All dressed up and no job to go to (or how I can´t just do nothing)

I have done exactly what I said I would not do. I finished my degree in the middle of October and have been job searching since then. I am just applying for jobs in my field but most of them require at least 2 years experience or they offer no pay at all. I wasn´t too worried because I had some money saved up and am working a few hours a week tutoring a kid and a couple who want to learn English.

It has been great not having a fixed schedule, because Grasshopper´s work hours are random, so we have been spending some much needed together-time. However, the rest of my day is just frustrating. I keep filling out the same “Work with us” web page, watching TV, re-reading books, and knitting. And suddenly, I have gone from being a college grad, to being a grandmother. Actually, both my grannies are way cooler and much more busy than me. Oh, the shame.

It doesn´t help that people keep telling me that the only answer is to move to Germany, where apparently all the jobs have gone. Seriously?? What did people work in before the Crisis? Have all the jobs just gone north for the winter?

Anyways, my original plan was to job search until January/February and then just get whatever job I could find because, if I want to move in with Grasshopper next year, the emergency fund needs to be full and I need some kind of stable job to sign the lease for the flat.

But I couldn´t handle the not doing anything at all part of the job search. So I looked for other options. I always thought that I think Master´s degrees are for people who are already established in a career and want to further their knowledge or advance at work. Someone with no experience can´t possibly benefit as much from what is taught in such degrees. I still believe that, but I also think that, if it takes me 6 months (hopefully not much more) to get a job and they ask me what I have been doing since I finished University, I have a much better chance of proving I´m productive like my CV says if I have actually done something I can prove, rather than just tell the truth.

The subject of degree I´m doing is broad enough to be understandable by a non-specialist but in-depth enough to be quite useful to a company. And it´s a distance course by a reputed university so I could still finish it should I manage to land a job. As you see I´m quite excited about all the things I´ll learn.

So I am officially a student again. Sigh. Wish me luck and willpower.

I would like to thank Ambro at for the great picture.


Weekly money check 11-29

My, oh my! Another week has just whooshed by and it seems not much has happened since last week, apart from getting a new-to-me car and signing up for a master´s degree…So maybe not so boring after all. Anyways, here´s my money check up for this week:

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on tuition and books for my master´s degree.
2. Today I am thankful  Grasshopper, and the way we sometimes just get each other.
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was visiting my niece and nephew and have them run up to me smiling and screaming my name.
4. I will consider this week a success if I  make as much money as I spend.
5. My favorite Christmas song/album is Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.

So what have you been up to this week?

My financial bucket and GMBMFB $500 giveaway

Krystal is having a $500 Give Me Back My Five Bucks competition, sponsored by Life Insurance Finder, the life insurance experts. Check out her blog,  she has some interesting things to say.

Here´s my financial bucket list:

  1. Save up $15,000 and move in with Grasshopper. We already have $6,000, because of all the car problems we´ve been having, and hopefully by next summer we will be living together. This is our first priority so everything else will have to wait for a few more months.
  2. Start sending money each month to our retirement accounts. At this moment, having just finished my degree I long to just work, so retirement is at the back of my mind at the moment.
  3. Build up my Australia and New Zealand Travel fund.

But before I do all these things I first need to find a job so wish me luck!

Weekly money check-up Nov-23

I was browsing through some of wellhelledblog´s recommended blogs and I stumbled upon My Pretty Pennies, and I liked it so much, I decided to join her weekly money check-up. Here is mine:

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on petrol, which my +20-year-old car likes to binge on, and fixing said car even after it left me stranded on the highway.

2. Today I am thankful for public transportation.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was to get an email from my best friend telling me all about her recent trip to Florence.

4. I will consider this week a success if I finish my German revision and sign up for lessons. Oh, and finding a job, but I´m willing to settle for the former.

5. This Thanksgiving, I´ll forget all about it. People in Europe don´t celebrate this : S

How to determine your REAL bare-bones budget

I stopped working in July when my internship ended so I could focus on my final exam and end-of-course project. Both of which I needed to do in order to (finally) get my degree. Yet even though I have a big enough cushion saved up, the job search certainly isn´t going as well as I had hoped. Apparently, no-one needs fresh out of college kids, they need experienced adults who are willing to get paid like they´re interns.

