Here’s the untold truth about what I think about money diaries: I don’t really care about money anymore.
It may sound like arrogance and privilege (which it is) but in reality - if you’ve been following along with The Origami Life blog over the past 2.5 years, you’ll understand that it comes from a place of hard work.
We’re following a broader (financial and personal) life plan.
Source: Our “Financial Priorities: The Origami Master Plan & Blueprint” from September 2017.
The rules/constraints/guidelines we gave ourselves led us to this moment financially. We’re in a privileged position and we no longer have to think about money during our travels and we’re really grateful.
Here’s a quick summary of our budgetary steps if you’re unfamiliar:
Since We Left America:
Our Rent Was Less Than $550 In Southeast Asia
We are officially on our third month of travels (in our round the world trip) and it’s gone by too quickly.
What’s the most interesting (financial) thing that has happened since we left America?
Our rent decreased from $1,400+ down to less than $600 in Southeast Asia. While we were living in Los Angeles, we spent more than $1,400 every single month on rent - and that didn’t even include bills.
Our monthly expenses decreased from an average of $2,800 down to $2,200 simply by moving and traveling abroad.
Just as a frame of reference…
We rented one of the private rooms in this giant penthouse apartment in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia…and it only cost us $18 a day.
Note: This was NOT our cheapest accommodation.
To put it simply, we just have more buying power as Americans abroad and the cost of living is much “more affordable” because of that buying power.
My only job while we travel now is to keep our daily budget to under $35 a day (after rent). And if I’ve stuck to that rule then everything else has already been calculated, planned, and accounted for. We can use the time we used to think about money to think about more important things like client work or pursuing the next creative project we’re interested in.
The point is, we’re now in a position to think for ourselves and to enjoy the day-to-day without the usual stresses of living in a metropolitan American city.
A Closer Look At Our October 2018 Money Diary & Expenses
For those who are interested, here’s a high level breakdown of our expenses over the past month. I can’t say that Ivan is super jazzed about the fact that we spent a total of $2,219.00 for the month of October. He was hoping that we’d be able to keep our expenses below $2,000. From my perspective, it definitely looks like progress as we spent about $2,900 in September. But you know what they say, you lose some and you win some, right?
Rent and Bills $779.00 USD
(35% of our monthly expenses)
We oscillated between Malaysia, Singapore, bus stops, and airports during the month of October. Fortunately, we had a really generous friend in Singapore who let us stay at his place for one week, rent-free while he was away on sabbatical. (Woot, woot to “Joe”!)
So, the bulk of our “rent” was spent on our Malaysian leg, which only cost $546 for three weeks. We didn’t stay in hostels or dorms either. These were nice, tastefully curated Airbnbs with all the modern amenities.
Eating Out & Entertainment $532.50
(24% of our monthly expenses)
Once we got to Singapore and Malaysia - we stopped cooking. It was simply more cost effective to eat out than to buy and cook our own food.
Here’s the breakdown of a typical meal for two people:
Singaporean meal (e.g. fried noodles and hainanese chicken rice): $4 to $5 USD
Malaysian meal (e.g. two plates of nasi lemak and two coffees): $2 to $4 USD
(1% of our monthly expenses)
As I mentioned, we didn’t need to cook at all in Malaysia or Singapore. When we were too exhausted to go out we did grab the occasional fresh fruit and vegetables though.
Flights & Transportation $478.50
(22% of our monthly expenses)
Most of our flights to date have been purchased via our airline points. So the bulk of this category were taxes and local transport (e.g. buses, trains, ride-shares, subways etc.)
(10% of our monthly expenses)
Ivan and I mentioned in our last post that we’re going to invest more in friendships / relationships moving forward. That said, this past month, we spent time with two close friends that we’ve known for at least 10 years AND we met four new people through mutual friends.
(9% of our monthly expenses)
This part of our budget was primarily spent out getting essentials at the drug store / pharmacy (e.g. shampoo, cold medicine, etc) and coffee.
I also purchased a basic (nice quality) t-shirt from a boutique shop in Penang, Malaysia for $17 USD. And I love it.