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Month Seven, Savings at $2,311.87

October 9th, 2006 at 07:10 pm

I spent $1592 a month last year. My savings are the difference, $1592-$1026= $566 times 7 months, $3962. Add to that my $150 in ďsavingsĒ and my whopping $9.51 in my emergency fund, Iíve saved $4121.51. If I take out what I spend on my vacation in Croatia and Bosnia, which is not part of my Challenge but is certainly spent money, itís $4121.51 less $1,809.64 for a total of $2,311.87. Saving an additional twenty-three hundred dollars in seven months while also taking a two week trip to Europe is pretty exciting.

* My income is calculated as follows: CA minimum wage of $6.75 for 40 hours a week, at 4.33 weeks in a month, $1178 total. Iíve taken FICA and SDI (CA State Disability Insurance) out for a total of $1073. This month I had two survey checks, one for $ and one for $10 (!!) and I also did 97 cents worth of recycling. $1073+$11+.97=1084.97.

** I originally assumed no federal or state tax liability; Iíd actually owe $47 a month, so I have to budget $95 a month to catch up. So my actual spendable income averaged over each month is my original calculation of $1073 less $47 for $1026.

***484.59 is the sum of the positive numbers; thatís the amount I have banked and unspent for non-monthly expenses. It is obviously not what was budgeted less what was spent. Each month I budget for non-monthly purchases; for example, I budget $13 for AAA and car registration every month, but have yet to spend it because it has yet to be due. Thatís why the balance is up to $91.

**** I have $9.51 set aside in by Emergency/Big Purchase Fund, and $150.00 set aside in ďSavings.Ē

I did re-arrange a few categories this month. I had $40 in my work out budget ďenvelopeĒ' I pulled some out and put back into the mix. I pulled some from almost every category to add to the gift category for this month; I certainly do not budget $75 a month for gifts, I just happened to find a lot of great ones in Croatia and Bosnia.

Note to anyone new: yes, a person on minimum wage generally couldnít travel to Europe for two weeks. One thing I said at the very beginning of my Challenge is that the one thing I would not give up is an opportunity to travel. So before I even planned this trip it was a ďcheatĒ I allowed myself. And I have to remember sometimes, that as much as I want to hold myself strictly to the rules, the reality is that Iím the one writing the rules for this Challenge!

Bosnian Clothes Pins: Frugal Souvenir Extraordinaire

October 8th, 2006 at 11:13 pm

I got home on Sunday, felt great Sunday and Monday, and then woke up Tuesday with a bad cold. It makes me mad. I had that good coming back from vacation feelingÖfeeling like my life was good, feeling encouraged to do fun things at home, feeling wanted at work. I went to the doctor ThursdayÖI donít have strep, which is why I went, just the usual cold.

Today Iím feeling a bit better, so Iím actually hanging laundry and trying to get through all the dishes in the house. I used the dryer more than I should, so I tried to get excited about my new Bosnian clothes pins. Well, I was already excited about the clothes pins, I just wasnít excited about the cloudy weather, but itís bright (and cold) today.

I guess I am just blue that I was so ďgo get íemĒ when I came back and now feel so blech, plus I missed four days at work after being gone 2-1/2 weeks, so of course I feel very guilty, almost shameful, about that. I get every cold there is, itís pretty ridiculous. I donít drink or smoke, I eat pretty nutritious food, and Iím overweight but not that overweight, and I get every sneeze, sniffle, and cough. Yes, I take multi vitamins. No., I donít exercise enough. Grrrr.

Itís a nice switch not spending; on vacation I handled so much cash, which is unusual for me, and spent so often, also unusual. Itís nice to be back in the land of perhaps one or two online transactions a week, for bills, and one or two in person, shopping. I havenít shopped for groceries yet, but we are due for a big re-stock.

