Budgeting money, calories and riding the rails like a bandit...

Friday, June 03, 2011

Michael Moore did not exactly have it right when he said that in Norway they pay you to go on vacation every year. What they actually do is take money out of your paycheck every month for a year and then give it back to you in June tax free so you can go on vacation. They also make sure that you have the time to do it since most Norwegians get four to six weeks off each year minimum. Many businesses close during July here so naturally that is when people tend to go away, us included. The restaurant will be closing in a few weeks and reopening in mid August. It is a little weird coming from an American stand point to both get so much vacation and to have the government insist, in a way, that you save for it!

We calculated our expenses for vacation in early May and realized that despite what we will be receiving we had slightly over planned our trip and it exceeded our vacation money somewhat. Total bummer I must say! Sooooo we have been on a budget this past month. A tight one! Literally every krone is accounted for and no extra spending of any kind has been done. I even slashed my weekly grocery budget down by one third for the month...I was a little dismayed today, by the way, when I got mixed up by the little squirrel on the package and brought home paper towels instead of toilet paper and had nothing left in my budget to fix it until next week!

We were doing beautifully overall however, until I lost my public transportation pass a few weeks ago. This little mistake threatened to screw up the whole plan, as that was 590 krone I had not planned for to replace it (about 110 USD). Now, in Norway riding public transportation is kind of on the honor system. You buy a pass and then you ride the train, bus, trek or the commuter boats and no one checks your ticket on a regular basis. It is kind of weird. They have even installed the devices where you have to scan your card to get through like in Paris but they can't bring themselves to make them operational for some reason so each day I just walk past the gaping doors and get on the train with my pass in my pocket. Sometimes they do get on though and check passes or they will barricade an exit and stop each person getting off a train. The fine is about 800 krone if you do not have a pass. Sooooo....I could not afford a new pass...and technically I HAD bought a pass this month and so, for several weeks, until I could scrape up enough money by going under my grocery budget even further... I just rode the rails like a bandit! Oh my nerves! Always looking over my shoulder...sauntering around when I did see one of the ticket checkers and then jumping on to a train car going ...anywhere...just to get away from the station where they were checking! I even bought a day pass which I never activated figuring I would play the dumb American if I was stopped ...waving my ticket around saying that I had no idea how to activate the thing...or maybe I would say that my husband told me that HE had already activated it for me...What? He didn't! How could that be?...Oh yes I played all the scenarios over in my head as to what I would say if I got caught. Acting! I would act! Then I finally got a pass three days ago but realized that if I rode the rails like a bandit just a few more days I could activate it on the on the third of June and have it expire on the first day we would be out of the country not having to pay for the few days over lap.

So I did it. I did not get caught. I activated that thing at 3:58 this afternoon and it felt so good not to be a bandit anymore. I even saw ticket checkers at one of my stops. I felt smug. I hoped that they would ask me for my ticket. I was due. But they did not care about me...clearly I did not look suspicious enough to them. Little did they know what I was capable of!

I did do some extra walking due to my ticket situation. I would either walk an extra stop or two before getting on the train or I would get off the train before getting to the stop closest to my work (the stop by my work is underground and if caught I would have been trapped with no place to hide or run...dramatic isn't it! :D ). All of my walking is really adding up I think, because I have lost a few pounds. I have four more to go and I am right on track. I have a feeling that I do way more exercise in a day though than I have given myself credit for and am seeing that now that I am tracking it all more closely.

I commute on foot about one hour total a day not including my train rides. (half uphill and half with a small person on my back) I walk to the grocery store and back several times a week. We hike for fun on the Sundays a minimum of two hours. I am on my feet from when I get home with the kids until they go to bed...but one of the biggest things I have realized is that I am exercising all day at work. All day I run stairs, lift heavy pots, carry produce, walk from my kitchen to the main kitchen down stairs...down more stairs to the pastry kitchen and back...I am moving and lifting all of the time! I have even been putting more effort into it since I have been trying to drop these pounds by moving even faster, never taking the elevator and generally just putting more effort into what I do. Oh yea, I lost my assistant (another one bit the dust) so I am doing two jobs at once. Oh yea ...and we had a photo shoot of our food last week and it was incredibly stressful and exhausting...alot of running...we produced 15 photo worthy dishes in two hours and set them up down the hall...I ate nothing but sweets and reindeer all was horrible but I just got back on track the next day. Due to the extra hours at work I have not been running (I will resume in three weeks) but I have still been losing weight.

