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Greetings to everyone from Switzerland!

July 11th, 2021 at 01:21 pm

We did it!!!  End of last year we moved to Switzerland.

We live in an old medieval town on lake Geneva, near the city of Geneva, in a little house with a garden. It is very beautiful, with old cobblestone pedestrian streets, clear water, a castle and mountains in the distance.

We are very happy here.  So many things are different that I do feel the urge to post about daily random things and how life (and money) is like here.  It is a different perspective, lifestyle, and definitely prices. 

I started keeping income and expense tracking sheet this month, so maybe I will post it too.  It may seem crazy to you guys, but there is a different reality here.  Prices are often 3x for the same things. Yet some activities that may be considered luxury in the US are quite accessible here.

It is quite an experience! And last week I did get a new job (temporary, 1 year contract), so now I have way less time(and more stress - learning the ropes) but will be able to really increase savings.  We have spend a lot with realtors, vacancy costs and improvements on our 2 US houses.  Luckily stock market has been good...  we have also travelled a lot in Switzerland and a bit in neighboring France.  I wanted to share few photos but they do not upload.  I keep getting Error:400 message. 

Busy every day. Something always comes up.

February 5th, 2020 at 01:26 am

We chronically don't get enough sleep. Even though I don't work right now, we are crazy short of time. Something always comes up! Every day, every week.

What we did today:

Took son to take passport photos

Got the form allowing new passport for son notarized ($19 for both)

Bought breakfast pastries at a new place near UPS store - around $20 - it sucked, won't do that again

Met with Arlington country regarding yard draining (that resulted in a bunch of things we have to do to the yard, cost still unknown, asked landscaper for quote)

Met with builder to sign off on the end of one year warranty on our rental (it is a new construction)

Made it to the Passport office and applied for new passport for son $175

Drove son to school

Drove daughter to daycare #2 for 5 hours ($80 for 5 hour)

Meet with hot tub repairman $170 - one jetted tub has been cleaned, second hot tub needs a part ordered

Bought lunch for $27 (included whole chicken, some of which was used for family dinner)

Worked out me ($85 - personal trainer)
Worked out husband ($0 - running outside)

Pick up daughter from daycare.

got missing ingredients for dinner $9

DH worked from home.

made dinner

Cleaned up kitchen

supervise son to catch up on assignments

babysitter for daughter at home for 2.5 hours $38 (high school kid at $15 an hour) that enabled my husband to work from home and me make dinner and clean up, otherwise it would be pretty much impossible. we normally finish cleaning up around midnight

Still to do today:
battle children to get them ready for bed, and actually put daughter to sleep (usually start at 8:30 and finish by 10:30-11:00 pm)
Study French 30 min active - I don't know if I have mental energy
Study French 30 min passive (like listening to podcast or watching videos)
Have at least 40 min to spend relaxing with husband

Our to do list is enormous!

Would you give up your dream life for this?

November 29th, 2019 at 06:40 am

Sorry I fell off the blogging wagon again. I miss you guys!

A lot of changes happened. DH left gov. job for private industry and a lot more money. We bought a dream house in Arlington, 15 min from the White House, so we are near a lot of things. I love this house! Beautiful, big, stylish, full of extras and details (it was build by a successful furniture upholsterer for his family, so this was quality build). I never dreamed I would be here. We sold our NYC coop, btw.

Everything was set. Hubby's job is great and he is appreciated, kids schools are great, little one got a spot in daycare... We were very happy. And then we are offered another dream. That conflicts with this one. A job in Switzerland that we always wanted. HD applied before we even bought this house, and the wheels there turn very slowly. Now we are offered this rare opportunity.

Being expats is something we wanted to do, since we were college students, studied abroad and met expats there. And I want to give kids diverse experiences and a pretty different European lifestyle... Not to mention, at their age, they would pick up French in no time.

But, we would be giving up everything here, have to purge entire house and pack up what we can take, rent it out, move schools, face new unknowns in the new job, start everything again. Plus, the cost of living is much much higher there, but his salary would be about the same (benefits and leave are better though). So it would be downsizing and living much more modestly, but we really could see and show kids so much more of the world...

River of snot. Cosi signature salad recreation

November 15th, 2017 at 03:17 am

My husband got a cold. And now my baby has it. Both complain about it. But the baby... her snot is running like a river. She wipes it with hand, she wipes it on me, she sneezes in my face, sticks tiny snot covered fingers in my mouth in a blink of an eye...
I am pretty much guaranteed to get sick now. I'm surprised my son not showing symptoms yet.

So I stayed home all day. It would not be nice to go to baby play spaces and spread the illness. Plus, she was pretty needy, fell asleep twice and just wanted to nurse all the time.

I did a little better in terms of food. Maybe blogging keeps me more accountable?