Financially I still need to close the September books, but I know I dodged a bullet. I spent over a hundred dollars on gifts while travelling, and I am very lucky that my expenses in outer categories were low so I could ďstealĒ from my virtual envelopes to cover the gifts. I plan to really tighten the belt this and next month in most categories; after vacation, with all the included eating out, I feel like a little Spartan living will do my head and waist some good. Most of my Christmas shopping is done, actually, and thatís pretty cool.

On the Road: Grocery Shopping

October 8th, 2006 at 10:57 pm

When I travel, it seems likes itís the little differences that stick with me the most. The very first time I traveled, I felt almost dizzy with the little differences, now, a couple countries later, I can enjoy them.

Grocery shopping is a fun way of seeing a culture. From where the stores are and how many staff there are and what the hours are, to what is on the shelves. In Croatia and Bosnia, I only saw one store Iíd consider a large grocery store. Part of that is Iím sure due to being in the quaint old town areas, as opposed to the suburban areas that likely do have large stores.

Bread is usually better, and often is behind a counter. Surprisingly, Croatian bread seemed pretty mediocre, but the Bosnian stuff was good. The bread being behind the counter can be intimidating. The fruit, too, is intimidating: you have to use a little machine to weigh it and print a label. Ands you donít just put in the price per kilogramÖ.it spits out labels with the name of the fruit. I managed a couple times by saying "PleaseĒ in Bosna/Croat and holding the bag out to another customer. Once there seemed to be a staffer at the scale. It does make me realize how scary it must be to not know the language where you live. Imagine passing up fruit every day because you didnít know how to get it correctly.

I got plenty of yogurt that was plain, which is not so usual for the States. It seemed most was unflavored, while in the U.S. most is flavored. Iím not sure what the fat content was, or whether there were live cultures. Some was really runny and some was thick. It was all pretty good.

You can buy little pats of butter; that seemed odd to me. Perhaps one or two tablespoons worth. Many things seemed to be in smaller containers. I think that perhaps there is more of a culture of shopping daily or weekly, and not so much on stocking up. I never saw a laundry detergent that was anywhere near the size I usually grab.

Peanut butter is expensiveÖ.Nutella is cheap. What a world. Fruit syrup is by the fruit juice. This is think stuff that I would mix with club soda. Iím not sure whether it is intended to be mixed with tap water or not. The price is very low, especially compared to prices for fancy Torani syrups and the like. I missed out buying one because I was worried about the weight of my bag, what a shame.

Iíd love to be able to bring a bunch of grocery items home. Some I probably couldnít due to Customs; mostly it would just be a weight and packing issue. The soda is so much better outside the States, in my opinion. It is less sweet, more adult tasting. Since I donít drink alcohol, I appreciate beverages that are interesting and not just sugar water. Even the Fanta is different; it may be the same name, but there is more of a tang. Bitter Lemmon was often available; it seemed to be a combo of perhaps a less sweet Collins mix and tonic water. I could see children here spitting it out, but I thought it was fabulous. Something I could sip, like an aperitif.

How Much for Two Weeks in Europe?

October 6th, 2006 at 10:14 pm

My vacation cost me $1,809.64. That was for 17 days in Europe; 2 days in London, 4 in Bosnia, and 11 in Croatia, more or less. If I were to save $150 a month, I could have saved enough in a year for his trip. I am not trying to say that this is a super cheap amount; besides not being able to find much to compare it to, Iím aware that I was living pretty luxuriously on some days.

I could not find a good site that actually gives hard figures on how much a European vacation should, or does, cost. In my brief search, I couldnít find guidelines on what percentage of income could or should be budgeted, or how much any vacation should cost. I did find references to not charging vacations; that makes sense. I do suppose vacations are highly variable; one person may find a week at home perfect, and think air tickets are a waste of money, while another person wants to see every continent.

My total includes all airfare, all travel books, all lodging and food, incidentals. I started counting every expense the day I drove down to San Francisco to catch my flight, and stopped counting when I walked in the front door.

