USD to EUR

It is interesting to compare different money exchange places to see which one is the cheapest one. Today I wanted to exchange 35 USD to EUR in Spain.

Today’s official exchange rate is 1€ EURO = 0,93$. In this case it would be 35$x0,93=32.55 €, but as exchange places they need to live too, they charge you some commission.

Before exchanging the money, I decided to go to few different places so I could compare the differences between them.

Here you can see what few of them were offering to me for 35$:

  • 29.10€ Universal de cambios 0,83 (11% commission)
  • 26.93€ Ria (one place) 0,76 (18% commission)
  • 27.60€ Ria (another place) 0,78 (16% commission)
  • 26.29€ Global Exchange  0,77 (17% commission)

My recommendation would be always to check at different places before exchanging the money, because you can save a lot of money.

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Do you wanna get 100€ for free in Spain?

There are millions ways how someone can gain some extra money. It could be for example by working overtimes, having a second job, investing or simply managing your money properly.

I am the one who prefers manage the money properly.

Few weeks ago I have discovered an amazing opportunity how to get 100€ (79€ after taxes) without working.

It is simple, you just need to receive your money monthly for the salary, pension or unemployment to the bank called Openbank during one year. The minimum is 600 euros monthly or 1000 euros if you are older than 31 years old.

How does it work?

  • Open your bank account and subscribe to the promotion at http://openbank.es/ before end of March
  • Sing all the documents
  • Send it all by post or bring it to Santander’s offices
  • Transfer some money to your new bank account in order to very it
  • Receive your salary, pension or unemployment to your new bank account before end of April
  • They will transfer you 100€  (79€ after taxes)

What does happen if you just receive the money during 6 months instead of 1 year?

  • They simply will discount proportionally how long have you been receiving it. Example if you have received your salary for 6 months and you won’t received it anymore, they will charge you 79/2=39,5 €

Do you get anything else a part of those 100 € (79€ after taxes)?

  • Great bank account for free during your entire life
  • No commissions for national/international transactions
  • No commissions for card or bank account
  • Even if you won’t receive your money in the future it will be for free your bank account, card and transactions
  • There is an option to have a deposit, paid monthly, with 0,4% yearly. You can always have your money without penalisation

Don’t miss your chance!

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Are you ready for the interview?

It is interesting to reflect about interview process once you have been on the other side interviewing other people. Once you have been on the other side and others have interviewed you, you can get better inside of how to improve it.

Nowadays, when we have a bachelor degree or even a master degree, many times we are even overqualified with out studies for the position that we are applying for. I just reflect about my own degree, Economics. We learn so much about Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, but in many companies, we don’t use it in the same way that we have learnt it.

Normally when you are getting for the first time into the corporative environment you most probably will do simple tasks for some time, until you will know more about the company, position and so on…

How do you get ready for the interview?

I would start with some basics:

Before interview

  • Read carefully what you have applied for, some people are just applying randomly everywhere and then they just go and try to improvise.
  • You should know more or less about the products/services that the company is selling, because it could be that you even don’t like them.
  • Knowing what does the company do, reflect if you have used any of the products/services of the company. Which one did you like most? Why do you use it instead of other company’s products? Reflect a little more about it.
  • Read about the vision/mission of the company and try to see if you identify yourself with the company, this part could be crucial during the interview process.
  • Do you know anyone working at the company? If you know, ask them more about the company, perhaps even they know HR person who is going to interview you or they even know the manager, so they can give you some advice.
  • Try to identify what you have done during your life and how it could be related with the position that you are applying for.
  • Try to resume your experience, because they will ask you explain a bit more about it, also check if you can justify all of your experiences in CV with examples.
  • I would take with you some notes about the company, perhaps you could take some notebook which you could use during the interview (I will go through it too).

Once you will be having an interview with HR, some of the questions are always out there so you can get ready for it too:

  • Tell me more about yourself/experience: here is where you will summarise all your experience, studies, try to connect everything, no one likes to see people who are really lost and are doing things randomly.
  • Why did you apply for this company? I would focus on what do you like most of the company, also find relationships with vision and mission of the company, perhaps you are using their products/services and you really like it…
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? Here is the one no one likes to talk about, strengths it is always easy, but strengths weaknesses it is always more difficult… You should reflect this one in details beforehand. Imagine that you are applying for finance position and you are really don’t like math, but you can handle it… so don’t say it because it could affect the outcome of the interview. Don’t forget relate your weakness/strengths with examples and how you can solve it. Example: I am really bad with names, what I normally do I write them down and check the list from times to times.
  • Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? I always would recommend looking into long term. If company is interviewing you, they are spending resources, most probably they like you and perhaps if you do it well they would like to hire you in a long term. Looking from this perspective, you should try to relate your future with the company. Imagine you are taking 3 months internship after graduation (during the summer) and company is planning to hire you afterwards. If you tell them that you are applying for master or you just want to get professional experience, most probably they want hire you, but if you would relate the future it with the company, you probably could get the internship.

