Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy 2014!

Happy New Year!


I wish everyone the best of luck, health and happiness in 2014!


This year has been interesting in more ways than one and the last scandal involving the Government seems to be dragging my beloved country into a serious turbulence. I hope, we will come out strong and put our country back to the path of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Turkey.

When I was a child, I would do the math and tell myself: I will be 33 in the year 2000! Oh! Wow! I used to think 33 was really old and yet, here we are in almost 2014:) Not feeling old yet...


Friday, December 27, 2013

TGIF!

I was at a Customer today and I am so thankful that this week is over. Since, I cannot still fly, a 9 hour bus trip is awaiting me. Hopefully, early tomorrow morning I will be home.

On Thursday and Friday, I will be meeting a new Customer in Istanbul. This really is a blessing. The relationship with my current customer was on shaky ground lately due to some back-stabbing "friends" but, they seem to want to keep on with us. It means more travel to Izmir but, as long as money keeps coming, I am not going to complain.

The economy has taken a nosedive lately due to a Government scandal and this year may be tighter than expected so, every extra penny goes to savings. There may be early elections this year too. Many businesses will be cautious and they will probably stop any non-urgent expenses and investments.

We sure are living in interesting times...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review of 2013 Goals

Today, I sat down and looked at my numbers.

Istanbul stock exchange tanked very recently due to a major scandal involving many members of the Government so, my Retirement Account took a big hit. 

I have exceeded my goals in all other categories so, all in all this was a good year. 

Here is a summary:

Cash: +19% (but I spent quiet a bit for my home renovation project)
Retirement Fund: -4%
Stocks: +11% (was a lot better few weeks ago)
Gold: 0% (met the goal)
Dollar Account: +12% (dollar appreciated against TL significantly this year)

In 2014, besides funding my retirement account religiously, I will be carefully saving TL and Dollars only. I have enough exposure to Stock exhange via my retirement account and my Stock Account.

It looks like this may be a tight year so, I do not know if I will be able to take my dream vacation. My intended date is still almost a year away. We shall see.

Now, I need to sit down to make my 2014 budget.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!



Image: Courtesy of http://www.freechristmaswallpapers.net

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Friends!

I belong to a group of 7. We are former colleagues and although we haven't been working for the same company for over 7 years, we are a pretty close circle of friends. There are 3 guys and 4 ladies including yours truly in our group. We keep in touch via phone all the time but make sure we get together at least every month.

Our outings are usually of the expensive kind because, all of us like to eat and drink and Istanbul is a gem of a place. We almost never go to the same place twice in a year. Since it is only once a month, I do not mind the expense. It is pretty much my only splurge. Usually alcoholic beverages cost a lot because of the enormous taxes imposed by the current conservative Government. They cannot ban it as they would love to do but they keep upping the taxes so, our outings cost dearly. I usually do not drink so that I can drive some of my friends home and whenever I feel like drinking, we leave all the cars and use public transportation. We are all responsible adults with ages ranging between 42-54. Oh and btw, we always divide the bill among us equally because doing it otherwise would make us feel cheap. The guys are the bigger drinkers so they usually treat us to coffee afterwards or pay the parking tickets and try to balance the expenses out. It is cute.

For the last 3 years we started a new tradition of gift giving for the New Year's (we do not celebrate Christmas, since we are not Christians but, we do celebrate the New Year and for some of us exchanging gifts is something we like to do. More religious types frown upon that but, I do not care).

Yesterday night was our gift exchange night and we had a blast. We do have some pranksters in our group and they love their tricks. So, I ended up with a very elegant 100% wool shawl (my principal gift), a cute puppy bookmark and a couple of cute bowls and a horribly slutty looking sequined shirt which was my funny gift from the pranksters:)

I have bought everyone funny multi-colored toe socks:)

I am sure glad I belong to this funny, intelligent, thoughtful group of friends. They are the best!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Weight Loss Progress

Mom and I have been seeing a dietician every month since February 18, 2013. She lost 12 kgs. (26.45 lbs) and my weight loss is as shown on the ticker above.

Some people are able to lose a lot faster but we were on and off the diet vagon and even when we were off, we had been relatively good. This has been more of a lifestyle change for both of us.

Our next appointment will be in January 21st. Until then, we will stick to our plans. She actually added more food to my list because apparently I have lost more than she expected during the last 20 days.
I am now allowed to exercise so, I will be using weights for my arms and Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds DVDs for exercising indoors.

The key to weight loss is drinking plenty of water. If I remember to drink green tea that helps too. My dietician wants us to drink two cups of green tea each day but, since I do not like it, I tend to skip it.

