What is the Secret to cut your spending by 50% or more?

On October 28, 2014, in Finance, by Early Financial Freedom
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What is the Secret to cut your spending by 50% or more?

 

What is the secret to cut your essential expenses by 50% or more? It turns out that it is not a secret at all, rather a common sense. If you want to cut your expenses by a substantial percentage, you should just move from a high cost of living (HCOL) area to a low cost of living (LCOL) area. The move could be between states or countries.

 

We moved from a HCOL area (New York – Long Island) to LCOL area (Istanbul – Turkey) over a year ago. This move reduced our essential expenses, such as groceries, utilities, transportation, eating out, family expenses, and healthcare, etc. I just wanted to quantify the reduction in cost so I compared our essential expenses between July’12-June’13 and July’14-June’14, below.

 

Essentials Monthly Averages
Jul’12 – Jun’13 (NY)
Monthly Averages
Jul’13 – Jun’14 (IST)
Diff. ($) Diff. (%)
Grocery $973 $546 $427 -43.88%
Utilities $947 $442 $505 -53.33%
Transportation $313 $385 -$72 23.00%
Eating Out $334 $184 $150 -44.91%
Family $243 $250 -$7 2.88%
Health $1,882 $293 $1,589 -84.43%
TOTAL $4,692 $2,100 $2,592 -55.24%

 

As you can see, our $4,692/month expenses dropped to $2,100/month, which is a nice %55.24 decrease. By the way, we did not change our consumption habits so there is not much of a difference as to what we bought, etc. I intentionally did not include the other costs (housing, etc.) in this analysis, but they are also cheaper in Turkey than New York.

Overall, the move has saved us money and has improve our quality of life.

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Additional Benefit of Having a Master’s Degree: Teaching!

On September 26, 2014, in General, by Early Financial Freedom
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The English language is currently considered world’s business language, as far I know. Knowing English could open up many opportunities especially if you are living overseas.

When I completed my master’s degree in engineering, I though nothing more about it; it was just a nice way to advance my career.  After moving to Turkey, I found a surprising new way of using my master’s degree: teaching in a college or university. A private university has offered me to teach two courses, in English, for its faculty of engineering. Each course has 3 hours per week lecturing time so I get to spend 6 hours a week in the university’s central campus. The pay is not much but it is not too bad either.

I was looking for an opportunity to use my additional free time so this teaching offer fit just right in. As you may guess, this is my first time teaching experience ever. It’s pretty exciting and fulfilling so far. I may even consider to increase my teaching hours.

Well, time will tell.

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Moving? It’s better to rent first!

On June 19, 2014, in Finance, by Early Financial Freedom
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Moving to a different location? It’s better to rent first!

 

There is a general advice given to expats; before you buy, rent for a year. I am a living proof that it holds true! We’ve moved from New York to Istanbul, Turkey about a year ago. Istanbul is a major city with a 14 million+ population. It is a great city with its history, culture, fast-paced life style, etc. It has great places to visit as a tourist; such as Topkapi Palace, The Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia, The Blue Mosque, Istanbul Archaeology Museums, Süleymaniye Mosque, Galata Tower, Grand Bazaar, Princes’ Islands, etc. To give you a general idea, Istanbul’s climate and economical life is exactly like New York’s.

 

As with all big cities, Istanbul offers better job opportunities than any other cities in Turkey. There are great cultural events, many reputable universities, sports teams’ stadiums, etc. Kids as well as adults can greatly broaden their horizons in Istanbul.

 

Unfortunately, visiting a place as a tourist is one thing, but living in it is totally another thing, it turns out. With 14+ million people, the traffic is a major headache and a time sucker, not to mention that driving is a challenge here, since not everyone fully respects the traffic laws. People are too busy and are always rushing from one place to another. It is somewhat expensive as well. I feel that local Real Estate values have risen perhaps somewhat unsustainably.

 

What really disappointed us living in Istanbul was the lack of a community feeling. People seem to become more self-centric, somewhat showoff. Locals are categorizing themselves with gated communities they live in. Once desired neighborly relationships seem to be lost; I bet many people don’t even know his/her next door neighbor or never set a foot in their apartment. I know for one that my next door neighbor did not!

 

So, what we have decided is to move to a smaller sea town in the South of Turkey. It is like moving from New York to Florida so there is no snow in winter but there will be a bit of extra heat in summer. Since we work from home, lack of better jobs in this city is not an issue for us. One of the main reasons of this move is to have that community feeling. We want our two kids to experience it first-hand. Lower cost of living is of course a plus. Having our apartment a few hundred yards away from the beach doesn’t hurt either.

 

Let’s see how this experience turns out.

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