That cost does not include $108.56 in gifts, which will come out of my regular gift budget. (Yes, I spent a lot more on gifts than I anticipated. Yes, I am counting these gifts in my regular Minimum Wage Challenge, and yes, that will hit the budget hard.)

Also not included as vacation costs: I spent $3.43 in grocery money, for some divine smelling olive oil. I spent $33.26 in Household money (pepper grinder, hand hammered copper bowl, lavender oil, clothes pins, a music CD, and a small dish). I spent 98 cents on underwear; I bought underwear my first Europe trip and now itís just a habit.

The big cost that I didnít include as a vacation cost, and am not including in my Challenge: $274.26 for jewelry. I donít really consider it a necessary part of vacation expenses, obviously. On the other hand, it is my favorite form of souvenir. I got fifteen pieces total that I love and will wear often. When I said travel was the one thing I would not give up, in my mind I meant the accompanying parts of travel. As far as breaking rules go, the truth is that Iím the one writing the rules, so I only need to report to my own conscience.

I did absolutely splurge a couple of times on food, once in Hvar Town in Croatia, $50, and once in London, $160 for myself and a friend. I donít usually try to justify such a transient expense, but I will remember the St. Johnís dinner forever. The apple sorbet itself comes to mind a couple times a day. Letís just say that while Iím not advocating that sort of expenditure for others, I do not regret it for a second.

Travel: $855.75. $450 round trip tickets to London from San Francisco, gas to SF, flight from London to Croatia, flight from Croatia to London, all busses, ferries, trains, taxis. We rented a car one day, a huge luxury, to see the Plitvice Lakes.

Food: $510.47. I used $45 of my September grocery money, so additional costs were really only $465.47. We ate out around once a day, though we did go out to coffee more often. This includes groceries (I had a lot of yogurt for breakfast, and we ate a lot of bread and cheese) as well as dining out. As I said earlier, $200 of this was for two meals (one I treated a friend to). I wasnít trying to restrain my spending, but I wasnít trying to splurge either. (I do find it interesting that tap water isnít really available; you have to pay for still water or ďwater with gas.Ē)

Lodging: $285.04 total. I spent an average of $16.76 a day on lodging. Often we found places for 10 Euro, $12.86, a night; it helped that as four women we could get an apartment together. A couple nights we were en route, so the cost of sleep was absorbed by the cost of travel. The night ferry to Hvar was a lot of fun; the Night Bus to Zagreb not so much. (Sounds like a bad seventies movie, huh?) The most expensive lodging was the overnight stays we had in South San Francisco by the airport, due to leaving very early in the morning, and arriving late at night. However $35 a night, including being able to leave the car for 16 days, isnít such a bad deal. Itís due to my friend's amazing skills that we stayed in London cheaper; a very respectable Travelodge at Marylebone for $25 each!

Miscellaneous: $203.39. This includes entry fees, internet costs, postcards and stamps, toilet, tips, left luggage fees, and the like. It also includes the $43.78 that I either ďlostĒ when exchanging due to fees, couldnít exchange (coins), or did not write down. Thatís not too bad for over two weeks in five currencies.

I could have cut corners, and had a lower number; right off the bat I know I could shave $300 off the total. But my goal was not to have the cheapest vacation, my goal was to take a ďnormalĒ vacation, spending as I wished, and show that it doesnít need to be a huge cost. I myself think that $1,800 for over two weeks in Europe is pretty decent, and I hope others thinking of the trip decide to go for it, knowing that without staying in dorm room hostels and eating bread and cheese for every meal, one can have an excellent vacation that is worth the price paid.

Note to Self

October 4th, 2006 at 10:51 pm

Next time you decide to track all of your vacation expenses, make it for a trip that is one week or less, and that had no more than two currencies. And donít try to reconcile it when you are ill.

Getting Back into the Groove

October 3rd, 2006 at 02:44 am

Today was my first day back at work, and it went well. I felt missed, and useful, and that is an awfully nice feeling. I awoke early, due to my time zone zigzagging, and had a good start on the day.

