Living in Lisbon

I have said in the last few articles that I have been living in Europe.  The city is Lisbon, one of the cheapest capitals in Europe.  It has a great quality of life and it is pretty cheap to live here.  It is not nearly a cheap as Tainan, but it certainly blows away the high cost of living in Orange County.  Today I will give you some of the costs of living here and point you to a website I thoroughly enjoy, The Earth Awaits.

The Earth Awaits (TEA)



As you can see, living is Lisbon cost less than half of what it does in Irvine, where I was living before.  It can often be difficult to gauge the cost of living before going somewhere.  But with TEA you can input your lifestyle and get a reasonable estimate for the cost of living elsewhere.  This is great if you are thinking of working abroad, hoping to retire somewhere where you can live more comfortably, or maybe you have another idea.  I’d definitely recommend trying it out.

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Currency and International Transfers

I have been able to travel a bunch and that means going places where the US dollar is not used.  Currently, the dollar is very strong and that allows us to purchase more when buying in other currencies.  This is been a boon for me to pay for my tuition which is denominated in Euros.  The price of €36,000 is $38,500.  Just two years ago that would have cost me over $45,000.  So now that I am living in Europe I need Euros to spend because not everywhere accepts credit cards.  So how did I do it?

Cash

So if I think my expenses for the year will be around $10,000 I could carry that amount in cash and exchange it here.  The problems are several with this method.  If you bring in more money make sure to declare it so it is not confiscated.  Next, carry a large amount of cash is dangerous.  Lastly, you’ll need to exchange it somewhere for a below market rate.  I lost my wallet last weekend and urgently needed cash so I exchanged some US dollars I brought.  The rate I got from the place I exchanged was .895 € per dollar.  Not too great when the rate on Google shows .94 €/$.

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This entry was posted in Earn.

Free Trials, What Could Go Wrong?

So, I’m living in Europe at the moment and don’t have as as many opportunities to hustle, but I’m learning a new culture.  So here they have very affordable cellular service.  A 1GB plan is €2.45 a week and a 5GB one is €3.99 a week.  I got the 5GB, but it may be overkill.  One thing that is pretty cool is that you can go to the store and they will give you a SIM card which you can use for free for a month.  After that you’ll have to reload it.  This is a form of a free trial and that is the topic of the day.

Media

Never tried Netflix nor have a password from a friend?  Well, you can get a month free.  I’ve used this before, as well as for Hulu.  However, now I’m off Netflix until the next season of House of Cards is released.

You can try Spotify Premium for 30 days.  I use the free version, but wouldn’t it be nice to not listen to commercial even if only for 30 days.

Newspapers, business journals, Amazon Kindle Unlimited also have trials and you will get charged after the trial is over so make sure to cancel if you don’t want it.

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Paying Off Credit Card Debt

This is the first article I am writing based on reader request.  This person wanted to know how they could pay off credit card debt.  This is a situation that many people are in.  I hope if this is your situation you would like to get out of it so you can save more and have less financial stress.  Let’s see the options.

The first steps

The first thing you must do is set your spending below your earnings.  If you spend more than you take in after taxes then your balances will go up and you will NEVER get out of debt.  So once you have done this, stop using your credit card.  You are earning more than you spend, so now there is no need for credit.

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Weddings

Weddings cost a boatload of money or at least everyone in the wedding industry wants you to pay a boatload.  The average cost of an American wedding is $26,000, but I’m sure the median cost is less as there are plenty of people that get married in a courthouse.  You are not required to spend a ton on your wedding, but if you want to invite a lot of people then you need to get clever if you don’t want to spend a fortune.

Venues

The decision of where to have your wedding is probably the most expensive one.  You could have it at the park and it would cost almost nothing whereas a fancy hotel will cost a bunch.  The location is broken into two parts, the ceremony and reception.  You can have them both at the same place which could save money, but perhaps that place would have to be really big and charge a lot, so splitting it may be cheaper.

