Thriving through the Greek economic crisis - Page 5
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  1. #61
    Registered User mek42's Avatar
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    Erm, being a boy, I could see being thankful the the tax return was actually released instead of being retained due to exigencies of the government for an interminable future time. But I don't think this is what you mean either.

    Choose wisely which miscommunications you need to explain in detail to your husband. Many times it is good enough to be in the same book or chapter if not page. Sometimes though, it is necessary to be on the same page. The work required to get to the same page sometimes can lead to irritation if the situation was such that being in the same book or chapter was sufficient.

  2. #62
    Registered User PinkTulip's Avatar
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    Such an interesting post! I actually married a Canadian (I am an American) five years ago. I was not able to work for almost two years in Canada. It was the worst short-term financial decision I ever made.

    He was a student. Due to lack of planning, we went into incredible debt for it. We are still working at paying it all off and I think we will get there by the New Year. Things tend to work themselves out!

  3. #63
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    With the beautiful sunshine, you can dehydrate stuff the traditional way! Just lay whatever product you have out on a sheet, maybe cover it with another sheet to keep dust/flies away, and keep it in full sunshine. Move indoors for the night. When dry, keep in dark containers.

    One of the Little House on the Prairies books describes how Ma dries plumbs. Maybe you can reread the whole series for some inspiration on simple living :-)

  4. #64
    Registered User greekislandgirl's Avatar
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    Dutchie - I miss speaking English sometimes. My husband speaks a little English (he actually speaks pretty well but he doesn't like to, so we speak about 95% Greek at home) - our relationship is "conducted in Greek" and sometimes, especially at the end of a long day or if I'm feeling frustrated about something, I do start speaking English. Almost all of my friends here are Greek although one of them is a friend from college (US) and her English is so good that we usually speak English. My best girlfriend in the world actually lives in Greece as well (although only for last year and this coming year) - she's the one whose wedding I flew back to the US for in December - she and her then-fiance flew back from Greece for it too! Anyway having her in Greece, even if she's in Athens which is pretty far away, is so nice. We see each other whenever possible and she keeps me sane She also gave me the MOST amazing gift for me to use at my wedding, which I did - a beautiful white lace parasol that she found in Sicily. Someday I'll get around to resizing our wedding photos and I'll upload one on here.

    Books (my biggest downfall) are really expensive here - even Greek ones, which is all I buy anymore, English ones are just off the charts (€35 for a cheap paperback (i.e., NOT a trade paperback)). One of the most important books I have for work (cost me $180 in the US) sells for €600 here! But even a regular Greek novel goes for about €28 (trade paperback).

    The trail mix is coming along beautifully!

    - I made the candied lemon peel (chocolate dipped) yesterday and finished them this morning. I just tried one and WOW!!! So delicious! I don't think I'll EVER throw away another lemon peel in my life!

    - I rehydrated some raisins and then coated them in the melted chocolate left over from the lemon peel. Pretty good although not as chocolatey since there was very little chocolate left.

    - I cooked the chickpeas last night and I'll roast them tonight so that we have something salty to go with all the sweet stuff.

    - I also have some plain raisins that I can add to the mix.

    mek42 - It's amazing how our minds' work... as much as he kicks about the budget in some ways (he whines about not being able to go to the cafe all the time), he calls me on some stuff too now which he would NEVER EVER have done before. In the entire time we've known each other, he never once expressed concern that something I wanted was too expensive. I have severe motion sickness so instead of taking the ferry off the island, sometimes I would take the ferry to the closest island with an airport and then fly (the flight is only 25 minutes but the ferry is up to 11 hours). But now, he's started to say things like "why don't you cook all the beans, it will take less water and electricity than doing half today and half tomorrow." Which is not only true, but exactly the way we both need to be thinking. So even though he may not be THRILLED about the situation (his father is a total spendthrift, mine is a serious tightwad (and I say that in a totally loving way) so he got used to a different mindset / lifestyle growing up) he understands the situation and is on board with the frugality. He nicknamed me Troika though. (Troika is the ironic name that Greeks use for the international board of "overseers" controlling the Greek finances these days, since our sovereignty was sacrificed on the altar of the banks. The original Troika was even less friendly, but anyway. He says it in a loving/kidding way.)

