They're priced at $1, which I knock down to 50 cents when I point out that they'd passed their best-before date around about the same time Obama took office.
With these I head to the scummiest looking bar I can find -- the Grand Union, just around the corner on Abbott street.
Not even this is cheap at $3.25 for a pint of weak lager.
The bar smells like chemicals and several of the regulars look like they'd quite like to turn me inside out.
Then, just as it looks like things can't get any worse, my phone lights up.
A couple of newlyweds I'd met in Las Vegas, and whom I'd been counting on for some free accommodation here in Vancouver, were now newly divorced and living under separate roofs in Toronto and Montreal.
Feeling incredibly alone, I find a hostel, unholster my credit card and spend three times my daily budget on a bed for the night.
By late morning the next day I feel much better about my extravagant expenditure, courtesy of a good stroll through an excellent park, recommended by the hotel's receptionist.
It means using up my freebie early in the day, but such is the beauty of Chinatown's Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden that it's no sacrifice at all.
Full access and a tour costs $14, but you can wander amid the ponds and blossom-laden trees at the back for nothing.
I spend an hour studying every corner, reassured that -- last night's blip aside -- I just might make it through the next two days on the $19 left in my pocket.
I leave full of confidence, bolstered by a huge sign on top of a neighboring building that shouts "EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT."
And for a while, it is.
I escape the claustrophobic grid of downtown, spending $4 on a 40-minute northbound SeaBus and bus journey to Grouse Mountain (ample time to snaffle a pair of rock-hard croissants purloined from the hostel's breakfast buffet).
Spending nearly half my day's budget on travel hurts, but I'm convinced it's a smart strategy.
My next activity ought to keep me busy for a couple of hours at least, and cost next to nothing. But it will be extremely painful.
I do the "Grouse Grind" -- a 2.9-kilometer trail up the side of the massive mountain on the city's northern boundary.
For me it's a simple way to avoid the $40 cable car fee to the top, but this is something a lot of Vancouverites do for actual fun, tackling the 800-meter elevation in Lycra-clad droves.
An hour and a half is considered a decent time for the reasonably fit, but in my Converse trainers and black jeans, I regard my time of two hours, 15 minutes to be nothing short of heroic.
The view from the top is, of course, worth the searing pain in my calves.
However, I quickly realize that I've left myself in a tricky situation: not only am I almost a kilometer above sea level without the physical fitness to head back the way I'd come, but in a moment of thrifty genius, I'd left half my remaining cash at the hostel and couldn't afford the $10 cable car descent.
For the second time in the trip, I take out my credit card and pay my way out of trouble.
With half the trip still to come, I'm already 300 percent over budget and ready to throw in the towel.
On the bus back to town I spend a long time studying my guidebook's list of recommended steak restaurants in anticipation of a blowout.