These are few questions that most probably all companies will ask you about. In general, it is about getting ready for the interviews so you know better the company, position and yourself.

During the interview

Some people get stressed others don’t but try to be the best of yourself. I like to say it, if you are bad at interview, I try to imagine how you will be at work… It is difficult to find the relationship because some people they really get stressed, but this is about knowing how to sell yourself. Try to think from this perspective, company is spending resources to get to know you, spend some time beforehand to get to know them and get to know yourself.

  • Make it easy for the interviewer: be extensive in your answers, explain yourself because they are trying to know you. Don´t just answer with yes/no.
  • Smile: it is a simple thing but it helps, everyone likes to work with friendly people…
  • Be positive, confident, don’t lie… It is all about being nice and polite.

As I said before, it is really important your personality, because most of the things you will learn at the company. Imagine that you are having interview for cold calling position, where you need to be really patient and polite, also persistent and at the same time convincing. In this case, you should have some clear examples for each quality, so they can see directly that you can fit perfectly. As I said, make it easier for them so they don’t need to think that you are good at it, but you show them some examples from your real life.

Would be really good that during the interview you would have some notebook, where you could take down some quick notes, it looks really professional and shows your interest in the company/position. At the same time it could help you to remember few things… But don’t write all the time or don’t look at it all the time, practice at home.

And for me these two are the most important as I am purpose driven person:

  • Once you have identified yourself with clear examples with the vision and mission of the company, you should transmit that to HR and later to the manager.
  • Also it is really important to get a little “emotional” or let’s call it “talk from your heart”. I had few friends of mine asking me for some advice for the interviews and I always highlight it. A friend of mine was engineering and she wanted to get an internship, which was about improving the efficiency of car’s engine. She was doing the interview and she felt that it was not going so well as she would like and at some point in time she said something like this “if I would have a chance, I know that I would do amazing job, I don’t give up, I know that I can make it, I always wanted to have this chance and here it is the opportunity to prove it”. It is like inspirational speech or elevator speech… You should go inside the heart of other person with emotions.

I like to say in this way, HR should get in love with your personality.

At the end they will ask you always if you have any question, you should always have something ready, be curious about the company. Perhaps you will have some questions after the interview otherwise you can have few questions ready like:

  • What is the retention rate for people who are doing their internship?
  • When I am going know if I am selected?
  • I wouldn’t recommend asking about the salary… I think it is not professional unless you are applying for some higher position and it could be really relevant.
  • What do you like most of the company from inside? It could be really good way to become closer to the person that is interviewing you

I am not sure if I forget anything, but there are some basics which really work.

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NEW car, OLD car or Emov option in Madrid?

Today I had some free time and I decided to reflect a bit more about all the costs involved once you have your own car and also compare it with Car2Go or Emov option that we have in Madrid, which is more environmentally friendly. I wanted to know daily, monthly and yearly expenditures in each case.

In order to calculate all the numbers I took into account previous experiences from my father and few other cases:

  • 2nd hand car from 1986, bought in 2001, aprox. 1500€, taken to scrapping in 2005
  • 2nd hand car from 1988, bought in 2004, aprox. 1500€, taken to scrapping in 2006
  • 2nd hand car from 2002, bought in 2o04, aprox. 15.000€, still working
  • 2nd hand car from 1988, bought in 2004, aprox, 1000€, taken to scrapping in 2016
  • 1st hand car from 2015, aprox 15.000€, still working

In this case we don’t take into account inflation, which could make more expensive having your own car. For the estimation we need to take into account different expenditures:

