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Friday, July 31, 2009

20 money saving tips when eating out

I used to eat out often, now as I am trying to reduce my debt and be more healthier, so I eat in more often. If you can afford it, eating out occasionally is harmless and can give you temporary relief from cooking, cleaning kitchen and dishes for that day. Best ways to save money is to eat at home of course, however, you can always save money when eating out by using following tips and actually enjoy the experience.

1. Use coupons if available by using Restaurant.com or Food Coupons site from various restaurants. You can always check the restaurant's official website for coupon code, some of the places may offer it.

2. Get a entertainment book , you can buy these entertainment books by year and by your local area. We know a friend, who buys this entertainment book for travel too, as it has coupons for not only fast food, sit down nice restaurants, but it has coupons for movies, museums and other fun things to see and buy. You will recover the cost($20) in 2 outing or less. It might be worth it, and you can buy 2009 book for 50% off right now.

3. If you eat at one restaurant often, find out if they have frequent diner program or club which you can join. You can sign up at official website with an email and get coupons and special deal information via email. Here is an example for joining frequent diner club for Fresh choice restaurant.

4. Do not order drinks, Tea, Coffee, if you do, do it occasionally only. As drinks can add up to $2-$5 each. Same thing about ordering wine or speciality drinks.

5. Go to restaurants which offer free appetizer while you are waiting for your order, such as some Mexican restaurants offer free chips and salsa with order, a few Italian restaurants offer free bread, butter with order.

6. US restaurant portion sizes are huge, so spilt a entree with a family member or friend you are dining with. Order appetizer instead of full entree. If you can not spilt entree, take it remaining half to go, for dinner or next day's lunch.

7. Go to 'all you can eat' buffet places. These places are best for most people as for fixed price you can try out variety of food items, including, appetizer, drinks, salad, main entree and dessert too.

8. Eat out near college town/city restaurants, which caters to students so usually food item prices are reasonable to cheaper there.

9. Order water. It is free. If you like Coke or Pepsi, Coffee, find out if they have a free refills, it might be worth it, if you drink more than one glass/cup.

10. Look for special deals day or times when some restaurant may offer, 'kid eat free' day or 'buy one, get one free' deal. That may stretch your dollar further when eating out.

11. Some restaurants may have happy hours time, during which they offer drinks and appetizers at 50% off. Times for happy hours are usually early at 5PM and usually on Fridays.

12. Eat at small, take out place or fast food type of restaurant, you can avoid 15% tip. If you do eat at sit-down places, please do not save money on tip as waiter's wages usually counts tips towards their pay.

13. Go for lunch or brunch. During dinner time, price is usually bit higher.

14. If you order dessert, ask for extra spoons and share it with whom you are out, as dessert are huge and pricier.

15. Work part time at restaurant, you may some discount when dining in. :-)

16. Work as a mystery shopper, sometimes you will get paid to survey restaurant and can get free or discounted meal. Check out here for more information.

17. Sometimes, valuable coupons mailed with "Value Pak" promotion , look for coupons and deals for local restaurant or newly opened restaurants which may offer discounts.

18. Choose more vegetarian choices when eating out, generally vegetarian items are cheaper to
meat choices.

19. Stay away from cream, butter and cheese food choices, as it will be pricier or unhealthy.

20. Some restaurant offer free small food/meal to birthday girl/boy, check it out here and go there on your birthday or friend's birthday.

Last remember, If you are out, enjoy the food, chew slowly and forget the guilt. That may not save more money but at least you will enjoy the experience and you will not have to do dishes for that time.

Do you have any other tips to add? How do you save money when eating out? How about where you live? What works with your budget and eating out plan? I will be curious to know more.


Image source: Feng Zhao, getty Image

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More about Zengirl

I am Zengirl, married to my best friend zenguy for a long time. We have two lovely zenkids, both boys, our first is R, who is 41/2 years old and second one is P who is 5 months old.

I have electric engineering degree and uncompleted MBA. I stopped my MBA when I got pregnant and kids have occupied my time well for now to finish the MBA, but it is on my goal list. Zenguy and myself, we both used to work in tech industry, now I have become stay at home mom to my 2 boys and enjoying the work politics free lifestyle. While I miss my salary and social aspects of my work life, I do not regret my choice of being at home with the kids.

My interests are many and keeps me busy: home cooking, simple living, frugality, saving environment, gardening, oil painting, sketching, writing poems and stories, listening classical music, natural remedies and natural lifestyle, reading classic books,watching funny movies,
social life with like minded people and kids, quite meditation, yoga,reducing physical and mental clutter, attachment parenting, homeschooling.

I am a vegetarian since birth and I am working towards being a vegan. I have given up milk, honey, egg etc., for past 3 years, occasionally I eat yogurt and cheese, which I am working on quitting it.

I do not wish to be millionaire. I want to just have enough for us to be debt free and save some for kids future. I have started on this path a few years ago, it was rough and slow start but it is much easier now. There is always room for an improvement and everyday is little new achievement.

I am "jack of all trade and master of none" type of person and not an expert on any subject. I have many habits which I am trying to change for better. I hope to learn about myself by writing my thoughts out on a blog. Hope you can enjoy and learn along with me.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Have you gotten hurt?

I am out of balance, out of harmony right now and it is not good feeling at all. I have failed.

