Hello, hello, ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to another episode of the BigAppleSchool podcast, where the goal of this show is to help you improve your listening skills in English. By listening, of course, to us. Today, we're going to talk about a really interesting subject, which is close to everyone's hearts, and that is money. My name is Benjamin, and today we have a new participant on our podcast. And that is... What is your name?
So welcome, Olga. And we have two other participants who are frequent participators on our podcast and we have...
Alright guys. So money, money, money. So, before we talk about it, why do you think money is like a taboo subject? Why do so many people feel uncomfortable discussing money?
Well, some people might see it as a very personal topic. You know, I wouldn't say it's a taboo like everywhere. I think it's just because some people have some sort of like, you know, a mindset, like, no, it's impolite to talk about money or something, which is actually a trick. You know, in social media, whenever bloggers want to have more interaction, you know, with the audience, they use one of the two subjects that always get, you know, some sort of debatable feedback or comments, which is money and sex. Always get a lot of comments. So, people just like feel uncomfortable.
Well, we brought up not talking about money. So we're, we know that we're not supposed to do that. Politics and sex.
So yeah. The Big Four. Yeah. Let's say if ... I don't know, a teenager came up to you and said, how much money do you make? What would you say to that teenager?
Well, like, it depends. I mean, why? Well, why does he want to...?
Well, I dunno. It's happened to me before. Like in England. I remember someone came up to me and said, oh, how much do you make?
Just like a stranger you mean?
No, no, no, no. Just like a friend of a friend. And I said, oh, yeah, I make. I just told him how much I made. I didn't really feel bad about telling him how much I made of this profession. You can make this amount of money and other professions you can make another amount of money. And would you feel uncomfortable discussing your salary or how much you make with someone?
Well, you know, it depends, actually. Like I had a conversation with my friend once and we work in kind of the same field. And when I found out that she actually makes much more money than I... I was kinda like, you know, I feel like, I don't know, worthless or something like that. So, but yeah... You start comparing yourself, right? But then I was like, but maybe I can use it as my inspiration, right? So yeah, that's what I actually did.
Like...Yeah. Way to become more ambitious.
But you just don't want to make another person uncomfortable. Like if you know that you earn way more.
Yeah. Well, in Western society, of course, we have a more capitalistic society.
I believe that actually this is so wrong. Well, I know that now in the corporate world, they actually fight for transparency. And it's very often it's the case that, for example, some people on the same very position with the same every, you know, set of responsibilities, they make less. Why is that? So and I know that in some companies it's actually forbidden to discuss your salary, which kind of, you know, makes you wonder why.
Yeah, in a contract, in a contract, it could be illegal.
Well, in the United States, it's a known practice to pay men higher than women any way. And I was just on the Internet the other day and I looked up yoga instructor, not that I want to be one or anything. But it showed that something like 90% of yoga instructors are women and 10% are men who show that 10% made more money than the women.
Is that because... Being a yoga instructor is like a fre elance job? Usually... well... Not free.
That's just an example. No, I'm talking about corporate world in the world. It is a known fact. Statistics show that men are paid higher than women.
It's illegal, though, to pay someone in the same role. Like different. Well, in America, at least.
It all comes down to, you know, this gender stereotypes and everything, which I think calls for a whole episode on this topic, which I hope to discuss one day. But yeah, but speaking about, you know, whether you would tell somebody how much you make or not. So, I usually give some sort of a, you know... I don't know... like a spectrum. Like on a good month, I can make that much. On a bad month that much. So we depend on how many classes we have, you know, so... But my sister, for example, she has a very good position in a good company. You know, she's a banker, so quite a good salary and she doesn't want people to know. So she usually says, I've signed an NDA, so I'm legally not allowed to say.
Oh, do you wanna describe what an NDA is?
Sure. So NDA stands for non-disclosure agreement, which means that you are legally not allowed to say certain things to people outside of your company or even inside your company. So some sort of confidential information.
I would say it's quite a shady practice to sign NDAs. NDA, well... Shady means that it's not something that is, um, I would say maybe not legal but something that is not.
Not on the up and up. So it's something hidden.
Something hidden, yes. Shady because we have the noun... The adjective. So, the noun shade, which is like тень in Russian. So yes, it could be a shady practice. Would you work for a company that had an NDA, a non-disclosure agreements?
I mean, for some companies, it's a must. I mean, I worked for a very short time for a company where I was translating, you know, the meetings and everything. And this company is a factory that produces detonators and explosives. You wouldn't want this information to be leaked.
Well, okay. That's right. Yeah, I guess that's a particular...
I think that depends what the companies do.
When I was teaching ballet, we were not supposed to discuss our salary within the other teachers because we all were paid differently, depending on our experience. And so there was a guy teacher who actually looked into my paycheck because their paychecks were put into our... And he saw that I was paid more. And so he was very upset. And then he ... but he got in trouble. So, we're not, we were supposed to discuss.
What did he get in trouble for? For looking at your pay stubs?
Yes, for looking at my pay stubs and complaining about it.
By the way, pay stubs... I need to just mention for our audience. In America, you receive pay stubs. I don't think you receive pay stubs in Russia, do you? Do you know what a pay stub is?
Well, some kind of receipt, right?
It's like a receipt. You get every, you get your monthly salary and...
Used to be the practice. Now I'm not so sure but you can ask for it.
So I filed my taxes in America in 2020 and I had to collect my pay stubs. So, I believe they still do it in America. But Russia, it's not a practice.
It depends on what kind of taxes that you apply for or you can...
But you don't need your... Oh, I see. Okay. So, we call that like a 1099. Is that what you're talking about?
Okay. So it's a tax form.
I have flashbacks right now. 1099, 242, W-2.
Well, we can talk a lot about taxes a bit later, but let's talk about the basics of money. So, in your day-to-day life, what are your regular day-to-day expenses?
It's so expensive nowadays.
I have a question, very quick question before we move on. Do you guys keep track of your expenses?