Iím getting back into my frugal groove, packing lunch and not spending; boy oh boy, it sure is funny how often I spent money on vacation. It wasnít so much the high amounts, just a bus trip there, a cup of coffee, yogurt and fruit at the grocery store, an apartment, another cup of coffeeÖ least six ďtransactionsĒ a day to record. Also, I dealt in 5 currencies (U.S. dollars, Euros, Kunas, Konvertible Marks, and Pounds), and thatís a whole lotta extra number crunching. Thirdly, with four of us there was a lot of back and forthÖI owe you Kuna for the apartment, you owe me KMs for the carÖ..we couldnít always break our bills, or sometimes weíd be leaving one country so it wouldnít make sense for one person to withdraw from the ATM while the other person had too much money and faced exchanging at a cost. Those three factors are part of what makes doing my September reconciliation dauntingÖ.it may be next weekend before I crunch the numbers.

On the Road: Gelatos

October 3rd, 2006 at 02:42 am

I had nine gelatos in my two weeks abroad. I had a pattern at first, two in every town, but in the last place I only had one. Stratiacella (a vanilla with chocolate) and Rum Punch in Crikvenica, northern Croatia. Hazelnut and black currant on the island of Hvar. Kiwi and chocolate in Korcula Town. Punch and cantaloupe in the walled city of Dubrovnik. Red Bull (yup, really) in Sarajevo.

There is a lot of eating for pleasure, eating outdoors, and excellent food in these countries, Bosnia and Croatia, and gelato represents all three. The numerous side walks, on lanes that arenít even large enough for one carriage, let alone cars, are dotted with cafes and gelato stores. The gelato is very prettily mounded, in waves, and decoratedÖ.sliced lemon on top of the lemon, cantaloupe on the melonÖ.beautiful and enticing. I found a picture; unfortunately I wonít be able to get my travelling partnersí pictures for a few days at least.

It was creamy, and delicious, and very satisfying. And what made it even better is that it was usually under a dollar, as low as 32 cents, usually 69 to 86 cents, maximum $1.20 in the very expensive place (Dubrovnik). So this indulgence was not a costly one.

The cantaloupe and rum punch (pretty much like rum raisin without raisins) were my favorite flavors. Red Bull was really not-so-hot. I am told it tastes just like Red Bull, but as I had never had Red Bull, I canít vouch for that. I had heard Red Bull tasted like cough syrup, and as I love the taste of cough syrup, and canít have it (the tasty kind has alcohol in it), I went for the Red Bull. Sadly, it was the last flavor I had...but it was the only one I had in Bosnia, so I have decided to only remember Croatian Gelato.

It is hard to beat strolling in a place where every sight is new, every sense is heightened, and you can have a little bit of heaven on a cone, to go. Gelato at sunset, in the warm afternoon, after dinner in the late evening. It was nice.

So much of the food was of such high quality: very honest food, with a minimum of ingredients. Flavors are enhanced by the simplicity. There is no low-fat, low-sugar as such. There is also not a lot of excess. For example, if I wanted lower fat items, I ordered items that were grilled; itís not a very Molly McButter continent. I enjoyed the single scoops of gelato; thatís what was offered, not sundaes or multi-scoop concoctions. Fresh fill was grilled and presented as is...tasted the fish itself, the very sea. Itís a lovely idea of having reasonable amounts of full flavored, honest food.

Oh, I am getting swoony thinking of the gelato and the other foods I savoured...

Back from Bosnia and Croatia

October 2nd, 2006 at 12:21 am

Itís absolutely lovely to be back home. Itís nice to know that even after an incredible vacation, my life is one I want to come back to.

