As you probably know I try to track every penny we spend in hopes that if we understand where our money is going we can better control its exodus. But this summer we decided to try an experiment: we decided to go dutch. This made the most sense since we were likely going to spend a significant time apart (Jeff spent more time in Oregon while I spent more time in Washington) and both of us have different spending habits and priorities.
We looked at our overall finances and determined that we could each attempt to get by on $500 per month. $500 a month for everything: groceries, dinner and drinks with friends, any personal (non boat-related) purchase, festivals, music shows, everything. Each of us could spend our $500 as we pleased – no questions asked. If we happened to buy groceries together, each one of us would pick up half of the tab. If we went out to dinner together, the same rule applied (unless one of us was feeling generous and decided to take the other person out on the town).
The experiment worked pretty well except for the fact that it’s really really hard to spend $500 or less during the summer in the Pacific Northwest when friends and social opportunities and good food and microbrews abound. We didn’t do too bad overall. Here’s the breakdown of the estimated fixed costs for the summer months followed by travel costs and the actual breakdown:
Estimated Monthly Costs
- $200 per month marina fee for Serenity at Marina Chiapas
- $100 per month cat sitting expense (we paid a local family to look after Tack)
- $36 per month for our DeLorme satellite tracker
- $200 per month rent contributions while back in the States
- $200 per month for gas (driving is EXPENSIVE!)
- $500 per month for Harmony’s personal budget
- $500 per month for Jeff’s personal budget
- $150 per month for boat-related shopping (THAT was an ambitions budget)
The total estimated monthly costs were roughly $1900.
Then on top of that we had our travel expenses. We flew out of San Salvador, which was a major pain. It involved two 12 hour bus rides and four nights in San Salvador book-ending our trip (two nights before and two nights after). The breakdown in travel costs are as follows:
- $500 for the plane tickets home – We were fortunate enough to have miles from our young single consultant days when we had no lives because we were traveling all the time. The $500 amount includes my purchase of 10,000 miles (about $360 which brought me up to the 60,000 miles required for the round trip flight) and the taxes and fees or whatever they want to call it, which were $65 per flight.
- $160 for the bus trip to and from San Salvador ($40 per person, per leg)
- $100 for four nights of lodging (~$15 per night for a seedy room in downtown and $35 per night for a mediocre room in the wealthy suburbs)
- $30 for transportation to and from the airport (on the way there we opted for the cheap public transportation route, total cost $5 and on the way home we splurged for a cab which was $25).
- $100 for immigration fees ($10 per person each time we entered El Salvador (4 times total) and about $28 per person for leaving Mexico (they charge you when you leave, not when you arrive…so basically, you should never leave).
- $400 for other expenses including transportation to and from our boat, transportation around San Salvador, meals, touristy activities, beer (we drink a lot of beer), etc. $100 of this includes the “pub crawl” we did in the Atlanta airport prior to spending the night there (thinking back on it we probably could have just spent that $100 on a hotel room, but where’s the fun in that?)
The total travel costs were roughly $1000.
So What Became of the Experiment?
For the whole summer, we were hoping to spend around $5200 (we had budgeted about $4800 and figured we needed, give or take, about $200 of wiggle room each month). We ended up spending closer to $5600. Should have seen that coming. I blame Amazon and Fisheries Supply.
Here are the final figures!
Driving a car is so expensive! I forgot how expensive it was. Also, Jeff and I had a hard time staying on budget.
Same deal as July! Gasoline es muy caro and we found lots of reasons to justify exceeding our monthly budgets.