Friday, August 8, 2014

Check Out 2014's Argentine Product Pricing Comparison

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
On August 24th, 2014, the cost of the US dollar in Argentine pesos was: 8.39
On September 2nd, 2014, the cost of the US dollar in Argentine pesos was: 8.40

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! There'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 markup. 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 more affordable 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. As far what the future holds for product pricing, we'll just have to wait and see.

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. If you haven't, don't worry. You can start now. You can also follow me on Instagram. 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.

Some of the things that have helped us to handle our homesickness have been food related. For example, I'm happy to report that McDonald’s recently began offering an Americanized breakfast with bacon, scrambled eggs, and two pieces of bread that come 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 just like the one from 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, but fortunately, I’ve been able to get treatment for it thanks to the free health care 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 invite 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 let me rip the band-aid off and tell you that 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.

But before you judge me, you should know that something else had happened that helped me to make this decision. 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 entirely 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. I currently work for two, and they provide me with a sufficient number of articles to make ends meet every month... but just barely.

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 - Here are some photos of the amazing things he bakes.
In addition, he created a group called English & Muffins where expats and Argentinians meet at a hostel to play fun and sassy games that help non-native English speakers practice their English while enjoying some delicious muffins and cakes.

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 other themes like zombies and Superman.
It seems like a lifetime ago since Zach and I stepped out of that plane in Cordob,a 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. Would Zach and I have stayed together if we hadn't left New York. Still, we've made some friends and are attempting to make a life for ourselves here, which seems to be going okay.
Fortunately, Zach and I are still close, and married or not, we've got each other's back.

Monday, August 4, 2014

How The Looming Risk Of Financial Default Affects Argentina

Some of you may have heard about the vulture funds and the so called “DEFAULT” situation that Argentina is facing. Unfortunately, there are plenty of news reports and websites out there, each offering their own version of what’s the truth and what’s a lie... but they seem to have no idea what they're talking about.

What I will talk about is the fact that while the popular world news media continue to 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, and grown-ups go to work, or go shopping.
As far as the province of Cordoba is concerned, businesses are still making money. People are still going to malls to buy clothes, DVDs, books, perfume. They also spend cash on a nice meal at restaurants and food courts with their families 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 2,700 to 3,200 Argentine pesos. From what I've observed of the last two years, growing old here seems like a pretty sweet deal.

For those fortunate enough to find legal work here, the minimum wage is about to jump once again.

I did some price checking on three items that I took photos of 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! Prices have an insane way of fluctuating in Argentina.