Budget – March 2018

There seem to be a bazillion nomad bloggers out there talking about how cheap it is to travel, but very few are open about their finances. We’ve gotten quite a few questions about how we can afford to travel full-time, so we’ve decided to open up the books and do a monthly post with the details of our budget. The hope is that these posts will help prepare others who are thinking about jumping into the nomad life, and help us re-assess our spending habits. Enjoy!

There seem to be a bazillion travel bloggers out there talking about how cheap it is to travel, but very few are open about their finances. We’ve gotten quite a few questions about how we can afford to travel full-time, so we’ve decided to open up the books and do a monthly post with the details of our travel budget. The hope is that these posts will help prepare others who are thinking about jumping into the nomad life, and help us re-assess our spending habits. Enjoy this Malaysia travel budget!

Check out our full-time travel budgets for another month. ♥


Malaysia has proven to be a bit more expensive than China, both for food and lodging costs. However, we were able to keep our spending on track (mostly), and really save a lot at our housesit in KL. Our goal budget for this journey is $200 per week, putting us at $800 to spend for the month of March and our Malaysia travel budget.

  • Average Daily Food Cost: $11 per day
    • Hotel – Breakfast was included, so we only needed a light snack, and dinner each day
    • House Sit – Groceries for three meals and snack per day. One night dining out per week.
  • Average Daily Lodging: $10 per night
    • Hotel – $20 per night for basic room in questionable neighborhood
    • House Sit – $0 per night for luxury home, pool, and car use

Money Spent: -($818)

Income: $157

Monthly Net: -($661)


Three Month Spending Total: -($3,585)

Three Month Earning Total: $852

Total Journey Net: -($2,733)

(Goal was -$2,600 for month three)


Week One Malaysia Travel Budget: -($200)

We were very happy to stay exactly on budget this week. It took a little extra effort to balance the cost of food, but we made it! We loaded up on hotel breakfast every morning and tried to hold off for as long as we could until dinner. It wasn’t a strict rule. If we were hungry, we ate. But if we weren’t hungry, we did our best not to spend money on food we didn’t need. At the end of the week, we were feeling healthy and were excited about our spending. We spent $200.

Read about the amazing food in Kuala Lumpur. ♥

This month, we are cutting down on the amount of “unfocused” work we are doing. Josh has one last project on UpWork to complete, then one hour a day going forward. It won’t make us a lot of money, but will hopefully provide us more time to focus on the projects we truly want to do. We made $0.

Week Two Malaysia Travel Budget: – ($123)

We started our house sit this week! Once again, we found this arrangement to not only be comfortable and fun, but a great way to save money. We purchased groceries and cooked most meals at home. We spent $160.

Meet Molly, our new furry friend! 

Josh made some money from his one hour per day UpWork time. We made $37.

Week Three Malaysia Travel Budget: – ($172)

Even without trying, we totally nailed this week. We only went over budget on two of the days; once for a nice dinner out and another for our trip to KL Tower. We found some fish at the grocery store we really liked, making the home-cooking even more enjoyable. We spent $192.

Read about our KL Tower adventure. 

We made $20.

Week Four Malaysia Travel Budget: – ($166)

As per usual, our transition week was a little more difficult than the others. We moved from our house sit in Kuala Lumpur to Penang. We’re here for a short excursion before heading to our next house sit in Thailand. The train tickets, food, and hotel costs weren’t too bad, but always a bit more than I would like. We spent $265.

Josh has been working really hard this month to publish two short stories in addition to his CannaHealth article each week. He has been doing an amazing job and even made his first dollar as an author!!! He made $1.80 from people viewing his story, “Open Letter to my Hostel Roommates“. I’m so super proud of him! We made $100.

_Open Letter to My Hostel Roommates_


Each month seems to get better and better. For our third month over-seas, we are feeling very good. We only barely spent over our travel budget and were able to offset quite a bit with some income. We still aren’t breaking even, but each month gets closer and closer.

I can not wait to see what next month has in store!!


Instagram advertisement for @theplaceswelive. It has a blue box labeled "Follow us on Instagram" and is surrounded by four pictures. One is of a woman dancing in a desert. Under that a bowl of pork noodles. Then a photo of a bridge in Chengdu, China. Under that a photo of a farm in Yangshuo, China.


