Monday, November 25, 2013

We Give Airbnb and Tiny House Living a Try

Hi everyone! After a series of short plane rides, we are in Ecuador now and having a great time together. We're staying in Cuenca, the second largest city in Ecuador, nestled up in the mountains in the southern part of the country. It's a cool city that's been welcoming to us, perhaps because of all the expats that seem to be here. The streets are beautiful, lined with old buildings and bordered with stone streets and sidewalks. It's a walkable city, too. Except for the ride from the airport, we haven't had to take a cab anywhere. I'll write a full review at the end of the trip, but today I wanted to write about our first foray into two new experiences for us: Airbnb and tiny houses.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mrs. Done by Forty Negotiates Abroad...

One of the things I am getting used to here in Peru is being completely reliant on Mrs. Done by Forty. She's been to Peru several times before, each time visiting for a few months, at least. So she knows the culture, she knows where to go and how to avoid getting run over while getting there, and, most importantly, she knows the language. Sadly, I can barely put together a full thought in Spanish. But since she is very white with red hair and I am half-Filipino (and pass for a Peruvian at first glance), we have this ongoing confusing situation that happens. Everyone we interact with thinks that I'm the native speaker, and just starts talking to me in Spanish. It isn't until I stare back at them blankly and say, "¿Que?", and Mrs. Done by Forty starts talking in fluent Spanish, that they realize which one of us they need to talk to. Even if Mrs. Done by Forty starts speaking to someone in Spanish, they will just start talking to me as if I am the one who will understand them. It's kind of our ongoing joke now. Just yesterday when we were walking by a movie theater, some guy stopped me and asked me if this was the right line for "Thor". It was not a phrase I had practiced, so I had no idea what was going on...luckily Mrs. Done by Forty saved me again. (And yes, we did go to see Thor in 3D. Only 15 Soles..or $5.30.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

First Impressions of Peru

Hi, guys! Mrs. Done by Forty and I are safely here in Lima, which is bigger and faster-paced than I was imagining. We were trying to think about which American city we think Lima is the most like, and the closest we could come to was Los rush hour. It's a coastal city with temperatures that, at least now, fluctuate between a low in the 60s at night and highs in the 70s during the day. But with all the buildings, traffic, and constant honking, you wouldn't know there was a tranquil ocean within walking distance most of the time. It's a tricky city to get your arms around because it just keeps going: walk and walk and you just see more city. We're kind of smaller city folk. So while it's great to visit Lima and we are having a great time being together again, I don't think it's a place we'd want to retire. Lima is exciting, but it's also kind of scary at times. Here are some random tidbits:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Tomorrow morning, before the sun rises, I'll kiss my dogs goodbye and leave for the Phoenix airport. And before I go to sleep that night, I'll be in another country and back in the arms of Mrs. Done by Forty. We'll get two whole weeks together! One in Peru, one in Ecuador. While we're gone, I'll be logging in briefly and posting when I can. But I have to apologize to all my favorite bloggers, as it might be a while before I can catch up on your posts and comment. Sorry, guys! I will be reading, but it probably will be delayed. On the plus side, if there is anything you'd like me to write about covering either country (e.g. - local customs, negotiating abroad, using airbnb, etc.) just let me know in the comments and I'll try to put together a post on that.

Monday, November 11, 2013

They Want to Help You...

Over the weekend I sold an old DirecTV receiver on Craigslist. It had been sitting in our garage for over a year, back since the company sent out a new receiver model at my request. DirecTV told us we could just keep the old one. It was an older model and they didn't want it back. So it sat in the garage for months until, after changing my scooter's oil and spying the old receiver box in the garage, I thought, hey, why not sell this for some cash? I called DirecTV to verify I could actually sell the box and they said, sure, just take out the little card in front, and I was free to see what I could get for it.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Government Assistance and Backwards Incentives

The other day Stefanie, the author of a cool personal finance blog set in New York City titled "The Broke and Beautiful Life", wrote a post on unemployment and part time work. I loved the post because it was a detailed and transparent look at one woman's experience with government benefits. The part I found most interesting is how the system reduced her benefits ($251 a week, before taxes) by $63 in one week, as a result of earning just $40 after selling an article. In effect, by working, she actually reduced her income. Had she sold another article on another day that week, regardless of the amount paid for the work, her benefits would be reduced by another 25%. At that rate, the more she worked, the less she earned. This is a case of improper incentives: for every dollar Stefanie earned in this scenario, she lost more than a dollar in unemployment benefits. Rather than providing an economic incentive to work, the system is, in this case, ironically punishing the very behavior it wishes to encourage. So, unless employment with an income that significantly exceeds the weekly benefit becomes available (or if there is some other long term payoff, like a significant raise or health benefits), it makes little financial sense to accept the offer of work. It simply results in a lower income.