How To Save $3,380 A Year – The Easy Way

    Photo credit to: schoolanduniversity.com

In five years I want to buy a house, a new car, pay off my current car note, get rid of my student loans, and possibly get marry. This is ridiculously a lot of expensive goals, especially if my two-week paychecks are not that big. After paying bills and personal expenses I don’t have much left to save. I’m not necessarily living paycheck to paycheck, but at this rate I will never have enough money to fulfill any of my goals.

I’ve decided to challenge myself to start saving more. I already started by making higher payments on my car payment, credit card, and student loans. That way the interest would be less, and I can get them paid off faster. However, I also want to set aside money that I can later use for whatever purposes, like to achieve one of my goal above.

To do this I’ve came up with a plan that’ll help me save $3,510 a year. Let me explain how this is going to work. On the first week I will set aside $5. Every week after that I will increase the amount by an extra $5. I will continue to increase the amount by $5 until I reach week 26. Here is how the saving’s schedule will look like:

Week 1: $5

Week 2: $10

Week 3: $15

Week 4: $20

Week 5: $25

Week 6: $30

Week 7: $35

Week 8: $40

Week 9: $45

Week 10: $50

Week 11: $55

Week 12: $60

Week 13: $65

Week 14: $70

Week 15: $75

Week 16: $80

Week 17: $85

Week 18: $90

Week 19: $95

Week 20: $100

Week 21: $105

Week 22: $110

Week 23: $115

Week 24: $120

Week 25: $125

Week 26: $130

By week 26 you will be halfway through with the challenge and will have saved $1, 755. Starting on week 27 you will begin decreasing your saving amount by $5. On week 27 you would save $125, week 28 will be $120, and so on until you reach week 52, at which you should be back at $5. This would give you a grand total of $3,380.

If I keep this challenge up for the next five years I will have a grand total of $16,900. That is a lot of money! I have totally use that to make a down payment on a home or buy a new car. This is something that I will be doing on the side. I will pretend that this money does not exist. Meanwhile I will pay as much of my other bills with my remaining paychecks as I possibly can. Once I get something paid off I can have extra money to apply to other things.

I know that this saving plan sounds easier than it looks, but if you can stick to it then it’ll pay off in the long run. Even if you don’t want to do the challenge for the entire year this would be a great way to save for holiday spending. In a little over six months you would have saved up $1,755. Start this at the beginning of May and by mid November you will have that amount set for your Christmas shopping.

If anyone has ever done a challenge similar to this one, or this one, let us know below how it went for you!

Mom’s Steak In Red Sauce

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 Make your today amazing with my mama’s Steak in red sauce recipe!

Growing up my mom was a working single mother of three for a very long time and she would often have to make meals that were cheap, quick, and easy to make. As I got older I started learning how to cook so I can have dinner prepared for us when she got off work.  Now I am a working mom with three kids and no time on my hands &  I usually have to make easy and quick dinners before i have to run to work.  I almost always go back to the food my mom taught me how to cook for us when I was younger  and this recipe is one of our favorites in my house.

Today is one of those days for me, I have all the kids at home running around,
I have to do my hair, wash clothes and get ready for work tonight. So I’ve decided to make this  dish for dinner & share this wonderful recipe with you all  that my mom always made for us growing up.

 

You Will Need

 

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1 1/2 lbs of cube steak
1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
1/2 cup of Apple Cider vinegar or cooking wine
1 Tablespoon of minced garlic
1 medium onion (sliced)
1/4 cup of oil (Any kind is fine)
1 cup of water
Adobo seasoning
Sazon con culantro y achiote (for color)

 

Directions:
-Place a large pot on the stove on medium heat.
-While the pot is heating up slice up the onion and set aside
-Then rinse off the steak and cut up into smaller pieces (this will help it get super tender) like so..
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-Season the steak with the adobo seasoning to your liking
-Then dump all ingredients into the pot and season the water which will soon become
your sauce with adobo and the packet of Sazon.
-Please season to your taste, make sure to test it and make sure it is not too salty!
(It will be cooking for a while and will get saltier as time passes)
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Note: I add more water to mine because in my house we like the extra sauce to dip some bread in. So if you do not need a lot of sauce then stick with the 1 cup the recipe calls for.
-Once you’ve seasoned it bring to a boil then lower the heat to simmer.
-Simmer steak for 1 hour or until steak is tender.

