Face mask you can afford while broke!

Face mask you can afford while broke!

Three Ingredient face mask you can afford to make while broke!

Growing up, I was lucky that I never had to worry about financial things. My mother always said, “Being broke is not an excuse to look broke!” As an adult, the stresses of my responsibilities have shed light on why I’ve seen so many stressed-out, messy haired, poorly dressed adults walking around. Some people become so consumed with their responsibilities that they forget about taking care of themselves. For me, it has always been the opposite. Having less ‘liquid’ money has made me pay closer attention to my appearance, after all, first impressions are everything!

As my face is usually the first thing people see when looking at me, I have become even more concerned with the appearance of my skin. Not having money at my fingertips has prevented me buying all the latest products in skin care. It has also encouraged me to become more creative, and seek the available, affordable, and sometimes healthier options I would have otherwise overlooked. I now constantly turn to the ‘Almighty Google’ for more information and ideas to add to my over all beauty regime. My most recent find is a turmeric, honey and milk mask.

Quick info:

Turmeric, referred to as Saffron or Indian Saffron within Trinidad and Tobago, has antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. When used on the skin it can help treat and prevent acne breakouts, reduce acne scarring and give a brighter, cleaner complexion. As an added bonus it also helps to reduce oil secretion by the sebaceous glands.                           

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Image via http://www.science-all.com

Honey, a natural humectant, is rich in enzymes and antioxidants. When used on the skin it can act as a deep moisturizer, mild exfoliant/ pore cleanser, and also aid in scar reduction.

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Image via http://www.candidahub.com

Milk, as we all know is packed with tons of helpful enzymes, proteins, minerals, and vitamins. When applied to the skin, its uses are endless. It can be used as a moisturizer, a cleanser for sensitive skin, a wrinkle reducer, and gentle exfoliator.

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Image via http://www.healthline.com

 

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp milk @ $.15 : 1L Carton of milk for $11
  • 1 tbsp honey @ $1.79: 140ml bottle for about $29
  • 1 tbsp turmeric @ $.71 : 90g bottle for about $15

 

Method

Mix 1 tbsp milk, 1 tbsp turmeric, and 1 tbsp honey into a smooth paste. Using a clean brush, or sponge, or even fingers, spread evenly onto clean skin. Don’t forget to apply under eyes area as this face mask will improve the look of dark circles. Once applied (I tend to do a few coats), wait 15- 20 minutes before removing. While the mask dries it will get tighter on the skin (a feeling I quite enjoy). Use warm water (no soap) to remove the mask and pat dry. Then finish off with your favourite light moisturizer.

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Layering the paste.
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paste

 

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Feeling the mask getting tighter.

When I tried this mask I was a bit skeptical, but the end result had me sold. I have dark circles under my eyes that had become more prominent due to a lack of sleep (finals week), and acne scars that I wished would go away. After only one use I could tell that my dark circles were faded, and I’m looking forward to watching my acne scars disappear over time. The best part about this mask, other than how good it made my face feel, was how much it would help me save. Typically, a single use peel off/wash off mask could cost anywhere from $7 – $15 depending on the brand. This homemade mask, as I had all the ingredients in the kitchen cost me nothing. If I had bought the ingredients, each mask would cost only $2.65, I’d be able to make it at least 21 times and in comparison to purchasing 21 masks at $7, I would save at least $92.

 

NB: TURMERIC is a natural colourant and STAINS VERY BADLY!!

Do not use a plastic bowl or utensils in this process unless they are disposable. I suggest you use a glass bowl and metal spoon or disposable wood stirrer.

Do not try this mask while wearing your favourite shirt or jeans. Only wear clothing you’re willing to discard or wear around the house. You can probably wrap with an old towel to prevent it spilling onto your clothes. Gloves are a good idea as well as your nails and skin may also be stained.

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Image via http://www.pikachacula.com

I hope you guys enjoyed this blog and don’t forget to comment ( I love hearing from you), and share (if you liked it others will too). Remember, it’s okay to be broke. We all are at some point or the other. It’s never okay to allow your being broke, to result in you looking broke. Get creative!