Updates on my vacation spending and the September closing of the books will have to waitÖIím more interested in a hot bath and doing laundry than crunching numbers. Overall, I think I did fine with vacation spending. I went on a jewelry binge-a whole different story. I got 16 pieces I am madly in love with. I will post picturesÖbut I did lose My Guyís camera, so thereíll be a wait while I reimburse him and he buys a new one. (Yeah, I know, itís a bum deal, but really, if I had to have something bad happen, Iíd rather it be losing a material item, instead of injuries or flight troubles or lost passports. And my friends took many pictures.)

I bought a lot more gifts than I expected, and that does come out of my regular gift budget, so that may be a tough hit. On the plus side, I do have a lot of Christmas shopping done.

I loved both Croatia and Bosnia. Highlights included the Plitvice Lakes, a Biker Convention (reallyÖ.dancing in the rain to rockabilly in the early morning hours), Mostar in Bosnia, the best squid I ever had, swimming in the Adriatic, dinner at St. Johnís in London, bureks (meat and vegetable pastriesÖ.fifty cents for greasy love).

I plan to post more on my experiences in two magnificent countries, as well as details of how travel can be affordable. (In many places I paid less than $15 a night for lodging.) This is just a quick ďIím home.Ē The travel can get tiringÖtwenty six plane, ferry, bus, taxi, tube, and car rides since I left. I got to fly business class for both return legs (in exchange for being willing to arrive in San Francisco an hour later) and that peek at the luxurious life was both enticing and amusing.

My bath is ready.

Safe in Croatia

September 16th, 2006 at 05:41 pm

After some whirlwind travel, and a half day in London, I made it. The keyboard in this Crikvenica internet cafe is a little tough to navigate. The food is incredible, and the ice cream rivals Italian gelato. Since I have never had italian gelato, it is the best I have ever had.

I am taking pictures, and also logging everything I spend to have a record. I am not trying to pinch every Kuna, but simpler pleasures do thrill me so even without setting a lot of limits my natural pattern is to be low key.

Good Bye, and Come Back in October

September 13th, 2006 at 09:10 pm

In 45 minutes I leave for vacation. I will sleep in San Francisco tonight, then board my flight tomorrow, and arrive in London early Friday morning. Friday evening I arrive in Croatia. Iíll start at the top, in Crikvenica, make a day trip inland to the Plitvice Lakes, then move down the coastÖ.perhaps Hvar, perhaps SplitÖ.definitely ending in Dubrovnik on the coast, then inland to Mostar in Bosnia, then farther inland and up to Sarajevo, then to Zagreb for a flight back to London. An incredible dinner at St. Johnís restaurant, back to San Francisco on Saturday the 30th, then driving back home on Sunday the 1st.

Doesnít it sound divine? I love travelling, and I could really be happy anywhere, I think. Iíll be with three other women, seasoned travelers, and expect to have a great time. I am planning on tracking all of my expenses, so I can post that a two week trip to Europe does not have to be a bank breaker.

I may peek in to say Hey if I hit an internet cafť. I may not. Wish me safe travels.

Puttering, That's All

September 5th, 2006 at 01:27 am

Mopping is one of my least favorite chores, and I did it today. Our house tends to be very neat but not so clean. The floor looks a whole lot better, and I feel proud. I also otherwise cleaned, and hung a lot of laundry, and put away laundry.

I was sure hoping that thereíd be decent TV on tonight, so I could get it bed and watch a little nonsense. However the offerings are not watchable, except maybe Antiques Roadshow. I do have the mighty stack of books.

My Labor Day Weekend was a cheap one; I spent $8.75 at garage sales. Since I do have my vacation coming on the 13th, itís not like I could really feel good about spending much. I already feel somewhat guilty about going to Croatia in the middle of the Challenge. I knew that I would not give up travel even before I knew Croatia was a possibility. I do know that folks who are struggling donít get to pop over to Europe for a couple weeks, though.

Breaking Frugal Rules

July 30th, 2006 at 06:51 pm

Frugal things I do not do:

Iíve never once made bread. Iím intimidated by yeast. It was a big deal when I started making muffins a couple of years ago.

