Frugality is overrated?

I came across this article on saving money and started reading it with high hopes that it will point me towards prosperity and alleviate my financial cares.
But no. I was disappointed, as I have been many times before. All the advice given in this article (and many others like it) can be divided into two groups: those that are trite (“when buying, try to separate your needs from your wants”) and those not applicable to me or not very helpful (for example, I work from home and do not drive around a lot, so the gas-saving measures will not make any big difference to my budget).

Coupons are another of my pet peeves. The Simple Dollar and other frugality blogs seem to get miraculous value from them. The Simple Dollar‘s Trent says that using coupons he has been able to buy large boxes of cereals and bottles of shampoo for as low as ten cents. I don’t know what’s the trick here. Maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe grocery coupons in the US work in an altogether different way than in Canada. Maybe groceries there are much cheaper. I don’t know. In my case, all the coupons can be divided into two groups: those that are only good for a small package (in which case I will get a much better value buying a large package anyway, and then I would not be able to use a coupon), and those for products that I don’t buy anyway (something overprocessed and overexpensive, in a box or a jar with a brightly coloured label). For some reasons, coupons for simple things like bread, fresh meat or vegetables never happen.
Besides, most coupons are not valid in conjunction with any other discount. Is that a purely Canadian thing?
One more thing. Trent clips his coupons out of a newspaper. Deduct the cost of newspaper subscription from the coupon savings, and what do you get?

Possibly it makes better sense to try and earn more than to save more, after all. But, alas,  at the end of the day, this is also trite.

Next Toronto Girl Geek Dinner is March 3rd, 2009

11th TGGD with Michal Berman

Adelaide & University (181 University Ave.)


Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009, 7 pm

Our speaker is Michal (Mic) Berman, founder of EmbarkOnIt.

Mic will share her experiences and perspectives:

  • strategies and tips for start-ups and entrepreneurs
  • lessons learned from two web giants (Yahoo!, Mozilla)
  • how companies can do more with less

More details on the Blog

Register to attend on

Discussion over at the Facebook group.

Horrible experience in a Montreal “restaurant”

I was in Montreal with a group of friends last weekend. I lagged behind the group (the new shoes I had on chafed my feet raw, and as we were passing the Chinatown, I told my friends to go ahead and choose a nice restaurant, while I buy a pair of flip-flops and catch up). I did exactly that, and, having caught up, discovered that my friends had chosen “St.Hubert” at the corner of St-Catherine and St-Urbaine. Not exactly my choice of a restaurant (especially because we were in Montreal downtown where you can find any number of nice, inexpensive and cozy places), but I decided not to argue, because my companions already have been standing in line for a while, waiting for admission. A little later, we were let in, they took our orders, brought us two bowls of coleslaw and the drinks. We crunched happily and exchanged impressions of the day. A little later a waitress brought us the appetizers we ordered. We talked some more, and then I realized that we have been sitting there for an hour already and there is still no trace of our main courses. I was going to see the fireworks later and I would have hated to miss them. (For those of you who does not know “St.Hubert”, it is not exactly haute cuisine – it is just a notch above McDonalds, with fried chicken and hamburgers on the menu.) We asked the waitress a couple of times when our food is going to be ready but she seemed unperturbed. At last, when I understood that I am almost late for the fireworks, I called the waitress and told her that it’s been over an hour and we still did not get our meals.

– Why are you yelling at me? – she asked.

(I was not yelling; I spoke loudly so she could hear me over the din in a crowded restaurant.)

– OK, – I said, – call a manager, I will yell at him.

Another 10 minutes later the manager appeared and asked me what was the matter, in a very stern voice (as a school principal would talk to a misbehaving student).

I told him that it’s been over an hour since we made our orders.

He shrugged. His face clearly said that I was stupidly bothering busy people with my stupid whims.

– Do you call that a service? – I asked.

– Yes, – said he.

I told him I was canceling my order, paid for the appetizer we ate and left.

We came out of the restaurant and looked behind. The sign above the restaurant said in large letters:


Other people from our group left with me, but others stayed. They told me what happened next.

The food was brought about 8 minutes after I left (which makes about 1.5 hours in total).

It was completely cold.

And the waitress demanded tips. “For service”, as she said.

P.S. It is not the general standard of service in Montreal; next day we dined in another restaurant and were serviced promptly by polite staff. So that’s probably a unique occurrence. I don’t know how to explain it; maybe their primary clientele is tourists who never come back anyway.

P.P.S. I was late for fireworks after all, but saw about the last 10 minutes of them which is always the best anyway.

On my way back to the hotel I bought myself a T-shirt saying:


I am just giftedly outspoken.