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Yeah, I don’t do that so well…

2012 was a miserable failure of a year, so this is going to be short and uninteresting.

Money Numbers

  • Debt service - $10,141.70 (down 35% from 2011)
  • Debt reduction - $9,618.18 (down 35%)
  • Spending money – $11,233.76 (up 68%)
  • Total take home income – $30,555.21 (up 18%, actually down $400 if ignoring life insurance check)

spendingCat2012

Blog Numbers

Everything down 25%, pretty much.

Goal Failings

  • Reduce debt 50% – yeah, no, try 32%. Currently projected to miss my debt-free goal by 4 months.
  • $3,000 emergency fund – The one thing I managed to achieve, through no fault of my own. I had it up to around $1,500 when my mom died, so I made it a nice round 5k with that. I’ve since needed to tap in to it a few times (brick through a windshield, new fuel pump), but it’s still above 4k.
  • Run a 6:30 mile – Apparently I only went on one run all year, and did an amazing 9:14 mile. After that, I just stuck to cycling and put about 500 miles on my new bike (which is now hibernating for the winter).
  • Junk out – I did make significant improvements to the attic and shed, but my office is permanently in a state of disarray.
  • $10,000 side hustle income – I put zero effort in to this, ended up at $2,375.
  • Half hour daily Japanese  – I think I did a half hour all year.

Well, that’s about enough of that. No goals for 2013. I’m out for a bit.

From November 1 to December 1, my net worth increased an average of $49.68 per day, or $1490.32 overall, to -$13,692.48. This is a 10.88% increase, and results in a projected zero net worth on 11/30/2013.

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Three paycheck months are always nice, but at the same time, it seems like I always overspend during those months, this time in a big way. I really need to get a handle on it. It was certainly nice to have a ton left over to throw at my student loans for the first time in quite a while, though, and they’re now officially under $20,000. We’re getting towards the home stretch.

At the same time, though, I’m thinking about going back to school. Specifically, I’m looking at maybe getting an associate’s degree in accounting. While I’m pretty sure I could pay for it as I go, I think I’d probably take loans out anyway for the sake of protecting my cash flow. It wouldn’t hurt to get a little more history on my credit report, either. I’ve checked employment ads and there definitely are opportunities out there for someone with an associate’s degree. I just can’t see myself getting a bachelor’s anytime soon.

On the macroeconomic scale, Egypt has been going through some hard times of late. On the same economic scale, the United States has also experienced some pretty tough times, too. On the personal level, however, the tens of thousands of US expatriates living and working in Egypt and other countries in the Middle East won’t be too bothered by the difference in gross domestic product (GDP) of the two countries. Likely they’ll be more concerned about the location of the nearest cash machine so they can access their hard-earned salaries.

Many expatriates across the region opt to bank with the familiar multinationals which have a strong presence in the Middle East and North Africa, HSBC bank in Egypt, Barclays in the UAE and others, all offering first class personal banking and other financial services. But there are many well-respected but less-familiar names offering services equally as good – banks in Cairo such as Banque du Caire and Banque Misr, for example, UAE banks First Gulf Bank and Mashreq, to name but a few.

With telephone and online banking, loan and credit card offers, direct debits and all the other banking paraphernalia expatriates from the US have come to expect of their own banks back home, MENA region banks have definitely kept pace with 21st century developments.

However, living and working in a country such as Egypt is a completely different experience compared to the usual week-long tourist visit. While the tourist will almost certainly have enough saved up to cover the trip, expatriates have to consider money almost from the moment they arrive. Quickly they’ll realise that although the cost of living is a lot lower, they’ll still have to wise up in order to make the most of the situation. Else it could easily cost.

In Cairo, the local taxis are cheap and many expatriates new to the country tend to use them extensively. It’s a good way to get around and to become familiar with the city’s main landmarks. But use the local taxi service too often and the cost soon mounts up. It can easily make a fair-sized dent in the daily budget if a little care is not exercised. Far better to use public transport, in particular the Cairo Metro, which can take passengers right across the city much more cheaply than any taxi could.

Accommodation becomes a problem if it’s not sorted out quickly, preferably even before you arrive in the country, perhaps through your employer. Indeed, some sort of accommodation allowance may be paid as part of your salary. If not, then what do you do? Although hotels can be expensive, hostels are reasonably cheap and can be used as a temporary solution.

If accommodation is not part of the package then you need to start talking to other expatriates. They’ll be able to advise you not only of costs but also where to find something in keeping with your budget. But it would be better talking to them before you arrive in the country, perhaps through an online expatriate forum. There are many good examples to be found using your favourite search engine.

A good expat forum with information about Egypt can be found here.

Why Proper Pay Matters

November 24, 2012 · 4 comments

In response to last week’s 2% raise post, commenter jmc had this to say:

I don’t understand the ideas of “demanding” and “accepting” things from your employer. You agreed to work for a certain wage, if you don’t want to work for that wage anymore, look for a new job.

Here’s where you’re wrong, jmc: You agreed to work for a certain starting wage, not a perpetual wage. This is why many employment ads list their pay as “Starting at $XX.XX/hr.” As your experience and knowledge of your job grows, so does your value to your employer. If your value goes up, doesn’t it make sense that they should properly compensate you for that increased value? That is where the “demanding things” that you mentioned comes from. If you are a quality, knowledgeable worker with a few years under your belt, you are much more valuable than someone walking in off the street. Your boss knows this. Turnover and training are expensive, and the company will be much better off long term by keeping quality employees around. It’s much cheaper to hand out a 5% raise than it is to hire someone else and wait a year for them to reach the same productivity and job knowledge levels.

Furthermore, every manager with half a brain knows that a happy employee is a productive employee. While raises do not offset any problems in the workplace that make for unhappy and unproductive employees, a complete lack of raises will in even the best of workplaces lead to unhappy, and therefor unproductive, employees. When employees say to their supervisor something like “I’m doing $10/hr worth of work,” you’ve got a real problem on your hands, and it just so happens that I’ve heard that phrase uttered quite a few times in my 4 years with this company.

On top of that, we mentioned inflation in the last post. As the cost of supplies, materials, product, and generally running the business goes up, a company raises it’s prices to compensate. It only makes sense that labor costs should be subject to inflationary increases as well, as employees are also consumers of the products and services every company churns out. I can’t find a link to it right now, but when Henry Ford doubled his employees’ wages, cut their schedule to 40 hours a week, and gave them two days off a week, he wrote a letter to his fellow industrialists suggesting that they do the same. Not only did he cite the increased productivity of a shorter work week and the higher skilled workers that he attracted with the increase in wages that we usually read about, he also brought up the fact that everyone’s employees are also their customers, and those employees need more time off and higher wages in order to purchase and enjoy the very products they are manufacturing day in and day out. Ford had a huge workforce; if he didn’t pay them enough to buy a Ford of their own, then who would?

Employment is a two-way street. Unless your building has a revolving door out front with a sign advising people not to let it hit them in the ass on the way out, employees are assets, just like anything else in the building, and as those assets appreciate in value, you have to pay for them properly.

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