Finances, and the Hush Hush

Money is on everyone’s mind these days.*

But the topic of personal finances is a subject that people don’t seem to discuss very openly. It’s a touchy subject, and seems to come up less in conversation than hot button topics such as sexuality.

Which doesn’t make much sense. We could learn a lot from each other by sharing our personal financial trials and errors.

And no, this isn’t suggesting that talking openly about personal finances to complete strangers is a good thing. Nor am I implying that we should give each-other access to our bank accounts for the sake of financial openness.

So here goes.

As you’ve already picked up on, I’ve been extremely frustrated with my finances lately. Even with minimal possessions it’s difficult to hold on to paychecks. Medical, dental, insurance, car maintenance and rent have all sucked the most recent paycheck dry.

Even with the abundance of freed-out food I take home and sustain myself off of I find it difficult to hold on to spending money.

But what worries me the most is how little I’ll have in Argentina. Even though the exchange rate is pretty good, I’m worried about the little fees and charges that come with spending money internationally.

Wells Fargo will charge me a $5 fee every time I withdraw from an ATM there. In addition to that I will be charged the ATM’s withdrawal fee.

So let’s say for convinces’ sake that I withdraw my money in increments of $100 US dollars while I’m travelling, and I have a total of $2,000 to spend.

At $5 per withdrawal, that’s $100 in ATM fees. So in reality, I only have about $1,900 dollars to spend down there.

This isn’t counting the ATM’s fee.

I’ve budgeted $15 US dollars a day, which will have me scraping by day to day.

The lesson: it costs money to have money, and it costs money to spend money. 

Any suggestions from experienced travelers out there?

 

 

 

*And if it isn’t a worry of yours then please spend it here.

No Hablar.

The biggest  personal challenge to face while traveling abroad to Argentina is the language barrier.

Not one word of Spanish occupies my vocabulary, I didn’t study the language in the past. But the barrier doesn’t stop there; I have a personal vendetta with speaking foreign languages that goes deeper.

Exposure to other languages in my elementary years was zero until the 9th grade.We were not a bi-lingual family, and learning other languages wasn’t promoted.

Studying 2 years of a foreign language in high school was required to get into a university though. Clarkston High school had three options: German, Spanish and French.

German as a spoken language sounded bad to me. And I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to study Spanish back then because Spanish was the language of Mexico, and Mexicans, who had negative stigma in the culture I grew up in.*

So I studied French. Two years of it, taught by Mrs. Hays. She was a strict, humorless middle aged woman who lacked all forms of imagination possible. She loathed students like myself who participated in sports. She favored the pretty, skinny, graceful girls with parents who could afford to send them on bi-yearly excursions to France.

The class never deviated from the book’s lessons. I disliked (and still do) the sound of my own voice to begin with, and felt completely exposed and embarrassed to hear such strange sounds coming from my mouth. My tongue felt heavy and rubbery, the inside of my mouth a foreign cavity that refused to collaborate in the least bit.  That horrible teenage self-consciousness and lack of confidence peaked during those years.

What’s worse, is that my English education to that point had been lacking as well. So when words such as ‘conjugate’ and ‘reflexive’ are used to describe French words I was completely lost.

If I ever had a ‘knack’ for language it was beaten out of me in those years.

Can my foreign language curse be broken? They tell me that I’ll pick it up quickly once I get down there, but I’m terrified. Communication is something that is very important to me. I get a sinking feeling in my chest whenever I don’t understand an inside joke or when I’m the only one who apparently doesn’t ‘get it.’ You know that feeling: jealousy, frustration, isolation and sadness all in one. If you know a word that exists to describe that feeling let me know. There should be a word for it; it’s a very distinct emotion.

The jealousy-frustration-isolation-disappointing-self-failing feeling is going to be an hourly occurrence  starting January 14th. Which may be a good thing for personal integrity and resilience, but I’m not going to like it.

I’ve been studying. I’m on my way to learning nouns with a few websites including www.onlinefreespanish.com and www.studyspanish.org. But it seems you have to pay a fee to adequately learn anything more than nouns. If anyone has any suggestions, or a copy of the Rosetta Stone I can borrow, comment on this blog. I’ll take anything.

As for now, yo hablo español muy poco. 

*I know, it isn’t right, and I know better now. But such were the impressions formed via an average conservative American childhood in the 90’s.

Holiday Resolutions

The Holidays are a really unpleasant time for the health-conscious.

It begins with October. Fall sets in. This transition stealthily replaces sunny afternoon hikes with curling up on the couch with a pumpkin pie and hot sugary beverages.

Then Halloween hits. The bikini body and Chaco tan lines linger from summer, just long enough to pull off that sexy costume. However all that beer and candy have a different plan for even the most taught of figures.

Thanksgiving follows Halloween quickly. The feast takes everyone by surprise, and in the time between bad habits form. Soon gingerbread cookies are magically materializing in ovens out of thin air. Stews, gravies, breads and pies dominate the weekly menus. Fresh fruit and vegetables disappear. It’s too chilly today to go for a run. The cold weather and orange leaves have subconsciousness across the country craving warm, earthy toned carbohydrates and fats. And your body knows just what to do with them.

Now winter sets in and Thanksgiving has managed to beat down any will you had over food previously. Again. How could you let this happen this year? There’s bowls upon bowls of free Christmas candies and you have no second thoughts as they pass over your lips. Cookies are multiplying like rabbits everywhere. They are taking over the house.

Then Christmas comes; a special day where we allow ourselves to eat all the treats we want. It’s just tragic that there wasn’t much restraint exercised in the past month.

Then the leftovers take over, and by the time New Years comes, all attempts at eating healthily have been surrendered. Just one more night of un-inhibited gluttony before New Years resolutions start, and the Holiday food barrage stops.

That’s why this year I have Holiday Resolutions, rather than New Year’s Resolutions. 

Because eating healthy and keeping up an exercise routine October through December is where it counts. Because keeping off ten extra pounds is easier than loosing it in January.

So it starts now; a resolution to eat meals mainly consisting of fruits, veggies and meat. A resolution to say NO to free cookies and sweets. A resolution to take every chance to work out.

A resolution to not let the Holidays win.