I have not used a single coupon in the last five years. I buy mostly generics and store brands and bulk foods. Iím not unhappy with my $100 a month for groceries, though I know it could be less (witness Boefixpa working on the less than $50 a month.)

I do not own a freezer. I came very close a couple years ago, but was thwarted three times in a row.

I donít clean with baking soda or vinegar. Or lemon juice or Borax. On the flip side, Iíd guess I donít spend more than $10 to $15 a year on cleaning products, excluding dish and laundry detergent.

I just started a price book a couple of weeks ago, and havenĎt used it yet.

I donít garden. My Guy is doing some container gardening this year, but I have to admit itís all him. We might get some veggies out of it, but nothing to be real proud of, and he would get all the credit anyway.

Why do I share these things with you and my future self? Not so much for you to try to sell me on the above, although thatís fine. Iím perfectly willing to be convinced that the above activities will bring dollars and joy to my life.

With coupons and the freezer, Iíve already convinced myself. I have looked at Flashís posts and articles, and I have decided to try couponing for a little bit to see if it works with my lifestyle. I donít doubt it can save me money; my worry is that the time it would take me would not be as fun for me as other money saving hobbies. I am planning on buying a freezer this summer, still staying within the rules of The Challenge.

Another reason to post this, though, is so that beginner tightwads can see that a frugal life can be lived while breaking frugal rules. How? Because there are no Frugal Rules! Iíve been saving quite a bit of money for a long time now, without using the above strategies. Of course I use lots of other strategies. I live simply. I go to garage sales and thrift stores. I cook from scratch a lot. Being frugal does means employing at least some activities or habits.

But itís a big umbrella! I say again, there are no Frugal Rules. To join the frugal crowd means reducing spending in areas where you can get the same value for less, so that you have money for other areas. That is a very personal decision. You can be a perfectly confident Frugal Tightwad even if you donít wash Ziploc bags, or hang laundry to dry. Me, I travel: itís important to me, and I spend over $1000 a year on it, but I certainly understand if another person would find that $1000 better spent on Christmas or children (neither of which falls anywhere on my priority list).

Frugality can fit everyone.

Goal: Less Boring

June 27th, 2006 at 04:01 am

Iím closing in on the end of Month Four of my (Modified) Minimum Wage Challenge, success in sight. June has been much easier than April and May, actually; Iím very comfortable with my new spending habits. I am more at peace with my money than ever before. Four months will be one third of the year Iím planning to be on the Challenge, which is also my $20 Challenge.

My trouble is that Iím spending very little, but not necessarily explaining how I am spending a little less than $1073 a month and still having a full rich life. I wouldnít be doing this otherwise; frankly my income would accommodate willy-nilly spending, and my belt-tightening is purely by choice.

Iím working on writing down my strategies specifically; thanks to Tightwad Kitty for the idea. Iíve got ideas for breaking down particular areas, such as food, entertainment, and the like, as well as general themes, such as ďBuying Less Means Clutter FreeĒ and ďLowered (Not Low) Expectations Mean Met Expectations.Ē

Not only do I not want to have a boring blog, I want to have a record for five, ten, thirty years from now to keep me grounded and have a base to build on. If I get in the company of spendthrifts Iíll need to remind myself how good it felt to be in control of my spending and be able to put a lot in savings while still feeling undeprived.

(Iím still going traveling in September. As stated pre-Challenge and pre-ticket purchase, the one thing I donít want to pass up is opportunities for world travel. So this is the one area I will spend outside the Challenge. We got a deal to London round trip for $450, so we are flying to Europe. Most of our time will be in Croatia and Serbia, with a little time in London. My friend and I did some planning yesterday, and I am getting pretty excited. I will be tracking all trip expenses, because another thing I do want to convey is that world travel can be done with moderate spending. As yet, the $450 is my only expense. Iíve had no luck searching for recent used Croatian guide books, so my next expense will be a new guide book. Iíll live.)