Breakfast:

(yes, there is oatmeal under there). Ate a ton of candied cashews with it Embarrassment

View as I ate it (cold of course, by the time I got my son ready for school).


Lunch:


Dinner:

Same buttermilk baked chicken. That salad is a cosi signature salad recreation. The hard part was the dressing. My my husband figured it out! (he is the one who does all the salads and breads in the family).
Buttermilk baked chicken. I baked 2 pieces for lunch, and baked the rest for dinner, so they are hot fresh and juicy.


DH forgot to buy one ingredient for the salad, so instead of spending no money on food today, I had to go get greens in Whole Foods. That was $28:


That's how it works. (few ingredients are for soup tomorrow, since we had made the stock yesterday). Going to try something experimental with the soup.

Darn, I just realized I forgot ginger. Will have to go again tomorrow. Embarrassment

I hope I'm back. With my everyday unadventurous life.

November 14th, 2017 at 04:49 am

We have been in Arlington for a year. I really like it here. But really busy with the new baby. I hope there are still people here from "way back" posting Smile I miss you guys! you are the nicest internet blog posting people! Hope you are around. I just had a margarita and I'm sleep deprived, so I am drunk, pardon grammer mistakes I'm sure are abound. But I put "re-start the blog" in my goal list this morning, so I must post no matter how crappy. Embarrassment

One of my resolutions it to keep a little journal with pictures, because even everyday mundane stuff is fun to look back to few years down the road. Life changes, and we forget.

So I will start today.

The usual day. Except baby, who has a slight cold, may be teething, and slept terribly. I was sleep deprived and exhausted.
After putting my son on a school bus, I took baby and went to DC. Around chinatown area

to my favorite cafe.


I know this sandwich does not look like much, but the freshness of it is superb. Every ingredient. Even the tomato and cream cheese. But what makes that meal is the baguette. Fresh, super light, crispy, just baked. They bake their own bread there and claim not to use industrial east, doing everything old fashion way. I don't even know what that means, but tasting that bread, I believe it! The small pastry is a smore variation - homemade everything. Moist, tangy marshmallow and awesome chocolate cover. Love it. $18 breakfast, but worth it. Got few mini pastries for the boys - another $10

Than picked up some beans at "La Colombe" $22.

More expensive than even I'm used to. It was first time - to see if it is worth it. Coffee was decent, not sure if worth the money though. It was not 50% better than stuff I usually buy.

Than dinner at home. $119 at whole foods - for 2 dinners
1) Fish baked in lemon cream sause and rice - Fish alone was 28$ - 1lb of red snapper fillet. (3.5 people - 2 adults, 1 child, 1 baby)
2) and for tomorrow baked buttermilk chicken and cosi signature salad recreation.

and some extras like cheese, prosciutto to snack on while having margaritas, mustard, butter,

So today's total on food $179, and I only went out for breakfast! (as a stay at home mom I often do that (3-4 times a week) to get out of the house and go about the city) I just realized how much I spent adding up for the blog. I would estimate lower if not for actually looking it up. When we go out for dinner and have one big check, it is easier to see. When it is few little trips, it is harder realize. I will try better tomorrow!

Maternity leave = massive savings raid

March 31st, 2016 at 03:51 pm

About to massively raid non-retirement savings/investments.

We need 2 incomes to balance our budget. I make around 45% of the family's take home pay.

And we finally dared to try for our second (and most likely last) baby and can't wait to meet her in September!!!

I want to do a crazy thing and take 2 years out of workforce. That sounds very scary (career wise and otherwise). But this is something I've been contemplating for a while.

To give this gift of time to my family and my kids, to reduce the hectic pace of life, even if for a set amount of time have a different experience.

It is not an easy choice - these savings are a cumulative product of a lot of years and represent our progress. Also, we live in a junior 4 apartment, and as baby gets older, would want to upgrade to her having her own room, even if a small one. And middle school in our area is currently not good. So we may look at option of moving to Scarsdale in 4 years (really don't like the idea, but #1 school district in the nation, and housing prices/property taxes reflect that).

We have always been planners (that is why we even have that option, due to years of savings). And these are uncharted waters. But with this being a last baby (I don't think we can afford more wich childcare costs - I just paid 5K for 5 weeks of summer camp, and all these things are going to double), this is probably my only chance to do this, and experience life where time is not the most scarce resource.

$150 for kindergarten book, $400 for playgroup, 47K for kindergarten

December 10th, 2015 at 03:05 pm

We bought the book, since this is the only one available for this specific private schools test.

