Trotters, Arabians, Donkeys and Other People - Page 184 - The Horse Forum
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post #1831 of 1883 Old 05-13-2019, 08:33 PM
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Yes, I click on a “new” post but it brings me to that post several pages back in a thread, not to the last page.
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post #1832 of 1883 Old 05-13-2019, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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This is actually the last page, it is labelled incorrectly though and has phantom posts after that don't actually exist (unless prior posts are currently missing, way back). On another thread, though, actual posts aren't displaying, it's like a Swiss Cheese. And here, many likes from the last couple of days have been lost. If your post doesn't have a "like" from me on it, that's why, and I'm not re-liking these posts at present in case it confuses the software when/if it gets it data back. The faults have already been reported in the techie section.

Hope everyone has a fabulous week.

@Knave , that really is such a beautiful song... looks like I've got another theme song to love.
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post #1833 of 1883 Old 05-13-2019, 09:27 PM
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@knightrider You jousted! I wish the one near us would add more horse trick/show bits, they only do jousting and it's one of my favorite bits... because horses obviously
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post #1834 of 1883 Old 05-14-2019, 04:37 AM
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Sue, I just added the link for the sake of pictures. I did not check out the pricing.


In Spain, we are quite poor. Our economy is still recovering from the 2008 crisis, and there has still been no trickle-down effect. Comparatively, I would be making more money flipping burgers in the US than I do here, and I am actually earning less than I did 15 years ago. The situation:

1) Minimum wage is €4.50 an hour. In the US, it is $11/hr.

2) Sales tax is 21% (for essentials, like food, it is lower at 7-16%).

2) My husband's company is international (he is an SAP consultant). Engineers doing the same work as he at the same company in Germany earn 3.5 times more.

3) The average yearly salary in Spain is €24,000. The average salary in Castilla-LaMancha (my province) is €17,500/yr. However, most average Joes (gas station attendant, workers at supermarket, cashiers, etc) make only €1000/month.

4) When you factor in living expenses, most people are living hand-to-mouth. A friend of mine, a widow with a son, is an ER physician. She does not earn enough to pay to heat her house in the winter, and her mother has to pay it for her.

5) Pensioners receive only €675/month (in the case of my in-laws, that is for 2 people).


Thus, to answer your question, yes, €250 is a lot of money for us to go to a theme park.
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post #1835 of 1883 Old 05-14-2019, 07:30 AM Thread Starter
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Current exchange rate: 250 Euros = A$400
Average Australian annual income is around $60,000 (skewed by the top end)

In Australia, a lot of people are quite cash poor because of inflated housing prices and rent - it's the "upper" section of society which runs all the investment properties they rent back to the wage earners who can't afford their own housing - which is increasingly many. We scraped in because we're frugal and we built our house ourselves - which was an incredibly good financial thing for us to do, as the repayments on the small mortgage we took out to do the build are less than a crappy 2-bedroom in an ugly area would be to rent (we have no electricity or water costs as we DIY all that at our place, so that was another bonus of what we did). Generation Y in Australia - the people ten years after us - was the first where the majority of that generation isn't going to have an apartment or house of their own, ugly area or not, because it's no longer affordable for so many of them. If we were in that generation, we'd be seriously looking building a Tiny House instead of renting (although municipalities are making so many regulations against building these).

To stay at B&Bs was always out of our league even as a professional dual-income couple; you're looking at $200 per night per couple, breakfast and accommodation only. Motels are $70 - $100+ a night and usually quite lousy, so we often camped on holidays - off the beaten track if we could. At caravan parks, even a tent site for the night is usually $20 - $50. We once spent $80 for the privilege of pitching our tent for a single night at a caravan park at St Helens, Tasmania. The gouging is unbelievable, so we try to camp (usually illegally) off the beaten track. Laws are now being made that prohibit people from hosting caravans with travelling visitors for more than three days at their own properties - which really erodes our civil rights and puts more money in the pockets of the caravan park / hotel / accommodation businesses, who are so overpriced.

So you know, $400 for a weekend for a couple with the nice accommodation shown in the link and presumably access to all the activities and displays for the weekend and meals presumably included would be a really fair deal for us compared to what we're getting. If the meals weren't included and there were no cooking facilities, then we'd pass. But yeah, that's the sort of thing you might do once a year if it was available, just for something different and interesting. Over here, that price would get us a weekend in a B&B with breakfast only, no special activities. Even going to a concert is $50 - $100+ for international acts per ticket, so something we'd do once in a blue moon...

