I just published my August expenses and I realized that this was my 12th month of posting my expenses so I figured I’d do a summary post to see where the money has gone. This information is from September 1, 2015 to August 31, 2016.

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Most expensive month:  September, 2015 – $1845.27

Least expensive month:  June, 2016 – $222.52

Breakdown by Category

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Transportation:  $2459.70 (avg $204.98)

Lodging: $3093.63 (avg $257.80)

Food & Entertainment: $4254.93 (avg $354.58)

Miscellaneous: $1814.98 (avg $151.25)

Destinations Visited

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In the last 12 months I visited 41 cities (several of them multiple times) and 19 countries.

The most amount of time was spent in England (4 months) and the least amount in Denmark (1 day)

How I Keep My Expenses Low

People frequently ask me how I keep my expenses so low.  The biggest ways are:

  1. House Sitting.  I am an avid house sitter.  In these 12 months, I spent at least 6.5 months staying for free in other people’s houses.  This saves me a TON of money.  If I estimate my monthly lodging expenses as $500 a month without house sitting, this alone saved me $3500 over the course of a year.
  2. Cooking for myself.  I enjoy cooking and, in general, I try to follow a strict eating plan (as a result I’ve lost about 40 lbs in the last 12 months) so as much as possible I cook at home.  The exception to this is when I was in Asia and when I’m moving frequently and I just don’t have regular access to a kitchen.  Cooking at home saves heaps of money even given that my diet is meat heavy and therefore relatively expensive.  Cooking at home as probably saved at least a few thousand over the last 12 month, especially when I was in expensive places like England and the Netherlands.
  3. Rarely drinking.  While I can be a drinker (mmm…wine), drinking a lot generally doesn’t fit with my health or budgetary goals so I limit it – a lot.  And when I do drink, you can see the impact on my budget.

WHY do I Keep My Expenses Low

Simple – I’m a cheap ass.  I don’t see a reason to spend $3k when $1k will do me just fine.  I like a simple life. I have simple pleasures.  I don’t deprive myself.  I get to do and see the things I want to do and see.  But my day to day life is simple and I like it that way.  I do occasionally splurge but those splurges are generally on experiences, not renting a flashy pad.

12 Responses

  1. Hi, Mandy: I am in the process of creating a travel website/blog, and I was wondering if you’d be willing to write a story about your financially-savvy adventures or maybe answer some questions so I could write a story about you. I can pay you $40 for your trouble. I have been to 131 countries, and I don’t travel quite as much these days, because I don’t find it to be that much of a challenge. However, I am interested in how people like you travel on the cheap. My website will be thetraveltribune.com, and I will be launching it in the next few months. Thanks and good luck.

      1. I hope you do. If you are concerned about my credibility, I can send you my resume or give you some references. I think many people could learn a lot about money and travel with what you are doing.

  2. Really inspiring. We too travel nomadically but bring our home (a boat) with us. We have a lot more expenses because of that. You do a great job tracking obviously. Any tips for dealing with cash and keeping track of everything? We find that we carry so much more cash than before because most places only accept cash (we are in Tonga now). It’s hard to keep track of where it all goes.

    1. My plan is to eventually get a boat and live aboard. 🙂 Honestly, with cash months 90% of it goes into “misc”. There are apps where you can track it or just use a google sheet, but I’m too lazy for that. So if I know a big chunk went to X I’ll log it separately, but otherwise, it goes to misc. I hate using cash for this reason!

  3. Hi Mandy! I read about you in a magazine article! 44 years ago I backpacked through Europe, cutting my trip short after 2 months for a family crisis. I always planned to return but I am here to tell you that Time Slips Away. I took my adult son back to Europe for 3 weeks a couple of months ago. I had promised him this trip his whole life. He’s now in grad school for theater management and I am hopeful he may settle in London (the second largest theatre audience in the world), which by far, along with Prague, and closely followed by Rome, were our favorite places. Evidently we have similar tastes lol. The experience got me thinking that when I retire in the not-too-distant future I am putting everything in storage , selling my home, and heading back to Europe. My only impediment, barring unforeseen problems, is my lovely cat, Gloria Hisstefan. I asked her if she thought she could learn Czech since I am half Czech and that is my first Port of Call, and she said meow. I thought she was doing very well, actually further along than I am. Any advice for taking my favorite feline with me from you or any of your followers? Can I pay for an extra seat and take her with me on a flight? I wouldn’t want her in transport. Thanks, I’ll keep checking your site as your senior fan, although I will tell you I don’t feel a lot different than I did at 22 and the thought of traveling unencumbered after being in a town for 30 years that I’m not thrilled with is utterly freeing.

    1. Hi Lisa! Thanks for commenting. There are people who travel with pets, though generally dogs. Cats are a bit harder as they can be really territorial. I personally don’t travel with a pet so I have limited info. I think though that you can get a ‘pet passport’ that you can use to provide proof of all the shots, etc. I would look into that so your Gloria doesn’t have to spend time in kitty jail. Moving with her frequently will be stressful for her and really limit your options on where you can stay. Perhaps it might be a good idea to establish a base somewhere cheap in Europe and then travel from there and airbnb or get a pet sitter while you’re out exploring. That way Gloria doesn’t have to go with you. Albania gives a year visa on arrival to people from the US and is both lovely and cheap. It’s also starting to get budget carriers so it would be relatively easy to get to/from other places in Europe. I’m considering making it my European base going forward. I would also start getting Gloria used to moving around. Perhaps get her used to a leash and bring her with you when you’re running errands. Then she can get adjusted to new places.

      You’ll have to see which airlines allow it, but several allow you to bring small pets as hand luggage and you’d put her under the seat in front of you.

      As for your stuff, I highly recommend doing a big purge and getting rid of as much as you can. It’s very freeing. My mom is in the process of preparing her house to sell, at which time she’ll buy a small condo and spend part of the year there and part of the year in her camper. She’s also bringing her cats along for the ride, but the camper makes it easier.

      Good luck!

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