Friday, September 23, 2016

Number Crunching...

As we are approaching the end of the year, I decided to look at my savings goals for the year.

I did not like what I saw since, I will not be able to meet my savings goal. Here are the major reasons:

1. I have decided to step in and help a family member and I gifted the money.
2. I have budgeted for a lower cost, in-country vacation but decided to take mom to Italy for her birthday.
3. I went to the US for a business trip and spent some money on shopping which was not budgeted.

I was a bit bummed about this but then I remembered to check my numbers by December 2015 and was surprised to find out that by the end of the year I will have increased my savings by 67%! Now, that is a great achievement.

I will plan more carefully for next year factoring in some unexpected expenses. I should have a miscellaneous category in my budget.

Still it is too soon to be thinking about the end of the year so, I will just focus on spending wisely. May be I can make up for a little bit of the gap between my goal and my end of year outlook.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Pictures from our Italy trip!

I am not good with picture taking. But here are some I took during our trip:

 Our tiny rental car. Isn't it cute?

Lake Maggiore

Lake Como



Lake Garda (I think!)


Monday, September 5, 2016

Crazy vacation in Italy!

Mom and I went to Milan for an 8-day trip. We rented a cute Fiat 500 to roam around Milan. It was extremely tiring since I had to do all the driving but, also a great vacation in many ways.

We landed in Milan on a Friday afternoon and got our car and headed towards our hotel. After check-in, we decided to have dinner somewhere in Milan and get a feel for the city.

On Saturday, we went to Lake Maggiore and drove on one shore up to the Swiss border. It was absolutely breathtaking. We stopped at many little towns to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

On Sunday, we visited Lake Como and went to Bellagio with a car ferry. It was also stunning but also very crowded. Como is the "in" place where many famous people own houses. We took a ride up the mountain and saw more spectacular views and took an alternative route back to Milan driving by farms and cheese factories.

On Monday, we drove to Genoa and it's shore a little bit but were less than impressed. I think, we could have skipped Genoa. On the way back, we had dinner in Torino and totally fell in love with that city. It was absolutely very green and beautiful. If I had to live in Italy, that would be the city I would love to live. That was a fun day since we literally had breakfast in Milan, lunch in Genoa and dinner in Torino. I am very much used to driving in a very congested city but, the Italians drive like crazy on the Autostrada (Highway). They drive way past the speed limit.

Tuesday, I did not feel like doing anything. We slept in until noon and then strolled around a mall. Had dinner in Milan at a really nice place where the locals would go.

On Wednesday, we decided to go see Lake Iseo which we instantly fell in love with. I think Lake Como is highly overrated. If I could, I would own a place by Iseo. Such a beautiful and peaceful place. We drove all around it.

Thursday was the day we decided to take the Milan Sightseeing Tour. The Red Line was the best. The Blue and Green Lines were just OK . The Duomo Cathedral and the Castle Sforzesco were magnificent. We were totally exhausted mainly due to the hot and humid weather at the end of the day.

Friday was our last day of vacation so we went to Verona. Took the sightseeing tour there as well. Such a beautiful little city! I am so glad, we did that. It wasn't in our early plans. On the way back to Milan, we visited Lake Garda and had dinner by the Lake.

On Saturday, checked-out, went to the airport and got delayed nearly two hours due to the air traffic not over Milan but over Istanbul and by the time we reached home it was already 7 p.m.

Tried to take it easy on Sunday but there were loads of laundry and a lot of stuff to be put away and I think, I need a vacation to just RELAX.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Why spend money when it is not necessary?

I am planning to spend some money totally unnecessarily but it just feels right. How?

Well, the studio apartment I rented had a very old and filthy junk of a washing machine. Although I have a machine at my principal home, it is not easy or possible to carry the work clothes back and forth every week. So, a washing machine at the Studio is a necessity. I had initially thought of buying a very low end machine and splitting the cost of it with the landlord.

