Budget Friendly: Stocking up

Whenever I`m visiting my parents in the Canary Islands, I always make sure that I`ve got an extra suitcase to bring back home. Living in Norway is very, very expensive, especially when you`re living on student loans and grants. Which is why I usually stock up on things when I`m in the Canary Islands, as there are practically no taxes there, with the price level being generally very low. Take the cans of sweet condensed milk for instance. In Norway, these would cost me 9$ per can. When I bought them on the Spanish Island it cost me 1$/can. That`s a 8 dollar difference! The amount of money I save each year just by buying some products with me is rediculously huge!

This time I stocked up on sweet condensed milk, honey, my favourite chocolate, a jar of peach jam, two boxes of sprinkles, some luxurious goat cheese, Serrano ham (Spanish version of the Italian Parma ham), and some  bio-degradable garbage bags.

I love being able to stock up on things that I use, but only  to a fraction of what it`d cost in Norway. This is one of the ways I save a lot of money each year, as everytime I visit I always make sure to buy certain food items with me.

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What do you like to stock up on when you got the chance?

Spending some birthday money

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I`ve had some birthday money that`s been waiting to be spent on something pretty since October, and today was the day to make that a reality. I bought a blue sequin top that I can use on Christmas Eve, but also on other occasions; a knitted cable stitch cardigan for everyday use; and a pair of black jeans. to top it all of, my mom gave me the most perfect jacket for cold winter days. I also found a very pretty hair clip that I intend on wearing a lot! The total cost was 115$ which I think is a very acceptable cost especially when I know it would`ve cost me about the double to buy the exact same things in Norway. I rarely go shopping, mostly because I don`t have any money to spend, so the last time I went shopping was in May. In other words, it`s been a while.

Though it was fun to go looking around in all the shops, I did behave very calm and thought thoroughly about how and when I would use every item. I think this is a tactic I`ll be using a lot more in the future! I`ve also started to shop only certain colours so that I can use most of my clothes together in many different ways. I`m really fond of navy blue, dark green, brown and beige as primary colours, and then I like to use a lot of pastel colours, creating a soft and sofisticated look.

How do you limit yourself when going shopping?

My Christmas Goals

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  • Finish my take-home exam next week.
  • Spend a lot of time on the beach
  • Be happy
  • Read a good book
  • Have long breakfasts on the balcony while enjoying the view of palm trees
  • Take long walks with our two dogs
  • Visit the island`s capital, Las Palmas and take a walk in the old town.
  • Make some more Christmas sweets
  • Practice my Spanish
  • Play and cuddle with the dogs; they`re just the cutest ever!
  • Spend quality time with my family
  • Go shopping for some much needed new clothes
  • Plan a strictly food-blog project
  • Drink a lot of ice-cold Diet Coke
  • Have long talks with my mom
  • Go to church on Christmas Eve
  • Write more exciting posts on travelling
  • Take a lot of pictures
  •  Eat a lot of Chinese food
  • Donate christmas gifts to charity
  • Make the Christmas-dinner
  • Plan my 2013 budget
  • Try new recipes and share them with you
  • Help my brother with finding an apartment
  • Eat the best ice-cream in the world
  • Order curricula for the spring semester
  • Celebrate new year`s Eve with my best friends

 What are your goals for this Christmas?

Monday Meal-Plan

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Monday: Pasta Penne with Bolognese

Tuesday: Pasta Tagliatelle with Bolognese

Wednesday: European Whole Wheat Pancakes with Oatmeal served with blueberries

Thursday: Fish au Gratin with grated Carrots

Friday: Chicken Wings with oven-fried potatoes, béarnaise sauce and salad

Saturday: Burritos with homemade tortillas and guacamole

Sunday: Shepherd`s Pie

 

Keep it Healthy, keep it Good

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.