It has been a long road for me, to let go and forgive certain aspects in my life. A while ago, I was able to forgive, a group of close friends that hurt me emotionally, while I was pregnant with P, my 5 month old. It was not easy but I felt lot better inside, when I finally did forgave them. Or I thought, I did.

Now months later, an email from one of them have opened the old wound again. I did not think, it would hurt since I believed, I have moved on from that petty issue. It sure hurts. Now I wonder, did I really forgave the first time? If I truly did, shouldn't I be more calm and cool? I am not sure of answers yet.

While, I am working on finding an answers and my balance again, I thought of leaving you all with a few quotes by a few wise people, on the subject to ponder over.

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life.”
Joan Lunden

"You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.”
Lewis B. Smedes

“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.”

“The folks you help won't remember it and the folks you hurt won't ever forget it.”
Bill Clayton

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.”
Dalai Lama

“If you are never scared, embarrassed or hurt, it means you never take chances”
Julia Soul

“When you can't remember why you're hurt, that's when you're healed.”
Jane Fonda

“Pain in the present is experienced as hurt, pain in the past is remembered as anger.”
Gaelic Proverb

Did you ever wonder why the one closest you, can hurt you the most? Have you been hurt by friend, lor oved ones? How do you pick yourself up again? What suggestions would you give?


Monday, July 27, 2009

Why Zengirl?

I am a huge fan and follower of Leo Babauta of Zen habit . I believe most people in world knows about Leo and his well deserved famous blog, for the remaining 3 of you, who do not know about him, check out more about him and his blog here . It has amazing articles and he and his blog are the reason, I am inspired to start a blog. Hence, I chose the name Zengirl, as I aspire to be more zen-like in my life.

I have made a little progress so far and continue in that path of simplicity, simple productivity in life. Hopefully, writing about it in blog will inspired me to practice and follow a path that will lead to a balance and calm in my life and hopefully yours too.


Why happy heart and mind Blog? a story behind a name

There is a story, albeit very small one behind the name for this blog. Here is the explanation.

My mind and my heart, often wants different things at the same time. Same thing is true for most of the people I know. Maybe it is true for you too. Is it?

For example, my heart often says, I deserve to buy some book or movie, just because ..'so and so reason', while my mind is saying, I should be saving that money for bills and borrow that book/movie from library or friend. Who should I listen to? Of course my mind.

Other example would be that when my 5 months old wake up at yet again 7th time in one night (he is teething), my mind wants to sleep and not get up next day with raccoon eyes, but my heart just can't hear small baby crying and wakes up all the time. Who should I listen to this time? Heart wins!!

While it is good for a heart win sometimes and a mind win other times, I want this conflict to turn in to a productive and happy compromise position, where my mind and my heart is in happy balance. I am true Gemini so having two side each story is always thought of and discussed. Also, I am learning that just like two different side of coins and life can be in harmony if issues are simplified after being well thought of. Hence, the title of this blog is happy heart and mind.

Do you have two side talks with your heart and mind? Are they in harmony? Do you care?

Thanks for reading, this small tidbit behind the blog story.


20 things mind desires

Following is the list, that my mind likes to do, or want to learn more about it.

1. Being consumer and mortgage debt free
2. Automate my financial system
3. Save for retirement, kids college, emergency
4. Keep learning, for example sewing
5. Finish my MBA (I stopped after being mom)
6. Pursue Math and Science related learning
7. Put less impact on environment
8. Learn to Garden and compost well
9. Being thankful for things I have
10. Learn to make things at home, DIY instead of running to store for every little thing
11. Frugality
12. Teaching kids of all things money, compassion and caring
13. Using cash envelope system
14. Being content
15. Learn to forgive and forget
16. Not forgetting to laugh, when worry overcomes
17. Learn to enjoy silence, Do nothing, Not run after every "to do" lists.
18. Stop procrastinating
19. Focus on positives instead of negatives in life and people
20. Being patience, Take it slow.

This list has a lot of things, I am still learning and trying to practice everyday. It has been said, you need to do something for 21 days, continuously to make a habit. It is easier said than done. However, starting is a hard point, once most of us get started, each step gets easier.

How about you? What does your mind desires and are you already practicing it?


20 things heart desires

Following topics my heart likes or interested in learning more about, so I may explore it more in this blog.

1. Love and compassion towards all living being (Including animals, plants, insects)
2. Respecting individuality, religion, choices
3. Mushy and Classic Romantic stories and books
4. Mushy and Romantic Movies
5. Talking to friends, family and strangers
6. Learning new and old (history) stuff
7. Being lazy (at beach, at home, every where)
8. My two little adorable and busy bee kids
9. Zen guy's silly jokes and dancing
10. Aroma of spices during cooking
11. Meditation and yoga
12. Oil Painting and sketching
13. Being crafty
14. Being worry free
15. Simplicity
16. Music and silly dancing, Bathroom singing
17. Giggling and laughing for no reason
18. Old fashioned way of slow cooking, home remedies
19. Nature hikes, Nature site seeing
20. Travel and learning from people

Some of the things I already practice, while other things in this list, I need to practice more to make a habit into my life. What does your heart like and desire? And are you already doing it?



Welcome! This blog will represent my thoughts on how to have a happy heart and happy mind together. As usually for most people, heart and mind do not want same things at the same time.

Would you like to join in my journey? More the merrier.