Going from dual-income professionals to living off an 0.8FTE income and what I make from writing and the food I grow here, plus everything that we can in-source with me on the farm, in combination with building our own no-electricity-or-water-bills house, has actually left us better off than we were before financially, in real terms - although we have to argue with the bank each time we want to repay capital on the loan because they say we're under the poverty line ($40,000 taxable income is considered that, and of course with the farm write-offs we don't hit that figure most years). It's really amusing to us because we are eating better than ever before and living in a really comfortable house, and best of all - and this was the most important thing - we have so, so much more time for each other than when we were both working fulltime professionally, and a far better quality of life. This is called downshifting, and a growing number of Australian "alternative" people like us are now doing this. I've never regretted it. Eventually we'll replace that 0.8 salary with farmstay hosting and more writing. Right now, we're happy as we are.

I think the problem in Australia is that you're systematically kept on a stressful treadmill unless you do what we did the moment you can afford to leap sideways, which for most people is around age 40, if they've got frugal habits. If you're living in standard housing, you're paying through your nose for mortgage / rent, and heating and cooling (house design is complete crap, so we designed our own) or suffering, as we often did before we built our own house - we used to wear thermal underwear and mountaineering layers and thermal gloves inside our last rental in winter to avoid the huge heating costs of an uninsulated house. We could see our breath on the air in the mornings, and we'd retreat to the bedroom with electric blankets on and cups of tea to read books after dinner. We put our heating savings in our "build our own house" fund. A lot of people just heat their houses and pay up, and then have little money left to save for better arrangements, so they get stuck. I think the system is very much designed to keep you stuck, here in Australia, and to funnel much of the money you make to the big end of town, via rent, mortgages, electricity bills, insurance etc, and accommodation if you go on holidays.

It did take us half the statistical life span to be able to jump off and do this, and we consider ourselves lucky. Horses cost me very little as I trim them myself and they are mostly self-sufficient off the pasture and tree fodder, and the small amount of beef cattle we run cover significant chunks of farm maintenance costs, land rates, insurance etc. If I had to feed them hay then I certainly wouldn't have 3 horses and 5 donkeys...

SueC is time travelling.

Last edited by SueC; 05-14-2019 at 07:48 AM.
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post #1836 of 1883 Old 05-14-2019, 08:59 AM
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We were kind of similar to you Sue. Husband was a cowboy when we got married, and then when I had our first daughter he took a good paying job. He stayed there for ten years. We got used to having a lot of money, and that combined with a couple medical emergencies, left us without saving as much as we should have.

When the company he worked for sold out, he was offered to keep his job for the new owners. Everything would be just as good as it was, with even better insurance. We talked about it a lot, but he simply wasn’t happy. We decided to let go of all of that. We paid our debts, and we went to work on the ranch.

I love it! He is happy, we spend so much time together and with our girls, and we are doing what we love. It is harder to live paycheck to paycheck, and we go without some things, but I think that the quality of our lives has dramatically improved.

There was a time frame there I started to panic and almost got a town job, but I’m really glad I didn’t.
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Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you? - Balaam’s Donkey
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post #1837 of 1883 Old 05-14-2019, 09:11 AM
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We figure we have to invest 10 more years in careers like we have now before we can step off the treadmill. It's exhausting, but neither of us come from money of any kind so everything we have, we've had to pay for from our salaries. We do have a mortgage but through lots of saving we don't have any other debt, and once that mortgage is gone our intention is to continue with no debt, barring any tragedy...
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post #1838 of 1883 Old 05-14-2019, 11:21 AM
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We, unfortunately, will not be retiring at a reasonable age. Even with the whopping merit scholarship my son got at a Massachusetts techie school, the part we still have to pay is my entire salary. So, we are going through our savings. FAST.

Like Sue, by building our own home in the country (passive solar), we were able to save quite a bit, as it cost less to build than the price of our flat in Madrid (which we bought when I was 24). We still own the flat, which we rent, and that is the only way we are surviving.

As I'm sure the rest of you do, we live quite frugally. No designer coffees or restaurant meals, I cut everyone's hair, no air conditioning, no new clothes for DH or me (we work at home - no one can see us!), we only have one car and my favorite mantra is the WWII saying, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!" And, once my youngest is off to college and I get back those 2-3 hours I drive him to the city for school each day (no school buses or public trans out here), I am going to kick my war-economy mindset up a notch and start my winter Victory Garden. Then I can be more like Sue (sans horses and donkeys).

Quote:
the problem in Australia is that you're systematically kept on a stressful treadmill
Yes, it's basic economics. The first world cannot survive without the third world, and the upper class cannot survive without the lower classes. And that is true wherever you live. Basically, Sue, we are all screwed, whether we live in the US, Australia or Spain.

