Monday, September 14, 2009

Dollars and sense

Weight = 67kg
Savings = $1000 (plus $2000 of debt paid off)

Well in the last week or so I've been pretty (or extremely) slack on the exercise front. Though a whole lot better at sticking to my budget - which I think evens things out as it's hard to give all aspects of your life an overhaul and not let some things slide.

I had a date on Friday night. With my television. It's a much cheaper alternative to hitting the clubs like a normal twenty-something, and slightly less nannerish than clicking away with some knitting needles (though that is becoming more and more likely as this nanadom continues). Anyway I watched Intrepid Journeys as they were visiting South America this week. And oh my god - I am going to Brazil!!!! Originally Brazil wasn't on my hit list for a few reasons - it seeming a less safe destination for a single gal travelling alone, the fact I don't speak any portuguese whatsoever, and it's one of the more expensive destinations in the region. But after seeing it on the TV I've decided to pull out all stops so I can end my South American adventure with some R and R on the beach, sipping a Brazilian cocktail and if I can summon the energy, sliding down some waterfalls on my bum (that's right!).

Which leads me to some things that I've found helpful in sticking to my budget.

I have a goal and I've told absolutely everyone I know about it. I've said, 5 months in South America. I did some research and worked out that return flights there, vaccinations, insurance and money to live off and travel for 5 months, means I need a minimum of 8 grand kiwi. Ouch! Preferably more, but this is the absolute minimum I need to ensure I don't end up living off raw potatoes and hijacking a llama to ride home on. I'm aiming for 10 grand which will hopefully cover hot showers, the occasional bottle of malbec, and being able to afford to mountain bike down the most dangerous road in the world and pay for the priviledge of swimming in parana-infested waters - all things you can survive without, but with them, the trip will be that much more fun! Plus I can imagine I won't be doing any swimming with paranas without the bottle of malbec to calm my nerves first!

Tell everyone you know about your goal. This ensures you can't weasel your way out without looking exceptionally silly. I'm also going to purchase my tickets 5 months 0ut (timed for the new year sales and thus saving money!), and possibly making them non-refundable - then you're going no matter what!

I've changed my whole mindset about money. Whereas before having thai takeout once a week wasn't a big deal - now it means 1 night in a hostel in Peru. Cooking at home means over 6 months I've saved enough for 24 nights accommodation, just like that. Likewise, for the cost of a pint, I could eat for a day (or maybe 2) in Bolivia. And a new dress could buy a day's skiing in the Andes. I would hate to get half way around the world and miss out on some amazing activity because I bought a few too many rounds for my mates in the pub.

I also find it much easier to stick to a budget when you use cash. Eftpos cards are a very dangerous, if handy, invention. A swipe here and a swipe there and before you know it your monthly statement arrives, 3 pages long, and you wonder just how you managed to clock up that much money just on choccy bars at the servo.

So this week I withdrew $60. This has to cover petrol, groceries and all things fun. Luckily I have a job where lunch is provided. Tucking into all the fruit, yoghurt, and salad there cuts huge amounts off the food bill. Sleeping in on your days off also means you can get away with 2 meals a day. And the rest of the time, you can fill up on tea. Cheap, tasty and filling. Can't be bad for the figure either.

Living in Wellington means having fun on a budget isn't hard at all. I'm still as much of a tourist as those camera-toting, fanny pack-wielding, zip-off khaki trousers-wearing yanks - but with slightly better fashion sense. There is so much to do in this city without paying a cent (or for a few bucks) - Te Papa, other museums, the Weta Cave, heaps of tramps and short walks, watching parliament live, the botanic gardens or simply strolling around the waterfront. A shift or two at the movies once every few months equals free movie passes, and staff discounts on the popcorn.

I've got 8 dollars left to last the next couple of days. I'm off to the pool. That's 5 bucks gone right there but come summer swimming is 100 percent free! With Oriental Bay only a 10 minute walk away.

Pubs also mean a night out watching rugby only costs the price of a beer - if you can limit yourself to just one (the occassional pint of Sassy Red, really is a must). Being as tight-fisted as a Scot doesn't mean an end to having fun. I plan to coerce friends into having a lot more boardgame nights - charades anyone?!

Righto, time to sum up and head off to the pool for my first swim in a long long while. After a glass of wine I agreed to do the Harbour swim in January (but more on that later) - thus training must be done. Followed by a quick jog before Shortland St starts. My muscles are protesting more vigorously than a shoe-throwing Iraqi, already!

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