February 2019 Budget & Expenses | Digital Nomads Pursuing Financial Independence, Retire Early (FI/RE)
February was a month that even blew us away! We’ve never had our expenses fall below $500 in a single month, let alone under $250! This was a month of extreme savings. See how we did it, even while traveling from Alexandria, VA to Philadelphia, PA and sightseeing in both cities.
This is the first of a recurring monthly article where we share our budget/expenses as digital nomads pursuing financial independence, retire early (FI/RE) and traveling continuously and long-term!
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Monthly and Year-To-Date Expenses
We’re often asked how much we budget for our lifestyle of continuous and long-term travel as digital nomads. So we’re pulling the cover off our expenses and sharing what we spend month to month!
Be prepared; we truly Screw The Average when it comes to our budget/expenses. We have many tricks up our sleeves when it comes to saving money, whether it be for travel (sightseeing, airfare, transportation, etc.), day-to-day expenses (groceries, haircuts, toiletries, etc.), or everything else (gear, supplies, odds and ends, etc.).
There are a few reasons why our monthly expenditures are extremely low (relative to most) and dialed in.
A Monthly Budget (Or Not)
Budgets have their time and place and do many people a great service. Surprisingly enough though, we don’t keep a budget in the traditional sense because we’re extremely intentional with our decisions, including how we spend money.
Since our living expenses are dialed in, meaning they’re mostly known and similar month to month, and our expenditures are calculated and thought out, we find that we don’t need a budget.
While we don’t keep a budget, as you can see we do track our expenses. This allows us to see trends in our spending and ensure we’re on track. Consider it mindfulness of our finances!
Financial Independence, Retire Early (FI/RE)
In its simplest form, reaching Financial Independence, Retire Early (FI/RE) means: A) making much more money than you spend, and B) spending much less than you make.
Now whether your put your emphasis on A (make more money) or B (spend less money) is a debate within the FI/RE community and in our opinion a personal decision. And really, either method means living below your means, so ultimately, why not do both?
For us, we’re building FI/RE into our lifestyle. We believe the journey to reach FI/RE doesn’t need to be a 10-20 year grueling grind where it’s the sole focus of life until reached. Don’t get us wrong, we’ve worked our fair share of intense hours and we’ve delayed gratification plenty.
After years of creating a financial, professional, and personal foundation we decided we could incorporate the pursuit of Financial Independence, Retire Early with doing the things we love. We decided that even if it delayed FI/RE a bit, it was well worth it!
Having a dialed-in, lean, and minimalist lifestyle (and therefore budget) offers us increased freedom. We’ve designed our life in a way that allows us, within reason of course, to make our own decisions, do what we want, and have the upmost flexibility.
We find satisfaction in being able to sleep-in on any given day, take a hike, or play a video game when we choose to.
We’re minimalists when it comes to ‘stuff’, allowing us to get up and go at a moment’s notice.
We only take on the jobs, contracts, or clients we want to and say ‘no thank you’ to the ones that aren’t a good fit.
Thankfully big expenses or unexpected bills don’t put us in debt or throw us for a loop. Because we choose not to inflate our lifestyle to the size of our income we’re able to have an emergency fund.
Once in a lifetime opportunities rarely pass us by because we’re ready for them, whatever they entail.
This freedom isn’t just luck (although we are lucky we haven’t been hit by a meteor or become terminally ill), we fundamentally believe we’re in charge of our own destiny and therefore have worked long and hard for these freedoms. We’ve made thousands of rational, logical choices for decades to get to where we are today.
Long-Term Travel, FI/RE, and Freedom are Fueled by Our Monthly Budget/Expenses
We don’t consider ourselves cheap, although inevitably some will. We’re frugal, as we worry less about cost and more about value. And finally, we don’t feel we sacrifice; we sometimes delay satisfaction but at other times we live quite luxuriously.
Where we place our value and therefore our money may not be where you choose to place yours, and that’s okay. We do however hope that just as we’ve learned from other people, maybe others can take a few things away from our approach.
Follow us each month as we post our actual and full expenses. We’ll share tips on how we saved money and insight into where we spent money!
Our tool box is full of resources! From travel hacking to house sitting, digital nomad jobs to privacy and security, financially independent retire early (FI/RE) to entertainment, plus travel hacking (credit cards, miles, points, and rewards), and much much more…
Our Expenses: February 2019
February was an amazing month for expenses as we really didn’t spend much money!
If you’re wondering how to travel internationally, or simply vacation nearby and not spend a fortune on airfare or hotels, then we’d like to welcome you to the world of ‘travel hacking’. See what credit cards we carry, and how we take full advantage of the points and miles we’ve earned.
Notable Expenses in February, 2019
Sergio often has trouble sleeping. Well, in reality he falls asleep extremely quickly, but also wakes up easily and then has trouble falling back asleep.