 

Budget – February 2018

There seem to be a bazillion nomad bloggers out there talking about how cheap it is to travel, but very few are open about their finances. We’ve gotten quite a few questions about how we can afford to travel full-time, so we’ve decided to open up the books and do a monthly post with the details of our budget. The hope is that these posts will help prepare others who are thinking about jumping into the nomad life, and help us re-assess our spending habits. Enjoy!

There seem to be a bazillion travel bloggers out there talking about how cheap it is to travel, but very few are open about their finances. We’ve gotten quite a few questions about how we can afford to travel full-time, so we’ve decided to open up the books and do a monthly post with the details of our budget. The hope is that these posts will help prepare others who are thinking about jumping into the nomad life, and help us re-assess our spending habits. Enjoy!


Our goal budget for this journey is $200 per week, putting us at $800 to spend for the month of February.

We did not live a life of the rich and famous, but we didn’t go without either. China is quite suitable for $800 per month for two people.

  • Average Daily Food Cost: $11
    • The time at our house sit included two home cooked meals and one meal out.
    • Outside of the house sit, we ate out for all three meals. We also enjoyed one cup of coffee and three cans of either beer or soda per day.
  • Average Daily Lodging: $7.50
    • Two weeks in the private room at the Yangshuo hostel were $14 per night.
    • Two weeks in our house sit were FREE.
    • One week in our two different dorm beds at the Chengdu hostels were $11 per night.
    • All of our lodging included Wifi, VPN (expect for three days), and free water.

Money Spent: $1,128

Income: $387

Monthly Net: -($741)


Two Month Total:

$692 (Income) – $2,662 (Spent) = -($1,970) 


Week One Net: -($178)

Despite some big nights out, we still came very close to sticking to our $200 budget. We rented a scooter for a day, ate a big meal of beer fish, and had a date night with a fancy Indian dinner and two import beers. We spent $202.

We reached our goal of 2,000 views on the blog for the month of January. I’m still not famous, but I feel pretty awesome!! I even made a little bit of money from AdWords (the annoying advertisements on the bottom of the page) of $0.46! May not be much, but that is enough for a small breakfast here.

Josh had a couple of long-term jobs on UpWork, so he was only able to close one contract for the week. We made $24.

Week Two Net: – ($149)

Week two was a travel week. We caught a taxi to the bus station in Yangshuo, a bus from there to the train station in Guilin, a train from Guilin to Chengdu, then a subway to our hostel in Chengdu. That adventure set us back ¥100/$16. We stayed at The Mix Hostel in a dorm room for a couple of days. The price was decent, but we lacked for comfort.

But the exciting news of the week was our house sitting job!!! We moved out of the hostel and moved into our house sit in Southern Chengdu where we watched a dog in exchange for a free place to stay. So, we went rent free for the next 12 days!! Whoop! In addition to our free accommodations, we had a great kitchen that allowed us to buy groceries which also saved us a ton of money. We spent $171.

It was another slow work week. We made $22.

Week Three Net: -($493)

In general, we did pretty awesome this week. We had one day where we spent nothing and three other days that were under $14. We really got into the swing of things eating more at home and only purchasing what we needed, when we needed it. However, as you can see from the sub heading, we still had a couple of really big purchases. First was a new charger for Josh’s computer. We tried to put it off for as long as we could, but both realized that we were selling ourselves short by sharing a computer. So, we bit the bullet and purchased a new charger at the Apple Store for $99. We also purchased our plane tickets to Kuala Lumpur for $313 (two direct flights). The ticket prices are amazing, but really cut into the budget. We spent $525.

Josh wrapped up one project for $23 and I made $10 on my Amazon.com eGift Cards link!!  We made $33.

Week Four Net: +$78

This was our hardest week due to the move out of our house sit, into a hostel, then into the more expensive city of Kuala Lumpur. Even with a $50 gift card applied, we are still paying 58RM/$15 per day for the 14 nights we booked at our KL hotel. That only leaves us with 43RM/$11 left to spend on other expenses per day. Thankfully, food and transportation are fairly cheap, but still not enough to keep us under budget. We have gone over our 101RM budget every day since we have arrived in KL. We spent $230.

