The amount we spend is all relative, depending on the way you want to live your life

When I wrote my May budget post on the cost of living in Ecuador, I shared it on the Ecaudor expats Facebook page and the comments made me chuckle.

“I CAN’T believe you spend US$3,000 a month to live. That’s extortionate!” one person wrote.

drinks in Cali Colombia Double-Barrelled Travel

Enjoying an ‘extortionate’ cocktail

“The cost of living in Ecuador is much, much less than this… I don’t think you should take this post seriously,” said another.

I explained that perhaps Dave and I like more ‘expensive’ products from the supermarket like soya milk and almonds.

“Well it only costs me $300 a month to get by, but then again I milk my goat for milk and get my nuts from the tree in my garden (although they’re macadamias NOT almonds),” was someone’s response.

The great thing about the internet is that it can allow you to connect with all sorts. I thought it was amusing they were offended it costs me and Dave the ‘extortionate’ price of $3,000 a month when we think this is a great deal. I mean, in London we were paying that just on rent.

Banos Cuenca Ecuador Double-Barrelled Travel

In a day spa with my girlfriends in July – totally don’t regret spending that money… it was so much fun!

Costs are dependent on lifestyle

It goes without saying that you can spend as much as you like, dependent on your style of living and how much you earn.

There were a few times Dave and I would spend our entire London paychecks throughout the month and have nothing left to show of it four weeks later.

I’m sure even the richest of people often spend their money this way, thinking nothing of that private jet flight or elevator jacuzzi they have in the foyer of their home. (And yes, Steve Tyler does have a jacuzzi that goes up to his mansion’s top floor, so I do know they exist – I saw it on Cribs.)

The point is that everyone can live the life they like – relative to the amount they earn – spending it however they please. Why should we criticise the way others spend their money?

I’m open to taking budget tips from people, as this genuinely benefits my life. But to criticise someone’s spending? Should it really offend you if someone has a different monthly budget to you?

Anyway, the moderator of the Facebook group ended up taking the post down because the debate was getting too heated (and a little nasty) as people voiced their opinions on the ‘right’ way to spend your money.

Yet in my opinion there isn’t a ‘right’ way. There’s just your own way.

Cuenca view Double-Barrelled Travel

Happy faces in Cuenca

Spending in July

My haters on the Ecuador Expats page will be proud of me this month, as Dave and I only spent US$2,238.89 of our US$2,500 budget – yay, we were under budget!

Once again house sitting came helped us cut back on costs. Living without having to think about a rent or mortgage really gives us the freedom to spend on other things, like Spanish lessons.

We also seemed to eat out quite a bit in Cuenca in July because it was our last few weeks in the beautiful city and we wanted to visit all the restaurants we hadn’t yet had the chance to go to.

Looking back on our spending for the month of June, I’m quite surprised with both the transport and the alcohol. For starters – I thought we drank more! (And I guess I’m not counting the booze we bought when we went out for dinner, this was included in the ‘eating out’ section, so perhaps we did spend more on alcohol than what’s represented in the table below.)

I was surprised by the transport because the bus into town from our house sit was only .25 cents a pop and a cab fare around US$2.50 – US$3. So I guess these costs just added up more than we thought.

Dave working on his novel Double-Barrelled Travel

Dave worked hard on his book this month…

This month is getting expensive

We’re now in Colombia (and loving it! More posts to come on this gorgeous country soon) and it’s much more expensive than we anticipated.

Eating out costs similar to dining in the USA, which really wasn’t what we were expecting. Accommodation is more expensive too, although we did manage to find this amazing deal on which is allowing us to live in a very fancy apartment on the beach for just US$30 per person a night.

We might be in for a rude shock during the rundown at the end of the month for our costs, but it’ll be interesting to see what it amounts too. I’ve revised our budget up to US$3,000 for the month as that seemed more realistic.

Please don’t judge me.

view near Cuenca Double-Barrelled travel

Holly, the woman we house sat for in Cuenca, took us to this beautiful town outside of Cuenca

What do you spend each month

After my Facebook backlash recently, I’m really interested to find out how much you guys spend each month on living costs. Where do you live and how much does your lifestyle cost you?

