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"By necessity, budgets require hard choices." ~Sam Graves

Well, we have some excuse making to do this month but don't worry... We come prepared! A quick look at the numbers below will show that we spent more than double what we spent last month and are at about triple our overall budget... Are we doomed? Read on to find out!

July 2018 - By The Numbers

Total: $1,844.64

Avg. per Day: $61.49

Travel: $633.24

Groceries: $44.46

Restaurants: $439.61

Lodging: $285.21

Tours: $246.26

Bills: $140.55

Misc: $55.32

Quick Summary

From a pure numbers perspective, July was rough. We spent a little over triple our daily budget of $19.50. The major cause for this was that we had planned to be volunteering with a Workaway host doing rainforest conservation work and community development projects in the high Amazonas region of Peru from July 10 - August 5, however, this didn't work out as planned. The hosts were amazing people but some of the projects we thought we'd be working on fell through and we were going to mostly be working around their house. As this crystalized, we called an audible and moved from our free food and lodging situation to a hostel down the road.

This change had a fairly drastic cascading effect which can be reflected in how our numbers changed this month:


We had planned to be in Chachapoyas all of July and had purchased plane tickets to Bolivia for the beginning of August. After we moved out of the Workaway and into the hostel we decided to change the timeline and get to Bolivia and start Spanish school sooner. This involved buying some additional flights and bus tickets along with paying to change others. Of our $633.24 in travel, over $550 was flights and bus tickets. We also made the decision to take planes over buses which added to the cost. To cover the terrain we needed to, the conversion from "Bus Time" to "Plane Time" was about 60 minutes of flying equaling about 20 hours of bussing. It took us four 60 minute flights to get from Lima, Peru to Sucre, Bolivia (after the 26 hours bus ride from Chachapoyas to Lima). To us, it was worth the money to not be on buses for five days winding through the mountains


We saved on groceries this month... Our hostel didn't have a kitchen so take a guess where our grocery money went!


We had to eat, or at least I did, and if we weren't spending money on groceries then we had to go out to eat. Our restaurant budget in July spanned three countries, Ecuador, Peru, and our first week in Bolivia. It took us a day or two to figure out how to eat cheap in Peru but once we did we were able to keep the food bills down a bit. You can find places that serve a lunch combination (soup, main dish, dessert, and drink) for between $2-3 USD. For dinner we frequented the pollerias in which you can get half a rotisserie chicken and a mountain for fries for about $8 which we were able to split. Not the healthiest, but it was cost effective. We're still figuring things our in Sucre but it seems like a lot of the same type of options exist here as well.


Not much to say here. We had to get a hotel instead of free lodging at our Workaway. It cost us about $23/night for a nice clean room with periodic hot water at the Ñuñurco Hotel. As a bonus, we got to know the amazing owner, Mañuel, and he hooked us up with some top secret tours. We also had a few nights in Airbnb's on our travel days between locations.


A new category! We didn't do any tourist-y stuff in Ecuador and with our week of free time in Chachapoyas we decided to take advantage and explore the "Archeological Capital of Peru." We didn't regret it at all, in fact, we wish we had stayed a little longer and gone on a few more tours. For our $246 we got three full day tours (including breakfast and lunch) to multiple locations. This also included a private canyon repelling tour and private tour guide to Yumbilla falls which are the fifth tallest in the world. For what we got, it was incredibly affordable.


Nothing super exciting here. It's our Google FI phone bill, a year of our website domain, and two months of health insurance. Boring.


Also fairly boring... Kim got a new hat, I got a haircut, and we had to buy some supplies for Spanish school in Sucre. Again, boring.

Looking Forward

So now it would seem the budget is totally hosed up. Honestly, we aren't really sure. As of August 1st we are at about 2.3x our total budget for the first 58ish days. Not great, but we knew that our tight budget hinged on a few things going very smoothly and all of our Workaway plans coming to fruition without any issues. Instead of spending three weeks with free room and food, we spent a week doing amazing tours and had to change up some flights to move on and get to a place where we were happier and enjoying ourselves. Again, money well spent. Here's how things look to shape up the rest of the year...


We decided in Peru that since we were leaving early we would get to our Spanish school in Sucre, Bolivia early and do four weeks of school instead of the two we planned on doing (actually, when we left Michigan we planned on zero weeks, oops). The total cost for the school along with a nice little apartment, complete with dog, is about $1,400 for the month. Outside of that, we are spending about $20/day in food and entertainment. Around August 23rd we will be heading to Etta Projects in Santa Cruz, Bolivia to volunteer for the remainder of August, September, and October. Our costs there should be negligible, except for our Salteña addiction.

On November 1st, we will have been in South America for 150 days which means we will have budgeted ourselves to have spent $2,925 (150 days X $19.50). It is looking like we will arrive at November 1st about $1,700 over budget. Most of this is attributed to the $1,400 for Spanish school that we decided was a worthwhile investment.

November and Beyond:

We are in contact with a few different Workaway options that will take us into January. Two of them would be cost neutral and one would cover our lodging costs and provide us a kitchen for cooking. A rough estimation of costs to get us through New Year's would put us around $5,100 spent of our $4,100 budget up to that point. Not too bad for six months of amazing travel experiences and four weeks of intensive language school.

Overall, I am confident we could easily hit our budget if we were to tighten things up a bit and cut back on some of the small luxuries and splurges we have made. However, we have had some amazing experiences and seen some incredible things the last two months and we don't want to come home regretting having been such tightwads that we didn't see some of the natural wonders that are easily accessible and overall very affordable. The bottom line for now: We've got the budget in mind and we're going to work towards it, but it's not going to be a limiting factor in enjoying life.

Coming Soon

In the next few weeks we will be publishing a post that details the amazing tours, friends we made, and things we experienced in our two weeks in Chachapoyas, Peru. We're also going to publish that post about our packing list if Kim ever finishes it.

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