How we save over $5000 on food

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Are you tired like N-dog here, of constantly finding yourself stressed out while standing in the grocery store, not knowing what you`re going to have for dinner? Do you want to save more money on food?  Are you tired of eating industrial, un-healthy food? Then keep on reading!

So.. this is embarrassing, but a couple of years ago, when BF and I moved in together, we both lived in small spaced dorms and shared kitchen with a lot of random (and semi-crazy) people, so we didn`t like to spend much time in the common room, which means that we didn`t think about how much money we wasted on food. We went to expensive grocery stores because it was more convenient, we bought easy expensive industrial food,  and shopped every day. Neither of us thought about how much we were really spending.

But then we moved into a house together and I started paying attention to what I ate due to my Fibromyalgia. That was 3 years ago, and I`ve had a steep learning curve and saved so much money! Approximately $5300 a year! That`s A LOT of money. We used to spend more about $900(!!) on food a month. I know, I know, but I did warn you, it was not my finest hour. …Continue reading

Be SMART about phone use and SAVE money

In September 2012 I had finally saved enough money to buy a smart phone. But then there was the choice of choosing a reasonable cell phone plan. What`s usual in Norway, is to have a plan which has a lot included. At that point, there was only one I thought fitting to my cell phone use, a plan that cost me $35 a month. And it included 600 texts, 600 mms, 600 minutes and 1000MB, which I thought was a great deal!

6 months later, I find myself realizing that I never use the phone that much, so I don`t get the value of the monthly cost of $35! So I went online to my cell phone plan contractor, to see if they had something that would suit my phone use better. That`s when I discovered a new cell-phone plan! Sure it only included 150 texts, MMS, MB and minutes, but that should be sufficient for my use. And it only cost $17.50! That would mean cutting my cell phone bill in HALF!

By changing my phone plan, I`ll now save $210 a year!! And!! Another genius thing I intend to do, is instead of adding that extra $17.50 a month to my spending money, I`m going to save the money. I intend to make an automatic transfer of $17.50 to my Vacation savings account each month! This way I make sure that I really do save money by cutting my phone plan in half! 😉 So be SMART and start SAVING money! 

ImageA Dublin snapshot, one of the places I`ve saved up months in advance to visit!

What about you? How are your cell phone bills? Is there anything you could cut back on? Is there anything else you`d rather spend the money on?

My Old School Savings Method

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This Christmas I spent 1$ on this piggy bank, that doesn`t at all look like a piggy bank, but I have no idea what else you call it in English, in Norwegian it`s just called a “sparebøsse”, which doesn`t make much sense either, just that it`s something you save money in. Anyway, back to topic. I bought this in order to save some cash for my summer vacation, and I guess you`re all thinking, “why aren`t you saving the money in a real bank?” Well, here`s my answer. This “piggy” bank doesn`t have an easy way of taking out money whenever I need (i.e. want) it. I have to physically destroy by using a can opener to get to the money.

As for me, who is used to a 24/7 accessability to my online bank, having money on a savings account with literally no interest at all, can be too tempting. I don`t really earn anything by having the money in the bank, which makes it so much more “acceptable” in my mind to dip into. I do have a special savings account for holidays and vacations, and well, let`s just say it`s too easy to access them. That´s why I decided to save cash. Now do keep in mind, this is only for a short-period and for a limited amount of money. I do of course have more serious savings account that I never dip into, like my saving for-a-house account, or my emergency savings.

And before you ask, I`ve already paid for my airline tickets, and the accommodation is free, as it`s my parents apartment I`ll be living in. The money I`m saving up now is just for food, entertainment and shopping. So until June I`ll keep on saving cash. So far I`ve saved about 150$! And by adding some cash now and then the next three months, it`ll probably be a nice surprise when I eventually have to use that dreaded can-opener!

Do you ever go old school like me when it comes to smaller saving goals?

Student loan Pros; do they exist?

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Yes, at least in Norway they do. Though debt is never a positive thing, student debt is one of the few debts in life that I have accepted. I think of it as an investment in my future, as nowadays, higher education is a requirement for most well-paid jobs. Of course, I know that these conditions that I`ve written about in this post might not apply to student loans in other countries, so it would be great if you`d comment on how things work where you live. Here`s a list of the positive aspects of Norwegian student debt.

  • First and foremost it makes education available for more people, which is something I love. Higher education is practically free in Norway. Tuition is about 180$, though costs of curricula is high; usually between 900-1000$ a year, depending on what classes you take. Student loans are mainly to cover accommodation, food, curricula and transportation.

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  • Both interests and part of your debt will be deleted if you have a long term illness and have to quit school or work, receive social benefits or low wages (12 months interests deleted if annual income is less than 40.000$). When I got sick and had to quit school twice in a year, I lived on student loans for a long time, because my social benefits application got lost (!!!), which means that debt was accumulating rather quickly. Luckily, after I finally got my social benefits, I applied for debt deletion, and it got accepted! 11.600$ was deleted of my current debt. The day I received the letter telling me about this was a very joyous day.
  • Debt cannot be inherited. If I was to die young (heaven forbid), neither parents nor future husband, will be stuck with my debt.
  • Due to population decrease in certain parts of Northern Norway, the government has decided to do something about it. Up to 4.500$ of debt will be deleted per year, IF you live and work in certain areas of Northern Norway. It`s a great opportunity for those who might be from that area, or just want to experience something else and doesnt have any commitments elsewhere.

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  • Certain teacher education programs qualify for debt deletion. If you study science or foreign languages at bachelor and master level + 1 year of teacher education program, up to 9.000$ can be deleted of the student debt. This is what I hopefully will qualify for.

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  • You can receive a travel grant; I`m registered in another part of the country, so I receive 625$ a year for travel expenses.
  • And best of all; 40% of your student loan per year is converted to a grant if you pass all of your exams. This makes it really encouraging to pass every exam and graduate. So if you take maximum student loans for 5 years; about 90.000$, 36.000$ of them will be deleted automatically as long as you pass your exams.

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make sure to keep updated, l`ll be writing a post about the cons of student loans anyday now, and one covering how I plan to minimize debt.