Yeah, I like to. I like to. Yeah. I definitely keep as much as... I like to keep a close eye on my expenses. I really don't like it's when I'm... When I'm not in a position where I'm financially unstable, I need to have money saved or else. I get nervous.
Oh, yeah. I always know what I've got.
Yeah. And how do you monitor your...?
So I just put everything in an app. I used to have, like, you know, paper. Like, do it in a paper way.
That's what I do. Yes, just paper.
Sometimes I just forget, you know what I got and everything. But with an app, phone is always in your hand basically these days. Let's admit it. So it's very easy. You know, just 5 seconds to open up an app, put everything in. You're done.
Well, you know, actually like some bank apps, actually do that for you.
I found them not very accurate at times, you know, because let's say if somebody transfers your money and then you immediately kind of transfer that, you know, to somebody else. They counted as income. And spendings. So, you're like that was none of those things.
Well you can actually edit it... So, yeah. Maybe just give it a try.
So yeah, I just found it more convenient to use an app.
So, Olya me how much you spend on food every week, do you know?
Right. Oh, okay. I don't count it as, you know, every week, but I think it's about like, I don't know, 10,000 rubles every month.
Yeah, yeah. That's about same, yeah.
Yeah. I think like most people actually spend like...
And would you say in Novosibirsk, the price of food is quite reasonable or would you say it's quite expensive here for Russia?
Not for Russia. But, you know, it's quite expensive nowadays, I think.
Oh, you're originally from Novosibirsk.
Oh, okay. Yeah. So, yeah. What about Yakutsk is...?
I guess it's quite high there isn't it?
Much higher, much higher. And the thing is that you can't even get most of the things you can get here. So, let's say let's talk about yogurt. So, you know that simple yogurt. Like a Danone or something. Over here it's like, what, 50 rubles right now? In Yakutsk, it's 130. So, a loaf of bread like 70, 80. So everything like that. And with milk, you can't get the milk that you know, you know, the milk that lasts like three or four days or something because it's so fresh. Over there it's only like pre-frozen milk is something like...
Plastic packets, sorry, yeah the plastic packets.
It's more like packets. Or cartons. And they last for months. Like really for months. But it's really expensive over there. Some people believe and have this misconception the fish there is cheaper. Well, not anymore.
Because the prices, you know, have just skyrocketed. So, now is just about the same.
Oh, it's just the market has... Yeah. Made prices higher. What I've noticed having live in America, having lived in the UK and having lived here. Not gonna lie the food here is great. It's, it's pretty affordable and it's reasonable. It's good quality. What do you feel about food prices in America, do you think they're too high?
Yeah, they're probably really high now. When I was there, I was spent about $100 a month. And that included my cats. No, no, no, $100 a week.
$100 a month... So that's a...
And of course... I don't know what it would be like here.
But I found a way to save money on grocery over there. Cause there are a lot of companies that would deliver you, you know, for example, if you go to a supermarket in the US, everything is just so perfect. You look at fruits that all perfectly shaped. But there are companies who try to save, you know, reduce food waste. Save this ugly shapes, veggies and fruit, and they sell them for a reduced price. So you can get a whole box of fruit and veggies for like 25 bucks. Saving money. And then there is also a company. There are actually lot of companies like that nowadays, like in Europe as well, like HelloFresh and something like that...
Which deliver food directly to the door.
Yeah, they deliver ingredients and recipe cards. So, the thing is that they very often have some sort of like discount codes and everything so... I remember I got a box with ingredients, you know, with the recipe cards and everything. It was three meals each for two people, but I actually ate them like four times a week, actually, like four portions. For 22 bucks. And it involved, you know, included beef, chicken, shrimp and fish. So, 22 bucks.
I wouldn't be able to buy, like, you know, beef on that money. So, yeah, they have amazing deals very often.
So yeah. Well, how much is a... do you eat a lot of bread in Novosibirsk? How much is a loaf of bread in Novosibirsk?
So again, it depends. Like where you buy, what kind of quality.
I don't know. Let's say Мария-Ра.
I guess like about 30, 40 rubles.
30, 40 rubles. By the way Мария-Ра is only here in Novosibirsk, in Barnaul, I believe. It's not in Moscow. Okay. So about 30, 40 rubles for a loaf of bread. In America, I was in Vegas kind of recently... about two years ago. Loaf of bread, not amazing bread — $4. And that's in just a normal supermarket.
The thing is that, yeah, over there ... you either can buy, you know, for like two bucks, but it's artificial bread, you know, like you leave it. You know, really for like months, nothing's going to happen. But the ones that's like real bread. The artisan bread.
Yeah, artisan bread. Yeah.
So it's about like, yeah, $4 or $5 and places like Whole Foods and everything.
Oh, Whole Foods is probably more than $4 or $5. I wouldn't be surprised if it were $8 for a loaf of bread there. I wouldn't be surprised. London... Good thing about the UK... Food is actually reasonably priced. It's not too expensive. Like a loaf of nice bread will cost £1, like nice bread. Artisanal bread and normal bread would be about 80p or something. Yeah, I love America, but sorry. It's just... It's too expensive. The food there. Uh, um. So, are there any expenses that you consider to be useless and expenses that you would not?
Like in the olden days when we would pay for cable TV, I guess you still, I don't know what you do now. There was a time where I was getting Netflix in the States and I loved that, that was worth it. And then I went through everything and there was no more to watch. And so that was completely worthless. But I wouldn't pay for cable TV or Netflix or anything now.
A cable TV. What was it, like, $20 a month?
I don't know. Usually it would be like... You could bulk it with your internet and everything. It'd be a couple hundred dollars a month.
Every Russian listening to this now is crying. Couple hundred dollars, god...
Yeah, well, another expense, I'd feel was kind of useless is coffee. I mean, I love coffee. I know you probably gonna be...
Get angry at me, but coffee can really add up over, over the years. It's really...