 

You can serve this many ways!!

 

I’ve decided to serve mine  with white rice and fried sweet plantains today.

 

The traditional Puerto Rican way would be with white rice and red kidney beans.
You can also serve with salad and yucca on the side.

 

Hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.

 

Popular Vietnamese Food

Make your today amazing by enjoying a traditional Vietnamese dish!

I have to be honest here; I’m not a very traditional Vietnamese girl. I did grew up there but moved to America when I was very young so I missed out on a lot of the traditional cultural aspect of Vietnam. However, I am familiar with some of the more popular dishes/food as I’ve grew up eating them at home. I might not know how to make them, or what goes into cooking them, but I do enjoy eating many types of Vietnamese food. My parents cook  at home all the time so I grew up eating a lot of interesting things. Below are a few of my favorite dishes.

#1: Pho

How To Make Pho Soup | gimmesomeoven.com

Photo credit to: http://www.gimmesomeoven.com

You can never go wrong with Pho. Especially on a cold day, a bowl of Pho will warm you up inside out. You have a choice of chicken, brisket, meatballs, or a combination of all three (the way my mom makes it). A lot of time is put into making the broth so that it can be as flavorful as possible. My mom would boil beef bones for hours so that it can give the broth that wonderful, savory flavor. The longer you let it sit the better it will taste. Along the way she would add store bought seasoning and sauté red onions for extra flavoring. If you’re making chicken Pho then you throw in the chicken to cook along with the broth until the meat is tender. The meatballs can stay shimmering in there with the bones. Beef briskets are left on the side until you are ready to eat. Combine broth, meats, and rice noodles into a bowl, garnish with some lime, cilantro, herbs, and pepper, and enjoy!

Here is a great website with instructions on how to make your own Pho at home.

#2: Banh Mi

Banh Mi is Vietnamese baguette with grilled meat. Easy banh mi recipe with grilled lemongrass pork and baguette to make the perfect banh mi at home. | rasamalaysia.comPhoto credit to: http://rasamalaysia.com/banh-mi-recipe/

This French baguette is stuffed with plenty of goodness. You can basically stuffed it with whatever you want. One popular kind of banh mi is made with grill pork or grill chicken. Along with the meat you have sliced cucumber, cilantro, jalapeno (if you like), and pickled vegetables (carrots and jicama). Those are the most common ingredients. There are a lot of variety of banh mi nowadays, depending on where you go to eat. I like mine with the grill chicken and extra pickled vegetables.

Make yourself a banh mi today with this recipe.

#3: Banh Xeo

A single serving of banh xeo with a side of fish sauce | HungryHuy.comPhoto credit to: http://www.hungryhuy.com

This crispy crepe is another flexible dish that can be altered to meet one’s taste. Most people put pork and shrimp, along with lots of bean sprouts on theirs. I like mine with a lot of seafood and no pork. The only “vegetable” that really goes on there is the bean sprouts. You garnish it with fresh herbs when its ready to eat. The crepes are always yellow because the powder that is used into the batter is dyed yellow. My mom used to make her batter with milk and beer. Serve it hot with a fish sauce made with peppers and it is delicious.

Learn how to make your own banh xeo here.