He’s tried countless remedies over a decade or more. He’s found great success in meditation as well as adding healthy fats to his diet. This month he started taking a new vitamin (Saw Palmeto). Rather than purchase the mill of the road supplement from the grocery store, he did research and spent a bit more on a version that had the ratings and composition that was ideal to start with.
Full time travel of course comes with its benefits but there are also complications since we’re not at ‘home’ most of the time. While we did a significant amount of preparation before taking off two-and-a-half years ago, challenges are bound to come up now and again.
This month we faced a critical decision. We could go out of our way and pay for airfare to go back to the west coast and renew our drivers’ licenses, or we could continue traveling and house sitting on the east coast and apply for an extension. We chose the later and paid $5 each for one year extensions on our drivers’ licenses.
Notable Savings in February, 2019
One of the reasons our expenses were so low this month is that we found frozen vegetables on sale in January. Vegetables are a staple in our diet, so we stocked up! This meant we spent more than usual on food in January, and less in February.
We don’t typically coupon but this month Shannon scored a few high value coupons that she matched with sales. In the end she ended up spending $0.63 cents total on 3 eyeshadows, a lipstick, and a conditioner! Needless to say, it was a great deal!
Shannon often cuts Sergio’s hair in between professional cuts. Her skills at trimming a fade are improving, but she insists he get a haircut from a trained or in training professional every so often. This month we lucked out because Sergio found a beauty school in downtown Philadelphia that cut his hair for only $5! We just wish we could always get haircuts this inexpensively!
Where We’ve Traveled to This Month
In December of 2018 we made our way from Jacksonville, FL to Alexandria, VA for a house sit. We settled in and cared for two cats (Persephone and Bunny) for nearly three months. This is the longest we’ve stayed in a single place since before we started traveling long-term!
Near the end of February our time in Alexandria, VA came to an end and we moved on to a house sit in Philadelphia, PA. We now consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have ‘lived’ in a lovely condo in downtown, with an adorable dog (Maisie), and house sit for an incredibly kind and generous homeowner!
With all of that said, we can’t help but also mention that we purchased bus tickets from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia for only $5.00 per person! That’s right up there with our $1.25 bus tickets from Bratislava to Vienna!
We used Rome2Rio to find what transportation options we had (plane, train, bus, etc.) and subsequently found an awesome deal with MegaBus.
Also, to make our bus tickets even cheaper, we combined the purchase of our Philadelphia, PA bus tickets with the bus tickets for our next house sit in New York City. This meant that we paid only one of the $2 MegaBus service fees for two sets of tickets!
London, San Francisco, Paris, New York City, Athens and more?! Trusted Housesitters has allowed us to travel the world on a budget, but more importantly given us an opportunity to make new friends and have cute and cuddly companions along the way. Sign up and start your next great adventure!
Year to Date (YTD) Expenses for 2019
Notable Expenses This Year (2019)
When we look over the first two months of 2019, it seems January was a big month for public transportation. While house sitting in Alexandria, VA, we took the bus and metro to and from Washington, DC several times. For two people and several round trips, it got a bit pricier than we’d have liked.
Being in downtown, or at least within walking distance regardless of the city, has its perks!
We took full advantage of a Lyft promotion (20% off our rides) and used it to supplement some of our public transportation rides in January. And trust us, at the end of a 10+ mile day walking, a Lyft ride home is a welcome alternative to a long metro and bus ride home!
Notable Savings This Year (2019)
Cutting out lodging expenses (rent, hotels, a mortgage, etc.) has a huge impact on lowering our monthly expenses! We’re able to do this by house sitting full-time and filling in the gaps with travel hacking and mattress running.
We’re known to enjoy our time sightseeing and exploring!
This year we’ve been in cities where what we’ve wanted to do and see has been free. For example, much of the sights in Washington D.C. have free entry (the Library of Congress even has free tours!). Additionally it was our second time in Philadelphia, meaning we’d already seen many of the typical tourist attractions and spent most of our time exploring neighborhoods and living like locals.
All of this on top of our love of walking all areas of a city, means we’ve so far spent very little on sightseeing and must see attractions this year.
Where We’ve Been This Year
The map below shows where we’ve been so far this year.
Note: The house icons are locations we’ve had a house sit.
Don’t miss our Ultimate Gear and Packing Lists! Whether you’re traveling long-term or going on a short vacation, we'll show you how to travel with a single carry-on. We share our packing lists (his and hers!), packing tips, and our favorite gear. Plus, we discuss what we don’t carry and why!
We still can’t believe how low our expenses were this month!
The sightseeing we did was free (thank you Washington D.C. for free admission to Arlington Cemetery, the Library of Congress, and all of the Smithsonian Museums!) and we found great deals on food, makeup, and toiletries. And the biggest savings of all was an entire month without lodging costs!