Then, I remembered that mom has an old machine that has very long cycles. She has been complaining about that for quiet a while now. I decided to ask her for her machine and offered to buy her a new one. I will shell out about 4 times as much money as compared to the above option but, this will make my mom happy. So why not?

I am a born saver and a budget maker. I make sure, I have some wiggle room in my budget for occasions like this because I like to make my family happy. I know for a fact that my mom will never purchase a new machine while the one she owns is still working. However, each time she needs to use this machine, she hates it. While I have the means for doing this, I would like to do it.

Now I am on the lookout for a fairly priced nice machine with short cycles. I will make every effort to score it at the best available price.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

How far are you from Financial Independence?

I keep asking myself  this question all the time. I came to a realization that, if it were only me, I would be able to answer that question much more comfortably.

However, I feel responsible regarding some members of my family and I think I should be prepared to help them if I have to. I have made many calculations and projections and came up with three scenarios.

Scenario Number 1: Retire in March 2018 at the age of 51 with some savings and a rental home. This can provide a very modest living with no possibility of travel outside of Turkey. With this scenario, I will not be able to help others if family emergencies come up as much as I would like. So, I really do not like this one and 51 is too soon to retire anyway. If this scenario becomes reality, I will probably have to look for some consultancy or training work like I used to have.

Scenario Number 2: Retire in March 2020 at the age of 53 with a good deal of savings and a rental home. This one will allow me to travel and help others if there is ever a need for that. So, this scenario is a good one.

Scenario Number 3: Retire in March 2023 at the age of 56. Now that is a comfortable living with money to spend, to share and even save. 56 is a good age to retire and I will not have to worry about whether I should get a part time job or not.

So, obviously I target the third option. However, it is not completely dependent on me. As much as I like my job and have no intention to leave it, I am not too sure if my job will be around for me till 2023. My boss wants to relocate to the US and he is looking to sell his business. I am sure the new owners will need me for a while but then what?

So, I am just hoping that I will be able to pull in the same level of salary till 2023 at this job or another so that, I can comfortably retire and feel safe.

Wonder what other people are making their estimations.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Hot and Humid weekend filled with Pride and Prejudice

During the last two weeks, Istanbul has been too hot and humid. This week will not be much different I am afraid.

During the weekend I did loads and loads of laundry, folded them and ironed my shirts. That was all I could do. I did not dare going outside at all. My car needs to be washed desperately but, I could not do it. I tried to keep cool by jumping in the shower several times during the day.

I also watched the last three episodes of Pride and Prejudice, the BBC mini series online. While I was at it, I decided to also watch the movie version with Keira Knightley. I must say I like both Darcys the same. Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen were both excellent. I prefer Jennifer Ehle's Lizzie to the one portrayed by Keira Knightley. More sophisticated.

I was supposed to pull the kitchenware together to carry to the studio but that was not done. It was a mostly lazy weekend.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Pool and What is Left To Do

The studio I have rented has an indoor and an outdoor pool. I usually find pools icky but I have checked it out. During the weekend the pool is a bit crowded. So, on Monday, they have a cleaning routine. I do not think the pool gets much use during the week. A couple of times I was there during the day, noone was using the pool.

So, I intend to use the pool after work during the week. I desperately need some exercise and swimming seems to be a good starting point. It is too hot to go out for walking these days anyway. I know the weather will turn after the first half of August. It always does. Once I build some muscles and when the weather is cooler, I will also start walking.

And here is a tally of what is accomplished and what is yet to be done:
- Get the motorized shutters fixed 
- Find a service company for the air conditioner DONE! The A/C is going to be fixed on Monday
- Put the wardrobe together DONE!
- Put the chest of drawers together DONE!
- Put the chair together DONE!

- Prepare the stuff to be moved to the studio

  • The spare kitchen table
  • Kitchenware
  • First Aid Kit 
  • Books waiting to be read:) 
  • Iron
I have spoken to the landlord and we agreed that I should buy an inexpensive washing machine and we share the cost. There are really low priced and decent machines so, I am glad we agreed on this.

Not much is left to be done. Once I put everything in place, I will share some pictures.