Fortunately, all of those big projects Josh has been working on are finally getting wrapped up. He edited a woman’s non-fiction novel, wrote an essay about intermittent fasting, researched and wrote an article about drug testing, and summarized another research paper for CannaHealthWe made $387.


For our second month overseas, we still have not met our budget goals, but we did get much closer AND came in under $800 for the month’s total net. Overall, we feel pretty good about it. Some learnings this month were:

I have 50% of the rest of our journey booked with house sits. My goal is to bump that up to 75% by the end of next month. That should save us quite a bit of money on food and lodging, but will add to the travel costs (although that was going to be an expense regardless).

Josh and I also had a long talk about his UpWork “career” and have decided to pull back a little bit. He is going to continue to write for CannaHealth, but will otherwise focus more on his short stories. We put together a plan for the month that would have him doing brand building and creative writing for at least five hours per day. I think he will enjoy this much more and, if we start now, will hopefully start making some money at it within the next few months. It’s a risk, but one we are willing to take. I’ll update you on his work in a couple weeks.

Please check out our new branded Facebook pages:

The Places We Live Facebook Page

J. Brandon Lowry (Writer) Facebook Page

Budget – January 2018

I feel pretty good about our first overseas month. We did not achieve our goal budget nor were we able to offset it enough with our income. However, I think we learned a lot and are ready for the challenge that February brings. 

There seem to be a bazillion nomad bloggers out there talking about how cheap it is to travel, but very few are open about their finances. We’ve gotten quite a few questions about how we can afford to travel full-time, so we’ve decided to open up the books and do a monthly post with the details of our budget. The hope is that these posts will help prepare others who are thinking about jumping into the nomad life, and help us re-assess our spending habits. Enjoy!


Our goal budget for this journey is $200 per week, putting us at $1,000 to spend for the month of January.

We did not live a life of the rich and famous, but we didn’t go without either. China is quite suitable for $800 per month for two people.

  • Average Daily Food Cost: $10
    • Includes three meals, one cup of coffee, and two cans of soda or beer.
  • Average Daily Lodging: $12
    • 1/3 of the month in a hostel dorm and 2/3 in a private room.
    • Includes WiFi with VPN, English speaking front desk, and free water.

Money Spent: $1,534

Income: $305

Overall Net: – ($1,229)


Week One Net: -($507)

We had a difficult start to the month with a number of unexpected expenses, along with the travel expense to Guilin (which was planned as a temporary overage). It’s been much colder here than we anticipated, and therefore needed to purchase jackets. The AirBnB apartments I had picked out for our time in Guilin didn’t have heaters in them, so I ended up booking a slightly more expensive hotel for us to stay at. And Josh had some technical issues that required a purchase of Microsoft Office. We spent $507.

Due to Josh’s technical issues, we were unable to make any money to offset the expenditures. We made $0.

Week Two Net: -($123)

Week two was much more acceptable. The big purchase of the week was tickets to the Seven Star Park at $17 each. We spent $138.

Josh was very excited to have a desk to work at and immediately took on some jobs on UpWork. They each take a while to pay out, but he was able to get a quick article written for a client. We made $16.

Week Three Net: -($95)

Our major purchases for the week were a cruise to Yangshuo for $24, new hair clippers for Josh for $20, and birthday breakfast for me at Starbucks for $12. We ended the week spending a tiny bit over budget. We spent $209.

Josh really got into the swing of things this week, with plenty of time to write and only a couple of hours a day for UpWork. Those couple of hours earned him an article on CannaHealth and a job writing biology lesson plans for a charter school. We made $114.

Week Four Net: -($106)

We transitioned from Guilin to Yangshuo this week; normally that would mean the purchase of train tickets, but in this case we used the Li river cruise tour bus as our transportation. The food in Yangshuo is a little more expensive than Guilin, cutting into our meal budget a bit. Still, our only big purchase of the week was the advance payment of our private room for the next week at $99. We still wrapped up the week slightly over budget. We spent $256.