I never really used to think about expenses all that much – I’d just spend our monthly pay check and live mostly day to day with a little bit of savings in my account.

But working for yourself changes that, and to put travelling into the equation results in us watching our finances much more closely. But thanks to our friends’ travel app Trail Wallet it’s actually a piece of cake to do this.

So go on, let us know – how much do you spend each month?

No judging, we promise!

US dollars
Public transport (buses and taxis) 106.67
Accommodation 0
Eating out 424.80
Groceries 541.66
Alcohol 68.30
Attractions 21.00
Tips 2.9
Laundry 0
Bank fees 20.92
Spanish lessons 480
Other* 603.09
Total 2269.34

Other* Amenities for the house (gas and water), toilettries, getting zip put on to a handbag and shoes re-soled, medicine, beauty treatments, a trip to the day spa, new clothes and shoes, contact lenses, birthday gifts.

Apologies this post is so late. I got very caught up in Colombian life and very behind in posting blogs.

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About the author

Carmen has been nomadic since May 2013 and the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. She is having the most fun when skiing down a mountain, scuba diving in the Caribbean or curled up with a good book.

4 comments on “The amount we spend is all relative, depending on the way you want to live your life”

  1. Andrea Anastasiou Reply

    We’ve just started out on our journey, so I don’t have any figures to share with you, but what I will say is that I couldn’t agree with you more – it is up to you and you alone how you spend your money and it’s no one else’s business! You guys work hard so if you choose to spend $3,000 a month and you can afford to do so then why not?!

    We’re still trying to figure out budgets and how to manage cash, and we’re learning – fast. On our first five days here in Saigon we were staying in a private room in a hostel for less than $30 a night. The place was lovely, though – clean, safe, modern, comfortable etc, so I really felt that it was a great deal for that kind of money.

    When we decided to move on, we thought we’d try our luck with Airbnb, as we really wanted a kitchen to be able to cook and save money. So we found a place that had great reviews and was again less than $30 a night.

    When we got there yesterday, the place was a nightmare – hairs on the so called clean bed and floor, a damp smell in the bedroom, damp up the walls, mosquitos buzzing around our heads…and the deal breaker – cockroaches as big as my fist running up the walls. We checked out and asked for a refund and are now thankfully staying with friends for a few days.

    My point is, I have zero intention to ‘slum’ it during this trip and I realise that more than ever – and why should I have to slum it? Just because some travellers manage to survive well on under $25 a day doesn’t mean that I want to. And just how I don’t criticise people for their choices, I don’t expect them to criticise me for mine (then again, who cares if they do – I’ll be in a nice bar enjoying one of those extortionate cocktails you mentioned 😉

    We’re both working while we travel, and yes we want to see as much as we possibly can, but there are certain things that I just cannot sacrifice, and a clean, cockroach-free bed is one of them.
    Andrea Anastasiou recently posted…The Long And Winding Road To Nowhere – The Start Of Our RTW TripMy Profile

    • Carmen Allan-Petale Reply

      I’m totally with you Andrea! I don’t mind if people milk goats and eat nuts off their own trees to survive – just don’t criticise the way I want to do it 🙂 That’s a shame about Airbnb! We’ve done Airbnb loads and (thankfully) not yet had a bad experience but we’ve heard of lots of other people who have. Did you get a refund after asking for one? I hope so! Lucky you had friends to help you out.
      Loving reading your blog, keep up the good work 🙂

      • Andrea Anastasiou Reply

        Exactly! Ah well, don’t let the haters get to you too much – they’re just jealous they cannot afford to do the same.

        Yeah, shame about Airbnb. On their site it says the money has been refunded but we have yet to receive it into our account, which is a bit worrying.

        Thank you so much for the support! We love your blog too and hope our paths cross some day so we can have one of those extortionate cocktails together 🙂
        Andrea Anastasiou recently posted…What’s In Our Backpacks? His and Hers Packing ListsMy Profile

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