I know some of you, a lot of you were very interested in Marci’s post about how much we spend on a daily basis here in beautiful Southeast Asia. I thought this would be a great time to tell how we get the bills so low.
First let me say that there is a post somewhere that talks about how we got started. You know: saving, selling, dreaming, doing. But once here we still have daily expenses. No matter what we all eat everyday. Here in Southeast Asia we eat very well everyday. The food is not to be believed. So how do save on food? First we adopted a tentative monthly budget for everything. I said it would be $1000 a month for the two of us. Marci said I was nuts. She was right. We now have a pretty firm budget of $1200 a month. But I have to say when were in Chiang Mai we spent $800 a month. More on that in a later post.
So once you know your monthly budget y
ou just divide by 30 and you get a daily budget. For us that comes out to $40 a day. Not a lot of money but it is very inexpensive to live here. With that we must pay for a place to stay, food, transportation and entertainment. Here is the thing. The longer you stay in one place the fewer dollars, ringit, baht, rupiah, etc you will spend. So if one day we go over budget because we wanna see the Vietnamese Water Puppets, the next two days we go some place beautiful but free or inexpensive, like Hanoi’s Temple of Literature. This marvelous temple complex is $1 to enter. We walked and had lunch on the way. It is an average after all. But at the end of the month we want to have spent less than our budget.
Saving money on food is as easy as eating what the locals eat. Western food here is very expensive and not very good. Street food here is incredibly delicious and almost free. Our daily budget is $10. (No alcohol. We don’t drink.)
Breakfast is sometimes included in the price of our accommodations. This is optimal to a point. Since we average about $3 a meal it does not make sense for us to spend more than about $5 over our daily budget of $20 a day for housing. But the extra $2 is worth it so we don’t have to leave too early in the morning.
Lunch is our biggest meal of the day. We always go out for it and we eat mostly street food. You can find delicious gourmet meals served at a sit down restaurant for much less during lunch when compared to dinner prices. Be mindful of the most touristy areas as they will have the worst food and the worst prices.
For most of you budgeting may be easier because your budget will be larger. But a larger budget is not the only thing that makes for an easy budget. Financial discipline is required. For some of you your budget will be smaller. You can do this too. If you have been following the BOLT FaceBook page, you know Marci and I are not living like paupers. The amount is up to you and your bank account. For the purposes of these posts we will stick with $1200 a month for two adults who like each other enough to share a room everyday.