Saturday, January 10, 2009

Money matters.

I don't know if it is because of the state of the economy, or because I have for the first time in my life a good-paying job, but lately I have been thinking of ways to save money and be ready for emergencies. Probably these thoughts came out also from my will to visit NYC with boyfriend this spring, and from a conversation we had some nights ago about buying a new apartment, bigger than his, in a convenient area of Rome and WITHOUT selling any of our apartments. The idea would be to save enough money for a downpayment, rent out both our apartments, and use the money from the rents to pay the mortgage. It's not something that is happening tomorrow, but I think it's a nice plan for the future.
So, I'd have to save a good amount of money to afford all this!
Here is what I am doing now (I posted this also on my favourite forum, the stylethread forum - if you want to see the thread, the other girls there posted some useful ideas too http://stylethread.activeboard.com/index.spark - you have to go to the "general chat" thread and then to the "What do you do to save money?" topic):

  • I use public transportation whenever it is possible. I am lucky because I have a subway station almost across the street from work, and I work in the center of the city, so there is plenty of buses. But I try not to use the car unless necessary (gas here in Italy is something like 5$/gallon)
  • On the same topic: I bought a very fuel efficient car and paid in full when buying it - many thanks to mom and dad that helped me choose and gave me part of the money as a "welcome back" gift.
  • I don't like to watch TV, so I don't have cable or similar services. I'd rather rent a DVD.
  • I subscribe to the magazines I really love (one for now, but I'd like another one too) and try my best to avoid buying them on the newsstand.
  • I don't use hot water for my laundry, and let my stuff air dry.
  • When I turn on the heat, I avoid keeping doors/windows open.
  • I do groceries in a supermarket near BF's house (it's pretty cheap, plus it's walking distance, so no gas money), but buy fruit and veggies at the farmer's market or at another little store down the street, which is much cheaper.
  • I have learned to hold for things I need to buy (last one was a new pair of very good boots) until they are on sale, and in the meantime carefully check the prices of various brands I like, to make buying them quick and painless.
  • Cell phones calls are pretty expensive here, so I try to keep cell phone communications to a minimum. texts are cheaper, and either I use them, or instant messaging, or emails.
  • Both boyfriend and I love to cook, and don't really like to go out for dinner, unless it's a special place. So we can save a lot on eating out too.
  • We brown bag our lunch, often using dinner leftovers.
  • Also, we both love to entertain at home: I think you don't have to cook anything too fancy or expensive: people appreciate the effort, the company, the pleaseant evening, and usually contribute with a nice bottle of wine or dessert.
  • I have started the activation process for an ING account. Interest rates here in Italy are still higher than in the US.

I plan on putting 10% of my salary in the ING account when I get paid. Plus (but I am still thinking about this) I can put there whatever is left in my checking account right before I get the next salary. And for sure I'll put there what I get from my PT teaching job - whenever they decide to pay me!

Also, I should be less lazy about moving the money I have in the US accounts to my italian account: I have quite a nice chunk of money from the Research Foundation pension plan, which is still there: I want to transfer it to my savings, where they'd "grow better". Same things for what I have left in my US checking account. Too bad the change euro/dollar is not so favorable for converting dollars to euros right now.

The most important thing I am learning is to hold until I can afford things. Put money aside for what I want (but don't need) and for the emergencies. I still splurge on what is important to me: theatre tickets and once in a while (a loooong while), a nice dinner in a carefully chosen place. It makes everything more special!

1 comment:

Fabulously Broke said...

I think that this is a wonderfully thought out list.

The only thing I'd mention is that hot water in laundry is good for your sheets to kill the bed mites (bed bugs)...

But saving money on the big things like TV, the Car and saving 10% are good ways to begin.

Fabulously Broke in the City
Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver...

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