Wednesday, February 25, 2009

this study break is brought to you by p-corn

I've been meaning for some time to start blogging my favourite money diet tips and tricks, and seeing as I'm deep in the thick of midterm studying, there seems like no better time than the present to start.

Popcorn, or p-corn in our house, is not only one of my favourite money diet tips, but one of my all time favourite snack foods. Zea mays averta is one of the most economical choices you can make in a snack food. In fact, according to the folks over at, popcorn gained popularity during the Great Depression since at only 5 or 10 cents a bag, it was one of the few luxuries down and out families could afford. These days for the price of a bag of chips you can buy a 2kg bag of popcorn kernels - that's a whole lotta p-corn!

Because I am a glutton, one of the best things about popcorn to me is that I can eat an entire (large) bowl of it without feeling disgusting. I cannot (and will not!) say the same for a bowl of chips. In fact, popcorn is so popular in our house that we recently bought a bag of chips on a splurge day and a few chips in decided to pop a batch of corn instead.

Please note I am NOT talking about nasty microwave popcorn. That shit is a) expensive, b) disgusting, and c) packed full of nasty chemicals. Stay away! We pop our corn stove top. We have a special stove top popper where you turn a crank that keeps the kernels moving at the bottom of the pot. It pops a nice tub of p-corn. Then we divvy it up. Paul likes his traditional style with butter and salt (in moderation, my lovelies) where I go a little left wing with nutritional yeast and Old Bay Seasoning. Yum!

For mere pennies (yes, pennies!) a bowl you've got yourself a snack that is naturally high in fibre, low in fat, and low in calories. Top it sensibly (or not, whatever you're into) and you're being nutritious with both your money diet, and your eating habits.

Horray for p-corn!

Monday, February 23, 2009

week seven

This glorious week was reading week which meant I had the week off school. I also took the week off work since I have a load of vacation time to burn through before I leave my job in June, and I needed a mental health week. I also needed to learn six weeks worth of my chemistry course before the midterm, which is coming up this week. Additionally, I took the week off of running (I think I'm ready to get back at it now, my feet don't hurt much any more) and off of the healthy eating program. All week long I slept in (till like 7am!), stuffed my face with whatever I wanted, and studied. We hit the Sunshine Coast for the weekend and while I studied for most of the days, we made some super gourmet dinners and enjoyed some tasty Gibsons apple fritters. Mmmmhmmm.

I knew in advance with the nature of the week that this would likely be the week I cracked into the $100/month spend on anything money, and right I was. We enjoyed some bevvies at home and also did a bit of a neighbourhood pub crawl one night. And we needed more bevvies and lots of treats for the Gibsons weekend. It was all totally worth it.

This week we also went and bought all of the materials with which to make our wedding invites. I spent an afternoon with a family friend formatting the invite part, and now they are printed and ready for assembly. After the chem midterm we'll get cracking on putting them together. Most wedding magazines say that you should put aside 10% of your total budget for invites. Pfft. We've spent $50 so far on paper (and nice paper at that, cool textured stuff). We still need to get some pictures printed to go on the front and pay for postage to send them all out. I'm optimistic that we can get them all out for less than $150. We're doing an email RSVP rather than putting in reply cards with postage, and I re-sized the invites to fit conventional envelopes you can get a box of 100 of for a couple of bucks, rather than using the funky sized envelopes for $0.75 each.

And lastly, this weekend I taught the first of a series of four courses to a group of parents of small children who wanted custom CPR/First Aid courses put together for them. These courses, if I'm aggressive about it (which I plan to be), could see my line of credit all but paid off by mid March! Ha-za!

Monday, February 16, 2009

week six report - and the first half

The money diet continues to work well for me. I won't bore you with the minute details of what I spent on what - other than that I made a stupid impulse buy this week of an $8 bottle of nail polish I don't really like. Impulse purchases are far and few between these days. I find that having a fixed amount of cash for the week forces me to think carefully about where my money goes. Wanting to get to the weekend with money left over for some cold brewski's keeps me on track so I'm not spending money all willy nilly during the week.

So I made it to the end of the week with $30 cash remaining. Ordinarily I would bank that $30 into my clothing/gifts slush fund, but not this week. Nope, this weekend I ran my very first half marathon and I felt as though I deserved a little extra pampering (ie, beer and greasy food) when it was said and done. So I rolled that $30 into the new week's fund to beef it up a bit. I've always believed that planned indulgences keep me on track the rest of the time, and I've been planning this indulgence a while.

In other money diet news, I got my mid month paycheque last week. I paid all the bills (phone, cellphone, car insurance, hydro, and mastercard) and had money left over to dump on the line of credit. That felt pretty freaking good. I think it was the smallest credit card bill I have had since having a credit card. I'm still spending on the credit card, but anything other than gas or groceries that goes on the card gets paid off right away. Like that very day. That I have now got myself into a financial position where I can pay an $800+ deposit on my wedding dress without having to rely on credit feels pretty awesome. I just wonder why I haven't been doing this all along . . . better now than never though, eh?