Josh edited a CV for a client and wrote another CannaHealth article, collecting us $145 for the week. The USD and CNY conversion dropped this week, which was a bit of a bummer. The earned $145 gives us ¥927 to spend in China, but last week, the same $145 would have given us ¥943. A ¥16 difference isn’t much, but amounts to a six pack of beer, 8 trips on the bus, or a large breakfast for two.

In some exciting news, I made $4.66 through my Amazon links! Thank you guys so much for using my link to buy your Amazon.com eGift Cards!! We made $149.

Week Five Net: -($321)

This was another good week. We watched our spending a little more closely and were able to spend more of our time hiking since the sun finally came out. Our big purchases of the week were train tickets to Chengdu at $125.

As it is the first month of the year, we also had a couple of subscriptions come due that we had forgotten about ($15 for New York Times and $95 for our Visa annual fee). We spent $341.

It was a slow week for work, pulling in only $20 on UpWork. We made $20.


This is our first month overseas, and overall I feel OK about it. We did not achieve our goal budget, nor were we able to offset it enough with our income. However, I think we learned a lot and are ready for the challenge that February brings!

Support

A quick and easy way to help keep us going

I know what you’re thinking. “Gosh, these guys are just so cute and fun, I feel like sending them a bunch of money!” Okay, probably not that exactly, but if you do feel inclined to help support our adventures abroad, there’s a quick and easy way to do it that won’t affect your budget at all.

Take a look over on the right side of the page. You’ll see a couple of boxes, one of which is labeled “Shameless Advertising”. Find the link (it’s the word “HERE”) and click it. That will take you to Amazon.com. Then, bookmark the page. Every time you shop on Amazon, use that bookmark, and we get a commission on whatever you buy. Seriously. You don’t have to get anything in particular or spend a certain amount, just do your normal Amazon shopping and we get a cut (as long as you use our bookmark, of course!).

The other thing you can do is to hit the “Like” button at the bottom of each post. It won’t fatten our wallets, but it does increase our visibility; the more likes a post gets, the more likely it will be seen by strangers, which will lead to bigger opportunities for us. Also, it just feels really good to see people taking that extra second to click the button. Comments are even better, so if you like something we wrote, leave a comment! Even if it’s just to say, “Good job”, “Wow, I really envy you”, or “You left your jobs for this?!” Your comments help us to keep going and keep doing what we love.

So, to wrap up:

  • Support us financially by shopping through our Amazon Link
  • Support us emotionally by liking and commenting on our posts

Thank you to all of our amazing supporters and readers for believing in us and following along as we try to fulfill our dreams. Not one of you has said, “This is stupid,” and we really appreciate it!


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  • What better gift is there than an AMAZON GIFT CARD. You know you were going to buy one anyway, so help a girl out and simply buy it the same way you always do, but by clicking MY link instead of going to Amazon.com. For every gift card you purchase, I get a percentage! I promise to use the money wisely. 😉

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  • Wait, you don’t understand why people give Amazon gift cards as gifts? Well, that must mean you don’t have Amazon Prime… the best invention since Netflix. You want something, BAM, you’ve got it! Just think of the last time you drove all over town looking for a pair of purple socks with yellow ruffles. All of the time and hassle could have been avoided if you had just hopped on good old Amazon and had it delivered to your home with free shipping. Do it! Everyone loves Amazon Prime! Click MY link. You get a 30 day free trial and I get $3! What’s not to love?!

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  • Too much with the Amazon push? Ok. How about the amazing links below?! I didn’t pick them out, your browser did (best stalker ever). The only thing I do with those is rent the space and make money every time you even look at it. LOOK AT IT! Gaze into it’s hypnotic advertising images…. “buy me” it says… “buy me.” You don’t even have to buy anything (even though you know you totally want to), just looking at it makes me a fraction of cent. With my calculations, I should be making millions within the next 30 years!

Vacation Rental – Melbourne, Florida

Review of a vacation rental in Melbourne, Florida.

Obnoxiously Long Note: If you read my “I’m a Travel Blogger” post, you know that I spent the early part of this week boosting my “exposure” in the social media marketing world. I contacted a few vacation rental owners in the area and asked to tour their properties to feature on my blog. I had a great time and learned a lot. Today’s post and my next one are practice posts. Today’s post is about my favorite condo I visited and the next post is the food tour I would suggest if you were staying at said condo (or anywhere in the Melbourne area, really). 

