Our Budget and Actual Spend (January – March 2014) – 3 Months Living In Spain

Actual Spend Living in Spain 3 months (January - March 2014)It is time to talk money, money, money!  Oh how I love doing these.

Why do we share our budget and actual spend with you?  We hope it helps as a guide in case you are planning to live or vacation in Spain or visit any of the other destination we visit.  Again, everything is different for each family, based on your lifestyle and choices, so this is only a guide.  Plus, it seems that some of you like to read them too, so that is good.

I can’t believe we have been living in Spain for 19 months and are still pretty much on track with our budget.  In this post we will show you Quarter 1 (January – March 2014) Actual Spend. 

Okay so let dig into some dirt, right off the bat!  Flashback to 2014, but things haven’t changed much, other than the exchange rate.

Our budget is $100/day or approximately $3000 per month.  The main reason for stating it that way vs. $3000 a month is there are a few months that have 31 days, and honestly it is easier to digest that number.  I know that doesn’t seem like much, but I am just trying to be sure we give you an accurate representation of what we are budgeting / spending.

Most of the time we hit this or even come under and once in a while we topple right over it. Yes, this includes all of our travel around Europe and in this post, it includes our 8 day trip to Morocco as well!  Each day I wake up, enjoy our sunrise and am in awe that we get all of this for just about $3000 per month.  Check out how we did for the entire year of 2013!

There is no way in the world we could have this rich of a life back in (anywhere) USA for this price.  I can’t think of one state, city or small town where a family of 4 could live off of this budget and have the world travel that we have been able to experience.  Be on the look out for a post in the next few weeks on our comparison of our actual costs for a month in North Carolina vs. Spain.  It is shocking what we thought we needed to live a “rich” lifestyle back then.

Oh ya,  I was going to dig right into dirt and started rambling anyway.  Ooops, you should know me better than that by now.


Actual Spend Quarter 1 (Q1) January – March 2014
Living in Spain Months 17, 18 & 19

Living Abroad Actual Spend 2014 Q1 Jan - March

As you can see things are creeping up a bit.  Well, actually loads in January.  I will explain it all below.

General Comments:

Once again the exchange rate wasn’t our friend, so of course our standard monthly payment in Euros was a bit more expensive when we convert to USD.  I will also show you the exact dollar amounts for each category.  On the left is our Estimated Budget in Euros and then the conversion to USD.

That Estimation was the snapshot of what we estimated as of August 2012.  The exchange rate used for the conversion at that time was $1.30 to €1 and our bank transfer rate was $1.35 to €1, as we are trying to stick to the original budget in $.  Back then, for each $1000 wired over we would get about €759.

The only fluctuation with the exchange rate is shown in our actual spending, and we need to adjust our spend to meet that original USD budget.  Each month the rate at the time of our transfer is the rate we used to convert to USD.  For the first quarter of 2014 the exchange rate hovered around $1.38 to €1, and once we wire money over the bank send it at about $1.43 to €1.

Now, for each $1000 wire over we get about €699, so that is a change of about €60 or almost $100 a month we are just losing due to the exchange rate.  We aren’t spending that, but it appears that way in the numbers.  That said, we will be selling our car next month in Euros, so of course we want it to go belly up for the $ and then once we convert those €, back to $ we will be in good shape, providing we convert when the $ is better.  I know, I am boring the heck out of you now.


Below I will provide a bit of a summary for each broad category


Where did we travel during January, February and March 2014?

Okay let’s talk about the elephant in the room.  It is obvious that travel took us off the charts in January.  Believe it or not, this had nothing to do with any travel that took place that month.  We purchased 4 one-way tickets from Stockholm, Sweden to Bangkok, Thailand for travel in late July.  This was a $1400 purchase, so if we didn’t have that we would have been spot on with the budget.

