Hola mis amigos, I am back with another spending recap for my second month living in Mexico. As you know, month one was just a bit inflated since I had some immigration and vehicle import costs and a 6-month policy for Mexican car insurance. So, how did I fare in my second month (segundo mes)?
A little info on my second month in Mexico… after five great weeks in San Miguel de Allende, I left for Guanajuato City in the second week of February, about an hour and a half’s drive away. I spent a week there amid the colorful barrios and winding roads, and then took off for Guadalajara, a three and a half hour’s drive, where I spent just over a week — then three days in Ajijic, a day in Tequila, and a day in San Sebastian del Oeste. On the last day of February, I arrived in the Puerto Vallarta area, where I’ll probably stay for awhile, depending on how I like it!
You’ll also remember I carried over about $100 from January, which will be reflected in some of my descriptions but not my total.* (When you get cash in one month and spend it in another month… math gets complicated. Bear with me, friends!) Oddly enough, in February, I have almost the same amount in cash that I will carry over to March. Guess I gotta time my ATM visits better!!
So, the grand total for February 2022? $2,500.69! A little more than last month, but there’s a few reasons for that. Read on…
February 2022 spending… in detail (in USD)
|Auto & Transport||$530.27|
|Food & Dining||$437.77|
|Health & Fitness||$157.00|
|Bills & Utilities||$81.20|
|Gifts & Donations||$15.00|
|Fees & Charges||-$12.37|
Again, as expected, “Travel” — which includes hotels and general travel expenses — was my biggest expense for February, at $840.59.
In February, I spent 20 nights in hotels/Airbnbs and 8 nights with friends. Staying with friends definitely helped keep me within my $900 travel budget for the month. Thanks friends!
I also decided to cash in yet another Chase Sapphire travel reward — trading 9,200 points for $115 cash back — for one of my Airbnb rentals. The instant cashback credit meant that my 7-night, one bedroom with secured parking Airbnb in GTO was essentially $170 instead of $285. Woohoo! I love my Chase Sapphire credit card perks.
»If you want to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, use my referral link to make my day — I get bonus points!
I typically stay in a mix of Airbnbs and hotels, depending on what’s available and what’s dog-friendly. Read below for my experience at a pet-friendly boutique hotel in Ajijic, Jalisco — Estrellita’s Inn!
“Auto & Transport” was my second biggest expense in February, at $530.27. While last month I was paying Mexican car insurance, this month I paid my U.S. car insurance, which I am required to keep on my U.S.-plated car. HOWEVER… I brought down my comprehensive and collision coverage to as low as I could get it, meaning my 6-month renewal (paid in full) came to $378. Score! (I’ll probably move it back up when I re-enter the U.S. in July.) Because I was also on the road a bit in February, I spent about $60 on tolls — $23 of which were from my trip to Austin, Texas in December) and $80 on gas (from all my driving around Mexico) and about $20 on Uber (which I continue to find pretty cheap, but I only take it at night or when it’s too far to walk). Before I left SMA, I also opted for a top-to-bottom car wash and vacuum, which cost a mere $6* (Mexico is dusty!).
“Food & Dining” includes restaurants, groceries, and alcohol & bars, at $437.77. This is not unlike last month. It might sound like a lot, especially in a country where food costs about half as much as the U.S. and where you can get dinner at a taco stand for $2 — but I consider food and drink part of the experience. For reference, I will typically eat one meal a day out, and the other 1-2 meals will be leftovers or groceries.
“Uncategorized” is cash from the ATM that I haven’t spent yet or tagged with a category. This includes my rollover for next month. Besides, these are typically small purchases, like bottles of water (so many bottles of water!). If you navigate down to “Fees & Charges,” you’ll see a credit — these are refunded ATM fees from my Fidelity Cash Card. I never pay an ATM fee!
“Health & Fitness” is my international health insurance that covers me both in the U.S. and abroad, provided that I remain outside of the U.S. for at least 6 months out of the year. While I paid the policy in full, I “split” the transactions into 12 payments of $157 per month in my budget tracker Mint so it doesn’t hit me all at once. If you’re interested in trying Mint, it’s free; sign up with my referral code here.
Since you’ll remember “Bills & Utilities” include my AT&T cellular plan and mobile hotspot (which works in Mexico), and “Gifts & Donations” are just that — gifts and donations! — from my 2021 budget breakdown in the U.S. blog… let’s skip to “Personal Care.” In January, this category included hair coloring product ($47). See my experience with my Mexican, Spanish-speaking colorist here! It also includes a pedicure and a bikini wax.
“Entertainment” includes expenses like tours, park or museum entrance fees, and my music streaming membership. One tour that I took in early February was the archeological tour of the pre-Aztec pyramid site, Cañada de la Virgen. This was very cool, and $45usd since I provided my own transportation.* This also includes various dance classes and bar cover fees, and a tequila-making and tasting tour in Tequila ($15).
“Shopping” includes a new belly button ring (aka, “un arete para ombligo”), face wash from the Sephora in Guadalajara, and a new lightweight long-sleeve shirt from H&M (for those nights that turn chilly!). I’m not a big souvenir person, but I lost part of my belly button ring in Guanajuato, I ran out of face wash, and I got cold. I don’t shop often.
Well, there you have it! I spent $2,500.69 my second month in Mexico, semi-retired. That’s $2,000 less than my average monthly spending in the states (when I had a job!). At this rate, I’ll stay within my budget for the year ($30,000). And hopefully, March will be even better — I’ll have no car insurance to renew, and I will probably be driving less so fewer tolls and gas. Hooray!
I do have to say, in the first month of semi-retirement, transitioning from being an earner/saver to being a spender was tough. I felt a lot of anxiety and lack of control about spending. To alleviate these feelings, I keep to a budget and track expenses, and remember, “You can make more money, but you can’t make more time.” If I ever end up in dire straits, I’ll re-enter the workforce… but in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy mini-retirement to the absolute fullest!