I decided not to transfer all my money (what there was of it) into euros when I got here, so I’m watching in horror as my pittance shrinks. I think they call it a bad long call on the market. Or losing in Vegas. I live in fear that a one point fluctuation will cause the collapse of my financial empire.
Let me translate in to terms an American can understand. Say you’re paying 400 euros a month in rent. 400 euros sounds great, doesn’t it? That’s because we think in units, therefore to us, a euro equals a dollar, which used to be the case. But now your 400 euro rent has become $584 a month which would be fine if you already hadn’t allocated that extra $184 you thought you had on food. And your rent keeps growing as the dollar shrinks. This applies to your entire budget. It’s like some hideous balloon mortgage. Add to that the ATM and international fees that my American bank charges for doing nothing (they call it a “relationship fee”).
The best thing you can do for yourself is when you do your mental calculations, just double it (which is about what it’ll wind up, once your bank takes its cut). Don’t get fancy with halves and percentages, it’ll just screw you up. After frenzied calculations, I thought I got this great deal on olives until I got home and realized I just bought a $12.00 jar of olives (they were delicious by the way).
I’ve been here two weeks and I’ve only accumulated five centime coins at the bottom of my purse. In the states, my purse would be five pounds heavy with all the pennies accumulated in that amount of time. That’s what they do in America, they take your big money and throw pennies at you. And face it, pennies are totally worthless, unless you need a penny, in which case you can invariably never find one and you wind up with even more pennies. It’s a vicious cycle and probably the real reason so many Americans are addicted to credit cards.
Pound for pound, the euro is a great value. With American money, five pounds of change will yield you at best, a potato or two. With the Euro, that same weight can buy you potatoes, bacon bits (lardons), chives, sour cream and butter, which is a much more satisfying meal.
It’s been nine days since my last withdrawal of 100 euros. And I still have 8 euros left (a pocketful of change). Not a lot by any standard, but I can definitely make due. There are potatoes au gratin, sautéed potatoes, potato salad, mashed potatoes, twice baked potatoes, French fries…I could probably go a month and not eat the same meal twice, just with potatoes.
Don’t think I’m complaining. I feel very fortunate to be eating my potatoes in such a lovely setting. Right now, I’m sitting in the backyard, about to tuck into a delicious baked potato. The sun is shining and a beautiful big black and white bird is hopping across the lawn. It sort of reminds me of a penguin. I wonder how it would taste roasted with garlic?
Filed under: food, dining, fine dining, french cuisine, france on a budget | Tagged: American banks, bank fees, banks, budget, diminishing currency, dollar, euro, exchange rate, potato, potato eater, potato recipes |