Studying abroad in Tucuman, Argentina was a turning point in my life. Now at 23 I want to return to see friends I made when I was 16. When I got my job in the Oil Field I made sure that my first vacation would be back to Red Clay Courts of Tucuman.
I come from a middle class family who believed in hard work and the promise of education. Through college I worked odd jobs and saved money.
In sophomore year I listened to a podcast from Ramit Sethi, and promptly bought his book, I Will Teach You to Be Rich. A crazy title I know, but that ostentatiously titled book laid out the basics of money management.
All together the 18 day trip cost me $2400. When I got back my bank account wasn’t empty and there was no money hangover in the form of payments to credit card companies. This journey taught me how to save and be frugal; habits that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
1) The biggest strategy was Automatic bank withdrawal into a high yield online savings account with Capital One 360. $50 to $150 withdrawn without me having to move a muscle. Slowly building up money for 24 months, this was how I bought my ticket straight up.
Open an account now
2) Bring stuff to sell there. This was something I researched before going down. In Argentina Iphones are highly prized due to import restrictions and high tariffs. Labtops, ipads, and anything Mac related will sell for high prices. I took down skateboards to sell to my friends for a steep discount and in exchange for staying at his place.
The Country where an Iphone cost $3,500
3) Learn how to cook. I began with Mexican food. Its a lot of cleanup so I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners. I would recommend grilling a whole chicken.
4) Got on Mint and started tracking all my spending. I used to spend irrationally at the grocery store. I used to have a full refrigerator. Now I buy for 1 week, and use up everything. I have cans of soup for when food gets low, but I enjoy being creative with meals.
5) Buy a bike. I use it all the time being close to the grocery store, and gym. I save money on gas and repairs for my car.
6) Follow Personal Finance Bloggers. Ramit Sethi helped me negotiate my rent down 15% using his scripts in my emails. I ended up saving $800 from 1 email.
7) Take care of the stuff I own, I like to keep the stuff I have equal. If I buy something like a new shirt I have to either give a dress shirt away or throw it out. I clean the shoes I own and now they last 50% longer than before. Learn how to wash certain things. Jeans don’t need to be washed that much, and when you do, make sure to flip them out. When my phone screen cracked, I learned how to repair it online and bought a kit to do it. Now I have repaired it twice.
8) Bring cash. The official rate is 9 pesos. Dollar Blue is 13 pesos. Bring $100 bills only. Go to where the banks are and people outside will trade with you. Listen to the word, “Cambio”. It means change in Spanish.
9) Get a Skymiles credit card. Got into the lounge area for $30. I had food, drinks, Wifi, and a shower. Yeah it was worth $30 to pass 5 hours in the Atlanta airport. If I could do it over again I would have opened up the card 2 years ago. You can ask for a limit increase every 6 months. Right now my limit is only $1000. And tickets to Argentina are between 1,300-2,000 roundtrip. This is to save up miles for my next trip to Tucuman.