5 Tips for getting fit… (while broke!)

5 Tips for getting fit… (while broke!)

When it comes to getting in shape I tend to procrastinate even more than I do with class assignments. I always have something planned for that day, or I ‘totally forgot’ and we should re-schedule. My favourite excuse at one point was, ‘Oh I can’t afford it!’ I seriously expected my friends to believe that I couldn’t afford to go to the gym with all their fancy equipment, free trainers, and student discounts. That was back when I actually could afford it. Now, being broke has really put everything into perspective. Before I chose not to go to the gym, now I cannot afford to. At the end of it all, not having much money created avenues for me to become creative with my workouts, and shockingly helped me save a few dollars as well. I came up with 5 solid points that I believe anyone can use to help them get in shape, once they’re determined to try.

You can find a link to my 5 Tips video here.

 

  1. Anywhere can be your gym.
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Image via workoutanywhere.net

The first thing I had to do was get passed that ‘need a gym to workout’ mentality and accept that anywhere could be my gym. I didn’t need an Ab King Pro to get abs, and I definitely didn’t need to spend $300 a month or $30-$50 a session to go to a gym when I could use what I had at home. I already owned a workout mat so all I needed was a spot to spread it out on.

  1. Use everyday items to work out.
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Image via http://www.cosmopolitan.com

Weights and fancy equipment is not a necessity to get in shape. The only necessity is determination. I had to realize that holding a pair of juice cans over my head while squatting/lunging, running/jumping up/down a staircase, riding a bicycle, playing a sport, will all help me get in shape. The key to getting in shape and then maintaining was for me to stay active.

  1. When in doubt, Google!
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Image via http://www.play.google.com

Using Google to find body specific, at home workouts, was easier than I could have anticipated. The information was tailored in such a way that I’m confident anyone could find something for them. Other than just using Google search, the play store has a wide variety of workout apps that calculate how much activity you need to do per day to achieve your body goals and some even specifically tell you what to do. There was actually so many to choose from that it became slightly annoying.

  1. Invite friends.
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Image via http://www.martinsvilleymca.com

Working out with friends promotes an environment for motivation, positive reinforcement, and camaraderie. Working out has always been enjoyable for me in groups but now I stick to just a partner because larger groups always have issues; whether it be people who forget or people who are always too busy to make it. I know, that used to be me. Now, I work best with one other person because I prefer to be in direct competition, so if I see my partner giving 100% I will do the same.

  1. Have Fun!
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Image via nutra-elite.com

I have come to realize that having fun is a lot more important than I may have thought before. Ever notice in some gyms everyone all serious and uptight, versus another gym where everyone is smiling, working hard but maintaining enjoyment in what they’re doing? Yeah, I have.

Fact is, whether you’re working out with friends alone, at home or in a gym, playing sport or traditional workouts, having fun is what’s going to encourage you to carry on. Put on your favourite upbeat music, feel the rhythm while you’re exercising, allow the BPM to carry you through your set, take a rest and go again. Don’t forget, working out releases endorphin helping you to feel accomplished when you’re done. Couple those endorphin with natural enjoyment and get ready to call yourself ‘Guy Smiley’!

 

Thank you for taking the time to read. If you liked this please like it and don’t forget to share.

Remember it’s okay to be broke, at one point or the other we all are. What’s great, is not letting any material thing prevent you from being the best you, you can be!

Surviving mosquitoes on a budget!

Surviving mosquitoes on a budget!

I have some exciting news! After putting it off for a long time, I finally made my own citronella candle! To some of you that may seem like no biggie but to me, who has no choice but to stock up on anti mosquito sprays, rubs, coils, and candles, being able to make this myself presents an avenue for saving that wasn’t there before.

Before I attempted making the candle I spent quality time researching the method that suited me best. It seemed pretty straight forward and since wax was somewhat reusable, I could crumble and use those cheap candles melting at the back of my cupboard. I intended to be careful while crumbling them so I could save and reuse the wicks.

All the materials I used were;

  • cheap white wax candles,
  • cheap red wax candles,
  • Vienna sausage tin,
  • spray paint,
  • craft twine and
  • citronella oil.
  • I also used 2 tbsp olive oil, but vegetable shortening or canola oil would work as well.