    As for the grateful thing - I actually believe he got it, but he doesn't want to feel grateful for things that are rightfully his, and I understand that.

    As far as miscommunication - since our entire relationship is in Greek, we have a grand old time with this one.

    PinkTulip - I love your name! When I was little, (like 5-7), I insisted that everyone call me Purple Tulip because purple was my favorite color and tulips were my favorite flower. I'm also part Native American and at that age, the most sophisticated understanding I had about my heritage was that I got to have a cool name. I have an American friend who married a Canadian and they are trying to live in the US so they are going through a similar thing in reverse. It's so complex because they met when he was legally a student in the US, but then when they got married he had to change his status, but at the same time that that happened, they both came to Greece for a year to study, and now they are trying to go back and he's still a student, but it's all messed up. I wish we could all just live and work where our spouses do and not have such a headache over it!

    Siebrie - that sounds like a great idea. This island has tons of figs and I bet that's how they do it. One of my favorite things to do is to rehydrate dried fruit in hot water and then eat it. They actually sell partially rehydrated dried fruit in Greece which is where I found out about it. If you put (for example) dried apricots in a bowl of hot water for 20 minutes and then eat them, they are soooo good! (And more filling than just eating them dried.) Dried fruit is definitely one of my "diet downfalls." I think dried pineapple might be my favorite thing in the whole world.... luckily it isn't sold on the island except in the summer!

    Today so far we spent €15. My husband has a coworker who is getting married and all of the teachers put in €15, so he did also. We have an annual wedding gift fund of €100, so now that is at €85.

  5. #65
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    I think there's almost a duel meaning for the word grateful in the English language. LOL. I spoke to my Mom, the Greek island that her grandfather is from is called Milipotomus? I'm not sure of the spelling.
    There is a website called Survey Police that is a great tool for figuring out which sites are scams and which are tried and true. Some sites offer gift cards that you may not be able to use in Greece but you could use online or as gifts for family in the U.S. There is a blog site run by another internet friend called Frugality is Free. She lists a lot of online earning things that she does, and she is a master at frugality!

  6. #66
    Registered User greekislandgirl's Avatar
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    I don't think there's an island called Mylopotamos (unless it's really really small) but it's a common name for a village (there are a lot of villages in Greece with that name), it means "River-powered mill". Personally I know a town by that name on the island of Crete near the city of Rethymon (it's very beautiful and has some of the best olive oil in the world, and beautiful ceramics, and is almost completely without rule of law LOL), but I am sure there are at least a dozen of them in Greece!

    I will check out those two sites - thanks for telling me. I spend so much time online, I might as well get something for it, right

  7. #67
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    I just wondered if you considered solar cooking or using a "hooikist (sorry Dutch word that I cannot translate properly). A hooikist is basically a box that is filled with isolating material such as hay. You fill a pan with whatever you want cooked (beans, rice etc.). Put it on the stove until the water starts to boil and then you place in inside the box and you beans/ rice etc. will be ready some hours later.

  8. #68
    Registered User greekislandgirl's Avatar
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    Didi, that's cool - I've never heard of that. We sure have the sun here for something like that! It's funny that you mention that because we just saw a TV show yesterday (a Gordon Ramsay show) where he was cooking in the Indian desert and they dug a hole in the sand and threw the food and some charcoal in the hole and covered it with sand. I love those "alternative" ways to get things done!

    So I started another thread on the Money Challenge section of the forum. We've been married for 2 months, and we had the big "Financial Goals" talk today. We've talked about it in the past but this was the first time we actually sat down with numbers, dates, and wrote it all down.

    I wanted to put it here too since this is sort of like my journal. But I'm going to try to update on the other thread every week as my weekly budget "surplus" gets rolled into the savings. Here is THE BIG PLAN (notice that some of these funds are meant to be filled many, many years from now).

