New and original way of reducing stress

Shh… Can you keep a secret? I just found a new and original way to reduce your stress levels.

Shhhhh… Can you tell what it is?




It is silence. Plain and simple peace and quiet. No, I´m serious. Just take a few seconds to listen to all the noise that surrounds you. try to identify those sounds. Now try to concentrate on you computer again and block them out. Go back to the state where you didn´t notice your neighbour´s wasshing machine, or your computer´s fan.

It´s hard, isn´t it? One minute you are calm and unaware and the next you are battling with all that noise. Where did it come from? Aaarg. It is now quite difficult to get back on track. And think of all the energy you are using to try to block the unwanted sounds. You are in fact wasting that same energy every single day, sometimes even more. That means you get tired for no apparent reason, it is a source of the tension you feel.

Noise has some very bad effects on your overall health. It affects your nervous, endocrine and cardiovascular system, causing:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Head aches
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Indigestion
  • High blood pressure

However, it´s not only unwanted noise that negatively affects us; it is also the ones we create ourselves, the computer fan, the TV, the radio, the telephone… The good news is that, because noise surrounbds us constantly, reducing it even for small periods of time represents a HUGE relief. Here´s some things you can try this week to reduce noise and stress:

  1. Switch off the radio/MP3/iPod. When you leave your house don´t plug in the earphones. Don´t turno on the radio in your car. Use that time to think, on your shopping list or on how to deal with a complex work situation.  Look out the window and find a new shop or a cool looking restaurant that you never noticed before.
  2. Turn off the TV unless you are actually watching it. TV doesn´t keep you company. It doesn´t make the house feel less empty.
  3. Watch less TV and don´t use it to fall asleep. The sounds actually make you sleep less soundly and not get as much rest as you would otherwise. Have no TV evenings. Choose a day when there is nothing you like on and simply do other things. You can use that time to read, play a board game, iron or just chat with your family or roommates.
  4. Don´t have the TV on when you eat. That way you will pay more attention to what and how much you eat. You will enjoy your meals, and the company, much more.
  5. Don´t fill in your “dead” periods, like waiting for the bus or walking the dog,  with sound. No music, no phone calls. Just be present.

If you think about it, we sometimes use music or we call someone just to not get bored. As if not being bombarded with sound or conversation will lead to a deadly boredom. It doesn´t. Silence allows us to get to know ourselves better, to take more reasoned and hence better decisions, to get to know our surroundings and to fell more relaxed.

Like my grandma always says, only the boring get bored.

Try some of these tips out this week and tell me how it went.



Weekly money update

Here is my weekly money update for this week. After last week´s spending extravanganza, this week seems a little mild, but surprisingly Christmassy

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on Christmas lunch with my exworkers. $40 was maybe too much.

2. Today I am thankful for having three living grandparents who know who they are and, more importantly, who I am and how much they love me.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was a family get together and setting up the Nativity scene at my grandma´s house.

4. I will consider this week a success if I can manage to find the due dates for my Master´s in the inexplicably complex university web site.

5.  My favorite Christmas gift as a child was any thing that came in a box. Don´t know why it took my parents so long to realize my love for boxes. Oh the possibilities.

Unemployed budget madness

By the time I started working, I had been reading personal finance blogs for a while, opened a IngDirect account from my allowance savings and sponsored a woman in conflict through Women for Women. Because I knew how hard it had been for these bloggers to track their pennies and keep their spending under control, I wrote every single purchase on a sheet of paper with the month and year as heading and attached the receipts with a clip.

Aproximately a year after I had a regular income, I started dating Grasshopper and realized that I no longer needed to keep such close tabs on my money. I was in control, and knew what I could indulge in and what I couldn´t. At the beginning of each month, I´d put about half my salary in savings and just didn´t worry about how I spent the rest. Whatever money was left at the end of the month, I´d just roll over to the savings account. On top of that, I started tutoring a lovely ADD kid, and made an extra $100-200 a month. This money, paid in cash, I kept as an emergency stash/Christmas fund/random trips fund.

I know I´m a money nerd because watching my savings, and the interest grow, makes me feel a little fuzzy inside. Grasshopper calls it my serious problem with saving. I call it my Ant personality.

Anyways, even though I worked part-time for near minimum wage, because I´d been so dilligent in my savings, I could afford to take an 8 month break from work to concentrate on getting my degree, and make a big deposit to Grasshopper´s and my Living together emergency fund. And I still had a big personal cushion to lean on when I finished my internship in August. However, when I paid my Master´s last week, I spent all that money, apart from $300, which is my new much leaner cushion. The stash had long ago left the building.

And now I´m getting worried about my spending again. I tutor 3 people at the moment, earning roughly $300 a month. About $150 goes towards petrol and publc transportation, with the rest I need to save for my new, much more expensive insurance, get Christmas presents, give to my sponsored sister, and start a car fund to save for repairs, which will most likely be much more expensive that my old old car´s. So I´m trying to find a way to make more money and keep the money I have. It seems like I´ll go back to the list until I can figure out a better way to manage my irregular lifestyle.

Thanks to Stuart Miles for the pic.

Some thoughts from the weekend

This weekend has been quite good: on Friday I had 2 lessons and I got paid. Then I spent that oh-so-recently earned money on a Christmas lunch with the people in the departament I interned at earlier this year. I had some of those conversations that people with a job seem to just get into with people without one.

For example:

Them: I didn´t expect to see you here.

Me: Ehem, I know, Someone called me a few weeks ago to ask if I wanted to come, and it seemed fun.

Them: So, what have you been up to? Got a job yet?

Me: well, I´ve done (insert several big achievements here).

Them: So, no job. Yeah, this economy blah blah blah.

This actually happened more than just a couple of times. Maybe it´s like when you are single and surrounded by married couples and all they can think to tell you is to find a husband and that the clock is ticking. Or when you are married and the child- ridden insist you reproduce. What is with that? Or worse still, do I do that too?

It´s a good thing I did sign up for that Master´s because, not only were they quite impressed, but my boss, who is not only and amazing engineer, but a lovely man, told me to go back and ask for a job directly once I finished it. So it seems like I made a good decision. Yay for me.

Then I met Grasshopper and we thought up of a Anniversary plan. We ended going to a cute apartment in the mountains close to where we live, for 70% off the price and had a very nice time. He even got me a present, which I didn´t expect and which I loved.

Today we had lunch with his family and then I had my nephew and niece´s birthday party. I got them really simple small gifts this year, but it seems I hit the nail on the head, because they ripped them open and started using them the moment I gave them the presents. And they bragged about their new possesions and about the fact that I was the giver of the gifts.

So how was yor weekend?

Thanks to Phaitoonfor the photo.

Exciting internship opportunity

I am so excited today. When I opened my email, there was a new offer for an internship in a great (GREAT) company, not  only in my chosen field but also doing what I loved best of all. Needless to say I am very excited about the opportunity to be considered. It would be what I need to get in and start working as an engineer eventually gaining the experience I need to get the job I want.

Hopefully my resumé and experience will call their attention in order to give me a call, which is all I hope for right now. But I can´t be sure because I got the email through a job search site and I don´t know what profile the company is looking for.

So wish me luck, again. And I´ll keep my fingers crossed.

Thank you photostock  at for the cool picture.

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?


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