I also used;

  • a pot to melt your wax,
  • some wooden stirrers,
  • a small bowl to put all your wax chips in,
  • a knife or small hammer to break up/crumble your wax, and
  • lots of hot water to clean everything when you’re done

 

Method

First, I pounded and shaved my candles being careful not to damage the wicks as I was saving them. I collected the crumbled wax, both white and red, into a bowl.20160419_143536

 

I put my pot on the stove and set the temperature to medium. Next I poured in the olive oil and gradually added the wax. I used oil in my candle because it helps prevent the wax from burning and sticking to the pot, and it also makes the wax smoother.

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Messy counter

Shortly after, I reduced the heat to the lowest setting and allowed the wax to melt slowly and evenly. I used that time to spray paint my tin flat white.While the can dried I took the pot off the stove, allowed the wax to cool a little and then added a few drops of citronella oil*.

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Pot of wax

The olive oil allowed the wax to stay liquid a bit longer and so I stirred it gently to prevent any clumps from forming as it cooled. I poured a little wax into the can, just enough so I could secure the wick base.

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Securing the wick

Once cooled and secured, I poured in the rest of the wax. I had previously attached the wick to one of my wooden stirrers, using it to keep the wick to the center of the candle. Once the wax was no longer clear and had began to get cloudy, I put it in the freezer for an hour. Voila!IMG-20160419-WA0021

I wrapped craft twine around the tin. You can decorate your candle however you like.

In total, making my candle cost me just over $7 so I saved at least $10 in comparison to purchasing a citronella candle of a similar size. I encourage you to try it for yourself. It is easier than you may think and you get a sense of satisfaction knowing that you made something with your own hands. Not to mention you’ll be saving quite a bit of money while doing it.

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Lit

 

Never forget, we all face adverse situations in life. What we should never do, is forget that we have the ability to help ourselves regardless of the situation.

Thank you so much for reading. Don’t forget to Like, comment and share!

*Citronella oil is extremely strong smelling and just a few drops is enough for the candle but you can make it as strong as you want to.

Eat, Drink, and be Merry … On a budget

Eat, Drink, and be Merry … On a budget

Yes, it is possible to go out and have fun, get take away or even properly drunk on a budget. I didn’t think so at first. I would ignore all the invitations I got from friends and be jealous when I later saw their Instagram or Facebook posts. If I didn’t have a significant sum of money that I could use to party, I usually stayed at home. Generally, most people associate partying with spending. New clothes and shoes have to be got and worn, copious amounts of alcohol have to be bought and drunk, late night doubles or gyros have to be eaten. And only then we are able to register a ‘good night’. The fact that most people think that way shows that we have all regressed into a narcissistic, glutton fueled consciousness. But who am I to judge? I felt, did, and acted the same. That was until the mecca of partying on a budget fell into my lap!

Generally, women pay less to party. The cover fare is cheaper or even free in some cases and men tend to buy drinks for us once inside the club. After all, we live in a society where gender roles are embedded into our subconsciousness and defines more things than we realize. Now, I know there are many independent ladies who pay their own way, but in comparison to men, women (specifically women who dress like women when talking about Aria), tend to have the better deal. Now some would say going to a club like 51 makes sense. You can get listed for Thursday when they have free drinks all night. Well my sanity is one opportunity cost that I am unwilling to pay. Standing in tightly packed lines for hours, only to get to the front and they can’t find your name on the list, or the free entry period has passed and you’re expected to pay $200+ dollars to get in, umm, just no okay. Or Aria, where you have to go through a long rigmarole, with the possibility of still being expected to pay, and no free drinks to somehow regain the balance. Yeah, leave that for eager 18/19 year old’s who are just dipping their feet into the club scene with mommy and daddy’s allowance in their wallets. Not that I think I’m much older or wiser, I’m not. I just know if I spend all the money I have before the month is up, I’ll end up the next volunteer for the Hunger Games – without the foraging skills.

