Monday, March 22, 2010

"He pronounced it 'cheap'. He meant 'smart."

It's a funny quip from one of my favourite comedians, Russell Peters. He was referring to the 'Indian Pride' in being called 'cheap'. Heh heh, you gotta love him.

But there is some truth in that statement because sometimes being cheap is being smart. And yes, I hate being called cheap. Which is probably why I'm not rolling in cash right now neither. I love the luxury of saying, "Keep the change" or telling friends, "This round's on me." Ah but times are hard indeed. So much so that I demand my 5 sen change whenever I dine at Upperstar (who, by the way, are ALWAYS out of 5 sen coins and expect you to say 'Keep the change' just because it's 5 sen. And that irritates me to high hell, resulting in me insisting on that measly 5 sen on the basis of principle - if you rip off 100 people, that's RM5.00 a day, which is RM150.00 a month. Pencuri. Wtf. There. Rant over)

Back to the topic of 'hard times'. We all know the economy is in a slump. And you know the whole 'money doesn't grow on trees' thing. An extra whammy this year for me would be the wedding. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm coated in wedded bliss but let's face it: Weddings aren't easy on the pocket and it's getting worse with each year. Within 12 months, the hotel reception cost has gone up by 20 percent at my chosen venue. I suggested having the banquet at the parking lot but the acoustics suck. Heh.

So in these tight-fisted times, I've had to make some 'smarter/cheaper' choices in my life. At least until the wedding is done. Every penny (well, 85 percent anyway) goes to the wedding at the moment and the thing about planning a wedding is everytime you think you have the budget sorted out, something else will bite you in the wallet. So here are Mel's Spend-Savvy Ideas To Avoid Living In A Cardboard Box:

1. Pack your lunch. It's so elementary but in today's world of 'tapau', we choose convenience over cost any day. But, seeing I'm no longer in a 9 to 5 routine, I've saved more eating at home or grabbing a sandwich before I go to a meeting, instead of finding an excuse to eat after the meeting. I try not to meet prospective clients over meals and opt for quick bites or coffee. Not only is it penny-saving, it's also good time management.

2. Cut down on the booze. I must admit when I was working with my previous company, Happy Hours were such a norm. And an excuse to sit out the traffic jam. And more often than not, Happy Hours would drag on till midnight on most days which meant more drinks. I now limit myself to one session a week and to be honest, I've gone more than 2 weeks without a drink. If you know me at all, that's like Lady Gaga saying, "And I wore normal clothes everyday". And let's face it, it's a much healthier lifestyle.

3. Stay away, ye evil shopping mall. This one is tough but I'm doing okay. I love shopping. LOVE it. And I'm not even picky. I get excited buying toothpaste. So to resist temptation, I stay away from retail outlets, even the 'pasar' in Lido. I only buy things when they are absolutely necessary (like that red handbag I bought in KL because it was 70 percent off - It called out my name). Whenever I walk past a shoe shop, I tell myself, "All in good time, my children."

4. Alternative entertainment. Like watching paint peel or 'Count how many Proton Wiras pass by in 60 seconds'. I'm kidding. When you're trying to save money, it's tough to find ways to entertain yourself without flipping out your wallet. My top three entertainment choices say it all: Dining out, going to the cinema and shopping. Unless I beg for food, sneak into the cinema and shoplift, it's all going to add up. Therefore, I've resorted to borrowing dvds from friends and relatives and watching old favourites from my collection - which is really quite fun. I read more. I write more. And I play online games. Sometimes, it really doesn't take much - for me anyway.

5. Exercise is free! Okay fine. I have a gym membership. That said, it is the only major 'gift' I have allowed myself to indulge in financially this year. So now, if I really feel the need to get out of the house, I know I can count on the gym. And it makes me feel good. There's something about an aching body and shortness of breath I find so endearing. Not. Seriously though, it really does keep me sane and hopefully in shape for the wedding. Doesn't help it's right next to a mall though...Ah well.

And should temptation ever knock on my door, I quickly visualise walking down the aisle in my mum's curtains and serving Maggi Mee to my guests ("Chicken or Laksa?"). Wish me luck.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Low fat is phat.

In my quest to look half decent on my wedding day, I've been hitting the gym (not as tough as I thought it would be) and watching my food (tougher than I thought). For Christmas, my parents got me a low-fat cookbook and although I was insulted for a nanosecond, it turned out to be one of the best presents.

With more time on my hands, I've been tapping into my inner Julia Childs and spending more time in the kitchen. Trying low-fat and low-carb recipes, of course. It's been good so far - chicken cacciatore, paprika chicken (gee I wonder what my favourite meat is), penne with tuna in tomato sauce and today's latest -banana oat muffins. Best thing is, I can enjoy them guilt-free. Well, unless I eat a whole pail of it.

Other updates? I'm sick again. I blame the weather. At least this time it's not the flu again. Just an annoying cough and plenty of sexy phlegm. I went to KL and got my wedding dress done. It should be ready by May - or else I'll be wearing white curtains down the aisle. Speaking of which, my pre-wedding photos have arrived but I can only offer this sneak peek:

Anna-Rina did a fantastic job but my only dissatisfaction is my weight issue in the photos. We took these back in January and at the peak of my 'chubbiness'. Which is why this shot above is one of my favourites, haha. At least my ankles look in shape. Three months to go!