You know, even over the years. So, the thing is that ... so we're a family of two people, two foodies on top of that. So, we love food, we love cooking, we love, you know, going to restaurants and everything. And every month when I see, you know, how much we spend on food, coffee, eating out and everything, I'm like, Jesus, we really need to cut down on all that. Cause per month it can be as much as like 7000 on coffee only. It's like solely on coffee.
7000 rubles a month on coffee.
Don't come after me when I said that, like, please but...
So are you a coffee drinker? Do you like to go to coffee shops?
Not really, you know, I prefer tea.
Okay. It's very English of you.
But do you go to or do you buy artisanal tea, special teas or just normal?
No, just black and green. That's it.
Oh that's good. Alright. So you're not going to waste too much money on...
Yeah, I'm trying to like, you know, not to waste too much time on food as you can see actually.
Yeah, fair enough. Because I used to work in a hotel in London and I used to have to wake up really early in the morning. And luckily the hotel had a great coffee shop which served really high quality coffee with these Italian guys working there. And it was great.
Did you have to pay for it being at work?
Yes, we had a discount, but we still had to pay for it and I would have, I don't know, a couple of cups of coffee every day. So that was about, I don't know, £3 or £4 a day, maybe £3 a day.
That's reasonable. I mean, £3 a day.
Yeah, but three times five is 15. 15 times 4 is...
That's £60 a month. That's quite a lot of money. It adds up and then £60 times 10 is 600 times 2 is 1200. So that £720 a year on coffee. Well, okay. Minus, let's minus one month because you have a bit of holiday. Okay. So, £660 a year on coffee, you can go on a nice holiday for that.
Yeah, coffee adds up. What about utility bills here in Russia? How much do you pay for wi-fi every month?
Like a thousand? Thousand and a half, maybe.
And do you have high speed wi-fi?
Well, when you work online, it's kind of a must.
Well, yeah, I pay about 800, something like that. Rostelecom, not advertising. Yeah, about 800 rubles a month. It's so reasonable. How much did you pay in the States for...?
Again, that was bulked with the telephone and everything else, but it was a couple of hundred a month.
Yeah, it's heavy, isn't it? That's like the high speed or just a normal...?
Oh, well, there are some areas that we couldn't get high speed.
So, all the fiber optics weren't laid. So, yeah ...it was kind of low...
Mhm. Yeah. I remember in Vegas, I paid $60 a month on the cheapest wi-fi package. And yeah...
You know, I remember... Speaking about utilities and phone bills, for example, when I came back and I needed a new SIM card. So, I went to an MTS office and I'm like, I need a SIM card with that much internet, blah, blah, blah. They're like, Oh, they're rather expensive right now, like 400 rubles. And just, you know, months before that, I, well, I had to pay $40 for 3 gigs of Internet per month in Massachusetts. I'm like...honey.
Yeah, yeah, that was horrible.
Yeah. And, like, 400 rubles. Bring it in.
Yeah, it's...yeah. This is one thing that Russia really excels in is the price of utility bills. And what mobile phone carrier do you use, Olya?
Yes, Tele2. How much is that a month usually?
It's not that expensive. You know, I've been their customer for about, I don't know, like more than ten years, I guess. So, I have some kind of discounts. So it costs like 250.
That's amazing. That is absolutely amazing.
Can you imagine that? Yeah. Anywhere else in the world. So, Russia's biggest country in the world, so much coverage is needed but 250 rubles a month, that is... Yeah, absolutely amazing.
But I'm a loyal customer.
A loyal customer. Yeah, definitely ten years. I'm with Megafon. So I pay what, 385 rubles a month. I get about, I think 15 gigabytes, something like that.
Which is... It's actually still really cheap. Yeah. I've only been here for just under two years, so yeah. Definitely prefer Russia for utility bills. England we have to pay another utility bill — heating. Oh, God. So expensive. And recently it's become even more expensive.
Now people are really afraid they won't be able to afford heating this year.
Yeah. So yeah, everyone's going to have to like make a fire in their living room or something like that. Yeah. So, in England, an average utility bill for like a one bedroom flat, at least when I was living in London was about... In the winter, about £60, £70 a month, maybe a bit cheaper, but £60, £70 a month. What is it in Russia?
Because the thing is that for for heating, you don't really pay much for heating because it's a set price. We have central heating. God bless central heating. Really. So I think it's like couple of hundred maybe per month. That's it. So I know that for electricity, gas and water we pay around a 1000, 1500-1600 per month.
So something like that for a one bedroom, one living room apartment.
So 1500 rubles a month. That's amazing. Yeah. Anywhere else. That's just not, not possible at all. So...Yeah. So we can talk about utility bills on and on and on, but let's move on to something else. So do you prefer to pay with cash or do you prefer to pay with cards?
I mean, I think we are really becoming some sort of a cashless society in a way, because on the one hand, with cash, you can kind of keep track, you know, if your expenses in a way. Because I mean, if you have several, you know, let's say a dozen bank notes in your wallet, you can kind of see them disappearing when you spend money. With cards, yes, it's trickier because you don't see... It's just numbers on the screen. But at least it's easier to keep track. I mean, through different apps and everything. You can get cash back.
Mm hmm. And what would be the positives and the negatives of a cashless society?
The convenience. Yeah, the convenience.
Of not having any cash in society.
Right. The convenience of just carting everything.
When the pandemic started, people and a lot of companies actually had the notices, like, we do not accept cash because cash in general is one of the biggest germ carriers in the world. So they have more germs that a seat of a toilet. Yeah, public toilet.
I believe the US dollar. Or maybe it's the pound contains like traces of cocaine as well. So you could...
I had... I was telling a student how dirty American money was. I'm showing him some American money and say it really stinks. And he said, What do roubles smell like? All money smells like...
To be honest, I'm not going to lie. I do love the smell of a US dollar.
I love the way it looks like, Oh my God, there's a $20 bill. And I love $20 bills.
You know, like, they're, like, crispy.
To be honest, American money looks like real money. It is real money. Yeah, other countries, it just looks like a joke. Like, I'm sorry, Canada, but...
Plastic money is...Canada uses plastic money, right?
