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Cheaters Anon.

Photo Credit: Dave's Domain via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Dave’s Domain via Compfight cc

“My name is Siân and I have cheated.”

So in my last post I renewed my no-spending vows and promised to reveal exactly how I had cheated.

But first, a little story. When I arrived in Munich 3.5 years ago, I was pretty much stone broke, or “financially embarrassed” as my friend Jean and I like to say. I had decided that nothing would stop me from accepting the job offer, but looking back, I really did it tough at first. I had to buy the cheapest of everything, because my boyfriend in Sydney and I had just forked out a load of cash for a new fridge, washing machine, dishwasher, mattress, sofa and side tables, so savings were non-existent. Plus, the role here involved a huge pay cut.

I had also not realised the way the rental market works in Germany. The TENANT pays the real estate agent a non-refundable fee of 2.8 times the gross rent of the new place. Whaaaa? In most cases, for NOTHING! Literally, these people stick an ad in the online search site, thousands of people apply (because Munich has a chronic rental housing shortage), they hold one open-house for 20 mins at a super inconvenient time, collect a thousand applications and pick the first one that meets the criteria. Done. For that, they earn around 2 grand. From the tenant.

My first apartment rented for 780eu a month. I had to pay two months’ rent in advance, a bond of 1500 and then a real estate agent fee of around 2000. All this on top of the furniture I was repaying at home, plus my flights…and I still hadn’t been paid my drastically reduced salary.

Long story short, I had to buy really cheap shit. Including a mattress. I bought the most inexpensive Ikea one I could find and slowly realised I might as well be sleeping on the kitchen table. I haven’t been able to replace it since then.

I’ve been sleeping poorly because of it. I realised last month that over time it had become so bad I was actually avoiding going to bed, knowing I would toss and turn for hours and never be comfortable, waking with stiff shoulders and a burning neck. Here’s a snapshot from my sleep tracker app of what an average night looked like for me:

2014-12-18 17.16.19


I didn’t want to spring for a new mattress (see what I did there?) at this stage in my financial development, so I decided to try something else first. I know amazon have their issues, I really do. But what I love about it as a consumer is that I can see what everyone else thinks of a product. Mattresses and pillows in particular are difficult to buy, because what feels comfortable for three minutes in a show room may not be what feels good long-term, when you test it in the privacy of your own privacy :).

So I picked the best-rated pillow and mattress-softening overlay and they were delivered the very next day. And holy land of nod do they make a difference to me.

It’s still not quite like sleeping in a good hotel, or my old bed in Sydney. And still, one of the first things I will buy when I am debt-free next year is definitely a really quality box-spring bed. But in the meantime, here’s what sleep looks like now:

2014-12-18 17.35.01

I know, right??! Progress.

I also bought:

Measuring cups and spoons. German baking and recipes go by weight, so you can find the world’s most advanced kitchen scales that can measure the exhalation of a cricket, but not a single “teaspoon” or “cup”. I figured it was much better use of my resources to simply buy a set than spend endless hours converting things in all my recipes. I am happy with this choice.

The Best Paleo Recipes 2014 ebook. I am getting a recipe book for Christmas, I know. And I didn’t need this. But it was on sale for $19.95 USD, (which it still is) and I liked a couple of the recipes I had seen sneak previews of. I definitely need more recipe books, because I cannot free-style in the kitchen like all those incredibly gifted people who can. I am paint by numbers or nothing at all.  This ebook seemed like a good choice.

So those were my cheats. I am not proud of them, but I am consoling myself with the fact that they all in some way contribute to my health. Sleep most importantly. And there was not a single wasteful or silly item, not even a cheap piece of costume jewellery that I’d have tired of after the first wear.

Even though I cheated, I consider that I cheated well. I feel like this is progress. And today, that’s good enough for me.


Something bad happened in Finland




So I had an amazing time in Finland, as you can see here. The forest was lit up with the colours of autumn the day we went mushroom hunting.  Yeah. That’s a thing in Finland. I was given a quick lesson by my friends, as to which mushrooms not to touch. That giant red one in the second picture is really poisonous.  One of the few poisonous mushrooms in Finland. I was delighted to find a giant patch of the exact mushroom kind we were looking for, and we put them into our little basket and made a risotto with them later that night.

Then the bad thing happened. My friends, who are expecting any day now, stopped by Ikea on the way home to grab some baby things. And I got separated from the herd. When I connected with them again, it was too late. My basket was full and my purse was wide open.

Here’s what I bought:


Now, stay with me as I justify every purchase.

1. Limited edition sheet sets. They match not only my rug but my whole apartment. And I accidentally boiled the only set I had on a 90°c washing setting with an orange blazer. I think you can guess the rest.

2. Lunch boxes that go directly from the freezer to the microwave.  I’m enjoying cooking in bulk and freezing at the moment. And actually, bringing my lunch to work each day is a goal of mine. And I didn’t have enough things to store my cooking in.

3. A meat thermometre. Basically so I don’t poison myself in the kitchen.

4.  These bottles handily labelled themselves.  System 4 is a famous Finnish shampoo that improves scalp circulation and stimulates hair growth. I ain’t bald, but tell me someone who doesn’t want thicker hair and I will show you a big fat liar. Oops! There are two 4s. The second is a scented candle. That’s essential, right? It smells like heaven if that makes a difference.

5. Variously-sized zip-lock freezer bags. Again, for cooking. Less space than lunch boxes. And more labellable.  Which is now a word.

6. Thermos for taking soup to work. My old one stopped closing properly. 

7. A funnel to get the soup into said thermos. Previously my counter top ate more soup than the average German.

8. Those handy clippy things that seal open bags.

So you see, it’s nothing frivolous.  But still, I feel like I’ve failed. Like I’ve fallen off the wagon.

I need a little encouragement here!