NNP Time: Guess where I am heading...

Some of you folks might remember when this feature first appeared on G-ography here during my 7 day Bikram Yoga Challenge. I also made a post about the next one here inspired after watching Ewan Mcgregor's motorbiking-around-the-world documentary. However my Kaui Expedition got in the way before I can go take my lessons. Then right after that I had decided to take some scuba diving lessons. Check out the photos below at the Reef Park in Casino Point, Catalina Island.

I have been quite the busy adventurer. This thanksgiving, however, is an NNP that will top all of these! I'm posting this photo associated with my next destination...guess where I'm going!

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The Importance of Being Frugal

Just a sampling of some of my scribblings over at The Online Grapevine where I am a content producer...check it out let me know what you think!

The economy may be a bit more stable compared to a year or six months ago, but the outlook still looks tough. Even our U.S. Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, is cautioning that the process of recovery likely will be a slow and painful one. The nation is still faced with a high budget deficit and a timid credit market. Millions are still struggling with unemployment or reduced income. Others are concerned about job security, home values and their stock portfolios even though the U.S. economy is growing again.

I write this not to paint a grim picture, but to stress the importance of being frugal in these times. I am lucky to still be part of a thriving workforce surviving this recession. If there is anything to take away from the recent global economic crisis, it is that we should always be prepared. Save whenever you can and make sure you have enough cash, not just for a rainy day, but enough for an emergency. Financial gurus, such as Suze Orman , say to make it a priority to have at least eight months of living costs set aside in a federally insured bank or credit union account. Yes, you read it right, eight months!

I am not ashamed to admit that I don’t have eight months worth of emergency savings. I have made some bad decisions and lived beyond my means throughout my twenties. However, I am proud to say that I am now taking action to provide myself with a personal financial stimulus plan. I am not alone though. You will find that there is a growing movement of recession savvy citizens that are taking control of their financial situation.

It’s not too late for you. If you want in on the save yourself movement you can follow these tips:

1. Don’t Panic

So you just took a look at your savings account and did the math on your monthly expenses, then went “Oh my god”. The best way to make sense of where you are right now financially is to consult with a Wealth Advisor or Personal Financial Planner. I suggest that you go online or ask friends or family members for referrals. On my end, I was lucky enough to tap into a free resource that my company provided. I simply went to our corporate credit union partner with a few documents and they were able to sort me out. Of course, you have to come with a goal in mind. Ex. Save $10,000 a year from now or save x amount for a new home.

If you are more of a DIY (do it yourself) type, I suggest using to plan your budget. It’s a free personal finance software that is available online. You can also check to see if your bank has similar online resources. I know Bank of America has a built in financial management tool where you can integrate your own customized budget.

2. Live on half and stash the cash

In this economy, cash is king. Even large corporations are stashing cash. By living on half now, experts says you'll know whether you can really afford to pay your bills if the worst happens. When you are freaked out, that is not the time that you go through your expenses and go, 'Should I cut here?'

Also, if all you currently have is a very small emergency fund and you have unpaid credit card debt, you are only to pay the minimum amount due on your credit cards. Stash the cash till you have at least an eight-month emergency fund. Important: Paying only minimums doesn't give you the license to rack up a bigger balance. On the other hand, if you can afford to pay off your debt, do so now while you can. As much as possible, avoid using your credit card and pay for things in cash.

3. Stop Spending

It’s time to re-evaluate your lifestyle and your spending habits. Begin learning to do without. Buy generic and try getting some of your things from the Dollar store. Also, cut back on all of the extras that you’re used to: Starbucks every morning, lunch out everyday, and nights out of the town. Make your own coffee, pack your lunch, and cook at home. Read: How to Eat Well on $50 a Week: They're Doing It. Could You?

Implement a 24-hour rule on your spending and don’t buy things until you’ve had 24 hours to think it over. Before grocery shopping, make a list and only buy what’s on the list. Also, start using coupons. Go through your junk mail and look at what the groceries are offering in your neighborhood or go online to sites like

These are just a few of the many things you can do to “frugal up” your lifestyle and not only put some extra money in your pocket, but get into the right mindset to survive any potential recession. After all, you don’t really need all of that stuff anyway.

4. Pursue alternative streams of income

Most advice for surviving recessions focus on reducing expenses. While this is certainly a great idea, I also advocate looking for opportunities where you can increase your income. In addition to your main job, pursue alternative streams of income. Specifically, look for income opportunities that might excel during a recession. Maybe start a blog about the recession or how to keep your current job. Remember that this does not give you an excuse to slack at your primary job. You should still make yourself an asset to your current one by being punctual, productive, and results driven.

5. On Holidays and Taxes

Frugality is a given this holiday season, so it makes sense to set a practical budget on gifts. Consider buying them during sale events, at outlet malls or even at discount retail shops like Ross or Marshalls. For other expenses related to the holidays, like going out of town why not have a “staycation” instead? As for outfits and decoratons, recycle or create your own.

What about taxes you say? Well smart tax planning means taking advantage of tax breaks and deductions that are slated to expire. Here in California alone, we have felt the increase in taxes so it would be wise to make the most of these for a better tax return in 2010. Here is an excellent article by on Six Tax Saving Tactics.

Overall, saving can be fun. Be creative and look for opportunities. Remember, a recession doesn’t mean you cannot spend money. It just means that you need to pay far more attention when making a spending decision. Use this kind of information to your advantage

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