#4: Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)

Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Cha Gio) - BEST spring rolls ever deep-fried to crispy perfection. Loaded with crazy delicious filling, a perfect appetizer!! | rasamalaysia.comPhoto credit to: http://rasamalaysia.com/vietnamese-spring-rolls-cha-gio-recipe/

We cannot forget this all time favorite appetizer. I sometime call these “egg rolls” because I grew up thinking that they’re all the same thing. However, if you’ve eaten the this spring rolls before you will notice that it taste totally different than the ones you get from Chinese restaurants or take-out. Since my mom is not around to make them anymore I would go to Bistro B, an eatery where I live, to get them. They taste just like my mom’s homemade ones. She would make them with ground pork, shrimp, mushrooms, and carrots. All the ingredients mixed together along with other seasonings, and then wrapped in thin rice paper. We would keep ours in the freezer and when we want to eat them we just get some out and throw them directly into the oil to be fried. Don’t forget to dip them into fish/chilli sauce before eating!

You can make your own Vietnamese spring rolls using this great recipe.

There are many other great Vietnamese dishes that are not mentioned here. I cannot possibly list everything Vietnamese that I love to eat; this blog will never end.  Like I’ve mentioned before, I do not know much about the root of Vietnamese cooking nor do I claim to, but from my personal experience I can gladly say that Vietnamese food are amazingly delicious! Do you have a favorite Vietnamese dish/food that you’ve ate or would like to try? Leave a comment and let us know!

 

 

DIY Due Dates Spreadsheet

Make your today amazing by easily keeping up with your bills!

I was reading a post about Excel and someone asked if there was a template for you to keep track of expired dates, like passport date and etc. so I thought it would be neat to come up with a template that you can use to do that. The one I created here is used to keep track of your due dates, like bills and things, but you can easily change the heading titles to make it work for your expired items if you wish. Unfortunately, this blog does not allow me to upload my template so I’m going to show you how to make it. Hopefully I don’t confuse anyone, and if I do please feel free to ask questions.

So this is how my spreadsheet looks, with a little bit of formatting.

To make the month part, in cell A1 type the month that you want. Then highlight cells A1 through F1. On your Home, towards the middle there’s a tab called Merge and Center. Click on that and it should merge all your selected cells together. You can then highlight the cells again and change your font, size, and colors if you like.

After that skip a row and type in the heading names like the picture above. Again,  you can change the style if you want. I bold and centered my texts. Skip another row if you like before starting to enter your information. Underneath the Description heading you can put titles that are relevant to your spreadsheet. See mine for an example.

Now we move on to the Today’s Date. I used a function in Excel that will always display the current date every time you make a new entry. To do this you click on cell C5 and type in the function =TODAY() and press enter. The current date should show up. It might look a little different from mine depending on how you format your dates.

 

Under the Due Date heading you will manually type in whenever your item is due.

The # of Days left heading is the more confusing one. Here we are trying to find out how many days are left before the item is due. If it’s past due then the number will be red. You can have it show a negative sign too if you like. Click on cell E5 and type in the formula =DAYS360($C5,$D5,FALSE) . Once you have done this you can use the auto-fill on the bottom right hand corner of the cell to make multiple copies of the formula so that you won’t have to type it in every time you add a new item. You can do the same for the Today’s Date column too. Just click on the square and drag it down however number of cells you want.

If you are keeping track of your bills then the paid column is helpful. I created a drop down list that display yes and no for me to choose from but you can easily just type it in for yourself.

If you want to format the date then click on the letter above the column. For example, click on column C would highlight the whole column. Then you go to Format (Home tab, Format). click on format cells. Under the Number tab and inside the category box select Date and choose the format that you want on the right side and click okay.

You can reuse this spreadsheet again every month. You can just easily change the name of the Month. If you don’t want to use it for this purpose then you can delete the month and use it to keep track of other expired things.

I hope you find this post useful, and sorry I couldn’t upload the template.

 

UPDATE: I created this tutorial a few months ago and no longer have Excel. Hopefully the instruction does not confuse anyone. If so then please let me know and I’ll do my best to help. Thanks

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

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Image credit to: thesmartlocal.com

Recipe credit to: Cooking Classy (full link to recipe included below)

Make your today amazing by enjoying a delicious sweet pineapple cupcake!