Okay, so and THEN I ran my very first half marathon (21.1km) on Sunday at the Pacific Road Runners First Half (first half marathon of the season, that is). It went okay. The first 15km were awesome, I was flying along, feeling pretty good, and on pace to go sub two hours which would have been INCREDIBLE for a first half. Things started to fall apart after that. I got some major cramping in my hip flexor which grew into searing nerve pain all down my left leg, which reduced me to a pace just short of a crawl for a few km. My friend Janice appeared like an angel out of the darkness (definitely the darkest moments of the race for me) biking along the course, handing me a water bottle, taking my jacket, and dishing out encouragement like nothing else. I'm not sure if I've ever loved anyone as much as I loved her right then.

Finishing the race was a total mental game, just convincing myself to push through the pain and keep going. I had to stop and stretch a couple of times which cost me a few min, but it was extremely necessary. I ran the whole thing though, didn't walk any of it, and finished with a respectable time of 2:06:52. It was a big learning curve (next time I'll wear my water belt so I can have a sip whenever I want to, not have to wait 20 min for the next water station, and I'll also start some hip flexor exercises), and although those last few km's were brutal, I'm kinda sorta looking forward to the next one.

I'm staying off my feet a few days though. Things hurt.

Paul also ran and placed 9th overall with a personal best time of 1:10:48. That's crazy fast, but hey, he's a crazy guy.

Friday, February 13, 2009


In very un-money diet related news, I bought my wedding dress today!

I swore I wasn't going to wear white, I wasn't going to wear a strapless dress, and I didn't like sweetheart necklines. This is white (well, ivory, but shame shiz), strapless, and has a sweetheart neckline. And most infuriatingly, my mother picked it. But I love it, and I feel amazing in it.

If you want to see what I'll be walking down the isle in (and water skiing in the next day) click here, and search style 3906. I won't be wearing a veil, or that dopey look on my face, fear not. It's super simple, no beads, no sparkly crap, not poofey in the slightest. 100% silk, Canadian made and designed.

And I talked them down $200. Yay me!

Monday, February 09, 2009

week five report

I had a pretty cranky week, but the money diet went well. I managed to not do any emotional spending, though I wish I could say the same for eating.

I spent $10 at the beginning of the week on chocolate vaginas. Chocolate vagina time is my favourite time of year at UBC, and trust me, buying only five of them was seriously holding myself back.

I was battling crazy foot pain all week and spent $5 on one of those flexible gel ice packs I can keep in my office fridge freezer so I can more easily ice after every run. Near the end of the week I figured out that the cause of the crazy foot pain was my shoes so had to go out and drop $180 on new ones. That was AFTER discount. But I just went for a pain free long run with tempo pieces, so totally worth it. That clearly didn't come out of the $60/week. I'm still not sure how to deal with those kind of purchases on the money diet, but I did teach a course on Friday afternoon that will more than cover the new shoes and I'll just put the money on my credit card right away.

One of the people in the course I taught on Friday was a girl on my staff whose family has an organic dairy in Creston and is in their first year of producing their own amazing organic cheese. She had a big shipment of cheese to sell at the farmers market and I told her I'd be happy to work on the barter system, so she paid her course fees in cheese. Horray!

$20 went to a Saturday night bottle of wine. Our first bottle was a great Portugese, and our second was a Malbec I was given for my birthday. Both delish. Friends of our popped by and dragged us downtown to the Saturday night spot our DJ friend plays at. Paul and I agreed to each take $20 and get in early, get out early. We stuck to our money budgets and left at our previously agreed upon time.

A super cranky week ended well.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

everyone . . .

Meet Beatrice!

Isn't she pretty?

Beatrice is a combined Christmas/Birthday/Birthday gift from my parents and Paul. She has replaced my old clunky heavy bike that I never rode, but which just made some hobo very happy. The new steed is a light weight ladies hybrid by Trek which is a joy to ride and easy to carry up and down the stairs. And so pretty! It's hard to see in the picture, but the champagne coloured frame has funky flowers all over it. And I got a helmet also with flowers. Important stuff, you know. I look forward to a future filled with sunny afternoon bike rides!

Monday, February 02, 2009

week four report and month one wrap up

Week four was easy. I got sick yet again, so spent a few bucks on cold medication, which was a waste of money - it made me feel worse than the cold. Another few bucks spent on eggs, and a few on a coffee date with a long lost friend, and that was it. I had over $40 left at the end of the week. I gave $20 of it to Paul to spend on weekend treats and the rest got banked in the slush fund. Yay! Of course having lots of leftover beer and wine in the house meant we didn't have to spend anything on booze this week at all, and that really helped. I'm not sure its all going to last as long as I had initially hoped, but the point is we're not spending money.

All in all I think month one of the money diet has been a success. I think the impact is really going to be felt more in month two. I still had the December credit card bill to contend with in January, but now that my credit card use has been drastically reduced change will be felt. My mid month paycheque did not normally cover my entire credit card bill. I would have to make sure I had some reserve or that I taught a course that would add extra income or dip into the line of credit or my overdraft in order to pay it off in full. I just got my statement for the bill due Feb 15th, and it is less than half of what it used to be. After I've paid all of my bills this month I should have a nice chunk of excess just from my regular paycheque, which never ever happened before. Feels pretty good.

In January I paid off $300 of my line of credit, and added $200 to my tax free savings account. That was all from the extra courses I taught on the side. In Feb I should be able to pay off more than that BEFORE taking into account extra courses. If only I could be this diligent when it comes to studying chemistry.