Unemployed student, lover of food, drinks, and cats, committed to "livin' la vida loca"…on a budget.

Tag Archives: student

“Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”

Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Cute quote, Randy—but I’ve got one thing to say.


Randy has obviously never been so broke that he’s had to steal his roommate’s socks because he doesn’t have enough quarters to do laundry (hey, at least I stay out of the underwear drawer). Randy sounds like the kind of guy who has always had the luxury of cheese with his macaroni and “J” on his PB and J. Randy is clearly that guy we all hate who uses a Brita water jug, and actually buys a new filter every week.

And if not? Well that’s Randy’s problem, because he’s not complaining enough!

Complaining 101

Contrary to popular Randy Pausch’s opinion, complaining is EXTREMELY likely to help you achieve your goals. Most specifically, if your goals involve getting free swag.

Now I’m sure this goes against a lot of things you’ve been brought up to believe in. If your mom read the same “How to Make Sure Your Child Isn’t a Whiny Bitch” book that mine did, you’ve probably been taught the following :

  • treat others the way you want to be treated
  • say please
  • stop whining
  • stop whining
  • stop whining

Complaining 101 (2.0)


I was first introduced to this valuable trick of achieving happiness in life and a full stomach  a couple years ago after a miserable dining experience with my sister at East Side Mario’s.

In a nutshell, our waitress was a walking argument for why minimum wage should be lowered. Not only did she fail to provide me with a single refill for my bottomless iced tea, but she forgot the bread-bowl, and didn’t realize that she’d forgotten to tell the kitchen what entrées my sister and I wanted until two hours after we had ordered!

When I politely explained that this mishap had completely interrupted the rest of our night’s plans and asked for some kind of compensation, our waitress replied (with a stank face and an extremely witchy voice):

“Not really, these things happen.”

The rest of our conversation went something like this:

Shitty Waitress McGee: I don’t know what you expect me to do, you’ve already eaten your food.

Me:  Is there a manager that we could talk to?

S. W. M.: Talking to a manager isn’t going to change anything.

Me (inner monologue): It’s. On. Bitch.

One nasty e-mail later, and I receive a friendly phone-call from the restaurant manager informing me that a $50 gift card is in the mail, and S. W. M. “ had been dealt with accordingly”.


Complaining 101 (3.0)

 I know what you’re thinking.

“But what if I’m one of those unfortunate people who’ve only received optimum customer service and above average food while dining!? I don’t have anything to complain about!”

This doesn’t matter anymore. You’re officially too poor to worry about that. Or to be honest.

Have you ever had one of those “wouldn’t it suck if…blah blah blah happened” thoughts? Those thoughts are the unborn fetuses of future complaint letters!

For instance:

“Wouldn’t it suck if I opened up my Kraft Dinner and there wasn’t even a cheese packet?”

It sure would, and here’s what I’d say if it happened…or if it didn’t happen, and I wanted free KD.

            Dear sir or madame,

            I might be the biggest fan of Kraft Dinner I know! I eat it at least three times a week. It’s my favourite food, even better than lots of the pasta at restaurants like Olive Garden!

            That being said, I was extremely disappointed by my last purchase which was missing the best part… The cheese! I dumped out all of the noodles to make sure the packet wasn’t at the bottom, but it wasn’t! And who wants to eat plain boiled macaroni noodles? $1.79 down the drain.

            I am a big fan of Kraft products, but this isn’t the first problem I’ve had with them lately. Just a few weeks ago, I purchased a large block of velveeta cheese for my famous Easter cheese sauce, and there was a slit in the plastic and half of it was crusty! I didn’t complain this time, because I thought it might have been a shipping incident and wasn’t worth the trouble…but now it seems to be a trend.

            I’m not sure if there is anything you can do to repair this situation, but I just thought that you should know.

 One month later:

Oh hi, $1.50 coupon from Kraft.

I’m not kidding, this works. You just have to put your mind to it…and if you don’t feel like putting your mind to it, then let me introduce you to http://www.pakin.org/complaint. A free complaint letter generator!

The possibilities are endless, so get out there, start complaining, and let me know how it goes!


Guess what I did today, and yesterday, and the day before…!?


Guess what I didn’t do today?


I just didn’t want you guys thinking I’m some lazy happily unemployed deadbeat who wastes all of her time taking photos of her cat wearing different hats, watching re-runs of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and rolling around in empty boxes of Kraft Dinner while wearing nothing but a purple Snuggie.

Yes, I spend a large portion of my day doing all of those things (AND I AM NOT ASHAMED!), but I’ve also been busting my butt on the job-hunting scene for the past six six months. I’ve scored dozens of interviews and been promised by many managers that I can “expect a phonecall within the next few days either way”, yet I haven’t been contacted by anybody!

But whatever-TOTALLY don’t even care, because in times like this, instead of accepting the fact I might be Toronto’s most un-employable soon-to-be U of T grad, I prefer to convince myself that all of these managers and business-owners were spontaneously murdered minutes after interviewing me. (Be right back, e-mailing a pitch for an episode of Criminal Minds.) I’m also 99% certain that this bloody sting of murders is the best way to explain why I didn’t hear from Cute Guy #1, #2, #3, and all of their twin brothers after the first date…that, or people are on to the fact that I buy all of my make-up and pantyhose from Dollarama.

Sometimes it’s sad to think about all of the untimely deaths of all of these people who want me in their life. Almost as sad as it is to think about the fact that I’ll probably be alone and poor forever! I’ve gradually started to accept my fate though.

