Sunday, May 24, 2015

Eating Frugally in the States

     Two weeks ago, I went on my last work trip for a couple of years, travelling from Ottawa to Philadelphia, driving to Pittsburgh, flying to Chicago, and then down to Austin Texas, before returning home to Ottawa. My goal was to spend less than half of the Government of Canada per diem of $92 per day on food. Why did I attempt this frugal goal? I enjoy challenging myself when it comes to money, and have noted that food in the United States is cheaper than in Canada. Here's how I did for the five days while I was travelling.

Had a sandwich and donut at Tim Horton's in the Ottawa airport for lunch ($5), before spending $12 (including a tip) on a salad at Chili's in New Jersey, and buying $12 worth of groceries (almonds, juice and fruit). 

My hotel in New Jersey provided a free breakfast, but I tipped my server $2. I bought a milk and donut ($3) before a meeting near Harrisburg mid-morning, and then paid $33 for my lunch and that of a person I was meeting (biggest single expense all week). I paid $13 (including tip) for my supper at Applebee's and bought some fruit and milk for $4 at a gas station. 

This was a crazy driving day, going back-and-forth between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. I kept things very cheap, paying $4 for a breakfast sandwich, $7 for a taco salad at lunch, and $7 for Subway at supper. After about 10 hours of driving, I passed out at 9pm at night.

I woke up early to drive into Philadelphia and skipped breakfast. I bought a cheese steak at the airport for lunch ($10), spent $18 (including a $5 tip) on the best deep dish pizza of my life in Chicago at supper, and then bought $8 of groceries (including breakfast for the next morning).

My only expense Thursday was an $8 lunch at the Chicago airport before my flight to Austin. The rest of my meals until Saturday were provided via a credit group I attended. 

I bought a delicious $7 breakfast sandwich at the Austin airport, and a less than delicious $10 salad at the Washington airport on my way home. 

     Rather than paying for lunch on Monday for the individual I was meeting, I pretty much kept on the frugal track all week. That said, I'm somewhat ashamed, although not at all surprised to admit to gaining about seven pounds during my week on the road. It's much easier to control your diet at home, than when you're scrambling to eat while travelling from city to city. The good news is that I've already lost four of those seven pounds, simply by falling back into my normal eating and exercise routines.

     No big portfolio news to share relating to the last two weeks. I have yet to make my May contribution transfer into my portfolio, and might hold off til June unless I see something compelling in the interim. That said, I'm a big fan of the "boring is beautiful" philosophy when it comes to my portfolio. Keeping transactions low, and letting dividends continue to roll in, is just fine with me :)

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