Friday, August 8, 2014

Product Pricing Comparison: Argentina Then And Now

So the international rumor mill suggests that Argentina’s economy is hitting an all-time low. So I decided to do a bit of pricing comparison with products I spot-checked last year versus the actual cost today. Have the prices dropped? Do they ever in any part of the world? The answer would be no. However, are things really that drastic? Let’s find out.

On July 29th, 2014, the cost of the US dollar in Argentine pesos was: 8.19
On August 1st, 2014, the cost of the US dollar in Argentine pesos was: 8.23
On August 4th, 2014, the cost of the US dollar in Argentine pesos was: 8.26

On August 8th, 2014, the cost of the US dollar in Argentine pesos was: 8.27

The photo on the left is the cost of the product from a year ago. The one on the right is the current price.
Yikes! That's a 3.10 increase in Argentine pesos. In US dollars this would cost you $1.04.

Wait! What? Can it be? No. That's not possible. He must have switched the images around. Sorry to disappoint you folks but the prices on these products are correct. The Gatorade on the left was once 9.50 Argentine pesos and a year later it has dropped to 7.25 Argentine pesos. That's a 2.25 drop. In US dollars this would be .88 cents.
 
Activia's liquid yogurt might give you the runs but you'll be 51 Argentine cents richer. The price went down from 15.50 to 14.99. In US dollars this would be $1.81.

Oh man! I was really looking forward to cleaning the wax out of my ears this weekend. Q-soft, which is basically a Q-tip has risen by 2.30 Argentine pesos. In US dollars this would be $1.69.
Oh ... SUGAR! The cost of cereal has definitely jumped in a year by a whopping 18.14 Argentine pesos. In US dollars this would be $4.41. Don't fret boys and girls! There are plenty of generic brands on sale at local supermarkets that taste just the same but at a more affordable price.
 
Hellmann's Ketchup has a nicer looking package but the price has gone up from 8.65 to 11.45 Argentine pesos That's a 2.80 mark up. In US dollars, that's $1.39.

Now you're probably wondering what the big deal is. After all, as long as expats have U.S. dollars, the prices are affordable more so in Argentina than they are in the States. That's a good point, but you need to consider the fact that every expat has a different financial situation. Those who continue to earn money in US dollars are better off than those who have depleted their supply of dollars (like yours truly) and are now solely dependent on Argentine pesos.

I should point out that a lot of these items have generic brands or have Argentine equivalent products that are (in most cases) cheaper.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Expat Report: 26 months Later

I’d like to start out by thanking the readers who have shown me their love and support on my expat blog and on my web novel blog. I’m nearly two months late writing this, but I felt it was necessary to write a blog entry honoring the last two years of my life in Argentina.

I'm happy to report that McDonald’s recently began offering an Americanized breakfast with bacon, scrambled eggs, and two pieces of bread that comes pretty close to the texture of a bagel, minus the shape or the hole in the middle.
Walmarts in Argentina now sell bacon and it tastes like home. Zach was kind enough to make some for me because I have absolutely no talent for cooking.
 The public hospital in Cordoba no longer charges (an already cheap) out-patient fee but on the downside, getting an appointment to see a doctor is a lot harder. I’ll talk more about that in a future blog article.

Now some of you know that I’ve struggled with social anxiety and depression all my life but I’ve been able to get treatment for it thanks to the free healthcare in Argentina. As my 37th birthday approached, I decided that I would try to control my condition on my own, without the need of a therapist or anti-anxiety medication. It’s been two months and I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ll admit that I wasn’t prepared for the mood swings or the unexpected anxiety attacks I’ve experienced. I find myself staying indoors a lot more these days. To compensate I try to bring my friends to my house as long as there’s money for snacks and drinks.

A lot of people have asked me how college is going so here goes. I quit. The choice wasn’t easy but I ultimately didn’t feel that the university and I meshed at all. I could spend the entire post pointing out why but I’ve done that already in a previous entry and that’s not what this entry is about. I also decided to quit back in June for another reason and it was really the deciding factor. When I got here, my family did their best to support Zach and me. Unfortunately, they have their own problems and the last thing we wanted was to be a financial burden to them so we cut the proverbial umbilical cord. My time is now spent working as a freelance writer. The amount of income I get from the articles depends mainly on the consistency of the work. Unfortunately, that’s out of my hands. It’s usually up to my freelance handlers (as I dub them) to provide me with a sufficient number of articles to make ends meet every month.