I'm not too sure about... Maybe it does. Well, England started, the UK started using plastic banknotes. No, you know, it's a shame.
It feels so strange. It doesn't look like real money... kind of feels like Monopoly money. Yeah. So the Canadian banknotes, I love them, but it's not like real money. It's they have hockey players and...
And other fun icons on them and but yeah, American money's real money. Euros... Do you think of euros as being real money?
Well, it'd be... Again, it'd be convenient because if you're traveling around Europe, you can use the euro and not have to worry about.
It is very convenient. Yes, you can use it from Ireland to other EU states. But some EU states do not retain the euro, do not have the euro. They retain their own currencies. For instance...
Serbia's not EU actually.
Oh, it's not. Wait, Sweden?
Yeah, the Krones. I believe Czech Republic or Czechia, whatever you want to call it.
They have, they have euros right now.
Oh they do? They just moved.
Koruna, yeah. So a lot of states retain their currency. Well, I believe Denmark as well. Euros can be very useful because you can use them from Ireland to Spain to... but it just doesn't look like real money to me.
Just one more argument, actually, for having a cashless society. With a card, you can pay it anywhere. You don't need to worry about the currency rate. You know and like where to exchange money. But now on second thought actually I know that there are like official exchange rates and there are the illegal exchange rates, which is... It can be a huge difference, for example, now in Argentina. That's a huge difference between the official one of the non-official one. Okay.
Well, so you said Argentina. Do you have experience with people in Argentina?
Well, I follow a lot of profiles of people who live in Argentina because I'm thinking about going there myself.
And I know that, for example, if you exchange... Well, at the moment, the currency rate, you know, the exchange rate between rubles and peso is for... Officially for each ruble, you can get 1.7 peso. But non-official course is 3 to 1.
Oh, you mean the exchange rate? Yeah, the official exchange rate.
So for one ruble, you can get 3 pesos, which is almost twice as much. Compared to the official course. The rate.
Yeah. Well, what is your favorite currency in the world?
That's a weird question. I don't have much experience with currencies.
Oh, I collected coins from my travels and I made a beautiful bracelet. I took it into a jeweler. So I have... I had. It's somewhere. A beautiful coin bracelet. Different currencies. It's pretty.
Okay. I'm pretty sure you have a favorite currency.
I'm gonna have to say the ruble.
We should have seen that coming.
Yeah, come on. Like I love...
This a yellow one. Look at this.
I don't have that plastic stuff. But one thing I'm really sad about is the disappearance of the ten ruble banknotes. And, you know, the city of Krasnoyarsk, they have a statue dedicated to the disappearance of the ten ruble banknote.
Because on the ten ruble banknote was a picture of a landmark in Krasnoyarsk.
Several actually of them. The bridge and the little chapel.
Exactly. And then sadly, they had to get rid of it.
Yeah. It's all about the history. That's what... Why American money is so beautiful.
It really is. Yeah. And what I love about American money too. The coins and how the quarters, the $0.25 coins, you can collect them and they have...
Oh, I actually do. I have, you know, those like... Well, folders or something. The book where you can put those state quarters. I'm only missing three and none of them are states, actually. It's Samoa and some two, two more American territories. But I've collected them all.
Yeah, no, I did that as well. I didn't have the book, but I loved collecting them as well. And I used to work in a hotel in Vegas and obviously we had access to coins. So I used to trade the special coins for like the boring coins and...
But they're so confusing. The coins in the U.S. Why is it that the quarter is one of the biggest one? Okay, reasonable. Then a dime... Ten cent coin is smaller than a five cent coin. And you're like, wait a second. So, at the beginning I was like, wait a second, which one is that?
Yeah, it is strange. Yeah, but the ruble, I believe the ten ruble coin has a special ... kind of limited editions, yeah?
Yeah, well, it is on rubles you see the numbers on the coins. In the U.S. there are no numbers.
Oh, yeah, it's confusing, isn't it?
There are only words. And then you see... a what... Dime. And you're like, what the hell dime? I have no... I had to ask actually when I first moved. I like... what is a dime? It's ten.
Yeah. So I believe on our website we have an interesting article that...
On the BigAppleSchool website. So check that out if you're interested. In there we talk about the different denominations of currency. So yeah, definitely check that out. Moving on. So, Bitcoin, would you ever touch Bitcoin?
You can't really. Oh, that's a tricky one. Cause you can't touch a bitcoin.
Yeah. Physically you can't touch it, yeah.
You thought you got us, huh?
But would you ever... Have you had any experience with Bitcoin?
To be honest no. Like I've heard like so many times that people like, you know, that the whole thing is just like being so on top. But I'm not quite sure. Like, you have no knowledge in this field, and if I'm not sure, so I'd rather like, you know.
It's better to stay away from it.
It's a dangerous game. I don't really know much about it, but I've recently bought some Bit, I recently bought some Bitcoin, so I can exchange my dollars to rubles because obviously now it's a bit difficult to do so. And I was so scared. I was so scared during this transaction because I had to buy Bitcoin and then also I had to... So what did I do? I bought Bitcoin on an app on my phone. Then I had to move the Bitcoin to a wallet on a website and then on the website I had to buy rubles via a Russian Bitcoin trader. And I was so, so scared doing this because I just didn't know if I could trust this website.
Well, you know that since we live in a time of scams and frauds. Like all of the big transactions are always scary.
Yeah, exactly. So I tried... I don't know... It wasn't... It was like $200, wasn't the biggest amount of money, but it's enough to worry about. And I was so scared, I was waiting for 30 minutes. I held my breath... Oh God, have I just been scammed by...I feel like such an idiot. And then I received a text message on my phone saying, ding, ding, bank account. Here's the деньги. Here's the money. So yeah, bitcoin's a scary thing to get involved with, but... Yeah. I don't really know much about it. I don't know much about the technology of that. But it's now the national currency of El Salvador, I believe. So have you.. has anyone heard about this?
Becuase it's too dangerous to carry any sort of cash in El Salvador?
