By Steph Perkins
Steph Perkins is an organized thinker. In the time it takes you to read this column, she did her taxes for the next four years in advance. Trust her advice.
Q. I did something really stupid and blew my entire month’s pay on a trip to Vegas and now I am so broke I can’t imagine how I’ll possibly endure the next few weeks. I hear you’re a bit of a skid — can you pass on some expertise on how to survive on a bare minimum till I’m back on my feet?
You heard right, super skid to the rescue! Oh I’ve been there, hell I’m pretty much permanently there, and you’ll be fine. Honestly, probably the hardest thing you’ll have to do between now and your next paycheque will be swallowing your pride. [You will not die! It's not poison! -Guest Ed. Robert Zimmerman]
# 1 Accept offers for dinner.
Probably if you’re broke, you’re feeling semi-depressed and therefore anti-social, but if someone invites you over for dinner, say yes. You need the nutrients, and you need to get over yourself and out of the house. And you don’t have to bring the customary bottle of wine — offer to bring an “after dinner treat” and pick up a three-dollar box of cookies, or grab a bouquet of daisies for under five bucks. And if it’s someone you’re really close to, be honest, arrive empty-handed, and just watch how big of a pity serving they dole out.
# 2 Eat a casserole for a week.
And it doesn’t have to be a fancy casserole with meat and vegetables or whatever normally goes in casseroles, don’t ask me. Below is my world famous mac & cheese bake recipe, and if you don’t invite anyone over to share it with you it’ll feed you for five days.
3 boxes Kraft Dinner
1 cup of macaroni noodles
1 brick of cheddar cheese
So — cook mac noodles for 5 minutes, then pour in 2 boxes of KD, chuck the 3rd box but save the cheese. Grate cheddar. Mix up noodles, 3 KD cheese bags, milk, margarine, salt & pepper. Pour half into large greased baking dish, add layer of grated cheese, rest of noods, top with more grated cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then broil until cheese gets brown and crunchy. Enjoy for lunch & dinner. And then lunch & dinner. And then lunch & dinner.
# 3 Look in the back of the pantry.
You never know what you might find back there. Cup-a-Soups are a guarantee; poor excuse for a lunch but we’re not being choosy right now. That Lipton Sidekick would make a (pretty gross) meal. Cans of beans can be fun, you can pretend you’re camping. Old noodles and rice are most likely still good; if you can whip up a butter & herb sauce or fry up a vegetable to go with you actually have yourself a decent dinner there.
# 4 Choose your plans wisely.
You can still afford to see your friends; you just can’t afford to be the party animal right now. So say yes to what you can do on a budget (night in at a friends place, coffee, afternoon stroll) and turn down what you can’t. Meals out are big money eaters — say no to those but meet up with your buds later, treat yourself to a rye & coke, make that baby strettttttch, and watch everyone else say stupid shit for a change.
# 5 Wait for the bus.
Ya, it sucks. That blue-line bus blows: standing for maybe an hour on the corner of College & Bathurst with a bunch of drunk skids (meet your people, my friend) waiting to get on the fullest, stinkiest, loudest, longest bus ride of your life. The worst part being you’re probably not drunk enough to be oblivious to it due to your current Saturday night budget. Just hold your breath and imagine yourself building character. Or walk.
A few more simple things you can do to dig up a little coin (all of which I have resorted to at one time or another): skip the laundry and go commando; roll your pennies and return your empties; hold your head up high and go in to the teller and withdraw that $7.50. Hang tight. Accept pity. And when you finally do get some cash in your pocket go and get yourself a steak, pronto.