 

What’s more delicious than a pineapple upside down cupcake for dessert right? I found this recipe on Pinterest and it looked so good so I thought I would give it a try. Here are my results. For your reference I have included the link to the actual recipe below.

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcake Recipe

The recipe makes a dozen cupcakes but I wanted to make two dozens so I doubled all the ingredients. However, in order to make enough “Brown sugar sauce” I had to triple the ingredients in the first part of the instruction.

The “sauce” should cover the bottom of the pan completely. Next is placing the pineapple chunks into the pan. I tried the chunks from two different size cans and found that the pineapple in the tiny 3 oz(?) can worked much better. Sorry I forgot to check what size the cans were but it’s the smallest size that you can find in the grocery store. With these chunks I was able to fit four pieces into the muffin pan slots. With the ones in the 12 oz(?) I was only able to fit three pieces. The smaller chunks make a flower shape, which looks much prettier. Also, the three small cans yielded exactly 3 ounces of pineapple juice required for making the batter.

 

Next is making the batter. For this part I was able to fill all 24 slots by following the quantities listed on the recipe. Remember that I did double the recipe as well. Once the batter was done I filled each slot with just enough batter to cover the top of the pineapples.

I baked both pans for about 35 minutes. After letting them cool down I followed the same process used in the recipe to remove the cupcakes from the pans. And this is how they came out.

 

YUMMY! Instead of making the whipped topping I just used store bought whipping cream from the can. They still tasted great. I don’t really like artificial cherry so I didn’t top mine with any, but that’s a personal preference. My final result is pictured above with the whip cream. It does not look as colorful as the first picture up top but I promise it did taste good. (I took the pictures at night with my phone camera)  If I ever make this again I would use less sugar because it was a little too sweet for me, but overall I think it was a success and they tasted delicious. My friend Maria had four cupcakes all by herself. Lol

Again, please refer to the link above for this complete yummy recipe! I’ll also post it below for your convenient.  Thanks

 

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

Ingredients

    • 1 (20 oz) can pineapple chunks in pineapple juice
    • 1 (8 oz) can pineapple chunks in pineapple juice
    • 1/3 cup (2.7 oz) packed light brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup (2.6 oz) unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 cup (5 oz) all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup (5.6 oz) granulated sugar
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 cup (2 oz) unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup (4 oz) pineapple juice (from pineapple chunk can)
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Topping
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 12 maraschino cherries

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 12 muffin cups well with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Drain both cans of the pineapple chunks while reserving 1/2 cup of the juice for batter. Place pineapple over several layers of paper towels to drain well. Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl then stir brown sugar into melted butter. Divide mixture among muffin wells, adding about 2 tsp to each. Arrange pineapple chunks on top of the sugar mixture, about 5 in each (you may not use all of them but I found one 20 oz can wasn’t quite enough so I ended up opening 2 cans. The pineapple may be too long to make a flower shape but try to squeeze in 5 of them unless they are large chunks). Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer whisk together flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Set mixer with a paddle attachment, add butter and pineapple juice then mix until batter is smooth, about 1 – 2 minutes (if using a paddle attachment that doesn’t constantly scrape bowl, then occasionally stop mixer and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl throughout mixing process). Mix in egg and vanilla extract until well combined. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, layering batter over pineapple layer.
  • Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into into center of cupcake comes out clean, about 23 – 26 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes, then run a sharp knife around edges to loosen. Place a wire cooling rack over top of muffin pan and flip to invert onto wire rack. Let cool completely then pipe sweetened whipped cream over cupcakes just before serving and top with a maraschino cherry.
  • For the sweetened whipped cream:
  • In a mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer (or in a clean stand mixing bowl set with whisk attachment), whip cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Add sugar then whip until stiff peaks form.
  • Recipe source: adapted from Bake Create Love

Slow Cooker Shredded Tacos

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Image credit to: wholemadeliving.com

Make your today amazing with an easy meal made ready by the time you get home!

