Money issues

All in all, I did fairly well with my money.

If I had not extended my trip by another three months, with all the costs that occurred (flights, accommodation, insurance, daily life) I would have easily made it with the money I had saved.

I will make a big analysis of the cost – which city was most expensive, where did I spend most on beer etc…

All that data is hidden in my big excel sheet, and I am curious to analyze it.

That said, I am close to hit rock bottom soon, e.g. making the last transfer from my savings account to balance out my bank account and my credit cards.

And then, that was it, I’m officially at zero.

I thought that moment would freak me out more, even in the weeks before hitting it… but, actually, no. It’s ok now.

I might get a short term loan from my sister or a friend, just to cover the current costs of the last weeks.

Accommodation and plane tickets are pretty much paid, so we’re talking about a fairly minor sum, nothing that I could not pay off within  a month or two, once I am back at work.

The looming Madonna Tour 2015 will be a bigger blow to my budget, for sure.

It is weird though, having lived off my savings for that long, living and spending and swiping my card every day without having to work for it. (Well, because I worked for it ever since I started to save money in 2010…)

The money just flew out, like it didn’t exist. It was just figures on a bank account, and a counter that let that figure become smaller and smaller every month. But it did not feel real.

A reminder how virtual it all is came the other day when I routinely checked all my credit card expenses online.

Something I do once or twice a week, just to keep control of the spending and eventual fraud.

And rightly so. One of my back-up cards that I hardly use suddenly sported a 4200 Euro debt. All transactions occurred in California, first in smaller stores (as if to test it), then Apple, Best Buy, Apple and Apple again. Bastards!

I called my bank immediately, they blocked it and will send a new card to my address in Australia.

It’s not my main card – I use the Lufthansa one as every Euro brings a mile in my account, hence free flights – but the one with the biggest credit line.

The card in question is my fail-safe card in case I quickly need to pay a huge bill – medical, or for example an emergency flight back….

Well, so it’s blocked, new card on the way, and I have to send or fax them a signed paper with the contested charges – I count on them to be refunded totally.

In total, I have to say the online banking and using my credit cards have worked pretty well. The only incidences so far were

  • the recent fraud in California;
  • a double charge by a hotel or booking company here and there, but quickly remedied by my banks;
  • a temporarily blocked card due to a suspected fraud in New Zealand, that was actually me – but my bank thought this card was gallivanting around the world too much – till I gave them the list of countries;
  • another blocked card du to a suspected fraud in Mexico – which I never realized, it was the bank that did it.

Other than that, smooth ride. But I also have five credit cards with me, to be sure I can always, somehow pay, plus three debit cards from my banks in Germany in Belgium

If you wonder how I do with cash – I have a VISA card from a German bank that does charge nothing at all when I get money from an ATM.

Just the daily conversion rate, plus any fee the ATM charges, but I try to find free ones.

I did not pay much money to get cash in the last 16 months, I guess less that 30 Euro’s in fees, and those mostly in the US, where banks like to charge up to 5$ for using their ATM… Ridiculous.

One thing I started doing on this trip is to enter every expense into an app on my phone, neatly sorting it into main categories, and hence gaining a pretty good overview of that I spend my money on.

I intend to do continue that when I’m back in the real world.

I wan to spend less on things and stuff, and start saving right away for the next adventures.

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