Oh, and @egrogan , as far as "coming from money" is concerned, my aunt (widow, no children, my sister & I are her heirs) just died from Alzheimer's/dementia in January. At the time of her death, her care cost more than $15,000 per month, and in the 9 years she was ill she went through one million dollars. So, yeah, that backup plan is gone, too.
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post #1839 of 1883 Old 05-14-2019, 11:59 AM
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oops! I forgot to mention that in my World Politics 101 class my first year of college, back in 1988, Professor Ferraro warned us that the predictions of that time were that our generation would be the first generation not to surpass the quality of life of the generation of our parents, as each generation had done before. This was based on population studies analyzing parameters such as education, income, illness, life expectancy, population density, etc. In my personal case, not only have I not surpassed my parents' quality of life, but I have yet to equal it. I can only hope that this downward trend stalls in my sons' generation (hmmm… maybe I need to call Professor Ferraro?).
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post #1840 of 1883 Old 05-15-2019, 12:31 AM Thread Starter
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(HF is gone funny again and there are posts not displaying presently that I am responding to below.)

Reading all that though, I think everyone who posted replies to this is collectively less screwed than they were before they used their ingenuity and drive and values to make non-mainstream decisions, and get a better present / future for themselves. I gather we've all started with no leg-up, rich relatives or not, and I applaud you all for getting to your current places in your journeys.

Brett and I feel decidedly less screwed now that we're no longer working two high-pressure jobs that we loved, but that increasingly exhausted us to the point that we could do little more than eat, fall into bed, snuggle up and sleep, and then get up and do it all over again. My job was highly meaningful and worth spending my time on, and I've never regretted spending nearly 20 years in science and education - teaching in particular was wonderful. What I did regret is that most of the money I made was disappearing down a funnel to the big end of society, frugal as we were - I really dislike social injustice and rigged systems. Also, the time was right to get out and to make more time for ourselves. We're the racehorses who went on to have trail riding lives (after a five-year detour impersonating draught horses!). We love the peace in our lives and all around us in this remote location. @Spanish Rider , are you remote enough at your place to save money on clothes by not wearing any for significant stretches of time? Especially effective if you've got apples to harvest. )

I look around me on our smallholding and can't feel screwed when I know that more than 90% of the planet is living in wage slavery, or actual slavery. I feel solidarity with this part of the population, and though I have known poverty as a young person, and briefly even homelessness, even at my most dire circumstances, there were always many millions who were having it worse than me, and I really feel that, and I think that's the part that is particularly screwed, and needs addressing. By stepping off the treadmill when we could, and now funnelling one income less to the upper echelons while we DIY, grow our own, write etc, we are finally able to make a significant difference not just to our own quality of life, but with who our money goes to and how much damage is done to the planet or to social justice in the process. We no longer subsidise the coal behemoths - our energy money, when we built, went to the alternative energy industry, to a local business who supplied and installed and supported their own families off helping other people to live on 100% renewable electricity for the rest of their days.

Our car is a Hyundai i20, a super-mini with incredible fuel economy (but still very zippy, which is important on rural roads) - masses of Australians drive 4WDs without needing them. Their fuel costs (and so on-road fossil fuel use) are quadruple ours, but they complain about how they are battling to anyone who will listen. Self-inflicted, say I. We're hoping it will soon be economical to convert our car to dual petrol / electric, as we have so much spare solar energy going begging in the middle of the day from spring to autumn, which could be used to charge a battery for an electric vehicle. We buy / swap "civil disobedience" milk and eggs directly from farmers around us, often bartering with honey - all of which has had regulations made against it by the big end of town - as has selling potatoes from your garden, that's not allowed either, you're supposed to get an expensive license from the potato marketing board! Our grass roots movement is saying, "Enough is enough, we're claiming our ancient rights to free trade not involving the top end of town back!"

There is a lot of unscrewing that happens when you start to do things like this.

I also find it really hard to feel screwed when I am breathing fresh air, surrounded by birdsong, and warm sun is falling on my skin - when we eat every day from what the garden is producing, and are ecstatic with the flavours of fresh heirloom fruit and vegetables - when we have time to laugh and hug each other and just be. Most of the things we value aren't able to be taxed - sunshine, love, friendship, humour, the countryside, the wildlife, the three horses roaming free having interesting and sociable lives after lonely and experientially deprived beginnings, etc etc,etc.

@Spanish Rider , you're at an expensive phase of life, launching two fine boys into adulthood. Love and a good education are the best things you can give a child and will go far in giving them a shot at a happy, fulfilled life. But you will get through the other end, and find time to breathe again. And will you tell us more about the building of your house in Spain? We find it's an ongoing buzz to live in a nest we made with our own hands... how nice that you have that too.

@egrogan , I was so happy for you when you were able to get a rural place and have all your horses at home. The first five years here were the most stressful for us financially and in terms of time, then it got better. You're a few years younger than us, and I think you too will get to a place where things will be less hectic. Meanwhile, enjoy the views from your window when you're on your computer, and the ability to go out anytime and hug a horse!

@Knave , I feel very happy when I see how much time you have for your children and each other. This is something which is going to stay with you in so many ways, even when your children grow up and launch into lives of their own. The ripples of this time will extend right through your lives - all of your lives - and also into the lives of your children's children, one day.

SueC is time travelling.

Last edited by SueC; 05-15-2019 at 12:42 AM.
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