The 200$ challenge
I have 210$ (actually approximately $150, considering that I need to buy a bus pass) to live with for the next two weeks. This is because of my feeling that living on credit is the worse thing that can happen to someone in terms of personal finances. Therefore, once I got my pay yesterday, I paid my cellphone bill, and rent, and set money aside for mutual funds (markets in Asia went down), and had early Christmas gifts (unconscious of what I was doing, as it was Buy Nothing Day, and I was trying hard to be observant for once).
So, I am left with about $10/day. I guess that a lot of the money goes into restaurants, and spendings for outings.
The funnest part of living downtown is probably doing the supermarket. Because I am living to eat, every trip to the local grocery story (Supermarché PA slowly imposed itself as a personal favourite) is like a voyage to the land of wonders. I understand that savings are usually made on big extravagant purchases (on a latest iPod, say) than on stuff like groceries, and it is the nature of extravagant purchases to be unpredictable... In any case, I am a bargain hunter. Last week, I found that pineapples were 2$/each, which seems unbelievably low (but then, I never bought a pineapple myself before), and that Emmental cheese was noticeably cheaper than its usual supermarket price (for bargains on cheese, and not just the Kraft kind, go to Costco!).
Another favourite buy is bread from Première Moisson. Not just any kind, because a baguette is markedly more expensive there (proportional to its quality, we'd all agree on that), but rather the "carré blanc" variety. Sold at PA, but only sliced at actual bakery locations. The carré blanc is $2.65, a competitive price against commercial white breads of the POM, Weston brands, not as large, from the volume point of view, but it is surely heavier, denser (and of greater quality, arguably). It is a lot cheaper than the $3-4 breads of multi-grain omega-3 whatever types.
And then, I definitely like the instant noodles + Chinese vegetable + egg / Chinese cold cut meat combo. A portion of roasted pork for $5 in Chinatown can be good for three individual meals, including a lunch.
Speaking of lunch (and breakfast), packing your own is probably the single most valuable money saver. How about a pair of toasts for around $1, when you can get the whole loaf for just 2 or 3 times that price, and a trivial amount for spread?
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