We had the ceremony at a church and the reception at a restaurant.  This turned out to be cheaper than many of the places which could do both.

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I’m Off to Europe

I’m at the airport and going to Europe.  You may think I am going to fly there for free with all my points and you’d be correct.  However, this time it is not for a simple vacation, I am moving there to do a 1-year MBA program.  This is the transition that I hinted out before and the reason I have moved to cash.

Reasons for Europe

It is cheaper.  There are many good deals to be found outside of the United States.  The cost of living in the city I am going to is much lower than where I live in Orange County.  In fact, the average monthly income is less than my rent, meaning my rent is going down by a lot.

Reasons for Education

Education can be a good way to improve and invest in yourself.  Right now, I am my biggest source of income.  I don’t have a huge sum of money generating dividends, real estate, or business.  The best way to increase my income is to earn more and I believe an MBA is an investment that can pay off.  Fortunately, it is much more affordable in Europe so I won’t have to take out a huge student loan.

Conclusion

Being outside of America means that I will not get to take advantage of all the free money available from credit cards, banks, and Staples.  However, I think reducing my spending and increasing my education will be positive consequences.  My school is going to be half the time at half the cost.  This is also one-year of weekly postings so I think next year I will be slowing down as I may not have as much to save or as much time to say it.

This entry was posted in Earn.

Invest in Yourself

So much of our income goes toward stuff we buy for ourselves.  We can also use our money to invest in the stock market, real estate, and other stuff.  But another great use for your money is to invest in yourself.

Health

One good way to invest in yourself is to maintain your health.  Your money is no good if you are dead.

  • Exercise
    • Keep yourself in shape and you will feel better and live longer.  Exercise doesn’t need to be a pain, find some sport you like and you are set.
  • Visit the doctor
    • Checkups can identify if you have any problems that should be addressed.  It is horrible to be diagnosed with a disease, but it is worse if it goes undiagnosed and you find out right before you die an early death.
    • Go see a dentist as well.  Have a problem in your mouth can be painful and costly.
  • Healthy habits
    • Don’t smoke.  Smoking is going to cost you years off your life and you very well may end up with cancer.
    • Eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight.  Most Americans are overweight and this causes a lot of diseases and is totally preventable if we control ourselves.

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Year End Summary 2016

Usually a year flies by, but this one sure seems like a long one because so many things happened.  I spent two months in Taiwan and one in China learning Chinese.  I went on vacations to Japan and Portugal using points and filed taxes for my business.  But this blog started with the idea of sharing interesting ways to make or save some extra money, so let’s get to how this year went.

I’m including my wife’s activity as well because we are a great team.

Credit card signup bonuses:

British Airways – 100,000

Marriott – 87,500

Southwest – 50,000AA Miles

AA – 150,000

American Express – 75,000

Merrill + – $1000 for flights

Barclays Arrival World Plus – $525 for travel

Shopping Portal bonus miles – 40,000

Total – 502,500 + $1525 travel ($9,025 value)

Additional income:Discover Cashback

Cashback ($1000)

Cashback portals ($250)

Lyft bonuses ($3000)

Uber bonus ($750)  The driving was little more than break even, so I’m not including it.

Reselling ($1000)Staples Credit

Bank bonuses ($1550)

Staples credit ($360)

Total – $7,910

Conclusion

I have about $7,910 in bonus income which is about $6,000 after taxes and over $9,000 worth of travel which I am consistently using to travel.  I used the Staples credit to buy some stuff I need around the house as well as a jet drive for our MacBook.  The beauty of all this extra money is that it was all earned in a way that didn’t put me at risk of losing money.

However, the year was not without some failure.  My decision to try to install garage doors didn’t work out, but that only cost me $100 in losses.  A terrible decision was to buy gold as it was risky and although it earned some points, definitely cost me lost of money.  In addition, if I was more invested I could have earned 13% since the beginning of the year.  So, it was a pretty good year overall and as I hinted last week, next year will be a big transition so I don’t think I’ll be able to match it.  Next week I will share what we’ll be doing.