  • Car price
  • Insurance. Average of 300€ per year, perhaps it could be a bit lower or even more, it depends on you accidents rate
  • Yearly car taxes, paid yearly in Spain, this amount increases yearly
  • 5 years warranty for the car, when you buy a new car, they force you to take the car to official place in order to change oil, filters and to check other main issues, we paid 300 € las time for the car which cost us 15.000€ and I am expecting similar amount for that next years too
  • General maintenances, which is defined as extra cost that you have once you have no warranty (changing battery, something gets broken/old, engine belt, light bulbs and other parts, mechanics’ salary, some accident where you need to fix your own car…), I have estimated with 110€ for the 6th year and this amount would increase each year by 10 €
  • Tires, which we are changing once in two years
  • Oils/filters/refrigeration liquid, during first 5 years this cost is covered by warranty, but later you would need to pay for it close to 70€ per year
  • Also we have to pay for mandatory car inspection called ITV in Spain, new cars don’t need to have it until 5th year, then you do it every two years and once the car is older than 10 years you need to do it every year
  • Selling price, I would go for average market price, it is some estimation made by my previous experiences

In this case we are going have few cases:

  • We buy new car for 15000€ and sell it after 10 years for 1500€

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In this case we can observe that daily cost would be 5,7€, we don’t take in consideration:

  • Inflation
  • Selling price could be lower as technology is changing really quickly
  • Parking places costs
  • We are supposing no major damage to the car, but it looks pretty low the expenditure for general mantainance
  • Insurance companies are talking about increasing prices soon as it is not sustainable to have each year lower cost on insurance…

Let’s make some numbers. If someone is using his car just to go to work, one way 25 min, both ways would be 50 min and during 5 days per week. We could estimate that for 100 km needs 6 liters for 1,2€ which makes a total of 7.2€. If you go and come back to work by car you would spend on fuel close to 2 euros per day, which would be 10 euros per week.

Finally we would have:

  • 6,1 euro daily cost for the car and if we don’t use the car on Saturday and Sunday, the car still costs us some fixed money, which would be: 5,7*7=39,9€
  • Fuel 2*5=10€
  • Parking? Do we need to pay extra? Garage? Parking at work?

Let’s exclude the parking and we would have a total of 49,9 euros per week.

What would be if instead we would take Car2Go or Emov, electric car that you can rent in the city and you pay for time that you use it. I used it in Madrid once and for 24 min I paid 4,56€. If we would take that in consideration we would be able even to have it cheaper than to use our own car. 4,56€ one way, both ways 9,12€ and during 5 days: 9,12*5=45,6€.

Taking your own car in this case would be 7% more expensive than Emov or Car2Go.

Imagine if you would have even more expensive car…

Here are few other examples:

  • We buy new car for 15.000€ and sell it after 20 years for 500€

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  • We buy new car for 15.000€ and sell it after 30 years for 0€

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  • We buy 2nd hand car with 10 years old for 1.500€ and sell it after 10 years for 500€

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  • We buy 2nd hand car with 20 years old for 500€ and sell it after 10 years for 0€

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If you would like to have an access to the excel file to improve or change some estimations, here you can download it, let me know if you see some errors or some points of improvement: https://goo.gl/oPRb4N

In this case with my estimations, it looks like the best option is to buy 2nd had car with 10 years and sell it after 10 years, but of corse, there is a risk that it could have some hidden damaged in the car.

I hope it is useful this information in order to compare your alternatives.

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Save money on your car insurance

Like a month ago, I have started looking into my parent’s cars insurance. We had two cars in two different companies, because last year was the best deal to have it in this way.

This year, one month before our insurances has expired, we contacted the insurance broker to see what we can do. We had one incident with our old car, which had third party insurance and another one with our new car, which had comprehensive coverage, where someone else damaged our car. Both insurances were at the same person name.

We paid last year:

  • 450 € for almost new car with comprehensive coverage at Mutua Madrileña
  • 240€ for older car with third party insurance at Zurich

After we have spoken with broker, he said that there was nothing to do, no one wanted  to insure our new car at the same name and as my mother never had insurance was going to be almost +150€ more expensive… About the old car, he said that there was nothing to do, we must to stay at the same company for +70€ as we had an accident and we were guilty for it…

Then we called to Mutua Madrileña and they told us that we will need to pay +10 euros for renewing our new car insurance and Zurich wanted me to pay 310 € for old car, which would be a total of 770€.

We have checked some other companies, at some website where you can compare different insurance companies and we got some attractive prices. New car for 370€ and for the older one 270€. It looked like a good deal but we though, let see if we can get something lover. By the way, were the same insurances, with same advantages.

