Jun 12, 2010

Italy Dream List

My plane leaves later today! I am getting really nervous and anxious for some reason, even though I've been waiting for this for months and I'm not afraid of flying at all. I wonder why? Oh well. I am calming myself by making a list of things I absolutely MUST do while I'm in Italy. Here goes:

1) EAT: This, more than anything else, is my big goal. I literally just want to eat and drink wine. And I want as many local dishes as possible. This may or may not include a fried spleen sandwich and some sardine pasta in Sicily... it’ll depend on just how gross I feel like getting that day.

2) RELAX: I really want to get into the Southern Italian culture and just chill. I want to relax on the beach and not have to worry about going anywhere, doing anything, or money, or stress. This isn’t my usual style, so this might be the hardest thing.

3) Pick an orange off a tree: I love looking at orange trees. So I want to pick one off a tree and eat it.

4) Speak Italian: Even if I get nervous and mess up.

5) Make friends: The other people in the group are way younger than me (like 5 years younger), and they are all undergrads. So basically their goal list is probably like "Get drunk" and "Party." I'm not the most social person, and I'll be very different from them, but I'm going to try to make friends with some of them anyway so I'm not on the outside. Someone's gotta have something in common with me, anyway.

6) Try a mudbath on the Aeolian Islands: As a group, we are taking a boat ride out to the various Aeolian Islands (including the volcano Stromboli!). I'm super excited and want to try out the mudbaths there on one of the islands.

7) Ride a vespa: I’m not sure if I’ll get any opportunities to do this, I guess I'll have to do some major sucking up to some locals. This isn’t a do or die thing like the others, but it’d be really sweet to pull an Eddie Izzard-style Pope and say “Ciaaaao!”

So that's it. I'm not going to have internet in Italy, so I probably won't be on this blog much at all, but I'll see you all when I get back in 7 weeks!!! :-D

Jun 9, 2010

Budgeting, Italian Style

There are only three more days until I leave for Europe!!!! EEEEEE! I'm really freaking out!! This is going to be so awesome. :-) I'm so excited that I just have to share the master plan with you, complete with a budget and Euro-US Dollar conversions! Haha.

First, I'm spending a week in Marburg, Germany visiting a friend. I used to live here, so I can't wait to go back. It's my favorite place that I've ever lived! Plus I haven't seen her since September. :-) My budget for that week is one lump sum: 285 euro. That includes all of our various planned activities-- train tickets, World Cup games in Frankfurt, going to the zoo and a drive along the Rhein, + food for each day and buying some stuff for the boy. I should probably be under budget here, but just in case.

Then, I'm taking a night train from Germany to Rome (already paid for), and we've got Italy for six weeks!! The first week will be spent in Rome (except for Saturday when we are moving in in Reggio), so I have 100 euro allotted for fun & free spending money, and 55 euro for food once we move into our apartments. These are hiiiiigh estimates, since all of our activities are paid for by the program. I probably won't use it all but rather more than not enough, right?

After we get all settled in in Reggio, my budget goes to 35 euro a week for groceries and 65 euro a week for free spending money. I think these will be just fine... I'll have more than enough to go out for dinners or to the clubs, and enough for food during our weekend trips.

Also, I budgeted some money for one weekend trip to Palermo, which is 170 euro. With the program, we go on a ton of pre-paid trips around the area, but we also have 2 free weekends. I have always wanted to go to Palermo, so I'm going to take one weekend and do it. It's only about 3 hours away by train and ferry!

So, the rough totals once the euros are converted:
Food: $285 (230 E - 35/wk + 55 for week 1)
Spending: $525 (425 E - 65/wk + 100 for wk 1)
Souvenirs: $35 (25 E)
Palermo Trip: $210 (170 E)
Week in Marburg: $350 (285 E)
TOTAL: $1,405

Side Note: Going out to dinner is always budgeted in fun money for me... it's easier for me to mentally keep it separate that way. :)

Jun 8, 2010

Bad PF Blogger

You know, lately I’ve been feeling like a “bad” PF blogger. I mean, since I started this blog, I made goals to pay down my student loan debt, and didn’t achieve them. I went out and bought a brand new car (granted with a 0% interest loan and $5,500 off, but still). And NOW I’m spending my entire travel fund + on one 6 week trip to Italy. Even though I’m not upset about these things, sometimes I feel like one of those irresponsible people that many PF bloggers write about with disdain. You know, “How dare you take a 6 week vacation/trip when you have all this debt?”