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Image via twitter.com

After months of being a recluse because of low funds I was fortunate to find out about the best place to enjoy a night out on my budget, ie- no budget (cuz’ i’m broke af!). One Wednesday evening a friend suggested we go to Stumblin’ on the Avenue for drinks. I agreed although I was broke, because I was assured that I wouldn’t have to pay for anything. I still stuck a $50 in my purse as vex money. When we got there, we just walked right in- no cover charge! I began getting excited. What’s this! A place that didn’t have cover charge or was this just the magic of going out to drink during the week! We found the ideal spot to jib, just inside where you get the cooling blast of the fan, and my friend disappeared to procure libations. Five rum and coke’s later the dime dropped. Stumblin’ had $5 drinks on a Wednesday, which when translated to my frugal brain meant the $50 in my wallet was more than enough for me to get shit-faced. I’m not saying that’s what I wanted to do, I’m also not saying that it wasn’t, but it felt really good knowing that I could afford a night out.

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Image via someecards.com

As tight as I am with money, I usually don’t like to buy fast food. As much as I try to avoid it, there are always days where I have to make an exception. If i’m in Port of Spain there are two places I frequent for cheap food that doesn’t contain mystery meat. The easy first choice is KFC for their ‘Plenty for $20’ value meal. Mcdonald’s has a ‘piece of chicken and a portion of fries’ meal for $15 but it doesn’t hold up when comparing value for money against KFC’s option. The other place is Town Center mall on Frederick St. There’s a lot of variety, however value-wise the best place is a Creole/American kitchen called ‘Daddylicious’. For $25 you get to choose up to four items from their buffet, the portions are generous and the food really does taste good. My uber posh sister put me on to the place, and if she could eat their food It was worth the go-see/go-taste.

On the few nights I patronize the Avenue I usually don’t buy food, but everyone knows where they could find something hot and affordable. Doubles can be bought on every other corner along with gyros and corn soup, souped up hot dogs and burgers very present as well. As usual for me, when it comes to value for money I couldn’t justify purchasing any of those. With the cost to make one doubles at maximum cost being $1, and the retail price constantly on the rise, it irks me to contribute to the Doubles Man’s tax free millions. If I tried to explain my issue with gyros, I would end up writing for a loooooong time. On the rare occasion I purchase food on the avenue, I usually get a Philly Cheese Steak from Issa Cuisine. The taste, size, customer service, and combo option translates positively to me at $25.

Finding cheap food and cheap nights out introduced me to a bunch of new ideas and possibilities for people on a budget. Ultimately to me, the cheapest way to have fun, drink(responsibly), and eat great food with friends, is to have a pot luck. I just happened to be at my sister’s house when she hosted one and I realised that it cost a lot less than it would for a group to go out to eat and the ambiance was so relaxing. Preparing a meal for a potluck is easy because most times the ingredients are already in the kitchen so no need to go spend lots on food. When it comes to drinks, it’s easy to find recipes everyone could enjoy like sangria or rum punch, which aren’t expensive to make. Being in a home tends to put people at ease and no one is stuck sitting next to someone they don’t want to talk to. Especially for parents, a potluck at home would let parents have fun with their friends while keeping an eye on their kids themselves, skipping out on expensive babysitting fees.

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Image via blog.celebratewithstyle.com

After all is said and done, entertainment and socializing is necessary. I won’t point out that Trinidad and Tobago collectively has an alcohol problem * wink wink *, but I will say that a combination of alcohol, and food is generally synonymous with a good time. To me, finding a way to spend the least amount of money with maximum enjoyment Is synonymous with a great time.

Remember it’s ok to be broke, but you should never let that prevent you from having fun with your family and friends or even on your own.

Disclaimer
I am not and never have been a huge fan of fast food and I try to eat healthy as often as possible. I am not endorsing KFC meals, or any other mentioned here as regular meal options, but rather a quick bite to grab on the off chance nothing else is available. I am not promoting alcoholism, nor am I endorsing any of the other restaurant/street food vendor/bar mentioned, but just rather presenting information gathered, and my personal preferences.

Budgeting your budget on a budget ….

Budgeting your budget on a budget ….