We skipped the practice playgroup, because I thought it was kind of insane, but after a disaster of a playdate at Fieldston (DS had a bad day, and he is 5) I kind of wish we did not. This was our #1 choice school, and it was his first interview/playdate. That school was amazing. Frown He would have an awesome experience and future if we could get in. We would not only need to beat the odds (given number of applicants per seat, this kindergarten is 3 times harder to get into than Harvard). But we would also need to receive financial aid, because 47K (which is not tax deductible) is out of our reach.

So all together, the odds are stacked against us, and it is a lot of time and effort to just try. It is like a job on top of a full time job. But you still try for your child, because... what if?

410K in student loans. Jar dropping story.

November 28th, 2015 at 03:04 am

I think there should be some limitations on how much and how long you can go on borrowing. She pretty much financed her life on student loans.
Perhaps an in-person interview/evaluation on loan request once the borrower exceeds a set amount. And no one should be able to delay payments that long.

As far as what she was thinking, can't wrap my head around that. And the way she looks in that photo, almost as if she thinks it is a joke.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/student-debt-in-america-lend-with-a-smile-collect-with-a-fist/ar-AAfJfJu

If you think you have problems, listen to this story.

November 13th, 2015 at 07:24 pm

The hate and anger people express towards refugees and immigrants... How in today's society we still are at the point where so many do not view others as humans with same fears and hopes as themselves, and assign lesser value to lives of different nationalities?

You have to listen to this story, re-told by UNHCR worker and imagine yourself being there, worse yet, being the parent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c00zfzk4gdg

Off topic maybe, but I just had to share.

Starting to think this is crazy.

November 2nd, 2015 at 03:38 am

Board meeting, another board meeting, teaching, midterms, grading midterms, birthday party planning for our son, jury duty summons, feeling sick, trying to get into the best private school in NYC, 2 other private school deadlines coming up, mother's birthday, son's homework, workload at work, DH's business trip, school day off, teacher meeting, absolutely nothing ever stops. Going grocery shopping is something we have to really juggle schedules to accomplish.

One of us always has something, and another one is taking care of our son. It is like we are working in shifts, non-stop, all the time.

The only time we actually get together is at the expense of sleep. Going to bed at 1 and waking up by 5 is extremely tough. But this seems to be life. Besides the 6 weeks we carve out for vacations. The rest is just crazy.

Emergency Fund milestone reached.

October 29th, 2015 at 10:14 pm

My goal was to have 1 year of take home pay saved in non-retirement accounts and we finally surpassed it.

Granted, it is not a "traditional" EF, since most of it is in investments and not in "cash", but with 2 incomes and stable jobs, I think it is a risk worth taking.

When people ask on TV about how many paychecks away many families are from being homeless, I am relieved to reply to myself "many". In many ways I'm very risk averse and this gives me a sense of comfort.

Broken dishwasher - 15K?

September 18th, 2015 at 02:01 pm

Our dishwasher broke. It is close to 6 years old, so it is probably best to replace it. $500-$1,000.

Once you are replacing a dishwasher, you may as well replace the counter top - we have a cheaper non-stone one, I don't even know what that is. I'm thinking granite or some kind of stone. Don't know how much, probably 4K.

You can't replace the counter top and leave the old sink and old faucet. Than, once you have new counter top and sink, that cheap white tile back splash is just completely out of place.

And since cutting stone for the counter top, it would be cheaper to cut out a small slab to be cut at the same time for an additional 2 cabinets on the other side (we really need more storage room and counter space).

That means the shelf that is there and goes across the entire wall needs to be ripped out, wall spackled and painted (or put some architectural element like a stone accent wall.

A build-in nook there would be nice.
My kitchen is insanely tiny.

This is when you invest.

September 4th, 2015 at 09:28 pm

Counter-intuitive, I know. But logical.

We consistently invested (though very tiny, insignificant amounts) dollar-cost averaging through the financial crisis. That turned out to be a great strategy, even though we did not wait for the market to "bottom out" and invested equally on way down and the way up. Later on, we wished we invested more during the crisis.

Now, we are trying to do the same, even if difficult to do emotionally - put whatever money we can scrape up during the month into SP500 and another mutual fund.
$200, $300, $500, $100, etc whenever market has a bad day (running out of money to cover all the bad days).
We have no idea how long it markets be going down, and while it is painful to see the losses continue, I know from looking back on major dips, this is how you get ahead in the span of several years.
So we try to invest what we can now, and when the market is rallying (could be long time from now), we will ease up on investments and do minimum monthly amounts.

Timing is not great - we just got back from a 4 week luxury holiday in the UK and now have to pre-pay whole year of after school care this week, so cashflow is very limited. But we put in what we can.

Student loan - GONE!

July 21st, 2015 at 02:08 pm

Just paid off the last 5K of my student loan. It is GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have to wait a day for balance to adjust to 0.00.

Now, the only debt left is our mortgage.
And we are flying out to UK on Friday.