Friday, February 26, 2010

The Promised "How We Afford It" blog

It's true, we're cutting it closer than we wanted. We'd hoped that by working our jobs all through our time in Europe, we'd return home with more than $20,000 of cushion, and a little more to have some fun with. We didn't really think that through. We thought we could travel and work, but it just doesn't work. Work schedules don't necessarily adapt to fit one's preferred time table, and even if they did, there just aren't enough hours in the day to do all that we want to do, and especially not with commuting, work, and all the in-between time that working requires. So we decided, with all respect and appreciation to our jobs for the opportunities and the money, we needed to quit. Stina went over this last blog, but now I'll walk you through our decision that we could, in fact, afford it.

One of the reasons we no longer find it worthwhile to work is that we just aren't earning what we were. The dollar has grown stronger in the past few months. Nearly 30% of my wages are taken out for the German equivalent of Social Security, unemploment insurance, and other things that don't quite translate. Stina discovered that she can't take many days off if she wants to make the 2€/hour bonus that her employer offers if she works at least 120 units per month.
All of this means that, on average, we've been putting 2500€ (*1.35 = $3375) into our bank account for the past 3 months before expenses, rather than the expected 3200€ (*1.5 = $4800) per month. No matter what we make, our expenses remain rather constant, and as bare bones as possible. Each month we pay about $300 for student loans. We pay 375€ for rent, water, heat, electricity, internet, and other utilities. We pay 68.50€ for our tram passes. We pay 52€ for Stina's health insurance. We pay about 200€ for food (totally a guess). And we spend maybe 100€ on luxuries each month, like going out to eat, buying games, etc. (also a guess, but pretty accurate, I'd say). All together, that's about 1000€ a month.

So, now you know. When we finish our work, we will have about $15000 worth of currency in the bank, and will live on that for the next several months. We'll reduce our food costs by dumpster diving more. We considered giving up our apartment, but having a place to come back to is necessary to our happiness. And we'll probably stop buying tram passes. We won't really increase any costs, since we'll be hitchhiking and couchsurfing. We're a little worried about the cost of airplane tickets, so if anyone sees a mode of transportation from Europe to America for less than $500 per person, let us know. At $1000 per month while here, $1000 for plane tickets home, and $1000 while we visit family in Seattle and Wisconsin, I expect that after our wedding, we will have $5000 (that's a wedding budget of $3000) left. That's a bit scary, but we're good at living cheaply, and so while we make our new homes in L.A., I expect that we'll easily find our feet before we run out of money.

Wish us luck!
Brendan and Stina

Below, find our projected budget until our wedding. Numbers rounded for safety. No sharp corners!

Brendan Verity: $5000
Stina Verity: $1000
BECU Accts $2000
Total in American Accts: $8000
Deutsche Bank Konto: 6000 €
Brendan Earn March: 300 €
Stina Earn March: 300 €
Total Euros: 6600 € Converted to Dollars: $8910
Total of all currencies: $16910
Itemized costs (in Euros)
Rent (Warm) 1200€
Internet 160€ (hopefully)
Student Loans 1800€
Electricity 175€
Food 1000€
Travel 1950€ (Includes ticket home)
Wedding Budget 2220€
Totals by month (in $)
March: 797
April: 1122
May: 1122
June: 918
July: 918
August: 1768
September: 1088
October: 408
November: 3427
Total Expenses: $11567
Money after wedding: $5342

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Getting back to the spirit of this trip

"We are a couple of newly free wanderers...." This is the start of our little bio on this here blog, but I feel like we lost our freedom when we decided to get jobs in order to live here in Germany. Maybe we lost it way back when I gave up on busking. So what if I'm not very good at juggling and our routine doesn't make us any money? At least Brendan and I were doing something fun together all day. Okay, well, to be more honest, I didn't always find the busking fun. But it was a big part of the spirit of this trip, and I want to get back to that. I don't know if that means trying to reincorporate busking, but I want to take the time to figure it out.

Brendan and I gave notice at our jobs and March 10th is our official last day, though I will continue teaching one class through the end of March. We are going to get back to the spirit of this trip.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not sorry we did this. We've met so many amazing people here, and many of them through our jobs. But I'm also not sorry to say goodbye my job here. It doesn't mean we'll be saying goodbye to all the people we've met, it just means we can spend even more time with them and be the happier for it.

I feel like a fog is lifting around me. Oh, there is so much more I could say but will wait to say, having already nearly lost my job once for words posted on this blog.

As I bid my job farewell, I thank it for the people I've met, both teachers and students, and for my improved knowledge of English grammar. I also thank it for showing me this is not what I want to be doing in my life and that it is more important for me to pursue my dreams than to make a buck.

Next post: a money one where we show you how we are affording to quit our jobs.