Saving money is hard. What makes it even harder, is having no money to begin with *sigh*. Growing up, I never had a lot of spending money, and when I did get a little change I would spend it all right away. No saving up for something special, no keeping some for another time. In my mind, what I had was so insignificant, trying to save it was nonsensical. When I entered high school, my pocket money was greatly increased. Unfortunately for me, I still didn’t appreciate or even fully understand how a dollar a day could significantly improve my weekend. As I got pocket money I spent it, and then was sad when I didn’t have any money to go to the mall.

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Looking back, I can appreciate how a little bit of financial literacy *ooohh big words* could have impacted my life. I’m still coaching myself on saving and I’ve realized that budgeting my money, and building the discipline to stick to my budget is the best way to not only just save money to buy things, but to also develop a ‘need based’ attitude which would naturally cut down on my spending. Eventually, I hope that you get the confidence to let go of the wants in life and focus on the needs. How to organize your spending (budget) and how to save while doing it. I for one, am still figuring out how to do just that.

 

Needs VS Wants

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ministry-to-children.com

This has always been my biggest struggle in life, differentiating the things I needed from the things I wanted. The main reason I had this problem was because I, just like many of us, didn’t really want for anything I needed. As children, and for some even now, we have a place to sleep, running water, toilet facilities, hot meals every day, and even more money to spend. We WANT a new pair of strappy stilettos with red bottoms. We WANT to try that new gourmet coffee/tea shop we saw hidden away on Abercrombie Street in Port of Spain (and are still looking for a coffee/tea drinking buddy. *wink wink*).  We WANT that new dress, that new car accessory, that new book, that really pretty tennis bracelet *wink* from Nexus Diamonds that would go really well with our engagement ring *wink*. Fact is, we want a lot of shit.

Reality tends to eventually hit you with an uppercut when you’re out on your own and rent, food, utilities, travel and entertainment start flexing their muscles around your wallets. Of course, not everyone goes through a tough transition into maturity and self sufficiency, but I was not that lucky. Accepting my fate caused me to also accept some things that many overlook. When you have responsibilities (bills) you CANNOT live day by day, you have to plan. You cannot be spontaneous with your money if you’re not sure where the replacement funds are coming from.

I personally don’t have a fixed monthly income so the work I put out directly affects what I bring in. On the flip side, my rent and utilities is a fixed cost, with my food and travel expenses varying month to month. Prioritizing money to me literally means, do I get that new pump and hibernate for the rest of the month, or do I alternate between walking and traveling and buy nothing unnecessary and maybe if it’s still there I’ll ask for a discount. Now that may sound extreme, but think of the benefits. If I just go out and buy the pair, I won’t have the money to go out and show it off. If I save like crazy and ask for a discount, worst case scenario I don’t get it. Best case scenario I’d be wearing my cute new shoes and my calf muscles would be looking amazing after all the walking I had been doing. But I’ve digressed. Drawing the proverbial ‘line in the sand’ between our wants and needs can be hard, and not as materialistic as I’ve made them out to be. They differ greatly for all of us. What’s important is to not allow anything or habit, hamper our ability to fulfill our responsibilities.

 

Creating A Budget

 

When creating a budget certain realities need to be accepted. The money you bring in (salary/allowance) should be more than the money you’re spending. After all we’re trying to live simple lives, so no credit cards allowed. First, approximate where necessary, and list your monthly expenditure.

 

RENT- $2400

UTILITIES- $300

FOOD- $500

TRANSPORT- $300

MISCELLANEOUS- $200

TOTAL- $3700

 

Now that we have an average of monthly costs, we can try reducing cost where possible. Monthly rent is constant so look at the other things listed. It may not seem like much, but saving $20 here and there will add up. Something as simple as turning lights off in the morning and using the sunlight during the day can possibly make an impact over time on a utility bill. How about turning the AC or the fan off when you leave the room. Regulating the use of bigger appliances and electronics will definitely show some savings on the next electric bill.

When it comes to our food habits there are many saving points to choose from. Just looking at the brands we patronize and products bought, and opting for the more cost effective option is a good place to start. Getting a shopping card with a reward system that converts to cash for purchases is another option. And if we want to get crazy with the savings, meal planning is, to me, the ultimate way to save money from grocery shopping.  It also helps to maintain healthy eating habits.  You can find a link to my blog on meal planning here.