    Updated......Fund......To Total.........By............Saved So Far......... Still Need
    6/25/10......BEF.........€1000..........6/25/10.....€1000....................€0
    6/25/10......FFEF........€5000.........6/25/11.....€344.39.................€4,655.61
    6/25/10......Wedding...€10,000......7/1/11.......€1,721.96..............€8,278.04
    6/25/10......Home........€50,000......1/1/16........€0......................€50,000
    6/25/10......Travel......€5000.........1/1/12........€1,377.56.............€3,622.44
    6/25/10......New Car...€25,000........1/1/20.........€0......................€25,000
    6/25/10....Furn./Maint....€30,000......1/1/16.......€0.....................€30,000
    6/25/10......Dental......€500............8/30/10......€0.....................€500

    I also have a retirement fund but I'm not going to track that on here because it's not funded from my weekly budget directly, and it fluctuates so wildly (stock market) that it's not worth trying to keep up with it.

    Some of these savings funds, like a new car in 2020, house maintenance and such are off in our future. We already have a new car (2008 model) and we expect it to last until 2020, and at that time, there's absolutely no reason why we will get a NEW car as opposed to a new used car, but my husband wants to have it as a larger number because who knows what cars will cost by then, right?

    Our SAVINGS STRATEGY now is:

    At the end of every week, I take our surplus from our weekly budget (which last week was only €21.92, to give you an idea), and split it into the funds we are focusing on right now. We're doing Wedding 50%, Travel 40%, and FFEF 10%. (Travel includes honeymoon. Our wedding is supposed to be next July, if we end up managing to fund it.) Everything else is 0% until further notice.

    We already have our BEF.

    When we get extra money (like my summer job), we'll divide it up 50/40/10, but not until it's actually in the bank. Exception is I'll skim €500 off the top and put it into the Dental fund, so that should be full by the end of August.

    Well, it should be up to date now (after a ridiculous amount of editing to get the chart to line up right, at least on my screen), so challenge is officially ON!

    Obviously, if you've been following this thread, you'll know that we are living very very simply and frugally. We decided together that meeting these financial goals is very important to us, and that "merely surviving" is not the kind of strategy that works for us. If we're going to be poor, at least we should be headed someplace with it.

    (ALL of the savings funds except the retirement fund are "plunderable" in case of emergency. If we actually have an emergency, everything in Wedding, Travel, Car, etc goes to dealing with the emergency. I think that goes without saying, but I might as well put it down.)

    *By the way, if our wedding fund looks ridiculous based on how we don't have money: this is meant to come mostly from wedding gifts. It makes me cringe, but the tradition in Greece is to give MONEY as a wedding gift, and we have a friend who ended up with €18,000 PROFIT on her wedding (meaning, after they paid for the whole wedding out of the gift money!). We're not expecting anything like that, but my husband has a lot of relatives that he is completely convinced will give us a lot of money. I don't like to rely on things like that, so we decided that if it's not looking like that's going to happen, we'll just nix the whole thing. I will be the first to say that it's totally ridiculous to save €10,000 for a wedding when you can barely afford to eat. The point is that if we DON'T have the wedding, there wouldn't be any wedding gift money, and since my husband expects over €10,000 in gifts, it could well end up being a profitable enterprise. Yes, I just cringed.

  9. #69
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    Smile

    BTW, definitely check out Swagbucks, I make about $10 a month in Amazon gift certificates and it just takes seconds a day. Add that up over a year!

  10. #70
    Registered User greekislandgirl's Avatar
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    Indigo - you mean this site? swagbucks.com

    I'm definitely going to sign up for it, $10 in Amazon gift certificates is awesome. I could give them to my mom and she could put $10 directly into my bank account, I wouldn't even need to try to deal with shipping to Greece. I love it, thank you!! These little things can really help. I just don't know which sites to trust, which ones actually give you anything, so I rely on you guys to recommend.