I call it a practice because we did not actually stay at the featured condo. I would have loved to, but we already have a place here in town and I was too afraid to ask for a comped room for my very first feature. So, all of the pictures and opinions are my own, I was not paid nor rewarded, but my experiences are based soley off of a short walk-through and chat with the owner.


If I weren’t already staying at Mom’s, I would be staying at Tammy’s condo here in Melbourne, Florida.

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Location

This whole area of Florida is just lovely and full of opportunities, so my map radius was quite large. I included the whole town of Indialantic, which is an island snuggled between the river and the ocean, and the southern portion of Melbourne, where there is a lively Old Town area. This condo in Melbourne perfectly placed. Old Town is just a few blocks away, within easy walking distance. There is a fancy pier just a short walk the opposite direction, allowing access to the water. And the causeway into Indialantic is nearby, so that a beach trip is merely a five minute drive away.

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The only side of the complex that is less-than-perfect faces a busy street that is decently loud. I was nervous about this as we approached the apartment, but was very pleased to find that the road sounds did not follow me into the condo or down to the relaxing park and pier.

Room Type

The prices are low enough in this part of Florida that I felt pretty comfortable limiting my search to Entire Home. This particular rental is a large, one bedroom condo with a large bathroom, living room, dining area, and patio that faces the pier.

Amenities

The condo had all of the amenities I require including WiFi, washing machine, dish washer, and television. It had a couple of fun perks, too, including an updated kitchen with nice appliances, a walk in closet, a nicely decorated living area, and an amazing view.

Another amenity I always wish for, but can’t be sure I’ll get until I arrive, is a nice apartment host. The best vacation rentals I have stayed at were ones where I was greeted personally by the host, taken on a quick tour of the property, and given suggestions on nearby restaurants, shops, and activities (in Barcelona, our host sent us to a restaurant off the beaten path that was hands-down one of our favorite stops). I had the pleasure of meeting our host in person during this visit. Tammy was very approachable, friendly, and knowledgeable about the area. She gave us a rundown on the nearby attractions, local lifestyle, and let us know about some of her other amazing properties (including a large home near the Kentucky Derby *dream trip!*).

Price

The property we toured was a brand new one that hasn’t even been listed yet (that’s right, I’m VIP now). However, she did say that she was planning on setting the price at $100 or less per night. Her other condos in the same building were going for about $80 and although the fixtures were slightly more dated, the views from the higher floors were stunning. 3-Star hotels in the same map radius are going for $120 to $200 per night.

Overall, I was very pleased with the condo we toured, and would not hesitate to stay here if we were booking a trip to the Melbourne area. If you are planning such a trip, I suggest you click the link to Tammy’s profile and give one of her properties a try!

The Great Purge of 2017

“OMG, we still have WAY TOO MUCH STUFF!”

A week ago, I really wanted to take one more trip to Zion. The drive is a little over five hours which just pushes my tolerance for a single-day trip. So I thought to myself, “We’ve gotten rid of a lot over the last few weeks, but I bet I still have enough supplies for camping.” I went through the list in my head: tent (check), sleeping bags (check), flashlights (check) .. cooking supplies (check) … camp chairs (check) …. “OMG, we still have WAY TOO MUCH STUFF!”

The Purge started two months ago with the entertainment items. Books and movies were the first to go. I separated them all into groups:

    • Donate – Entertainment items worth less than $0.50
    • Low Sales – Entertainment items worth $0.50 to $3.00 received_10159520086060293
      • sellbackyourbook.com – A convenient way to sell all of my low priced books. I scanned the UPC on my phone, was usually offered between $0.60 and $1.50, then packed everything up using their free shipping label.
      • Amazon Trade-In – The down side is that they only pay in gift cards, but let’s be honest, I will 100% use those gift cards. The search setting isn’t particularly convenient. I had to type in each individual item, confirm that the product details match, and verify the quality. Amazon offered me between $0.69 and $13.00 for most of my dvds and blu-rays along with the free shipping label.
      • High Sales – Entertainment items worth more than $3.00
        • Facebook Marketplace – In Oregon, I had far more luck selling locally on apps like LetGo, but not so much in Utah. People here were using the marketplace. It had the usual problem of people texting me at 2:00AM with “I’m interested” then never responding again. It was one of my best resources for selling furniture, but not so much for the books and movies. On average, I made between $1.00 to $6.00 per movie.
        • EBay – Besides for the furniture sales, we made more money selling books and movies on EBay then anything else. USPS Media Mail ships for an average of $2.50 per envelope. I had to spend some time researching the value of each item, but the time was well rewarded. Each item was put up for auction with a Buy Now option and free shipping. The Buy Now price was the full value of the item parked at slightly less than the average of similar items for sale that day. The auction price was set a little less than half of the Buy Now Price, but always greater than $3.50 (to make sure I got at least $1.00 in profit after shipping). My best selling entertainment item was an original copy of Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King for $19.50!