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For some, traveling is a non issue as they may be vehicle owners. Despite having your own wheels you can still save money by knowing your vehicle and doing regular checks of the tires, brakes, battery etc. You can find a helpful link here. If you are using public transportation, skip the taxis when possible and take a bus. Trust me, public transportation is a whole lot better than you may think, and is so much less that your transport costs will be drastically reduced.

 

Once you’ve successfully done that, you can try your best to put aside some of that money as savings. Trust me, I know saving is not easy. I’m still struggling to save, but budgeting my money does help me and I hope that it helps you. If you need any more help or information you can find a link to a step by step budget detailing here.

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Overall I really hope my ramblings today were helpful. If you liked it don’t forget to share, after all maybe someone you know may enjoy reading this as well. Please leave any queries, thoughts, ideas in the comments and I will address them. * pinky promise *
No matter what, remember we all experience being broke at some point or the other. What’s important, is being able to survive, regardless of your situation.

Grocery Shopping While Broke

Grocery Shopping While Broke

For me, walking through the aisles of the grocery store is like walking in a world of wonders.

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Image via http://www.huffingtonpost.com

“What do I buy?”

“Ooh this looks nice!”

“Aahh, shiny!”

 

This is all said while ignoring my list and picking up things that are truly unnecessary. Then, at the teller’s there is even more junk to be distracted by. I usually maintain my child-like giddiness up until it’s all rung up and I realize the,  “It’ll be $359.61,” comment was directed at me. Sometimes I look around me in disbelief that there’s no mommy or daddy to take up the tab. When did I become adult enough to go grocery shopping alone?   * awkward pause as she waits for me to pay, and I wait for an ‘adultier’ adult to swoop in and save the day *.

My various grocery shopping experiences so far have helped me realize two very important things. Firstly, shopping without a list is a bad idea as most times you purchase things you don’t really want or need, which results in wasted time and money. Secondly, if you plan all your major meals for the week, that helps to reduce cost, and also allows for the development of healthier eating habits.  I’ve decided to do something about all this by planning my meals, using a grocery list, and choosing the places I shop at better.

 

Planning Meals

 

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I know that we all like a bit of variety. We don’t want to eat the same thing every day, and no one necessarily likes the idea of lugging around a lunch bag. Once upon a time I thought exactly the same, but a trip to a food court left me thinking. I had just purchased a yummy breakfast of Sada and baigan choka (roti and roasted eggplant), and was very excited to tuck into my comfort food until I arrived at the teller and he said $15. I paid and left but my brain was moving one hundred miles a minute and after doing some quick math I realized the actual cost of the food itself was just over $5.

 

Meal planning is something that takes a while to master, but once you are determined to stick with the program it can save you money and time, while also keeping you eating healthy. Considering the food groups, your diet and body goals, and after doing a little research online,  it should be easy to come up with a weekly meal plan that is simple to prepare, tasty, and most importantly, affordable.

We all know that lunch can be very expensive in Trinidad and Tobago. If you budget $45 a day for a six day week, you’ll be easily spending over $250 a week on iffy food. Compare that to purchasing a packet of chicken breasts at $30, a small packet of rice at $10, and a packet of frozen vegetables at $15. Even adding another $20 for the occasional snack, you’re looking at a healthier meal at just under $13 a day. You can find a simple example of how to meal plan here .

Personally, I love eating healthy so I sat at home and thought about what I would like to make and what I could sub out for other things and eventually came up with a list. Given that I already had spices and seasonings, I only needed the basic ingredients.

* DISCLAIMER I don’t think that carbs are the devil and I LOVE gluten. *

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List:    Ramen

         Frozen veg

         Rice

         Eggs

         Minced meat

         Potatoes

         Spinach

 

Some of the things on my list may have you in disbelief at first, but they can all be combined in a variety of ways to make hearty, tasty, and even healthy dishes you’d be proud to heat up at work.

 

The first thing on my list was Ramen noodles.  Judge me if you dare.

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The way I look at it, Ramen noodles are a good base for a variety of healthy soups once you figure out the variations. I love to add either vegetables and chicken (maybe potatoes) for a hearty chicken soup, or spinach and egg for a nice Asian inspired noodle dish. The noodles could also be used in some homemade “mac and cheese”, though it’ll be more like noodles and cheese if you asked me (still tastes great). You can find a completely ridiculous video of a guy singing about Ramen here.