Cinism aside, my sinking funds are making me reconsider some of the things that I thought were essential when I was earning money and a recent chat with my best friends confirmed it. Sometimes, when it comes to our own finances, we are very short-sighted and can´t see the whole picture clearly. At those times is when you should ask the people you confide in. That´s it, let the people who know you best, your BFF, your boy/girlfriend, whoever, help you in determining your bare-bones budget.

The key part of this method is accepting they are trying to help you and not take their advice as critism. Just listen to those who know you almost as well as you know yourself, and sometimes better.

Here´s the two conversations I´ve had that have led me to believe in this.

Best friend number 1: While finishing uni and interning without getting paid, she is thinking she should get a part time job to cover her dancing lessons since her mom will no longer pay for them.

Best friend number 2: She has finally finished her masters degree and now has a job until February. She has begun paying off some of the debt and saving for a much needed car when two emergencies happened: her laptop broke down and she had to go to Florence with her boyfriend.

When I asked them, they told me that I spend way too much money on eating out and going to the cinema. And you know what, they are right.

Whhat about you? Did you have an unexpected money pit in your life?


5 things I love (and hate) about my +20 year old car

It seems that whenever I get a good idea for a post, one of our cars go awol, requiring our full attention. First it was Grasshopper´s car, which we took to the salvage yard. Yesterday it was my car, Big Blue. Yes, I´m one of those people who name their cars though, to be fair, my car has been in the family much longer than say, my younger Sister, so I have reason to be attached to it.

My parents bought that car in cash a year after I was born which means (quick mental math) that it turned 24 this August. I know it is a very impressive feat for a family to hold on to a car that long but it is reliable, sturdy and large, all you can want in a man car.  When I got my driver´s license my dad handed me the keys to Big Blue. Living in a big city with great public transport, almost none of my friends had cars, or driver´s license, so Big Blue opened up a while new world for me, skiing trips, trips to the beach, trips to Ikea…  It is still with me today, 6 years on. Until it said enough is enough yesterday. On the highway.

So here are some thoughts on owning and driving such an old classic car.

  • It is cheap. My dad paid that car in cash in the 1980´s. This means: no car payments, dirt cheap insurance, no expensive electronic things under the hood, cheap replacements from salvage yards. Only maintenance and gasoline.
  • It is reliable. If something breaks in my car you can see or hear it before it does. Forewarned is forearmed as they say. I have always had time to fix it before it caused real trouble. Hopefully this time it won´t be any different.
  • It reminds me to be thankful for what I have: air conditioning and heating is spotty so I always appreciate it when it does work.
  • It helps me stay in shape and be a better driver: no power steering can be quite a workout. Plus I can now park in 2 moves usually. And because I can´t rely on the horsepower to get out of trouble, I need to be a more watchful driver.
  • R-e-s-p-e-c-t: new cars shrivel up on impact while old ones don´t really seems to mind. This means that other drivers usually give me some leeway, and even let me go first!

And here are the 5 things I hate about it:

  • Milage: on open road I can usually do 9,3l/100 km if i´m careful. That is about $70 per week for my usual commute (which I do in public transportation as I like to have money for other whims, like food).
  • No air conditioning or heating: it can get very uncomfortable 6 out of every 12 months (so grateful for spring and autumn).
  • Safety: no airbags or shock absorption can make crashing very daunting indeed.
  • Environment: when my dad bought that car gas was still leaded and there were no catalysts to filter fumes.
  • The dreaded final moment: I know Big Blue´s time is almost up and even though I don´t like to think about it, one day it will have the final break down that will render me pedestrian once more. I have been saving for a new(er) car but I really just don´t like to think about losing this one. Is it sad that losing a car makes me sad?

P.S. Big Blue is actually a white car, but if you´ve ever read one of Janet Evanovich´s novels, the Stephanie Plum ones, you´ll know what I´m talking about.

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