    Well today was our pack-everything-into-the-car day. My husband is doing 90% of it. Of course, 90% of the stuff is his. I packed my stuff and the kitchen stuff and that is already in the car, he just has to put in his stuff but he has a lot of it.

    We already decided that come September, when we move back here, we are going to bring MUCH less stuff. When he came here last September he didn't know what it would be like, how cold it would be, how many things to do there would be, so he brought tons of warm clothes, books, DVDs, CDs. We decided that this coming year we will go the total other direction - bring only what we need to survive in terms of clothes, and everything else will be consumables that are expensive on the island. The advantage to that is that at the end of the school year next year, when we have to leave AGAIN, we will have so much less stuff - the consumables will all be gone, and it will just be our basics. It will save us hassle in moving out and we both love the "SIMPLE" way of living.

    I'm going to miss this island so, so, so much. It's so beautiful, friendly, peaceful. But it's changed so much in just a few weeks, with the tourists coming here. They come for all of July and August and then they just evaporate like magic until the next year.

    I wanted to post a few more photos to show you all what the island looks like NOW. The photos I posted before were from the spring or the winter, when it's so GREEN. Now, it's all BROWN!!


    This is the main town of the island. If all goes according to plan, we'll be living in the town next year. The area where the houses we want, you can see in the photo: If you see on the right side in the middle, there's a large open (brownish) lot, immediately to the left of that lot is where the houses are. They are brand new and not finished yet. They are owned by our landlord's fiance and we have really high hopes about getting one of them, as they have a much better kitchen than this house (the kitchen is just a mini-fridge, a sink, and a hot plate/toaster oven combo. Really not acceptable when you are cooking EVERYTHING from scratch because you are frugal!!


    There are lots of churches here... this is one of the prettiest in my opinion.


    These are the houses we are looking at for next year. They are not finished yet and they will not be any more finished by September so there will be landscaping work (laying paving stones in the yard, garden stuff) going on while we are there, which is annoying. However we want to be in the town and we want new construction to keep our utilities costs down. And the houses are larger than what we have now which is only one room for two people, it's really too small.


    Just a square in the town. None of those chairs/tables were there even 3 weeks ago but now everything is so busy.


    These windmills are so cool! In the foreground there's a tiny white house, and then in between two of them, there's a larger white house. The larger white house belongs to some people we know and they do rent it and this was offered to us but I think it would be over €300/month so definitely out of our budget. However, before we got hit with salary cuts we considered it - how cool would it be to live amongst ancient windmills overlooking the sea (there's a cliff drop-off to the sea of like 1000 feet). You can see how brown and dead everything is. That was all green and full of flowers in May!!

    Well that is your photo tour, I hope you enjoyed it ...

    We have done such a fantastic job of cleaning out the pantry over the past month. I had one plastic grocery bag full of pantry items that we didn't use, and that included several unopened bags of beans, flour etc from a friend who moved out and gave them to us. Of the stuff we had on hand, I put everything into tiny sandwich bags and tied them with twist-ties and put them in one gallon-size Ziploc bag and everything fit into that one bag!!

    Today, expenses... the only thing we spent money for today was a loaf of bread - it was €1.60. Not bad for a day, although it was expensive for a loaf of bread (although I will admit it was HUGE and must have weighed over 2 lbs).

  11. #71
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    Good luck with today's move!

    I understand that a large part of social life will take place outside, yet I wonder if all the houses are so small (maybe the pictures make them look small).

  12. #72
    Registered User Susanscraps's Avatar
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    I hope your move is uneventful! And thanks for sharing your pictures with us. You do an awesome job with your camera!
    Bought my new oven 1/08 and loving it!


    My recurrent nightmare is there is no such thing as PMS, and this is my real personality.

  13. #73
    Registered User greekislandgirl's Avatar
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    The move is over for now - we're at my husband's parents' house. It was a long boat ride (8 hours), a long train ride (8 hours), a long day visiting his relatives, then another car ride (4 hours) and meeting more of his relatives, then finally got to sleep last night! I'm so tired. We moved all our stuff into his parent's basement, which was already basically full of our OTHER stuff. But what can you do?