The other change is that I have been keeping as close as I can to 1500 calories and I had never done that in the past. I used to say around 1700 to 1800 calories when losing weight but based on the rapid weightloss I think I am realizing that 1700 is probably just fine since I must burn more calories than I thought in a day. (I wonder how many I DO burn in a day.) I have been eating a healthy diet and basically trying to cut out sugar...very hard to do since I have my hands in it all day but I am doing my best to be more aware of what I put in my mouth while at work. I have also, for the most part, been stopping for a nutritious lunch each day and that is success for me!

Well according to the scale I am doing something right. Moving is good. Walking is good. Riding the rails like a bandit...burns a lot of calories... but I am glad it is over!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Ronna what a great blog to read. Made me laugh. I could imagine you sitting there on the train and keeping an eye out for the ticket checkers. Your so funny. Glad you didn't get caught. Best of luck on your budgeting. I sure you'll never mistaken the paper towels for the toilet paper again.
    3391 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6994021
    So much fun to read! I am always amazed at how you manage to work, raise two little ones, keep moving and all in a foreign country! What an adventurer you are!! All that walking has to take much time in the day, though.

    Super job on the weightloss--bikini time here you come!
    3393 days ago
  • TERRYT55
    What a great blog, Ronna. I smiled all the way through. My hubby would sometimes forget his rail pass and have to be a bandit for the day!

    Maybe you can teach me some of your money saving strategies! I don't do as well as you do.

    Sounds like you get lots of walking and exercise would be cool if you had one of those gadgets I see on the Biggest Loser that tell you how much energy you expend in a day.

    So happy the scale is moving in the right direction. I need to encourage mine to do the same. emoticon

    I will do my best to write a race blog in the next day or two........I find it so difficult to write about myself.

    Take care, my dear friend!
    3394 days ago
  • ERIN4771
    my friend ronna, the it!! i like to look at this as karmas way of paying it forward to you....after how many years of helping others, being positive and just being a genuinely great person, this was your way of being paid glad you didn't get caught though.....
    as for the vacation, yes, i am still jealous of paris, so, i expect lots of pictures and stories, to make up for the fact that we are not there ...yet.....
    have an awesome time off my friend!!
    3397 days ago
    Riding the rails like a bandit- very funny! Great job avoiding the sugar! Sounds like between that and how active you are you'll be at your goal in no time!
    3397 days ago
    I loved reading about your law-breaking, it was really funny :)))

    It sounds like your days are constant motion, you must be one strong woman to keep up with everything like that- well done!

    3398 days ago
    Oh, was it that cute assistant who kept calling you Ma'am?

    You're a wonderful writer -- vivid, visual, beautiful. Ever thought of doing more of it?

    If I kept your schedule, I'd probably look like Twiggy! I am in awe of you.
    3398 days ago
    What an adventure! Wow. I have to say, I am thankful you don't have to be looking over your shoulder any more! :-) This blog is a great read. And thank you for sharing how you are turning what could have been (many) hindrances into opportunities. You've challenged me to look at my life with a different perspective. :-)
    3398 days ago
    Can't you taste your pastries then spit, like wine tasters do? LOL
    3399 days ago
    Loved reading your story.
    It made me smile after a busy day!
    You must be doing something right - you have lost so much weight recently. I sure can tell that all your exercise and active lifestyle - PLUS - how you are eating - is really paying off. Are you taking a bikini with on your vacation?
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3399 days ago
    It's so wonderful to hear that your getting PLENTY of exercise in and the scale is showing your efforts! Yeah!!! I wish we could go hiking more often, but our schedule is pretty packed until November, then it's too cold sometimes. I'll have to sneak one in some time soon, though. My family loves to do it!

    Glad to hear you're no longer riding those rails. emoticon

    What are you going to do on your vacation?
    3399 days ago
  • IONA72
    Haha great blog, you are one awesome lady!
    3399 days ago
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