$50 a day!? Now that’s scary.


Happy Halloween and Dia de Muertos! For the past few weeks, we have been spending a lot of time thinking and talking about something kinda scary – money. So we thought we’d take a moment to share with you some of our finances in an effort to explain how it is we, a former public school teacher and nonprofit manager, are able to travel for a year sans winning the lottery.

First off, in order to make our “World Tour” dream a reality we budgeted and saved for 2.5 years. We also have no debt. Zero.  For this we are eternally grateful to our parents for their help and support in getting us a college education and raising us to never spend more than we had (and thus avoid credit card debt). Mint.com and google drive have been extremely helpful tools in tracking expenses and savings.

Screen shot 2014-10-30 at 11.50.40 AM

We also needed to figure out how to travel on a small budget. A book called How To Travel The World on $50 a Day gave us a great starting point. $50 a day?! For both of us!? Bring it!

So, the average American spends about  $140 per day (about $51,000 per year).  This includes food, housing, transportation, insurance, shopping, and lots of other stuff.    Thanks in part to the financial lessons taught to us by our parents, we have always been a bit more frugal than the average American – each averaging about $98 per day.  Once we decided to start saving for World Tour two and a half years ago, we were able to reduce our daily spending to about $73 per day each.  And since we’ve been on World Tour, given how affordable it is to travel in Mexico, we have been spending only about $24 each per day. That’s $48 for the both of us. We are right on track! Take a look:

Screen shot 2014-10-30 at 9.19.06 AMIn order to maintain this spending rate of $24 per day each, we have followed a couple of cost-saving strategies:

1) Travel to less expensive regions of the world. Excellent data on cost of living by country can be found at Numbeo.com.

2)  Keep accommodation/rent costs low by staying in a variety of different housing options including house sitting, budget hotels, Air B&B, and Couch Surfing.  By far, house sitting, Air B&B and Couch Surfing have given us some of our most rich, enjoyable (and inexpensive) experiences thus far.

3)  Keep food costs low by grocery shopping and cooking at home.  Visiting markets and shopping for food is a really fun experience – and a great way to practice speaking a new language.  Plus, we have found our tummys to be a lot happier when we eat at home rather than in restaurants all the time.  This is another advantage of Air B&B and Couch Surfing in that they often give you access to their kitchen.

4) Workaway and volunteering are other cost-saving opportunities that we are exploring!

Here’s a breakdown of that $24 per day amount that each of us is currently spending on World Tour:

Screen shot 2014-10-30 at 8.36.13 AM“Other” includes money spent on souvenirs, travel health insurance, VPN, Spanish classes, guitar repair, and other miscellaneous expenses that have come up.

Sidebar from Carolyn: Jon gets most of the credit on this post. Math genius that he is, Jon has been furiously keeping track of all of our finances since we have started this trip including every (every single!) expense…even the 6 peso (50cent) horchata we got at the market yesterday! For this and so many other reasons, I am one lucky lady!

If you’re curious or want more details on how we are traveling so cheaply, please feel free to comment or email us!

And that wraps up this quick financial update! That wasn’t too scary! Stay tuned for pictures and a recap of the upcoming traditional Mexican holiday- Dia de Muertos!