Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Random Friday Thoughts

None of these points is worth an entire blog post, so I’ll just squish them all together in an end-of-the-week post. I hope you all have a fabulous weekend! :)

  • We saved a ton of money on our train tickets to Geneva by using a discount website, so we thought we’d be able to do the same thing for our trip to Vienna next weekend. Nope. The prices listed on the website are all at regular price. So it will end up costing us $176 (€133) each for our roundtrip train tickets. Oh well. I’m sure it will be worth it. :)
  • Unfortunately, I didn’t bring any summer clothing with me – aside from a couple of dresses and t-shirts. I was too concerned with packing as many sweaters and warm clothes to get me through the winter. Now that the nice weather is here to stay, and with upcoming beach trips to Portugal and Spain, we’ll be going shopping this weekend. I figure 1 pair of shorts, 2 skirts, and 2-3 tank tops will be enough to get me through the summer.
  • Make-up here is so expensive. My cheap $6 bottle of mascara now costs the equivalent of almost $18! No thank you. I have a friend from home coming to travel with me in April, and she is kindly bringing some supplies for me.
  • Our plan was to get a punch pass to a recreation centre somewhere in the city so that we could use the gym once a week or so (just to break up our normal routine). But yesterday we found out that recreation centre gyms don’t really exist here. And the real gyms won’t let you sign up for a contract for less than 12-24 months. :| Luckily (?) there is a short-term option that we would be able to take advantage of. Unfortunately, it’s too expensive. With all the admin fees, it will end up costing us each $73 (€55)/month for 4 months.
  • We’ve been looking into German language lessons, but they’re also really expensive. The prices range from $265-330 (€200-250) for 10 lessons. Private tutors are even more expensive. We both want to take lessons, but only if we can find a way to afford it.
  • Look for my very first magazine article in the May issue of FLARE Fashion Magazine. :D
  • With the first quarter of 2012 coming to an end next week, I am surprisingly on track to hit my $70,000 income goal.

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Modest Money says:

    Have you considered trying to learn German through an online course? I’d think you’d be able to at least learn the basics for free.

    And congrats on the upcoming article in Flare magazine!

  2. Congrats on your FLARE Magazine debut! It is so exciting to see your words published in print.

  3. Jewel of Toronto says:

    Krystal, at the risk of coming off as patronizing, please let me give you some advice from the “been there, done that” file.
    I did Europe on the cheap almost 20 years ago. I still regret not spending the money to enjoy all the great things at my fingertips. I may never get back to Barcelona, Rome, etc. to see and experience the things I missed.
    I know financial freedom is important to you but do temper that with the knowledge that this is a great opportunity for you to experience Europe.
    Have fun!

  4. Michelle says:

    Everything sounds expensive! I’m sure it’s for the most part all worth it though (besides the gym, that seems crazy expensive).

  5. When I was in Europe, I spent almost $20 on a tube of lip chap and a bottle of sunscreen. It was a bit ridiculous, given the same thing in Canada would have probably cost me about $5. I’m not sure why cosmetic products are so much more expensive there, but next time I go overseas, I’m bringing everything with me.

  6. Anonymous says:

    You are basically experiencing very little of Europe. Everything is expensive, but what is the point of this experience if all you do is walk around and look at things? You are even refusing to spend money on language lessons, which helps you integrate into the culture. I think that when you look back on this experience, you will regret not taking some of these opportunities.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      I’m not refusing to spend money on language lessons, it’s just a lot more money than we had anticipated spending. And the money has to come from somewhere. We’ll eventually figure something out – perhaps lessons at the school isn’t the best way to go. We have to do what’s right for us and our budget. I am not willing to go into debt or dip into my Emergency savings for anything.

  7. Leigh says:

    Items that I found more expensive in Europe are: food, English books, and make-up. I don’t even want to think about how much I spent on make-up while I was there :/

    Have fun shopping! I absolutely loved shopping in Europe. I’m a tad on the petite side and I found it far easier to find my sizes in there. I would do anything to go shopping there if the travel there and back wasn’t so expensive!

    After shopping, I would say that eating was also a huge part of European culture and I’m so glad I spent a lot of time eating out instead of always eating at home.

  8. munchkin says:

    I’ve never been to Europe, just going for the first time later this summer. But I may have to agree with the others here. It really does suck that everything is so expensive. But its all going to be part of the experience. I understand that you are trying to be responsible with your money, but it seems like you are doing extremely well with it and can afford it. I mean, you don’t have to splurge on everything little thing, but if something is important to you, go for it. I highly doubt you will come back to Canada and regret spending a few hundred on language lessons. :)

  9. Meghan says:

    I’ve found with learning a language that you really have to make the time to practice outside of your classes/lessons. If you just show up to class but don’t practice outside of class, then you won’t really progress and it is a waste of money.

    My advice is to try some free online courses first, to see if you really have the discipline and interest to learn the language. Live Mocha and BBC both have online courses that are good and fun (and free). This might give you enough to practice on your own when you are out and about. If you are still interested then it might be worth it to sign up for courses.

    The other option is to see if there is a native German speaker who would be interested in practicing German with you in exchange for helping them with their English–you can meet for an hour or so, spend the first half speaking German, and the second half speaking English (so they can practice). Okay, so I might have gotten this from Eat, Pray, Love, but I’ve heard of other people doing this with success.

  10. How long are you planning to stay in Europe? Congratulations on the freelance income for this year! Any suggestions for other freelancers to maximize income?

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Hi Melissa! I’ll be in Europe until the end of July, and then I plan on taking all of August to go traveling. :)

      As for maximizing income as a freelancer, I think it’s all a matter of networking and working hard. I don’t have an amazing talent for writing, but I believe in what I write about, and I work hard. And if you’re willing to put forth the effort, you’ll eventually be rewarded. I’ll probably write a post about this in the future!

  11. Sid says:

    You can check out for a free German language tutorial. Lessons are published in different languages.

  12. Bekah Palmer says:

    Hi Krystal,

    I can’t remember what city you’re in, but most large German cities have some sort of international language chain school for teaching English (Berlitz, inlingua, etc.) and most of them also offer German integration courses (different than the private lessons in German). Normally those courses are a lot cheaper than the private lessons (because there are more students in the class, and because usually the government subsidizes the course a little). The one I took, for example, was around 200 euro for the whole month, meeting every day for 2-3 hours.

    Also, you should check out the volkhochschule. Most cities have at least one. It’s basically like a community college, and you can sign up for classes that are once or twice a week in almost any subject, German included. The fees are significantly cheaper than private lessons, as well.

    Good luck with learning German. it’s a bear.

  13. A friend told me about, it is a free/effective language learning tool! Go try.

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