But isn’t part of personal finance about freedom and happiness? Isn’t that why we take care of our money, so that we don’t have to give up on the things we like best in life? I guess people can call me irresponsible, but I am a firm believer in doing what you want to do. What’s the point of dreaming about things if you never do them? I'll be the first to admit I am probably doing things backwards. In paper form, it's definitely pay down debt first, travel later. But my reasoning is- how can you pass up a chance to fulfill three life goals in one shot, especially when you aren't going to go into extra debt to do it? I mean really, how?

Jun 4, 2010

2010 Goal Updates

It's halfway through the year already, so it's time for the dreaded check-up on my 2010 goals. Overall I'm doing OK, and a few are already completely finished!

1. Pay student loan down to 14,500
Started- 15,391
Current- 15,273
Wow. Um. Not much to say about that one.
2. Get EF up to $2,000 (and keep it there!)
So... I have 250 in my EF right now... another fail.
3. Put $1,500 more into my Travel Fund
CHECK (ISH). I put about $650 into it this year, but then I decided to go to Italy. That will empty out the Travel Fund completely. But since almost my entire June paycheck is being used towards traveling, I guess I will consider this goal complete.

1. Travel to at least THREE new places
So far, I’ve been to two new places: Mankato, MN and Milwaukee, WI. And when I go over to Italy, I’ll get to add about 10 more cities to my travel map!!
2. Get a new tattoo
Not yet, maybe in the fall though? Not good to get them before summer.
3. Read 35 books
This last semester was hell and I have only finished 10 books so far… I have to catch up like crazy in the summer if I want to do this. Stay tuned.
4. Keep my relationship with the boy healthy and happy
Things are going good.
5. Try out 20 new recipes
So far, I’ve cooked 9! My favorite was the BBQ chicken burgers with coleslaw.
6. Only buy (and wear) clothes that I absolutely love
I'm not doing so hot on this I don't think. I only bought three new shirts to wear this summer, two likes and one love. I also LOVE the Capri pants I bought. I returned about 5 things that I bought and didn’t really like too much though, which is about my normal style I guess. I have to stop letting my mom convince me to buy things I don’t like.
7. Volunteer this summer.
Since I’m bouncing around from place to place for the entire summer, one week here, one week there, I think I'll postpone this either for the Fall or next Summer.

1. Eat at least one fruit and vegetable per day
Well… I’ve gotten better. I usually get the fruit in, not the vegetable though. I really do hate most veggies.
2. Start using organic body products
CHECK! I switched over in late February. I now use organic shampoo, conditioner, face wash, acne medicine, lotions and shave gel. My acne has totally improved, I only get a zit once in a blue moon now which is amazing. If any of you guys have bad acne and nothing seems to work, give this a try!

1. Put more effort into teaching
CHECK. I think I did this semester. I put more effort into creating fun and interesting lessons, but I’m not really sure that my students learned anything or even enjoyed my class. Teaching is the most frustrating job ever.
2. Attend my first conference
CHECK! I went to GLAC like I wanted, and got to travel to Milwaukee to present!

Jun 2, 2010

The Week of Nothing

Continuing with the ping-pong game that is my living situation, I'm back at my parent's house again after spending a nice week at school with the boy. My last week to see him before I'm shipping off to Europe.

You know what, it's so strange to hang out with him and have literally nothing to do. We were completely inspired by the nothing, so... we did nothing. All week. We watched the whole first two seasons of True Blood (omg new obsession), took walks together, and saw a comedy rap duo for a $5 concert (they were actually really horrible, but the potential was there!).

AND. We played golf! I have never golfed before in my life, I’ll tell you what, I did not suck!! At least, I didn’t end up in any lakes or forests like I thought I might. My biggest problem was the in between shots, where I had to chip it up... I’m completely horrible at that. But it was really great, that was my birthday present from the boy. My birthday is actually in April, but we were crazily time and sleep deprived during the semester (how sad is that, actually?). So I got a late birthday treat- one round of golf, 2 tries in the batting cages, and some of those yummy wonton tacos from applebees... all free to me!