Budget Update

As we settle into the long haul, we’ve started taking the budget quite seriously, so it’s time for a progress update.
TLDR; budget was broken but we’re good at being frugal. 🙂
The goal is $50 per day per person, so $100 per day total.* We’ve been tracking our expenses on a really neat app totally geared towards budgeting in this way. It lets you record expenditures in any currency, and does the conversion and tracking for you.  This has been super handy, and dare I say fun, when it comes to actually precisely tracking every single thing that gets purchased. Jess is our accountant, and she’ll tell you more about this awesome app later.

The intro to the trip was adventure filled, but also hard on the bank, so we’ve been trying to understand what it will take to get the budget back on track. After Buenos Aires our average per day cost was $134.25, ouch!  It might not seem like much, but imagine you got a 34% raise, and how excited you’d be… well that’s how not excited our budget was.

New $ per day# of Days

So, with a totally unnecessary Google sheet, I calculated how many days it would take to get back to the target $100, given a lesser, restricted budget. As you can see on the right, aggressively going under budget helps just as much as going over hurts, but it was still going to take a few weeks to get back to the $100 baseline.

So as we track our expenses, we do some funny things like taking a bus trip expense and spreading it out over the multiple days that we are in any city. At the end of the day it all averages out the same, but it makes the game of tracking the daily budget all the more fun

The budget plan is basically free activities, night buses and cooking our own food. Free activities have been great, long walks through the city inherently cost nothing, are great exercise, and also let you see things you wouldn’t go to specifically, like random statues and awesome street art. In addition to walking, we’ve been taking the public transportation whenever possible. Learning each new city’s system has been a fun challenge.

Cooking as much as possible has led to some hilarious cooking techniques, like using one small pot for each component of a stir fry and then mixing them on the plate. We think we might soon be able to have a whole blog devoted to Airbnb cooking experiences! We are developing a taste for Yerba Mate, which is a great low cost coffee substitute in the mornings, not to mention that it’s a very local beverage.

I’m pleased to report that we’ve made great progress! All together our average is now $116.51 which we achieved after a week in Montevideo at an average cost of $64.87 per day and a few more frugal days in Termas del Dayman, Uruguay and Concordia, Argentina.

We’ve also game-ified Eric’s desire to purchase things. He needs to do Spanish lessons to earn $$$. It’s like a super low paying job, but he’s highly motivated by 75 ¢ rewards. We’ve been using the lid of the thermos for our mate but he’d like to purchase a proper guampa.

*Note, some exclusions to the $100 per day goal. On the prep side we bought new bicycles, got travel vaccines, had to pay for moving our stuff into storage. During the trip we are allowing ourselves to use credit card points whenever possible.  We know points are a little bit of a budget cheat, but Jess has been saving points/miles so our initial flights to Chile were free, and we even got a great travel credit card to get some bonus points to use on travel which will hopefully pay for our future flights. In the meantime, it allows us to avoid the international transaction fees, which is a big win.

5 Replies to “Budget Update”

  1. I love the budget update and game-ification. More updates as you progress, please.

    Also of note, how does the Wwoofing figure in to this?

  2. Thanks for the update. It’s very hard to stay on track when you travel. So many new things. You want a souvenir but since you are going to do it for a long time you can’t carry with you all this new stuff. Awesome discipline!!!

  3. Hey guys!
    Loving Encarnacion so far, hope Asuncion is still treating you well!
    I am LOVING reading through your blog so far!! Its so cool and informative, so thank you for sharing!

    Also question: what is the app you use for the budget tracking?? I’ve been keeping every receipt I can for EVERYTHING we purchase (food, drinks, transport, mementos, etc), and then entering the $$ into a spreadsheet I created before we started travel. Its does the job and is mostly accurate, but time-consuming… Would love to see if the app works better!

    Thanks again and safe travels!

    1. Hey! Great to hear from you and glad you’re enjoying the blog. We are using Trail Wallet, which I realized today when I was raving about it to someone else only works on iPhone, so hopefully you have one of those. It’s great though and super easy to use. I love having it in my pocket because I can record purchases immediately. There are other options available, but I tested a bunch and Trail Wallet is definitely the best one I found.

      Have fun in Encarnación and stay safe!

      1. Just reading this now! Ugh ha. But thank you for the info on the app, unfortunately nope, no IPhone ha. Figures 🙂
        I’ll keep looking for other options, otherwise the spreadsheet is working alright.
        Hope you guys are having a great time! And thanks for sharing so much info, we are definitely taking tips! On to Uruguay tomorrow 🙂

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