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Image via http://www.weightwatchers.com

 

The next thing on my list was a large bag of frozen vegetables. I’m obsessed with veggies and eat them at any given opportunity. They add color and nutrients to any dish and as silly as it may seem, eating them make me happy. Those could be added to the Ramen like I detailed before, sauteed (with potatoes) and served over a plate of noodles sprinkled with some toasted sesame seeds, or even eaten frozen right from the bag in large handfuls while you cry about the fluffy Angora bunnies you saw on Facebook that made you feel happy.

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Image via http://www.foodnetwork.com

Next was good old fashioned rice. I love rice because it’s good for you, and can be jazzed up in so many ways and is another perfect base for any dish. One thing I’ve done is cook brown rice in chicken stock for more flavor. If you’re using regular parboiled rice, it works the same but I’d suggest using a little chicken stock with water rather than alone.  Eggs are a great source of protein and can be cooked with noodles or made into a lovely omelet (or just plain scramble) with the veggies or spinach added.

 

Shopping for my list took no time at all. I knew exactly what I wanted and I successfully maintained tunnel vision throughout the supermarket. In exchange for going crazy over shiny snack packets, I sort of went crazy over the different brand pricing. I compared prices and confirmed that I was getting the best deal available for the product before putting it in my basket. When doing that I definitely had to compromise. The brands I had grown accustomed to weren’t the cheapest or the best for value. They were just what my parents had preferred and changing brands was daunting but I overcame. * cue fanfare *

Preparing lunch for the week was a bit of hard work but it paid off (lots of cooking on my tiny stove). I saved a lot of money and experienced the really rewarding feeling of knowing that I had made the yummy food I was eating.  Tip*It always pays to invest in durable Tupperware!

 

Market vs Grocery Store

market
Image via http://www.looptt.com

Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago meant either Saturday or Sunday mornings were designated market days. On those days my parents would purchase pounds of vegetables, ground provisions (tubers/root veg), and if available, fresh meat. As a child I both hated and loved the experience. I loved the outing aspect of it, seeing all the people, the smells, the lovely colors * pause for a flashback while I envision six year old Ari staring wide-eyed at everything around her *. I didn’t like having to assist with the heavy bags.

Excluding my nostalgia, markets around the country generally provide the widest array of fruits and vegetables at highly competitive prices. Considering that grocery sells mostly imported goods, and the local produce they do sell has to be portioned before it hits the shelves, there is considerable time between the reaping of produce and the cooking and eating. In their defense, grocery store portioning and packaging add an air of convenience to purchasing goods.

At the market, goods are brought daily from farmers around the country who try to sell their goods in peak condition. If anything looks somewhat wilted or spotty, farmers are generally easily convinced to reduce prices. Even if goods are pristine everyone appreciates a good haggle, where everyone leaves happy. On the downside there are vendors at some markets who sell imported goods, and not all markets have fully functional facilities. Be that as it may, I fully support buying local, more so even when you can save a few dollars while aiding the agricultural sector.

 

Ok! I know I rambled on a bit but I hope this makes some sense to you and that you read and enjoy. If you think some of the tips/ideas written here can assist you, please feel free to use them, and also please share your success stories with me.

 

Remember, It’s okay to be broke, just as long as you have a plan to survive.

 

Traveling Trinidad on a budget

Traveling Trinidad on a budget

As every backpacking tourist and Trini knows only too well, trying to navigate this island without a car can be a nightmare. How do you identify taxis? What do all the hand signals mean? How do I know which taxi on which route to take? Being Trini, I learned these things pretty early on, but to almost everyone else, the befuddlement is palpable. Upon entering high school, I began learning the taxi routes that took me to school and back. As the years went by I travelled more, visiting places and people, and my general knowledge of the transport system grew. With this post, I hope to share what I’ve learnt about how the system works throughout the island, and show how to take advantage of the system to save money.