Well, maybe because the currency, the original currency was so volatile. And I think it went up and down and...
I know that a lot of people in Argentina use cryptocurrency at the moment just... Again, because they have a very difficult situation with the peso and everything.
And Venezuela as well, of course, I think is the bolivar, is the currency there. And they experience a lot of volatility and they use a lot of bitcoin there.
I mean, it kind of sounds like it's going to be more stable. Cause let's say with the Argentinian peso, the inflation and everything was 70% since last year. So it's losing its value. So what's going to happen? People are afraid, of course, for their savings that are in Argentinian pesos and actually in there. If you pay with dollars, you're going to have a lower price because people value dollars way more. They want to have them.
Do you think it's always going to be like that? Varya, do you think...?
I certainly want it to be that way.
Yeah, I hope so. Yeah, we have dollars and we need to... Yeah. It is nice if you have dollars and you move to another country that... Yeah. It can really help you out in many situations.
Yeah. Okay. So Bitcoin, I personally, I would not advise investing in Bitcoin right now. I'm not a financial advisor. I'm just an English teacher, not a financial advisor, but I would not advise doing so. Maybe some people say buy now when the price is low because it just had a huge crash, it went all the way from $45,000 all the way down to $19,000 in the space of a few weeks. Which is absolutely crazy. So many people lost millions of dollars. So, yeah. So, let us know in the comments if you would buy bitcoin or not ... or any other cryptocurrency.
If you deal in bitcoin. Yeah. Let us know if you wanna...
Practice your English and make some money. Then let us know in the comments section. Okay. Well, let's ask... Or Katya you have some stories about scams, don't you?
God, yeah, I do have a story. I'm not proud of that. Okay. But yeah, I mean, actually, nowadays no one's safe. Like, you can easily fall into this trap and fall prey to scammers, like, easily. So because they use the fishing websites that look just like real websites. Or when you have too much hope about something like I did and you become, you know, kind of stupid and blinded by this hope. So the story goes, you know, that for the last two and a half years, I've been desperately trying to get my appointment at the American Embassy in Kazakhstan. The thing is that I have a very limited amount of, you know... appointments.
The time slots, so... Well, not a lot of people, but some companies offer this service of bots. So technically, it's a program that kind of, you know, tracks the slots and then gets one if there is one. So for you. So and there is this huge chat devoted to American visas and everything with like 20,000 people in there where you can ask for advice, you know, like exchange your experience and everything. And over there I ask like, Hey guys, does anyone know anything about bots? How much is it right now? So and about an hour later, I got a message in my like in a telegram chat saying, hey, I saw your message in my chat and I checked the, you know, the info of this person and it had the phone number and, you know, the name which is, you know, the name of the founder of this chat. And I'm like, okay. He's like, What do you want to know? I'm like, Well, how much is it now and how does that work? He's like, Well, it's $400 and now we have slots, you know, for like November. Of course, you know, there's no guarantee that you're going to get a slot in November. It might be December, January. I'm like, whatever. Like it works. But $400. That's a lot of money.
Yeah. And I said, look, give me give me some time to think. He's like, Yeah, but I cannot guarantee that these spots will be available, you know, after you've done your thinking. I'm like, okay. I took a week to think, consulted with my mom and my sister, and they say, Come on, go for it. Like, what if you can get, you know, a chance to get your appointment and actually go to the US back? So you know, back to your workplace and everything. So I said, you know, to hell with that. The trick is that I did not have that $400. So I had to borrow money from my sister like 200. I had 200 on my own. I had to borrow 200. So we discuss with this guy, you know, like the way it works and everything. So I transferred the money and he said, Well, you're going to get a confirmation email. I'm like, okay, cool. One week later, I realized that I have not got any sort of a confirmation. So I go to this telegram chat and see that has been deleted. I'm like, oh, f**k. That was the moment I understood that I kinda screwed up.
And I'm like, Damn. I contacted the bank. I'm like, Hey, so is there any chance... They're like you did transfer money, you know, on your own? I'm like, Yeah, I'm a fool. Yeah, I know that. Like, we can't do anything. So sorry. I'm like, I understand. Like, do you want us..
Do you want us to, like, block your card and issue you a new one. I'm like, No, I'm good. I'm good.
I don't think that makes you a fool, though. Because there are some... It's...
Part of me think about it...
I don't think it makes you a fool...
When you read so much about scams and frauds, you kind of think like, Oh, come on, I wouldn't fall prey to that. And then you do exactly that.
Yeah, but in that particular situation it's a very... Well, you really wanted that visa. And there's a lot of people who...
Who use this desperation. The same thing when people want to get some sort of like, you know, treatment for a disease or something... And they fall prey to that too, because they're blinded by this hope. So... yeah. Don't be like me, always check who you sending money to and actually, like, ask for anything to be documented.
Well, I don't know, receipts could be faked as well.
Oh, that's true. Everything can be. Yeah.
I think you should just stay off the Internet altogether.
Yeah. Stay safe. Stay cautious.
So, have you ever been scammed before?
Well, I have never. But my friend was.
Yeah. So, the same like fishing site. So, he just wanted to buy something and he had to go to the site and it looked exactly like the one he actually wanted to visit. And yeah, he bought something and eventually then found out that money just, you know, were thrown down the drain.
Right down the drain. Yeah. Varya, any scams...?
It was just like in my twenties. I was... This is a probably something no one could relate to. But in the olden days, people would come to your door with like maybe a booklet of discounts to shops and movies, whatever. And they'd say, Oh, it's only $20 and it's worth 500. And so, Oh. So I got my $20 bill that I love so much and I bought it. And then I looked in, I go, I don't want any of these things. I don't know. And so, yeah, it never happened again. People came to my door and I'd say no or I would hide and not answer the door.
Right. But still, it's experience, right? You get wiser, so...
Yeah. You need to get scammed once maybe...
That's what I tell to myself. It's experience... $410 experience,but you know. Nonetheless. Benjamin, what about you? Have you ever been scammed?
