This year was an odd one. In general, I try to keep my monthly spending at an average of $1k. Up until September, I was right on track. Then I went to Africa. What was supposed to be a multi-month house sit turned into a multi-month road trip. I could have easily decided to just rent an apartment in one place for the time I was there and stay on budget, but I decided that I would take advantage of the opportunity and spend the money to really travel around the country. It definitely killed my budget, but it was a once in a lifetime kind of event so I decided to just go and enjoy myself and not stress about finances. I ended the year being about $5k over budget, but the experience was worth it and I’d do it again. It’s a good reminder to myself that I live on a budget because I can and I want to, not because I have to, so it’s ok to splurge and treat myself sometimes.

All that said, I’m 100% looking forward to getting back into my normal financial routine, even though I do have some big ticket expenses coming up.

Monthly Spending by Category

Most expensive month: November – $2582.84

Least expensive month: May – $277.77

Total Spending by Category

Transportation:  $4625.40 (avg $385.45)

Lodging: $5368.08 (avg $447.34)

Food & Entertainment: $5725.37 (avg $477.11)

Miscellaneous: $1587.77 (avg $132.31)

Destinations Visited

I visited 4 new countries this year: Romania, South Africa, Tanzania, and Rwanda. Technically I also visited Lesotho, which would make it 5, but I was only there for a few hours so I am not really counting it.

  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Valparaiso, IN, USA
  • Washington, DC, USA
  • London, UK
  • Sevenoaks, UK
  • Bakewell, UK
  • Cambridge, UK
  • Thame, UK
  • Milton Keynes, UK
  • Hamburg, Germany
  • Hannover, Germany
  • Dortmund, Germany
  • Timisoara, Romania
  • Sibiu, Romania
  • Helsingborg, Sweden
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Sandycove, Ireland
  • Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Bansko, Bulgaria
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Port Elizabeth, South Africa
  • Addo, South Africa (Addo Elephant Nature Park)
  • East London, South Africa
  • Mthatha, South Africa
  • Sani Valley, South Africa (Sani Pass/Lesotho)
  • Nottingham Road, South Africa
  • Clarens, South Africa
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Pretoria, South Africa
  • Graskop, South Africa
  • Kruger National Park, South Africa
  • Centurion, South Africa
  • Kimberley, South Africa
  • Graaf Reinet, South Africa
  • Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa
  • Stormsriver Village, South Africa
  • Tsitsikamma National Park, South Africa
  • Mossel Bay, South Africa
  • Hermanus, South Africa
  • Franschhoek, South Africa
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Beaufort West, South Africa
  • Bloemfontein, South Africa
  • Kempton Park, South Africa
  • Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
  • Tanga, Tanzania
  • Kigali, Rwanda

Housing Split

Last time I did my annual report people insisted that in order to spend under $12k/year I must basically be living on the street or in shitty hostels. So, I started tracking how much time I spend in various lodging types just as an additional point of data. One thing that has impacted my expenses this year is that I had about 80 days in paid lodging that should have been as a pet sit, so my numbers are a bit skewed.


In general, even though I went over my preferred average spend, I consider this year a financial success. I earned more this year than I have in any other year of working, I paid off $20k in debt, and I increased my total net worth by @ $48k. I consider that a successful year, no matter how much I spent. It’s a good reminder that financial success is less about how much you spend, and more about how much you save.