more (read: spend less)? Or Earn more (read: investments, higher paying job, side gigs)?

Cell phone expenses: a study between two people

Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com

Today I had a talk with a co-worker. He just bought a new cell phone yesterday for $1000.

And then bought his wife one, too, because “it’s not fair that I get a new cell phone, and she doesn’t”.

Yes. It is totally fair. You don’t get a new pair of shoes whenever she does, do you?

$1000 phone?!!!!!!!!!!

(bonus exclamation marks because he made me spit out my tea when he said it).

2 weeks ago I had to buy a new phone. Total phone expenditures? $180. Including service.

My usual monthly service for two lines is about $50 or less.

How to save money on cell phone service, your cell phone, and stash away an emergency fund.






1 pot roast=5 dinners


A single $10 roast can yield several recipes (actually, I cooked 2x and got 5 different meals…unfortunately, I only took pictures of two of them).

Here’s the game plan: you start with about a 2 1/2 lb pot roast or round roast.

  1. Cut about 1/4 off and chunk it to make Japanese Beef Curry.
  2. Salt and pepper the remaining, and make pot roast in the slow cooker the next day.
  3. The day after that, make curry ramen, by adding the curry with water and the soup mix, and cooking the noodles as directed.
  4. The third day, make tacos with some of the pot roast, salsa, shredded cabbage, what have you.
  5. And the last day, make pot roast sandwiches.

All of this for the cost of $10 (plus a bit extra for the ramen, tortillas, and veggies). For two people.

This is why going out just because is ridiculous. A single beef sandwich will put you back $7. That’s 2/3 of the cost of the entire roast.


A most FI funeral


The literal view from the service on my skating coach’s lanai.

Yesterday, we attended a celebration of life for my skating coach’s mom. She was an accomplished figure skater in her day, and a long time resident of Waimanalo.

A sweet lady who loved to sit on her lanai and watch the ocean.

The memorial service was at their family home right on the beach.

It was the most laid-back, and touching, memorial service I have ever been to.

Much like weddings, memorial services can range from over the top hugely expensive extravaganzas to simple, meaningful gatherings.

This was the later.

The gathering started with a potluck lunch. Many kids from the rink came and were there playing in the ocean. Friends and family from the Waimanalo community came by.

They have a huge house with a wide lanai facing the ocean- her favorite view. We were treated to that as we sat and had lunch together and talked story.

A musician played slack key guitar and ukulele (not at the same time), playing Hawaiian music. One of her daughters and a friend danced hula out on the lawn.

A short service was held, her urn was placed on a table facing the ocean.

Then, we all went down to the beach to scatter flowers.

The musician and some of the local Waimanalo community sang songs.

Hawaii Aloha” while the blessing was made and the flowers cast into the ocean. Which 2 of the bunch are missing, because my toddler didn’t want to let them go. I’ve put a link to the lyrics if you want to know what the meaning is.

Waves brought the flowers back to shore.

One of the other songs was a rendition of “White Sandy Beach”, replacing “of Hawaii” with “of Waimanalo”.

This certainly wasn’t the hugely orchestrated service with specific times or a long list of speakers.

But this memorial service was just as touching.

Even in death, life does not have to cost so much.

The financial burden on her family was small- much less than the ridiculous quotes of thousands of dollars for a ceremony touted by the commercials for “funeral insurance” plans.

Of course when I go, I want all the remaining money in my estate to be blown on an extravaganza- zipline me into the gold line casket. (have to have some levity here).

But, really, in many of life’s events, there is no “mandatory” way of doing things. Just the way you chose to do them.





My 75 year old hanai Auntie has been FIRE since she was 35

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, mountain, outdoor and nature

This weekend I spent some time with my hanai Auntie that is my parent’s neighbor. Hanai means “adopted” in Hawaiian, in a loose sense of the word, and is used basically here in Hawaii to describe anyone that is close to the family, but not actually family.

She’s been financially independent since her 30s. In Hawaii. Which we all know is a “high cost of living”. Want to learn how she did it?

(and this is in direct response to the early FI nay sayers).

Read the rest of the article here




Valentines dinner in- tri-tip roast, mac n cheese, and zucchini gratin

Valentines day- ah, the day for making cut out hearts and candy for kids.

The day for anxiety for couples- getting a table at the “it” restaurants, and spending a weeks worth of grocery money or more on dinner.

Why not stay in, and make a dinner? This one is pretty low labor, but takes a little time.

We made this for a Sunday, since my husband will be in surgery on Valentines day. Yay him.

Cost breakdown is just at about $12 to feed 4 people. SO you can have an awesome leftover lunch the next day to remember it by.

Valentines Sweet Tri-tip roast.

Zucchini gratin.

Cheated Mac N Cheese.


New Years Resolution Solutions: eating healthier and cooking more at home

Well, they kind of go hand-in-hand. Eating healthier is usually accomplished by cooking more at home. Less processed foods, fat, salt, and sugar. More nutrients, and hopefully more $ in your pocket.

The solution is to provide good motivation!

Want to know the 1 step easy and free solution?

Of course it’s click-bait (I actually want people to read my article, after all)

New Years resolution solutions- cut down on food costs

You know the drill- new year, new you! Cut down on spending and fat. Y’all need help with that? (at least the spending part? I’m terrible at losing weight).

I’ve got a list of 10 practical ways to stop spending so much damn money on food! And I am including all food costs – from groceries, to eating out ,to snacks.

It’s entirely possible to cut down on food costs. Believe me. Especially if you are eating out and getting stuff out all the time. That’s easy peasy.

New Years Resolution solutions: cut down on food costs

Stove-top Boeuf Bourguignon


Using the French words for recipes makes food sound so much more fancy. This really is a slow-cooked red wine beef stew- but it’s so dang flavorful, and it’s pretty damn easy to make.

I usually do a slow cooker version, but this dinner, I had some time to make it from scratch. Even did some homemade baguettes to match, but those take a horribly long time for proofing and rising to get made!

Easy fancy dinner, that makes excellent starters for Shepherd’s pie the next day. Or just even better leftovers.

Not only that, the ingredients only use about $10 of stuff. No. Not even that. A chuck roast on sale will set you back about $10, and you only need half….add in veggies at about $3 total, and you are rocking a great dinner that will serve 4.

Cutting costs to make your money go further

We are all stuck with the Government shut down. Especially those of us that are government employees.

A month without a paycheck.


It’s going to be one of those posts. You need to save money- cut costs, and make your savings go further.

Here’s how to save over $1200 a month in spending. I’m not kidding. At all.

Get ready for some hard-line truths about where to cut spending, and abrasive language.

Tempura- my gma’s recipe


This week I’m sharing my grandma’s recipe for tempura. It’s hearty, tasty, and you can cook a variety of veggies with it. This ain’t no restaurant’s dainty airy fluffy version. This is down-home cooking meant to stick to your ribs!

Enjoy it with rice or noodles. Seriously- enjoy it.

You’ll need a deep wok or frying pan, and a colander lined with paper towels. I also recommend tongs and chopsticks for the frying part.