Boy, does time fly. I’ve now been in Mexico for four months, and I have a number of new cities under my belt!
After leaving Puerto Vallarta in early April, I went to La Mazanilla, Melaque, Mazamitla, Morelia, and Patzcuaro. I spent the long Easter weekend in San Miguel de Allende, a night in Querétaro, and the rest of the month in Mexico City. I have now traveled over 4,200 kilometers in Mexico!
My grand total for April 2022? $2,253 USD… or $75.10 per day!
April 2022 spending… in detail (in USD)
|Food & Dining||$462.70|
|Health & Fitness||$157.00|
|Bills & Utilities||$81.13|
|Gifts & Donations||$75.00|
|Fees & Charges||-$13.46|
|Auto & Transport||-$25.15|
As usual, “Travel” — which includes hotels, vacation rentals, and other general travel expenses — was my biggest expense for April, at $706.71.
I spent 10 nights in hotels for ($370.64), five nights at a friends’ home in San Miguel (thanks Waylon and Renee!), one night at a friends’ home in Querétaro (thanks Alex!) and the remainder of the month of April in an Airbnb I share with two roommates in Mexico City ($454.26). Just a heads up — Mexico City is probably the most expensive place I’ve visited in Mexico so far as far as housing goes! I also redeemed 9,455 points on my Chase Sapphire card for cash back of $118.19. (I love this credit card!! If you sign up with my referral link, I get a bonus.)
“Food & Dining” was my second biggest expense this month and includes restaurants, groceries, and alcohol & bars, at $462.70. This ends up being about $25 a day.
As I mentioned, dining out in Mexico City tends to be a little more expensive than a lot of other cities I’ve been to. I try to keep my “nice” meals (entree, cocktail, and tip) $20 or less. I also eat a bit of street food and probably eat at home one or two meals a day. I think I’m eating pretty well! (I especially love when establishments invite me to eat and drink… Nómada Cocina de Interpretación in SMA was a treat!)
I see you, “Personal Care” — somebody splurged last month! I treated myself to an 80-minute deep tissue massage before I left Puerto Vallarta, which was $55 including tip. Another time, I got a pedicure and a bikini wax for a little over $30 together. In Mexico City, I was due for a full highlight, tone, and style, and found a salon that charged me $130. (I find this a bit better than most places in the U.S. for the same service — but salon services are not as “discounted” in Mexico compared to other spending categories.) And my final expense in this category? Sigh… my massage membership in the U.S. with Hand & Stone (that was frozen for 3 months but couldn’t be frozen any longer) charged me my month’s dues. I will be canceling it when I get back to the states — but first I need to use up my massage credits!
“Uncategorized” is cash from the ATM that I haven’t spent yet or tagged with a category. Besides, these are typically small or miscellaneous purchases that I just don’t have time to keep track of — a large chunk is probably food or drinks, bottles of water, and incidentals like bus fare and coffee.
“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.
“Education” is a new spending category this month. I’ve decided to enroll in intensive Spanish lessons! My class in Mexico City costs about $100 a week and goes for four weeks. Read more about that below!
“Bills & Utilities” includes my unlimited AT&T cellular plan and mobile hotspot (which works in Mexico).
“Gifts & Donations” are just that — because even though I’m traveling in Mexico, I still give money to charity and give gifts for loved ones’ special occasions.
“Shopping” includes a pair of foam Birkenstock knock-offs for $6.50, compressed air to clean my laptop for $10, and a new outfit from the mall in Mexico City (wide leg pants and a crop top) for about $55. Sometimes a girl just wants a new outfit, especially as I’ve been wearing my other ones to death!
“Taxes”… ugh. You know what April means! I nearly broke even on my 2021 tax return — I got a federal refund but had to pay state. These April charges were to e-file. BTW — what’s your favorite tax software?
“Business Services” includes the cost of my domain, the cost of hosting my website, and my email client. (Did you know, I don’t make money on my blog — I actually lose money? If you enjoy my content and want to support the lifestyle, please consider sending a Venmo donation to @juliebrose… anything helps!)
“Entertainment” includes expenses like tours, park or museum entrance fees, and my music streaming membership. In April, I went to the Vallarta Botanical Garden, which was $12.50 for myself and Penny, the island of Janitzio, Tzintuntzan, and Xochimilco — all fantastic experiences!
I spent $26.57 in the “Pets” category in April. This includes Penny’s edible flea & tick treatment (one month’s supply at Petco, $14 — also not super “discounted” compared to the U.S.) and trazodona (trazodone), anti-anxiety medication I got from the pharmacy (20 capsules for $13) to help calm her during the Easter celebration in SMA.
And to skip ahead to “Auto & Transport”… I’m negative by $25! This is because I asked to change my U.S. car insurance policy to “garage-ing” and was issued a refund of $228. I spent about $200 on tolls (there were a lot of tolls on the way to Mexico City!), gas, and ride share.
Well, there you have it! I spent $2,253 my fourth month in Mexico, semi-retired. This was a more expensive month — almost certainly because I was moving around so much, because I had education expenses, and because Mexico City is a little more costly. Hopefully I can stay in-check in May — only two months left on my tourist permit to explore this beautiful country. 💝
An important note
Money is such a taboo subject. But even though I get a little criticism here and there… I keep posting these ’cause people keep liking them and I think transparency is important.
BUT… I am not living a luxe life in Mexico compared to American standards, that is, not the way a typical American would vacation in Mexico. I am spending at the American poverty line. The difference is, of course… that I’m in Mexico. Having earned dollars and spending pesos works out in my favor. But I’m still budgeting — hard. I also have car-related spending (gas, import fees, insurance, tolls, etc.) because I drove to Mexico in order to bring my dog, which I would not trade.
I earned this money, doing good work for my employers, sacrificing my privacy home-sharing for 5 years, driving reliable cars until they were paid off instead of financing brand new ones, and cutting all extraneous spending and subscriptions. I did all that so I could be here now.
I DON’T EARN MONEY ANYMORE. I EARN MEMORIES. And I value my memories over my money… because, and I’ll say it yet another time… you can always make more money but you can’t make more time.
So maybe I spend more than one expects, or live larger than one expects, or am doing something that one wishes they could be doing, so they lash out. Well, there’s no magic formula besides: make more money, spend less money, or do a combination of both of them, for as long as it takes to reach your goal.
It’s not overnight. It’s not instant. It’s not easy. But people other than me have done it. And if you’re serious, I encourage you to look up “Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE)” and hear directly from more people whose situations you can relate to.