“I can’t afford to travel.” It’s an excuse I hear a lot online, mostly from Americans.
But you can!! — I want to shake them and say. 👉👉👉 I mean… I can’t afford to live in the U.S.!!
It’s one of the reasons why I keep writing and publishing my detailed spending breakdowns on this blog, and why I wrote the eBook “Money and Mindset: How to Take a Sabbatical.” By being transparent with my spending choices, sharing my methods for cutting costs, and providing a detailed window into MY life, my readers can see what their spending choices could buy.
Because a life with more travel IS not only fulfilling, but ATTAINABLE (and I hope you can see from my photos that I’m definitely enjoying myself)!
So, where have I been the past three months (since my last spending report)? In late April, I started my drive from Mérida, Yucatán — stopping in Celestún, Campeche, Sabancuy, Tabasco, Veracruz, and Tlaxcala — arriving in Mexico City in the middle of May. And I’ve been in CDMX ever since (except for a weekend visit to Tequisquiapan), settling into routines, cementing friendships, and enjoying my favorite city in the world.
Drumroll please… I spent $7,663 in 90 days, or about $85 per day. ($10 a day over last year, but $5 less per day than my first 90 days in Mexico.) Here’s what I spent it on.
Nomad life spending, days 91-180 in Mexico… in detail (in USD)
Transactions reflected below were posted during a 90-day period, between April 23, 2023 to July 22, 2023
In my second three months (this year) in Mexico, I spent $2.8K on travel. Most of that was sleeping accommodations (hotels and long-term rentals), while $100 was for my Global Entry renewal. I also redeemed $300 in credit card points from my Chase Sapphire travel credit card, which brings my monthly average for lodging to $910.
This is literally what I mean by practicing geo-arbitrage in my eBook — living somewhere where your dollars go farther and your purchasing power is higher. (Can you rent a place in the USA for less than $1,000 a month these days?!) Read about how I secure long-term accommodations on the nomad life.
Speaking of the Chase Sapphire, if you have a U.S. address and you’re looking for a new credit card, I love it. If you’re someone who uses their credit card for most purchases and spends at least $2K per month, the points add up fast.
»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!
Food & Dining: $1,825
Food & Dining is typically my next biggest expense, and includes restaurants, groceries, coffee shops, food delivery, and alcohol & bars, at $608 a month. This is about $20 a day, which has been about 30% than last year.
I’m spending more than last year on food and dining out for a couple reasons:
- The peso has strengthened against the dollar, so the purchasing power of our dollar has weakened by 15-20%
- Cost of living in Mexico City. Things just cost more now in Mexico, whether because of inflation or demand (staples like coffee and pastries which were in the 40-50 peso range last year are now in the 50-70 peso range this year)
- I’ve been a little more bougie this year 😉
Some of my methods for eating affordably on my travels:
- Street food! Mexico is famous for this (and really good at it, frankly), and I also shop at farmers markets or food stalls for in-season, hand-harvested, and homemade
- I order lunch specials or the menu del dia (sometimes I eat a bigger meal at lunch, so I can eat a smaller meal during dinner)
- I order the bigger portion and take leftovers
- Go meatless (or cheese-less!) — in some countries, meals with meat are going to cost more, in other countries, meals with cheese are going to cost more (a taco with cheese is far cheaper than one without)
- I sometimes only eat two “meals” per day… for example, a late breakfast and an early dinner
- I eat 1-2 meals at “home” per day, especially if I have a kitchen or stovetop where I’m staying
Auto & Transport: $578
This category includes auto insurance, tolls, gas, taxis, ride share, and parking, and this is the category that I cut the MOST from this quarter — mostly because I already paid my Mexican car insurance policy for the year. I also did not do as much driving since I’ve been home-basing in CDMX since the middle of May. I spent:
- $244 on Gas & Fuel (for my American readers, regular gas in Mexico currently averages about $5 a gallon)
- $136 on Ride Share and Taxis (I take a lot of Ubers in Mexico City because they’re so affordable, safe, and easy!)
- $123 on Tolls (it costs a pretty pretty to drive across the country)
- $72 on Parking (in one of my long-term rentals, parking was not included and I had to pay to park)
- $2 on Public Transportation (the CDMX underground metro is 30 cents a ride)
Miscellaneous Expenses: $504
Sadly, I had an experience with corrupt policía in Progreso. I wrote about the situation on social media — read about it below.
Personal Care: $333
It’s my choice to color my hair, wax my skin, and get massages. Luckily, it’s largely more affordable in Mexico! I spent $176 on hair, $76 on waxes, $59 on a massage, and $22 on a pedicure.
The Entertainment category includes expenses like excursions and tours (like this churro-making class and a Lucha Libre show!), entrance fees and tickets (like the wine festival in Tequisquiapan, a dance party, and a concert), the movie theater (yes, you can watch English language movies in Mexico, with Spanish subtitles!), and my Sirius XM music streaming membership.
Business Services: $302
Business Services includes the cost of my domain, website hosting, business tools like email and Zoom, and some advertising. It costs me more to run my blog than I make on it, but maybe one day…!
My dog Penny gets her teeth cleaned under anesthesia every year, and I do it in Mexico because it’s much more affordable than out-of-pocket vet care in the U.S. For $188, Penny received blood work, teeth cleaning, and a couple medications. I also spent $75 on pet food and supplies.
I’m a reformed shopaholic, so if this isn’t progress, I don’t know what is! (but believe me, I DO feel it because some of my clothes are getting ratty): I spent $49 on clothing, $76 on cosmetics, and $6 on a book in three months.
Health & Fitness, Bills & Utilities, Gifts & Donations, Fees & Charges, Education, and Uncategorized (EVERYTHING ELSE): $604
This category includes my spending on nomad health insurance, an exercise class pack at OrangeTheory for my time in Mexico City, renter’s insurance (for my belongings back in the U.S.) and my Mexican SIM card, charity donations, the $95 yearly membership fee for my Chase Sapphire (pays for itself!), and Spanish language tutoring.
In summary, my nomad life spending during 6 months in Mexico?
To put it all together, I’ve spent $15,806, $2.6K a month, or $88 a day the past six months in Mexico — and that IS over my budget of $2,250 a month. So what am I going to do about it?
I’m increasing my budget… to $2,500 a month. Because this:
A budget is meant to be realistic, to help you make choices within the parameters and priorities you set for yourself. It is not a tool to restrict you, but to help you succeed in your #financialgoals.Tweet
Surprised? (Did you think I was going to say I’m going to go get a full-time job?!)
I could work more. I could work differently. I could sell my soul to an employer who owns my M-F. But I want to do what brings me purpose, aligns with my passion, and alights my curiosity. I’m doubling down, and I know my efforts will pay off… I have a lot of exciting irons in the fire 😉
Finally, a request: My blog is reader-supported. If you’ve been enjoying the content or find it useful, please consider sending a donation or birthday coffee my way (the big day is July 24!!!!) on Venmo, PayPal, or, you can even pick up my eBook. It’s a small thing, but the validation and support means a LOT to me. 😘❤️