We traveled to new foreign cities and beaches, met some wonderful people, learned new things about different cultures during the first half of 2017. These experiences are priceless, yet they had a price tag.
Our slow travel budget in early retirement this year is $24,000; $12,000 the first half of 2017; $2,000 a month. Did we make it?
We had a few unforeseen health expenses, but overall, we are pleased.
Airbnb housing & hotels:
Travel (air, bus, taxi, boat):
*Some of the travel money was related to health issues, such trips to see a doctor. So, technically, our spending here would have been lower, had it not been for those health-related trips.
Charity & Gifts:
Supplies (clothes, outlet converters, etc.):
So far that adds up to $11,278.
The last $2,055 went out for taxes, insurance, water and sewer bills at our rental property in Cleveland; occasional splurges on things such as a massage or short-term gym membership.
That brings our total spending for the first half of 2017 to: $13,333.
It’s worth noting our rental property in Cleveland is a big cash outflow. We have to pay taxes, insurance, the water and sewer bills on that investment as we live abroad. The good news is that we net $700 a month in rental income.
Our $2,000 monthly budget includes that rental income, and the other $1,300 comes from our savings.
We’ve been a little anxious about our spending this year because last year we blew our budget by spending $31,202. Granted, we did return to the U.S. for several months, including a trip back for me, for a family emergency.
This year, we got more serious about recording every dollar we spend in the app “Spending Tracker” instead of our old way, which was to hand-write it in a notebook.
I like this app because it’s easy to sort data and I can export monthly reports for our records via drop box or email. By doing this, it’s not a surprise where the money goes and we have a pretty good handle on where we stand at any given moment each month.
Some early retirement bloggers state their net worth. We aren’t comfortable with sharing that right now. But as you can see from our monthly and yearly budgets, you don’t have to be loaded with a gazillion dollars to live this way.
We choose experiences over material goods. We want to travel the world at a comfortable, slow pace while we are still young and healthy enough to enjoy it.
A few words about health care – because this is one of the greatest fears people have about early retirement and world travel. Our costs were extremely reasonable for things like routine dental cleanings (Huatulco for spouse and Puerto Escondido for me), skin cancer screenings (Puerto Escondido for us both), new eyeglasses and prescription sunglasses for me in Puerto Vallarta. These were all top quality care at ridiculously low prices compared to the U.S.
We also pay monthly for health insurance, but that only covers high-deductible care inside the U.S., so it’s really only for super huge emergencies. And we almost had two of those.
One of the largest expenses in health category for us so far this year was for my surgical breast biopsy in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. Compared to health care in the U.S., actually this was not large expense at all — it totaled just $628! The cluster of microcalcifications turned out to be benign. I wrote extensively about that experience, found here.
My spouse Tedly also needed a costly doctor trip at one point earlier this year. Thankfully, each of these health hiccups are behind us. We are both extremely healthy and fit, and ready to continue on with an active early retirement lifestyle. Tedly likes to say we are technically still working in early retirement – working to stay healthy and fit. That is so true.
We can reimburse a couple of those big health expenses, like my biopsy procedure and Tedly’s doctor’s visit, from a health savings account that we don’t even figure into our net worth. Therefore, even though we are $1,300 over budget, we are so close to being on target once we reimburse ourselves from the health savings account that we are pleased with how this year is going to far. In fact, it will be almost even.
We feel good about making the yearly budget. We are staying in cheaper locations for the second half of 2017. We had higher rents the first half in Puerto Vallarta and Antigua, Guatemala, for example. In future months of this year, we won’t pay as much for our Airbnb rentals. (Read why we mostly use Airbnb here.)
A budget travel lifestyle in early retirement is more than possible – it’s achievable, with careful planning and an acceptable level of calculated risk. If we can do it, you can do it. The question is: how badly do you want a life of freedom – free to go wherever you want to go, and free to do whatever you want to do?