Zach has also joined the freelance writing team, but his true passion has always been in the kitchen. So he created his own website so people could order some of his amazing pastries. Visit his site: Zach’s Bake Shop at - http://darkecloude.wix.com/zachsbakeshop. Here are some photos of the amazing things he bakes.

In addition, he created a group called English & Muffins where expats and Argentineans meet at a hostel to play fun and sassy games that help non-native English speakers practice their English while enjoying his delicious muffins and cakes. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EnglishSpeakingMuffins/

Aside from the freelance writing, I’ve decided to revive my career as a fiction writer by publishing the web novel I had originally self-published through LULU.COM before I left the States. All 17 chapters of Hunter’s Vendetta are now available for your reading pleasure and it’s free but it’s also copyright protected. So I better not see the novel turned into a film without my consent ;-) Read it here - http://vendettachronicles.blogspot.com.ar/

I also celebrated my 37th birthday back in July with Zach and two new friends who threw me a surprise party. I’m usually the one planning big surprise parties for others but it’s rare that I’m the center of attention. Suffice it to say it was awesome. They decorated the house with themes related to my favorite shows like Supernatural and Star Trek and themes like zombies and Superman.
 
It seems like a lifetime ago since Zach and I stepped out of that plane in Cordoba but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about our old lives in the States. 
My friends back home have gone through things that I wish I could have been there for. I have one friend who lost her son in a terrible accident. I have another friend who got remarried and is expecting her first child. I used to ask her teasingly when she would make me an uncle. Now I won’t be there. I sometimes wonder if the choice we made was the right one or if Zach and I would still be together if we had stayed.
The truth is I don’t really have any of those answers. Fortunately, I have friends, both fellow expats and Argentineans, who continue to help me get through the rough times. I've also been lucky enough to meet kind people who have been willing to bring items back from the States, like a couple of my favorite Sci-Fi novels. Plus, as always (and possibly forever) Zach and I are always there for each other in the end.

Monday, August 4, 2014

How The Looming Risk Of Default Affects Cordoba Argentina

Some of you may have heard about the vulture funds and the “DEFAULT” that Argentina is in danger of facing. This blog entry won’t help you to explain why it’s happening or what it’s about. There are plenty of news reports and websites out there and each have their own version of what’s the truth and what’s a lie ... though they seem to have no idea what they're talking about.

What I will talk about is the fact that while world news media report the situation as dire; Argentina does not appear to be collapsing economically. You won’t find riots or mass suicides on the streets or any of the nonsense that people might report due to the supposed looming threat of the “DEFAULT”.

People continue to go about their day. Children go to school while the grown-ups go to work or go shopping.

I can also report, at least as far as the province of Cordoba is concerned, that businesses are still making money. People are still going to malls to buy clothes, DVDs, books, perfume, or enjoy a nice meal at the food court with family or friends.
 Economists were predicting that the value of the dollar would rise in Argentina but I’ve been monitoring the rate by which the U.S. dollar has climbed and the amount is negligible. Over the last few days it’s gone from 8.09 Argentine pesos to 8.23 Argentine pesos per 1 USD as of August 4th. Now I’m not saying that won’t change. It may very well change, but for the time being there are no signs of a major collapse or chaos.

In addition, Argentine president Christina Fernandez Kirchner has once again increased the monthly benefits that the retired elderly receive from 2700 to 3200 Argentine pesos. From what I've observed of the last two years, growing old here seems like a pretty sweet deal.

Below are three items that I priced checked a year ago and then again this year to see if there have been any changes and there have been but it’s definitely not as crazy as you would expect … well except maybe for the bag of Doritos.
BEFORE: 20.19 Argentine Pesos
NOW: 28.49 Argentine Pesos

BEFORE: 9.60 Argentine Pesos
NOW: 11.99 Argentine Pesos

BEFORE: 329 Argentine Pesos
NOW: 239 and 399 Argentine Pesos Range
I’ll be creating a price comparison entry with more products soon. So stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

FUTBOL: Argentina's Favorite Past-Time


Soccer, or “Futbol” as it is known here, is a serious thing to most Argentineans. The love for this favorite past-time gathers people of all ages, gender, nationality and creed together to rally for their favorite soccer team.

With this year’s World Cup, people have taken to going to bars, restaurants, or a friend’s house to watch the game. They even go out onto the streets to celebrate and to show their team spirit.

Below are a couple of photos of fans parading outside Patio Olmos, one of Cordoba Capital’s shopping malls in downtown. You can click on each one to enlarge the photo.