Luckily, touch wood, gonna spit over my shoulder three times like a real Russian.
But my grandmother almost got scammed. So I have a grandmother in America and I do not have an American accent. But someone called her up in an American accent. Say, Hey, it's Ben, your grandson. Can I have $900, please? I'm broken down in Ohio and I need the money to travel back home to England and...
Oh, so people did their homework actually.
Yeah. They do the homework. Yeah they, it's quite scary but they didn't get the accent right... But yeah. So my grandma called, my mom said, oh, where's Ben, where's Benjie. I don't know. Let me, let me call Ben. And my mom called me and said, Ben, are you in Ohio? What are you doing in Ohio?
Speaking with an American accent?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And yeah.... like what happened to your voice? I don't think she said that. No, but...
Did you get a concussion?
Yeah. No, because my mom remembered that it was... A person did not have a British accent or something like that. Yeah. Luckily my grandma did not hand over the money and... Yeah. And she receives quite a few calls from people pretending to be me, so...
Which means that there must have been some sort of a leak somewhere...
Yeah, and that's the problem of having data everywhere on the Internet.
You can Google someone's name and get their families names and...
Actually, we have Facebook. I mean, well, and back in the day, I think you had Facebook, too...
A long time ago. Yeah, I stopped using it many years ago but...
You know on the Internet, you can actually get addresses and your family members, dates, times, years that you've lived in different addresses, at different addresses.
Yeah. I remember I was looking on Instagram when I first came to Russia. I don't use Instagram anymore, but... Yeah, when I first came, I saw these really dark adverts of people who stole credit cards and said, Buy credit card numbers for like a thousand rubles or something like that. And there was this voice that was really, really deep. And it maybe it was like an electronic voice, which hids the person's real voice and... Yeah. They said, Buy some, buy some credit cards.
Ohhh, that's all I have to say.
I also met someone here in Russia who was scammed with a credit card. So someone use a credit card details. And she was 200,000 rubles out of pocket. A lot of money. But you could, in theory, pay that back. But it wasn't just 200,000 rubles. She had to pay the interest on the credit card.
And it just kept accumulating, accumulating, accumulating. And yes, I felt so bad for her and didn't know what to do. Would you ever have a credit card, by the way? Speaking of credit cards ... would you ever get a credit card here in Russia?
Here in Russia no. But we all know that in the U.S. you can't but have one. Because if you don't have a credit card, you don't have a credit score. Which infuriates me. And I tried to talk to like, you know, a manager in a bank and she's like, would you like to have a credit card? I'm like, No, thank you. I'm handling my own money quite well. She's like, What about a credit score? What about it? You can't have a credit score if you don't have a credit card. But what if I'm so good? At, you know, saving money and keeping track of my money and everything. She's like it doesn't matter. You don't have a credit score. Nobody's going to rent an apartment to you. WHY?
It is insane how... If you want to rent an apartment, you need to have a good credit score.
And that's ridiculous. So basically, as far as I understand, in the U.S., you have no other option but to get a credit card.
It used to not be like that at all. This is just a new thing.
So, before you could just rent an apartment.
Yes. You would have to show that you had a job and they would call your boss.
And that would be enough.
So basically just some proof of employment or just proof of, you know, proof of money, maybe.
Okay. So, yeah, why not? Why is it not like that right now?
Yeah. Well, and if you didn't have a job, you just...
Well, probably because the credit card companies make so much money of the interest. That's why. It's always at the bottom. But I always told my daughter, you know, don't get into debt, don't use credit cards. And I would never get a credit card here or anywhere.
It all comes down to capitalism, but credit cards like... It's a slippery slope. I have a friend who got a credit card because she wanted to have, you know, a credit score and then she bought a bag or something and she's like, Oh, it's nothing I'm going to pay back, you know, in no time. And then she wanted to go on holiday and then there was a medical emergency. So in one moment...she was just like.. yeah.
They know you're going to do that. They know the credit card companies know you're going to do that.
Exactly. And then the next thing she knows, she's $10,000 in debt.
Yeah. So scary... Yeah. In America people do get into debt quite often... And it's a normal practice. I think is becoming the new norm here in Russia, though. I think credit cards are becoming more popular here. Would you say so? So, I've heard that credit score is becoming more and more important.
Well, I personally haven't heard of that one, but I think that yeah, due to the low income of so many families, they have to do that. So for example, if you have a child and your child goes to school, you have to buy so many stuff like it costs a fortune. Like I recently read how many money they spend of it. It's like it's unbelievable. So in some families with lots of like children, they well, they actually have to do this. They have no choice.
They have to get a loan just to buy books and pencils and stuff like that. Yeah, I have a credit card only because I lived in America for a bit, and of course I needed to build up my credit score. Um, I try to use it occasionally just to keep my credit score up, but I avoid it cause I really don't like having it.
I know that some people do this way, like whatever they have, you know their weekly budget, they use it on their credit card and then at the beginning of next week, they're just paid, you know, pay off. So in this way, they kind of don't get into debt much and keep, you know, paying off their credit card debt. So they show like, hey, I'm good with my credit cards.
Yeah. So, yeah, the bank is like a parent and you're the little kids and... Yeah, moving forward. What about saving? Do you guys... I mean, I love to save money. It's a hobby of mine.
Oh, yes? So you save money?
Cool. So do you have a savings account or...? I'm not going to ask you if you put money under your sofa but...
Well, it's kinda like that actually...
Yeah, yeah, fair enough. But yeah, I don't have a savings account actually. But do you think it's worth having a savings account? The percentages are so low.
But it depends on how much money you have and whether you want to have your income short term or long term. Like with an investment, some people want fast money, you know. They want to have income right here, right now and everything. But if you want it to accumulate over years and you want to get back or to get some income or interest in 10 or 15 years time, why not? But I believe that sometimes... If you know how to do it only with this remark and that being said it's better to invest and make the money work.
Rather than just, you know, wait it to, like, look at it, sit in your bank account.
But do you make investments?