Then we called to Mutua Madrileña again and we told them that we are considering leaving the company because they are increasing the price for our new car. They told us that it is normal that the price is increasing, because each year everything is more expensive, but she will see what she can do. After a while she said, what about you would pay the same amount but you will have lover insurance franchise (the amount that you need to pay, so they can fix any damage you have in your car even if you are responsible for the accident) for the new car, lowering it from 200€ to 150€. We said no. Then she said let me see again. She said what about you pay 460€ but she gives us 90 € in fuel, we said no because it would cost us the same like in other company (460-90=370€) and the she told us that she will give us 120€ in fuel, which would be like (460-120=340€). Then we agreed with her because it was even lower than in other companies.

After we signed the deal, we asked them about our other car, where we had an accident and we were responsible for it. She told us that they could offer 280€ but we said that is too much, last year we paid 240€ and now you want to charge us more… now we would have two cars with Mutua and so on… Then she said, let me look to it again… After a while she said, ok, I will give you 280€, but next month I refund you back 40€ which would be 240€ in total like you paid before and finally we agreed on it.

In total the broker told us that we would need to pay:

  • 600 € for new car for comprehensive coverage with 200€ insurance franchise
  • 310 € for old car for party insurance

If we do nothing, we would have paid:

  • 460 € for new car for comprehensive coverage with 200€ insurance franchise at Mutua Madrileña
  • 310 € for old car for party insurance at Zurich

The last option is doing it ourselves:

  • 450 – 120 in fuel = 330€ for new car for comprehensive coverage with 200€ insurance franchise
  • 240 € for old car for third party insurance at Mutua Madrileña

Looking at all numbers and comparing with previous year when we have paid total of 690€, after having one accident where we were responsible for it and another one where we were not, broker told us 910€ (32% more), if we did nothing 770€ (12% more) and if we negotiate by ourselves is 580€ (16% less).

Again, it is all about being nonconformist. We got the same services after having two incidents for even lover price…

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Save money on your electricity bill

Few months ago, I have started to check all the bills that my parents are paying monthly, because I though perhaps there is something that they are paying too much.

I have realised that we are paying a lot for electricity and it has already been for a long time. I never stopped to look into details what were we paying for, but looking at it, I have discovered interesting things.

This is an example of electricity bill in Spain from Iberdrola:

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Where we have “Potencia contrata” it means “Contracted Power”.

This is a fixed part of the invoice, which one you are paying even without using electricity at all. Why are we paying this? It is simple to understand, this is maximum power that you can use at home at the same time. Let say you connect microwave, computer, oven, ceramic hob and other devices. Sometimes if you connect to many things at the same time, all electricity turns off, because you have reached the maximum of “Contracted Power” at home and you need to switch on manually the power at home and disconnect some devices.

When I understood it, I wanted to see the maximum that we have, because we have never reached it. Then I have connected microwave, computer, oven, tv, 4 ceramic hobs and smoke abstractor, suddenly everything disconnected.

Taking in consideration everything, before we were paying without using electricity at all 18,33 €/monthly (4,4 KW x 30 days * 0,1148€ * 1,21 (taxes) =18,33 €/monthly)

Then I called them and lowered first time to 3,45 KW, but I have realised that it was still too much for two people living at home and using electricity normally…

At the end, we ended up with 2,3 KW, looking at all numbers we can see:

  • Before: 4,4 KW x 30 days * 0,1148€ * 1,21 (taxes) =18,33 €/monthly
  • Now: 2,3 KW x 30 days * 0,1148€ * 1,21 (taxes) =9,58 €/monthly

I have spent few hours of work doing some researches, but now we are able to save more than a 100€/yearly. What are you waiting for? It is all about being nonconformist…

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Movistar VS Vodafone

It is all about being nonconformist… At this point in time I was paying almost 700 euros for 2 mobile phone lines with 200 free minutes + unlimited phone calls from fixed phone nationally to fixed and mobile phones + internet.

Few days ago, Vodafone had an offer for new clientes, by having internet and two mobile phones for close to 500€ per year. I called them asking why I don’t have any discount, saying that is unfair, but they said that there is nothing to do, it is just for new clientes…

Then I call to the competition, Movistar, which at the same time they had almost the same offer, in total I would have paid close to 500€ per year (cartel??). I have fixed everything with them and decided change the company.

Today Vodafone has called me by giving me another offer, saying that they just can lower me the price to 450€ per year by maintaining everything and even by giving me more services.

By being nonconformist you can save close to 35%. You should spend 30 min of work for 250 euros… I think’s worth it!

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