For dinner today I am making shredded chicken tacos. I found the recipe on my Facebook page and saw how easy it was to made so I decided to give it a try. The chicken breasts are currently cooking in my slow cooker as I write this post. Here are the ingredients and instruction that I got off of the website:

INGREDIENTS

16 oz salsa
Juice of 2 limes
1 package taco seasoning ( I used 2 packages of chicken taco seasoning)
3 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
3 lb chicken breasts
Salt and peppers

PREPARATIONS

In your slow cooker, mix the salsa, lime juice, taco seasoning, and cilantro. Salt and pepper the chicken to taste, then mix into the sauce. Cover and cook on high for four hours or low for seven to eight hours. Remove the chicken, shred with two forks, and return to the slow cooker and stir. Freeze leftovers in an airtight bag for up to six months!

 

Here is the link to the website, along with a video, on how to make it. It is so easy and only takes 15 minutes to put together. Mine is cooking on high for about 4 hours. Once it is done I will take pictures and update this post to let everyone know how it turns out.

UPDATE: The meat turned out good and very flavorful. Unfortunately, everyone ate separately and differently so I wasn’t able to take any good picture. I would make this dish again though. Next time I will try a different brand of salsa that is more spicy. Let us know below how your meal turn out.

Playstation Vue – Is It Worth It?

psvue_featuredMake your today amazing by watching your favorite TV shows and movies!

This post is my own opinion and I am not getting paid to write anything that you are about to read.

So I recently decided to get cable because I got bored of Netflix, Hulu, and my Amazon videos. Plus, those companies did not have my favorite show, which is Bizarre Food. I did some research with some of the more common cable/satellite companies like Time Warner Cable, AT&T Uverse/Direct TV, and Dish Network. I was not pleased with what I found. Then a friend of mine told me that he wanted to try the PlayStation Vue service. Before I tell you how I’m liking it let me do the price and channels comparison first. I will only compare the basic package, or the one that is most closest to the Vue, for each of these providers.

PlayStation Vue Access – $39.99 per month with no contract; 60+ channels

See a list of all the channels here.

Time Warner Cable Standard TV – $39.99 for 12 months contract; 70+ channels

See a list of all the channels here.

ATT&T/Direct TV  Ultimate – $39.99 for the first 12 months (24 months contract required); 240+ channels (I cannot see the list of channels because they wanted me to sign in)

Dish America’s Top 120+ – $39.99 for 12 months contract; 120+ channels

See a list of all the channels here.

So those are all the plans that I found that were at the same price as the Vue Access. As you can see, all of them require at least a one year contract, which I do not want to get stuck with. Direct TV, however, will charge you way more after the first year is over. I had their basic package once and was very disappointed and I was paying $50 a month for it! It was expensive and has no channels that were worth watching. So that was a no no for me. Dish did not even have my Travel Channel in their package so I didn’t even bother considering them. So now I’m between Time Warner Cable and the PlayStation Vue. In the end I chose PlayStation Vue for the no contract feature. Also, if you look at their channel listing they have some really great channels. There are a few movie channels included. Of course you would need a PS3 or PS4, or any Apple devices, to watch it though. The navigation of the app is pretty much like Hulu in my opinion. You have the guide feature like the cable/satellite companies. You can also save your favorite shows and go back and watch them later. Now you really can’t miss out! And the best part is you can cancel the service any time you want straight from your device; I hate calling the cable company. So with that said, I would recommend the PlayStation Vue. The rate is great, and so are the channels. Cancelation is easy and you don’t have to worry about missing out on your favorite shows.

If I haven’t convinced you yet then head over here and start your free 7-days trail and decide for yourself. I hope this information helps.