I was watching the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie the other night when it all started making sense. I’M THE DEAD MAN’S CHEST! I’m basically a living breathing chest of cursed pirate treasure. (Not that kind of chest, pervs…although on a side-note, that pill I take so I don’t have to buy groceries for myself AND a baby amplified my bust-line by about 12, and I can’t afford to buy a new bra that fits. Feel free to contribute to my lingerie fund.)

But back to the point. YES I’d be a great asset to your company! YES I’m great at making sandwiches, I’m fertile, and I’d be the best girlfriend you’ll ever have! But here’s a little disclaimer: if you try to call me back, you’re probably going to get shot–everybody else seems to.

It’s a hard knock-life, but I find solace in the fact that there’s somebody out there worse off than me.

For instance, the manager at the Tim Horton’s down the street from me, the supervisors of almost every department at Sobeys, and that super hot blonde guy I met at the bar two weeks ago who hasn’t responded to my last eighteen text messages. May they R.I.P.

I got mail today! And not just any mail… every broke student’s dream mail.



Your eyes are not deceiving you– that says: one free tin of Fancy Feast Gourmet cat food, and a free $10.00 bag of Kitty Chow!  I get to pick the flavour too!

I was a bit worried about starving to death within the next few days, but now I get to live off of premium tuna and salty fish flavoured cheerios for the next week. There’s a party my place, and I’ll bring the kibbles if you bring the bits!

Or maybe not. If we’re going to get technical about it, then I have to confess: the envelope was actually addressed to my roommate Babylegs, and it turns out she is a bit possessive of her mail. (side note: if it’s sad that the most exciting part of my day was opening my cat’s mail, don’t feel obligated to tell me.)


It looks like my Friskies Fiesta is going to have to be postponed.

But all cat jokes aside– (and trust me, I have a lot of them), free cat food is still free of cat food! Especially when your cat refuses to pay rent.

Translation: GETTING FREE STUFF ROCKS! And it’s actually a lot easier to do than you’d think.

In case you’re wondering how I managed to uncover this wealth of kitty-related freebies, there was an ad on the back of some random “Pet Life” magazine which I stole from the doctor’s office for a free care package for my “newborn kitten”. All I had to do was fill out a little questionnaire and pretend that my cat is about eight years younger than she is (I now understand why my mother made me bend my knees and act like a twelve year-old so I could order off the kids’ menu until Grade 10).

This leads me to a new blog segment I’d like to introduce: The Best Things in Life are Free: A Comprehensive Guide on How to Get Free Shit!


Coupons are everywhere if you look in the right places!

Here are a few examples of “right places”:

  • Magazines and newspapers …and you don’t have to buy them. Steal ’em from your doctor’s office, pick them out of your neighbour’s recycling bin.
  • Junk mail I used to throw out flyers and promotions, but junk mail can be a gold mine for freebies and heavily discounted greasy food. Free fries with the purchase of any large soft drink? Don’t mind if I do! Free cheesy bread with the purchase of any two topping pizza? Count me in!
  • Online If you’re not googling “free stuff” or “coupons” at least once a day, you’re probably missing out on dollars upon dollars of swag every week! One of my favourite sites is: http://www.canadianfreestuff.com/ Current offers include: half priced bagel sandwiches at McD’s, and $3 off of polysporin. Now you can raise your cholesterol and tend to your cuts and burns at the same time…ON A BUDGET!
  • Receipts Read the back of your receipts. At least 50% of the time, there’s some website you can visit or a survey you can fill out to receive free stuff on your next visit.

There’s no shame in free swag, so put on your coupon hunting hats, and go and get it tigers!

Coming soon: How to Get Free Shit: Part 2 a.k.a “The Complain Game”

Winter is upon us– metaphorically speaking, of course. After a short but sweet (mostly short) two week vacation from the oppressive walls of university, it’s time to put away those bottles of tanning oil and that margarita mix.

‘Tis the season of tears. ‘Tis the season of summer school.

I’m pretty sure that I don’t stand alone with the belief that it’s depressing enough as it is to spend the summer in a crowded, windowless classroom while everybody else is busy on picnic dates in lush dog parks, throwing up on rollercoaster attendants at Wonderland, and sunbathing on nude beaches (because in my alternative reality everybody has a boyfriend, nobody has to have a job, and clothing is optional.)

…but it gets worse. Yep, there’s an e-coli infested cherry on top of this sundae of woe.

Let me introduce you to my bank account. A billion dollars worth of textbooks and tuition later, and we’re looking at:


In case you can’t read fine-print, that says $6.53. SIX DOLLARS. AND FIFTY-THREE CENTS… and perhaps sadder still, it’s more money than I thought I had. I’m not complaining though- because that would go against everything I stand for! When your stomach is as empty as your wallet, there’s only one thing to do.

Open up your book of recipes that cost $0 to make. Or the next best thing: less than $5.


“Help-I’m-Starving-And-My-Parents-Are-Sick-of-Sending-Me-Money Black Bean Soup”


  • 3 cans of Black Beans (Preferably No-Name brand, because they cost only cost 75 cents a pop!)
  • one can of vegetable broth (feel free substitute with any other bouillion)
  • one small onion
  • Optional (but recommended if you already have them on hand, or if your budget is $7-$10): 1 tablespoon of Chili Powder, ¾ cup of salsa, and lime juice to taste.


  • Blend/mash/puree half of the beans, mince the onion, throw everything together, and cook it until it’s hot, thick, and tastes like it might have cost more than $4.65!


I promise it tastes less like puke than it looks.

This recipe makes about six servings, adding up to about 78 cents a meal. Sadly, Gas-X costs a bit more, so you might want to hold off on making this until you can take proper precautions, or else EAT AT YOUR OWN RISK!

And that’s my bathroom cue.

It’s bean a slice!