Monthly Archives: September 2013

Cheering

I have noticed something odd on Dutch personal finance blogs, or rather the blogs that promote frugality. See, commenters tend to cheer for people who have regular salaries or low incomes and are paying off their debts. However, when somebody earns a shitload and starts stashing it away there are a little less cheers and some envious comments. There also seems to be a battle between people who are forced to live a frugal lifestyle and people who choose to live a frugal lifestyle even though they can “afford” a “regular” or “luxurious” lifestyle and keep up with the Joneses.

I don’t know, it’s just something that I thought I’d noticed.

I also have the feeling that it’s a Dutch thing. The nail that sticks out gets hammered down sort of thing. Whereas in America the squeaky wheel gets all the grease and people who have done well for themselves by stashing a huge amount are cheered on. It’s not something I noticed on my blog, but while reading comments on Dutch versions.

What’s your culture like when it comes to this issue? Is my perception of the Dutch correct?

Love,

Mrs EconoWiser

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Note To Self: Remember To Ask People Whether You Can Borrow The Item You Need

Yesterday I explained our plans for our mini break. I also decided to check out how much it would cost to rent a bike. Phew, these things go for €10 a day! So that would come to €20 a day for the both of us and €60 for the duration of our mini break. Since I have a really good bike and my husband was given my father’s bike (he’s got an electrical bike now, it’s all the rage here in The Netherlands) I couldn’t really see the point in renting bikes which are probably crappier.

However, I didn’t know how to tag these bikes along. I was already checking out bike carriers on Craigslist when I suddenly remembered the fact that my parents actually have a bike carrier. You can attach this thing onto the tow bar of your car, put the bikes on it and off you go. I phoned my father and we can borrow his bike carrier. He hardly ever used the thing anyway.

Another reminder and lesson learned. I really need to train myself in thinking that all the stuff I’d like to use is already out there. Just ask people whether you can borrow it when you need it. I have now learned that we do not need to go out and buy our own bike carrier.

What’s with the notion that you have to own everything you “need”? It’s so much better for the environment and your finances to share.

Love,

Mrs EconoWiser

The Mini Break

Yay, I booked a nice hotel with a special voucher for my husband and myself. It’s his birthday present. We’ll go to a county called Drenthe and we intend to hike and bike a lot while we’re there.

The voucher works as follows. You book a hotel and you’re staying there for free. The only catch is you have to pay for breakfast and dinner at the hotel you’re staying. However, you already know how much that will cost you, because it’s advertised on their website. In our case we’ll pay €15 for breakfast (always a buffet with plenty of nice food) per person and €35 for dinner (4 course surprise meal) per person. Of course, these are overpriced…but that’s how they can still make money on these deals. If we’d just pay for a hotel room and purchase our own breakfasts and dinners it’ll cost more in total. During dinner you have to buy your drinks as well. We make sure we have one or two drinks during dinner and that’s it. We have made use of this deal quite a number of times and we’re very content with it.

We’ll stay there for three nights in total and including taxes and booking fee it has cost me €347 (excluding drinks). However, the experience will probably be priceless. We usually find a cheap place to eat for lunch or make sure we pack our own every day.

You can buy these vouchers for €40. However, there are many people who get these vouchers as a present or win them or whatever. Then they don’t use the voucher and put it up for sale. I always manage to buy one online for only €5.

We’re thinking of heading for a friend’s house after that for another two nights where we can stay for free and visit the zoo and other cool places in the vicinity. Don’t worry, the friend stays over at our place very often so it’s not like we’re taking advantage of the situation.

I’m looking forward to our reasonably frugal mini break.

Love,

Mrs EconoWiser

Split-The-Bill Software

There’s a bank in The Netherlands which allows you to digitally split a bill, sends every participant an email and keeps up with who paid already and who didn’t. Coincidentally, this is “our bank”. Today my husband used the software for the first time and up till now he’s pretty impressed with what it does. His only concern was whether his friends minded the fact that the bank now knows their email addresses.

Do you use a feature like this?

Love,

Mrs EconoWiser

I Am An Epicurean

People tend to classify themselves in terms of their profession when they introduce themselves to each other. I am a plumber, I am a teacher or I am an accountant.

With financial independence in mind it’s a good idea to start defining oneself from a different perspective. I like to think I just love living my wonderful life by being happy and content. From now on I am going to describe myself as an epicurean. WTF?!

I quote:

Epicurus believed that what he called “pleasure” is the greatest good, but the way to attain such pleasure is to live modestly and to gain knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of one’s desires. Source: Wikipedia

 

Hey, that sounds a lot like what you and me are after, isn’t it?

Hi, I’m Mrs EconoWiser and I’m an epicurean.

Love,

Mrs EconoWiser

The Assocation That’s Supposed To Protect Buyer’s Rights Is Against Extra Mortgage Payments!

Here in The Netherlands we have an association that aims to protect and advise home owners. We’re members of the club.

I phoned them about their view on extra mortgage payments on our type of (savings) mortgage. And what do you know? They’re AGAINST the idea!!! Dutch readers of the blog can read it here.

They think that removing this restriction will cause weaker groups to change their mortgage in a way that’s not good for them. And there are a number of other bogus arguments.

So, for once, many politicians have had a great idea and would like people to make extra mortgage payments…but this association is against that?! Well, politicians never listen to advice…right?! Fingers crossed.

Love,

Mrs EconoWiser

Would You Buy A Second-Hand Pram?

Okay, we need to think about this pram thing. The husband and my family is very much against me buying a second-hand pram.

I’ve had a look at these things and a good quality 3 or 4 in one pram thingy (which allows you to tow the kid along from 0 till 4 years old) will set us back about €1.000. I mean, really?!

I’ve had a peek at our version of Craigslist and there are soooooooooooo many second-hand prams for sale. A really nice one which looks in great condition would set us back a lot less than a new version.

The husband is determined on getting a new one. What’s your opinion? Am I too extreme?

Love,

Mrs EconoWiser