    The best part is definitely getting to play with their awesome dog, who is an enormous and playful Chow Chow.

    We also got €1000 in cash from his various relatives (wedding gifts for our wedding in April that no one came to). I put €500 toward the wedding, €400 toward the travel fund, and €100 into the FFEF. So that's all accounted for.

    Today we wanted to do lots of bureaucratic stuff - I need to get a Greek tax number, and my husband needs a passport, and we have to do it here because this is where he's a citizen, but today everything is on strike (as happens regularly here) so we can't get anything done. Oh well, we'll do it tomorrow.

    As far as the move, it cost us a LOT of money. And it's not over yet. We ended up spending an extra €33.60 to send several suitcases that couldn't fit in the car. We knew that would happen but forgot to put it in the budget. We expected to spend €80 additional on gas but so far haven't had to put any gas in the car; however, we will have to soon; we have to drive another 8 hours to pick up stuff I have in a friend's house. My friend lost a lot of hours at his job and might not be able to keep his apartment, so he can't store my stuff anymore. We actually went there on the way here yesterday and I saw how much stuff I had there - it's a LOT!! I took two small bags of kitchen stuff but I have to go back to pick up three HUGE cartons of books, plus a bunch of other stuff as well.

    Anyway, for the time being, our expenses are low (Mom Discount) but I'm sure my husband will go out for coffee a few times with friends. I can't say anything about that: he hasn't seen them since Christmas.

    Conclusion: Moving costs SO MUCH MORE than you think it will. No matter how much you budget for it, you will spend more than that.

  14. #74
    Registered User greekislandgirl's Avatar
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    Well, our brand new savings funds we JUST set up had to be raided already. My husband had to get a new passport and an international driver's license today and the two of them cost €169.40. We decided to take it out of our Travel Fund and not try to put the money back in. So in other words, the Travel Fund was €1,777.56 so far, with a goal of €5,000. We took out €169.40 and lowered the goal by the same amount, so now our Travel Fund goal is €4,830.60. We did it this way because the passport is good for 10 years and the license for 3, and they hadn't been budgeted for elsewhere, and they definitely count as travel expenses. I just wasn't expecting to have to SPEND the savings so soon!!

    We are also thinking about giving €200 to my husband's parents because they gave a wedding gift in our name in that amount and he feels bad about it. I don't mind but if we do it, it's coming out of OUR Wedding Fund as I don't have €200 elsewhere to cut, I just DO NOT. So we will have a €200 less Wedding Fund, and we'll have to make that up at some point.

    It just goes to show you can't budget for everything.

    We are trying to keep expenses down, but we put €32.50 of gas in the car today, and we'll probably have to do that again soon, since we have a lot of driving.

    Tomorrow I'm cooking for the in-laws for the first time ever... I figured I'd make them some American food

    Anyway, it seems like we are just barely scraping by. We were hungry today when we were out in the next city over and we normally would have grabbed something to eat, even if only €1 or €2; we both decided to wait until we got home (about 45 minute drive away) and that is just an example of how our mindset is definitely different. I think my husband sees what I'm trying to do even though it is frustrating when you've always had whatever you wanted it whenever you wanted it (which I always had too, so I understand), and then suddenly you can't have pretty much anything unless it's already in the budget. I know he wishes we had more money to play with but every time a € or $ comes our way I put it straight towards savings, maybe that's not the best idea. I'm so new to this, I don't really know.

    I know next week will be a big expense week because we're moving (again) into our new place (for the summer) and I'll have to buy stuff for the kitchen. I don't have a special budget for that, I'm going to have to make it work somehow.

    Thankfully it's the end of the week so I can finish out the budget for the week and see what we ended up with.

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    Thanks for taking the time to update us!
    I enjoy to read about your adventure in Greece.

    I don't want to encourage you to buy even more books, but next time you might consider amazon.co.uk. Since the UK is part of the European Union, you won't be bothered with additional taxes (at least, that's the case for the Netherlands... guess it's the same for Greece).

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