I'm so bad at savings in general. You know, and that's what I hate about myself. But I would like to. Yeah, I would like to get into investment.
And would you like to invest in stocks or commodities or mutual funds or...?
Stocks kind of sound, you know, like more profitable if you know what to invest in. So... But I understand that we have no choice. Our generation has to learn how to invest. Cause look at the U.S. In there as far as I understand, if you haven't thought about your own retirement, you know, you're screwed when you actually retire. So I think that we're getting into the same thing. So you cannot rely on a pension when you retire. So you need to think it through when you're young. So I think that we need to learn about investment. And I want to learn about investment.
Of course, yeah, absolutely. I would just... My opinion, the stock market's kind of like gambling in a way. Would you prefer to go to the casino or would you prefer to bet on Apple?
Yeah. I'm not a gambler. I don't do stock market. I don't really care.
I know that nowadays a lot of people invest in property and especially, you know, in places like Florida. So I could see one example when people bought a house 6,5 years ago for 400,000, I think. So they use it for Airbnb. So and they're selling it now for...
I guess they bought it with a mortgage, yeah? You buy, you get the mortgage and then...
So you rent it out, you pay off your mortgage. They are selling it now for 3,5 million.
So that's money working, you know, or like a guy who bought a laundromat for like 65,000, paid another 20,000, like to keep everything organised.
That's an excellent investment. That's so much better than the stock market, buying a laundromat because in America everyone uses almost everyone uses...
Yeah. And you can keep them dirty and you don't have to upkeep them at all.
Exactly. Yeah, yeah. No, I've had some dirty laundromat experiences myself, and the dryers completely destroyed my clothes sometimes.
That happens. But he, he posted that... So he initially spent around $85,000 on that laundromat, you know. You know, updating stuff, you know, everything. Now, he makes between $5,500 and $7,000 monthly. So enough to keep everything, you know, to maintain everything.
You don't need a job. $5,000 a month. That's really good. You can just live in some country.
And if you learn how to fix the dryers and the washer, the washing machines and everything you can save on maintenance.
I'm probably just gonna do that.
I'm sorry to break it to you. I hate to break it to you, but laundromats in Russia will not be such a good investment.
It should. We got to start a laundromat. How do you Russians wash blankets? Tell me.
Oh, we actually do take them to the clean... dry cleaning.
Dry cleaning? No, water and soap.
You call химчистка. Yeah, like прачечная.
Because I had to wash mine in the bathtub, and that is a horrible experience. It takes three days.
Yeah, because then you have to hang it up, you know, put buckets underneath.
So, yeah. Start a laundromat, Benjamin.
I think another idea would be to buy a vending machine. And so maybe water and somewhere expensive like Las Vegas, on the Las Vegas strip. Because... or an airport buy a vending machine at the airport, the Novosibirsk airport. Tolmachevo.
The fees that you're going to pay. God they are so high. It's the airport.
Yeah, but a bottle of water, you can buy it for, like 100, 150 rubles there.
So you're trying to make money off thirsty people?
You've joined the dark side. Okay.
Yeah, well, I'm definitely not going to buy a vending machine next to a school, for instance, because the schoolchildren. Spend the whole lunch break trying to open it.
So this is the line. Okay.
Yeah. So buy vending machine, but in a suitable location. Probably best at an airport or in the desert or something.
Yeah, vending machine on the dark web.
Anything's possible, right?
What's that going to sell?
Well, water. But you can sell lots of interesting things on the dark web.
Which we're not going to discuss right now.
I mean, come on. And there's lots of interesting things you can buy on the dark web. You can buy people's credit cards, you can buy weapons, all sorts of fascinating things. All right. I'll leave that to the audience to figure out for themselves. Okay. So, hmm. Do you think schools should teach people how to invest and how can they teach people how to invest?
Yes, please. We are absolutely financially illiterate. So basically, we grow up, be graduated from university, having absolutely zero knowledge on what kind of taxes we pay, how to file taxes, how to get a tax refund. And I'm telling to you that a lot of people do not even know they can get a tax refund here in Russia. So we do not know any of that.... any of that stuff. Why? Why not teach that at school. Like it should be a must. We should be, you know, financially literate. I'm not even talking about investment, but just, you know, the taxes, how money works, how to save that. What are savings accounts?
What would you call the subject?
That sounds great. We should have it.
Yeah. Yeah. Financial literacy. I was just going to say money. This morning I have a history lesson and money lesson. Financial literacy. That's a good lesson. Yeah. So, do you ever watch people on YouTube who provide financial advice? Would you ever use them as a source for learning?
I follow some investors on Instagram and they have some courses, of course, not free, you know, but they show with their own example how they invest and what they get from that. And I look at them like, okay, that sounds reasonable. And they often say like, Hey, I'm not telling you what to do. I'm telling you how you can possibly do it.
Oh, that sounds so soothing. Like you're going to really trust that person. I wouldn't trust that person at all. They on YouTube making money and taking advantage of you. No way.
Well, in Instagram, for example, in this case, that instagrammer, that blogger gives a very limited amount of information for free. But I have a student who took a course, two different types, you know, like stage one, stage two. Was that expensive? Yes. So that's how they make a lot of money, too. But my student is now is an investor with... Apparently you can get some sort of certificate once you reach a certain level of investments in Russia. So yeah. And she's now living off interest on investment. She quit her job.
When you say certificate, is it like a financial advisor certificate?
No, no, no. When you as far as I know, when you become an investor in Russia, once you reach a certain point, once you reach a certain point of how much money you have invested, you get like an official thing that you are now an investor. Like not like an amateur or something, but you actually live off it.
Yeah. And you have... Well, in this case, your tax situation kind of changes. So you have to file taxes differently. You have a different amount of taxes that you pay. So it's all a little bit different for those who are actually investors. So yeah. It's thing.
Yeah, well, I believe you can get a special visa to Russia. I need to double check it, but you get special investor visa if you invest over $100,000 in Russia.
And usually people want to get out of Russia, not into Russia, but okay.
I wanted to get into Russia.
