Monthly Archives: June 2015

But I’m still not a hipster.

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I’ve evaluated my monthly budget several times to make sure there are no ongoing costs I could cut down on. My cell phone and internet are pretty low. Some costs won’t budge, like property tax, strata fees, water and sewage and car insurance. Some things I shouldn’t cut down on, like savings and charity. This means I have to save on groceries, eating out and coffee, which currently have a combined budget of $213/month.

(There is also some room to save on gas and transit)

Since the start of my spending freeze I’ve found a couple more things that are cheap to make at home.

Bubble Tea
I can see the tubs of powder that get scooped into my bubble tea, so why do I pay upwards of $4?? After some research I bought some powder from a grocery store in downtown Richmond that sells a lot of Asian stuff. $2.29 for a 120 gram bag!

The powder tastes almost exactly like coconut bubble tea from the Night Market. I’m still figuring out how much to use (it takes a lot!) and how to mix it. The powder clumps and floats, but with enough mixing the results are decent. Decent enough for the amount of money I save!

( I don’t make it with pearls, but those can be made at home too.)


Blueberry syrup

My friend visited last week. We bought a big box of blueberries straight from a farm ($4! I love Richmond!) There were a bunch left over, so I made jam. I didn’t use pectin, so my creation was more of a syrup. It was really easy. The gist of it was to boil 2 cups of blueberries, 1 cup of sugar, a tablespoon of lemon juice and a small amount of water. Squishing the blueberries was the hardest part, so next time I’d loosely chop them in the blender before simmering them. It was enough for one and a half little jam jars.

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Jen and the Spending Freeze

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I go through periods of stinginess and overspending. Because of some bad planning this year, I’m in an extreme stinginess period at the moment. I spent the money that should have been set aside for property tax and car insurance, and now I’ve frozen my spending (as much as possible) until I pay off my bills.

I’ve been at it for two weeks, and it’s gone surprisingly well so far. It’s amazing what people can do when they have to. I was able to shift my mindset so I get more satisfaction out of being thrifty and resourceful than I would out of spending money.

Some things I’m doing:

Cleaning out the cupboards
I have plenty of canned goods, chickpeas, coconut milk, unopened sauces, pasta, grains and sauce packages. I also have a lot of coffee, spices, dried herbs, and packaged snacks. Before I went on my spending freeze, it was too tempting to eat new food rather than stuff that had been in the cupboard for ages. I don’t like having too much stuff, but I really like buying new stuff. It’s frustrating. I’m getting plenty of satisfaction out of whittling down my supplies.

Cleaning out the fridge
Since I’m cooking more, I use more vegetables before they go bad.

Grocery shopping at the farm market
It’s a perfect time of year, and it’s much cheaper and healthier than a regular grocery store since there are very few non-vegetable distractions. (And jars of pickles don’t have the same pull as a bag of buttery and crumbly and blueberry-filled  scones.)

Going to regular grocery stores with a very short shopping list
I still need to go to the grocery store for milk and a few other things, but I decide what I’m getting before I go in so I don’t veer off into the convenience food aisles.

Not having a microwave
My microwave started to spark because of rust inside the door, so I stopped using it right away. (It’s 15 years old and is in otherwise perfect working condition – yay Panasonic!) Until I can afford a new microwave I’ve been going without, and that makes it harder to cook impulse foods which are usually more expensive and less healthy anyway.

Getting good use out of the kitchen
I made blueberry syrup yesterday, and it was ridiculously cheap and easy. Then I made crepe batter. The whole gourmet experience cost maybe $4.

Walking a lot
I’ve gone on a few long walks to save the cost of a bus ticket or gas. This isn’t the most efficient way to save money (walking 12km to save $2.20?) but it feels good and is good for me, so the rewards are a bit indirect.

Making my own coffee
I still go on coffee walks with coworkers, but I drink instant stuff at my desk. It’s not necessarily good, but it tastes like saving $2.

Digging out the gift cards
Kind of like my wealth of canned and dry goods, I have a few gift cards to my name. I’ve also used those carefully. A weekly Starbucks drink tastes a lot better than a daily one. Strange how buying less, rather than spending more,  leads to more value.

I’ve had to buy a few things (bus tickets, rice noodles for mason jar lunches), but I’ve curbed my impulse spending for the moment and it feels good.