      Everything else (non-entertainment) was separated into Keep, Sell, and Donate. The majority of our things were donated in six carloads full. The Sell pile was put individually on Facebook Marketplace and posted on the Facebook wall of my apartment complex. Neither were particularly large successes… until Thursday night.

      Thursday night, I posted a small flyer on the community board and on the apartment Facebook wall that we would be have an Open Door Sale. Josh and I placed our bets as to how many people would show up. I bet two total and Josh bet zero. We had two hours planned for the sale that day; we spent the first hour and a half watching TV, because no one showed up.

      And then, a miracle.

      12 Chinese people walked in and immediately started buying EVERYTHING. They purchased all of the furniture and 75% of everything else that was on sale. In one hour, we sold all of the big ticket items (minus the bikes and computer) and were left with only one more car load full of donation items. We were left without a mattress, dishes, and chairs for the last three days before moving, but backaches and awkward eating seemed like a small price to pay for such a lucky visit.

      Our goal was to pack as light as possible. We ended up stuffing the car to the brim and were forced to donate two boxes worth of stuff at the last minute, but we managed to fit it all in. The five hour drive to Boise was tight and slow, but we set off into the sunset with a car packed with everything we owned and our hearts were free.

Budget: Month One

The cost of a beginning digital nomad lifestyle, month one.

We have always been quite good at managing our money, but have never taken the time to actually document our spending. Now that our lifestyle and income have both changed so dramatically, it’s time to start keeping track of every penny.

There are one-bazillion nomad bloggers out there who talk about how cheap it is to travel, but few of them are actually open about their finances. I might be shooting myself in the foot here, but I would like to open up the books and share our budget and income for anyone interested.


Month One: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Setting the Scene: We have been living in Salt Lake for a little over a year. The apartment is well stocked with household equipment, but we reduced the supply of consumables before starting the month for a more accurate view of how things will be going forward. We are not including rent in this month’s budget since it was already paid for, but we did have a car and drove frequently.

We ended up skipping the budget for Week 1 since I was still working, it was Josh’s birthday, and his mom came to visit. (Editor’s note: I had been well under budget for the week, but my celebration kinda blew that up. Totally worth it. -Josh)

Budget Goal: I set our goal income at $600 with the expectation that we might come in a bit short due to the transition. Our spending goal is $388.50 (about $18.50 per day). I set this amount assuming an average of $15 for food, $3 for entertainment, and $0.50 for gas per day. I got these figures by averaging prices I researched online along with a solid bit of guessing (it is my first month, after all!).

Income: Josh started the job search on Upwork on Monday of Week One. He got his first job on Tuesday of Week Two. Throughout the month, he officially worked 12 hours (not including finding and bidding on jobs) and made $352, although $100 of that hasn’t yet been deposited in our account, so it won’t go on this month’s summary.

Expenses: Our total spending for three weeks was $398.15, putting us an average of $18.96 per day. That’s just a little over our projected spending limit ($0.46 per day), so we actually did fairly well in sticking to the budget. We ended up driving a little more than expected, costing us a little extra in gas, and we also went over with our goodbye dinners/celebrations, but just barely. Compared to what we were spending just a month before, this is an incredible turnaround.

Summary: For the month of October, we ended up slightly over budget and pulling $146.15 out of our savings account. We expected this due to birthday celebrations and going-away parties. I still very good about the month and am looking forward to seeing how we do once we hit the road.