Where in Croatia

March 18th, 2006 at 07:08 am

So I've got a little more idea where travelling partners are thinking, for the trip to Croatia. Perhaps Zagreb, the Plitvice Lakes National Park, Dubrovnik (the Pearl of the Adriatic), Hvar, Split, and a trip across to Serbia. Just ideas so far, nothing finalized. We fly in and out of London, so we may stay a couple days on the way back.

I am getting excited with six months to go. I love that sense of anticipation. It's a decent length trip, too, almost two and a half weeks.

The People Laugh

March 17th, 2006 at 03:08 am

I gotta say, work people find it so hilarious that I'm even trying this; it's comical how comical they find it. The thing is, not so long ago I lived on a lot less than now, and paid of debt doing it. $6.25 an hour at 30 hours a week, while paying off debt. So this isn't a huge leap for me; I donít have to cut out any lattes, manicures, brand name convenience foods, steak, days at the mall.

Someone asked how much I'd be saving by doing this, and when I told them how much additional savings they were surprised at how low it was to them. They are thinking I'm cutting spending at least in half. My expenses last year averaged $1591 a month. That included a trip to Mexico and a trip to Belgium/Poland, and lots of dining out, basically spending on whatever I wanted. I stuck the rest in savings. Frankly I thought I was living pretty pretty high on the hog. This minimum wage challenge means I reduce my spending by 32%, which is not so bad, really.

One co-worker, an Amy D. fan, thinks the challenge will be a piece of cake! Iím pondering going for the Federal Poverty Level rate of $798, which will go up in April. Donít think I can, but still pondering it.

Today I took a couple books to the bookstore for trade, and they accepted some; I got $8.50 in store credit. Iíll use it for gifts later. Delaying taking recycling in, that will happen this weekend.

Croatian Food sounds excellent

March 14th, 2006 at 05:04 am

I love simple rustic food, like suasages and potatoes and beans. Oohh I'm excited.

Iím not sure exactly where Iíll be in Croatia or Serbia, yet. The brief bits I read about it were in a book my friend had. I do know I want to do beach, maybe Zagreb. If anyone has been, Iíll take recommendations. The idea of beach weather plus rainy afternoons sounds mighty fine. The pictures of Plitvice Lakes National Park are compelling. Once I get some books and do some online research I'll know more. I love both City and Country adventures in other countries.

I am heartened by and appreciative of peopleís well wishes, and giddy with the thought of months of anticipation. I like knowing about a vacation way ahead; itís more time to be able to say, silently, when faced with a difficult person or situation, ďOh thatís alright you nuggety nugget, I can put up with you today, because soon Iím going to be eating Burek (meat pie) while on a beach. So hah.Ē

Zdravo! (A Croatian hello)

March 12th, 2006 at 09:29 pm

Iím going to Croatia in September.

I have already stated that if given the opportunity to travel, I wonít pass it up. A friend, who is super savvy about online deals, found us a $412 round trip flight to Europe. Iíll be going for two weeks.

Spending on travel has never been something Iíve regretted. I get so much out of traveling; I know itís a worthwhile expenditure. I also travel pretty cheap-Iím not into hostels, but I am into renting apartments. The more people travel together, the cheaper it can be. Also, research counts, and the Net makes searching open to everyone. Last year I stayed in a very nice Belgian B&B for $17 U.S. a night, as 4 of use shared one ďsuiteĒ-one adult bed, and in a separate room two ďkidĒ beds. The bathtub was superb-super long and deep-I am an aficionado. The B&B was in an old beautiful Belgian home, very quaint. The breakfasts were excellent.

I will still plan on living on minimum wage in all other aspects other than the Croatia trip. I will keep a separate log of every travel expense, down to the travel books Iíll buy (used), to see how much a two week Europe trip can cost if down on a budget.

Croatia is supposed to have amazing beaches. We may also visit Serbia. It will be incredible!