 

nick-young-confused-face
Image via http://geeksandcleats.com

One thing about travelling in Trinidad that always confused me as a child, and still confuses both international and local tourists, are the Taxi Hand Signals. In primary school, I thought the Taxi Drivers Association had a secret meeting a long time ago, where they made up a bunch of signals to confuse people. I mean honestly, what’s with all the pointing and twirling? What’s with giving yourself immense sunburn on your right arm by leaving it hanging out of the car for the majority of the day? Doesn’t it hurt?  I soon learned that for central (my hood), there were a few distinct hand signals that always meant the same thing. As I travelled further, I realized that the same signals were used, and most importantly, had the same meaning.

The three most popular hand signals in Trinidad (as far as I know) and their meanings are:

Right Index Finger Pointing Downward

Usually accompanied with an interjected “Short, short!”- This means that the taxi is not going all the way to the end of the route and is only making short stops, up until a predetermined stop.  A good example of this exists on the southern main road for the maxi/taxi route between Chaguanas and San Fernando. While the majority of maxis and taxis go all the way from the Borough of Chaguanas to the city of San Fernando, some taxis leave Chaguanas and only go as far as St Mary’s Junction, the second most prominent stop along the route. Chaguanas to St Mary’s is considered a ‘short drop’. This signal means the same thing throughout the island wherever you see it used.

Right Index Finger Pointing Forward

Mostly done by the drivers of maxi taxis or old Toyota Crowns or 280Cs. – This hand signal is done to make potential passengers aware that this taxi/maxi is going all the way to the end of the route. This generally means the same thing throughout the island wherever you see it used. Some passengers, because of proximity to either Chaguanas or San Fernando will then choose between a ‘short’ taxi, or a regular one.

Right Index Finger Twirled in a Circular Motion

This signal generally means that the route is somewhat circular, in that if you get into a taxi at point A and don’t get out, it will follow the route and be back at point A soon enough. In San Fernando this signal is usually done by ‘round the town’ taxis, in Port of Spain by Queen’s Park Savannah taxis, and in Chaguanas by ‘ round the road’ taxis. This signal is also sometimes associated with the ‘short drop’ signal.

 

Taxi for blog
Image via http://www.joyhopper.com

It is important to note that taxis registered with the Taxi Drivers Association have the letter H as the first letter on their license plates. Private Hire taxis, which are more common are not easily distinguishable along the routes except when they attempt to gain your attention by beeping their horns, or flash you with their headlights. It is therefore important to verify that any vehicle that stops, is a taxi before you get in.

 

Now that we’re done with the weird hand signals we can focus on the fun part. Now you may wonder, exactly how do i intend on reducing my travel expenses. Trinidad has another, cheaper, transportation system called the PTSC system. For those who don’t know, the Public Transport Service Corporation has extended their routes and also added some pretty comfortable buses to their fleet. After a hard day we all want a comfortable ride home, preferably with air conditioning. So why not take the bus instead?

images
Image via Newsday

 The best part about taking the bus is that it’s dirt cheap. Yaasss!! A taxi from Port of Spain to San Fernando costs $17, while the bus only costs $6. Tourists, why pay up to $60US for a taxi to Port of Spain from the airport when a short wait and a $5TT (~$0.70US) ticket could get you on a coach? *Enter amazed gif here* Tickets on some other routes are even as low as $2. You can get an overview of PTSC routes, ticket prices and their bus schedules here.

 

Currently I’m situated in Diego Martin and had budgeted $20 a day on a 6 day week for travel to university and back. While taxis to/from Diego Martin cost $5, the bus is only $3, so by taking the bus I can potentially reduce my travelling expenses by 20%. You may think that saving $96 every month isn’t really much, but if I take the bus religiously for a year, I can potentially save $1152, which is equivalent to a weekend in Tobago. Boom!

Using the bus service requires a bit of patience and planning. Yes, buses do run late at times and yes, you may have to stand for a small part of your journey given the time and route. Overall, if you’re as serious about reducing costs as I am, this could definitely benefit you in the long run.

Remember life happens. It’s okay to be broke, once you teach yourself how to survive.

I hope this was informative and please, if you have any questions or need clarification on anything I’ve said above please leave a comment.

 

*Featured image via http://www.etravelblog.com