So if anyone can donate 100,000 rubles, dollars...
You're already here, Benjamin.
Yeah, well, let's move back on to taxes, actually. So do you think Russia has a good tax arrangements? I think it's pretty... the taxes here are not too high. They're pretty reasonable, aren't they?
They are reasonable, yeah.
Yeah. So what about your experience in the States dealing with taxes?
Yeah, I was freelance. And so, of course some taxes in some jobs, they would take money out of Social Security. And when I was a freelancer, I had to pay money into my Social Security and pay certain things. But yeah, a tax day is not a pleasant situation. I always say I'm going to do it in one hour and I usually end up doing it like...
Right, right. That gets me to actually get on and start it. And then it usually takes 5 hours or so.
So as a freelance, well, ballet instructor, you'd have to keep all your records.
Well, no, you just wait until they give you a 1099. You don't have to keep receipts unless that's how you do your taxes. But I never had to do that. Well, I would lie too. I mean, I wouldn't say there would be a button says, do you have these receipts? Oh, yes, I do. Why would I be...
Do you have any other income, you know, coming from a different source? No. What you're talking about? I believe that taxing in, you know, the whole of the process in the U.S. is a very traumatic experience.
That's why they give free ice-cream out to the post office from the post office. Go to mail your taxes. Like in the olden days you could get a free ice-cream.
It was good ice cream? It wasn't just some crummy ice-cream?
I'm sure it was a miniature, little... Yeah, it wasn't like...
So, you're interested in the ice-cream and not the taxes.
You have to find, you know, like the bright side in that. Yeah, but yeah. And it's so traumatic. And then when you get a letter in the mail and you see the IRS.
And you're like, Oh, Jesus Christ, here comes the day that I go to prison or everything is okay. It's, you know, both are possible and then you open it like... Okay, do I need to... do I owe money, do I have to pay?
You know that happened once. I had to.... I opened it up and said, oh, my God, I didn't deduct something from the health insurance, blah, blah. And so I had to end up paying it.
I got up yeah, I got, you know, a letter in the mail from the IRS and I'm like, Oh, it's all good. That was my first time. Ha-ha! Naive. And it stated like, Oh, you still have to pay, like $131. Jesus. Okay, fine. So, yeah.
The IRS will find you. They will hunt you down.
Unless you're in Russia. Because Russia will protect you.
Actually, I got several IRS letters while I was in here.
Cause my postal address at the university was stated to be like here in Novosibirsk. They sent me mail. It was, you know, it was all okay. Like, you know...
Luckily, if you're a Russian citizen, it's in the Constitution, the Russian Federation, that you can't be deported to another country. IRS isn't touching you here.
You still need to pay the taxes, you know, and everything. Oh, if.
Oh, if you wanna go back to America.
But there's one thing which is a tax refund and that is kind of a good thing.
Oh, I love the tax refund.
Well, let's do this. Let's finish off with a second conditional sentence. If you got a tax refund, what would you do with the money?
Oh, may I quickly tell the story?
Okay. Alright, tell a story.
In 2020 I got a tax refund, which was three times more than the taxes that I had actually paid the year before. At first I thought that it was a mistake, but well, that was a letter from IRS stating that I got this tax refund. I checked with everyone. No one I know had ever had this experience. I got my teeth fixed, I got an implant and a tooth crown.
And I went to holiday. No regrets.
I remember I got about $2,000 tax refund... A few years ago. It was a really nice experience.
So, if I got a tax refund tomorrow, I would buy a lot of ice cream.
Come on, Benjamin. That's not your answer, is it?
You'd buy a lot of...really?
Probably not, I would save the money. I'll be a squirrel.
Me too. Yeah, I would definitely do the same thing.
You wouldn't tell anyone?
That goes without saying. You know... Keep this to yourself. Yeah. I hope IRS does not listen to our podcast.
You know, they.... They just employed, I think it was 87,000 new IRS agents, so...
The little devil minions.
I'm sorry. You've just revealed yourself. Hello, IRS, come for us. Yeah. Come and get us. We're in Siberia, so. Yeah. Come and get us. Dare you.
Dangerous game you're playing over here.
All right. So. Okay, and let's finish off with one last question. So, 50 Cents, the famous rapper... Is... he famously said, get rich or die trying.
Are you sure his name is 50 Cents? I think he said 50 Cent.
No, it's not grammatically correct. It's 50 Cents but he doesn't...
Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. But unless it's the adjective like a 50 cent something...
So yeah. Maybe he is being clever.
Exactly. Yes, I'm happy that we mentioned that. So adjective, mr. 50 Cents. What do you feel about his motto, get rich or die trying?
It's so wise. It's so deep.
You get rich or die...? No. You could live a life without getting rich. Yes. Look at us.
I think it kind of sets, you know, a wrong message to the growing generation, you know? I mean, it doesn't always come down to solely money and everything.
Well, I think the songs well, not the song, but the whole mottos about sell as much crack as possible.
Sure that changes everything.
Yeah, well, I thought it's something like doing as much as you can, right? But it's actually about doing illegal things as well, right?
Mostly, yeah. Jay-Z and...
But if, if people who adhere to the law are listening to his music, they wouldn't be doing anything illegally. They would take his is motto and apply it to themselves. But I think it's a horrible model.
Yeah, interesting person. Jay-Z, interesting person. But ultimately, they used to be drug dealers and I believe 50 Cent, he got shot nine times.
Yeah. Please don't try to make money doing that.
So yeah, maybe not the best role model, but to be honest, they do have a pretty good life right now. So I believe Jay-Z, I believe I need to double check this. He was almost a billionaire, wasn't he? He was so wealthy.
With sales of his songs. So... All right, guys, just leave it there. So thank you so much for listening. Be sure to check out our website. www.bigappleschool.com where you can find other podcasts, videos, articles and you can find out more about the courses we offer here at the school. Also, check out our social media platforms and like us and share your thoughts. If you have any future suggestions for podcasts, do let us know. So that's it. Thank you so much and bye for now.