People ask me what my goal weight is. The thing is I do not know. I have spent the last 25 years fat/obese. I do not know what is a realistic weight for me. I just want to keep trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle with plenty of appropriate exercise. I would like to get below 100 kgs (220 pounds) but that will take a long time.

I already feel much better about my body weight. I can walk long distances without my feet and back hurting. I do not feel tired all the time anymore. I can only guess when I shed about 40 more pounds, life will be much better.

I am getting rid of all fat clothes. I wowed never to gain back the weight I have so far lost. I am not shopping either. I have enough clothes to wear until I get down to two sizes smaller. I am happy as of now.




Friday, December 13, 2013

Financial Outlook

This month is a tight one and seems like, so will be the next two months due to lack of new projects. If I can stick to my strict budget, I will not have to dip into savings or rather EF until the end of  March. However, that is very very tight.

When I chose to work part-time, I had fully anticipated that this was a possibility. However, I always had work so, I guess I got spoilt.

I have decided that I should try to stick to this very tight budget even if a new project and money comes my way during January and February.

Sometimes I wonder whether I should have continued working full-time but then again, there haven't been any opportunities. Unfortunately, in this country at my age, one is considered "old" for many positions.

I will be financially free in May 2014 and after that even if I do not work at all, I could live with my passive income. However, it would be living with a somewhat tight budget. I think, it is too early for me to be stuck at such a life.




Thursday, December 12, 2013

Know Thy Unit Prices!

Few years ago, based on what I read at some frugal living blogs, I started a Price Book but, I am not that organized. Yes, I make a budget, yes, I save money on a monthly basis but keeping a Price Book is a bit of a stretch. I do have a good memory though and I use that to my advantage.

I know the unit prices of all sorts of detergents I use, paper goods, olive oil, milk and a lot of other staples. So, while grocery shopping I always compare unit prices and if there is a real good deal of something I regularly use, I stock up on that item. This works for me.

Mom is currently with me until mid February or so but, I remember her mentioning that she was low on dishwasher tablets. So, the other day as we were walking the isles of a supermarket, I noticed a very good deal on dishwasher detergent and we bought her a large pack. She laughs at me for remembering such stuff but again, it works for me!

Few weeks ago I snatched up body washing liquids at half price. They came in small bottles but the unit price was cheaper than the large bottles. Larger containers do not always mean economy. Also, I like it better when I have small bottles of a variety of fragrances instead of having to wash with the same thing for months. Another thing I have noticed is that I use liquid cleaning products more sparingly if they are in a smaller bottle. So, even when I buy large bottles due to a good price, I pour the contents to smaller ones.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Let it snow! Let it snow!

There is a snow storm out there. It is lovely to watch it but then again, when one thinks of the poor and the homeless... May God help them...

It snows a few times during the winter in Istanbul and since this is a city on the seaside, the weather is milder and the snow usually melts away fast. Some years we do not get any snow at all. Inner parts of the country is a different story. In Ankara, it snows and snows and freezes over and snows for weeks. It also gets very cold.

It is a good day to make hot cocoa.


Monday, December 9, 2013

So sick...

I got sick last Monday and even today I am feeling pretty bad. For  four days, I tried OCT medicine but on Friday, I had to go see a doctor who prescribed me antibiotics which make my stomach hurt.

My throat is much better thanks to the antibiotics but, I still feel very weak and light-headed.

I stepped on the scale today and was pleasantly surprised that I lost some more weight possibly due to being so sick. Still, I am happy:)

I spent some money on medicine and grocery shopping last week. I probably would have spent much more so, I decided to put a 20 in my sealed pot (which is really not a sealed Christmasy tin).

Monday, December 2, 2013

Back to losing weight...

While I was doing the home renovations, I had given up my diet. I was not being totally bad but, I was not losing weight either.

So, for a very long while, my weight loss ticker above has stayed where it was. Now, I am back to losing again. YAY!


Sunday, December 1, 2013

SFT's Sealed Pot Challenge for 2014 begins tomorrow!

I am happy to be a part of the Sealed Pot Challenge this year. There are very inspiring bloggers among the participants.

For further info: http://sftandthe101challenge.blogspot.com

I must go find a container to make a sealed pot. I will not be putting coins in because TL coins do not amount to much. I will be putting in 5 and 10 TL bills. For those who are interested here are some currency conversion rates as of last Friday:

1 USD= 2.02 TL
1 BPS= 3.29 TL
1 Canadian Dollar= 1.90 TL
1 Australian Dollar= 1.82 TL
1 Euro= 2.75 TL

In this country we had been through several years of high inflation rates in the past and finally in 2005 we threw out 6 zeros from our currency. Life was difficult when you had to make several digit calculations. It was horrible to be paid in billions (no, it's not a typo).