We did manage to submerge ourselves in the culture and colors of Morocco and meander the Medina of Marrakesh.  We also enjoyed a bit of unexpected time in Essaouira along the coast of Morocco.  There were plenty of things to entertain the kids in Morocco and Lars tickled his taste buds with new foods.  We even had a blast cooking with Faim d’Epieces all day, while it rained out.  Our Accommodation was traditional and of course, I found some good deals.  So as you can see, we enjoyed spending our travel budget this month.

The Night Market in the Marrakech Medina
The Night Market in the Marrakech Medina

For February and March, we didn’t really take any trips.  We did however purchase more flights for the summer.  We bought our flights departing Spain and heading up to Amsterdam.  That was a sad purchase, not because of the price, but because we are leaving Spain!  We also purchased our one-way tickets from Amsterdam to Stockholm.  Thanks to our awesome alert we set up on Skyscanner, we scored these tickets for $54 each!  Yes that is $ and not €.  I am creating a video on how to use Skyscanner, so be on the lookout for that in the next few weeks, so you can score some flight deals too!


  • This was steady and only went up due to the exchange rate.  This covers our furnished rental and most of our utilities (Water, Electric, Garbage).  Our landlord has been wonderful and didn’t raise our rent when we renewed our lease.

Food, Household Supplies, Eating Out

  • The exchange rate has not been in our favor so everything is just a touch more expensive.
  • It’s looking like we pretty much pigged out in February and March.  Well, we did and we didn’t.  There were loads of visitors in town those 2 months and we of course socialized far more than we usually do.  And with that came extra meals, coffee, ice creams, snacks, drinks out, which always blow the budget.  Yes, our budget is that tight.  This is no bother to us, as we aren’t huge seafood or Spanish food eaters.  When we go out, it is usually for pizza, Chinese or Thai.  I guess that’s why we want to go to Asia.  I don’t want to say that is the only reason.  I am also getting burned out cooking 3 meals a day everyday, so I have thrown in the towel a few extra times to eat out as well.  We typically eat out maybe once or twice a month or save it for when we travel.


  • Our cell phones and internet are pretty consistent and we meet or slightly go under budget.  The real fluctuation comes into play with our Skype account and how often we call land lines or cell phones.  We try to call computer to computer, but that isn’t always easy on the people we are calling.


  • The auto budget was a bit high in January because we decided to rent a car in Morocco and we paid for a week of Airport parking in Seville, Spain.  I tell ya, even with gas prices high, it is cheaper to take a road trip.
  • In March, I lightly brushed the sidewall of the tire against the curb and it gently gouged a hole in the side wall of the tire.  There goes €160 for a new tire, that was unplanned!


  • This was pretty much a catch-all.  In March it was very high because we pitched in and contributed to Lars purchasing a new laptop (Mac).  He wanted an upgrade, has a passion for videography and had some money in savings, so why not?  He is very responsible and will put it to good use.  We also figure we will be homeschooling this next year, so it will be good for him to have a Mac.
  • Also in March we are now the proud owners of a child with orthodontics!  Yes, Lars is now sporting an upper and lower retainer, which did cost a pretty penny.  It was €500, after insurance, for the consultation, analysis, treatment plan and retainers.  We will visit once a month to have them adjusted and spend €40 per visit.  These will hit the Misc budget.  Once we are in Asia, we will find an Orthodontist to make the adjustments.
  • As of October 2013, we purchased Spanish medical insurance and it now comes out of our direct debit account monthly.  This will now appear in our monthly calculations under Misc.  Previously, we had Medical and Auto insurance separate from our monthly spend.  They were both Annual fees and they are optional for most people.  We didn’t feel it was an accurate representation of “daily living”.  That said, I have decided to add the Medical in on the monthly.  We are paying for basic preventative coverage for medical and dental and we are covered world-wide for emergencies at €43 ($58) a month for a family of four.  The full coverage inclusive of hospitalization and a larger network of medics was about €125 ($169) a month.  We felt the basic coverage is what we needed at this time.  It is all purchased online and can be changed at any time, so we will see what we do.  This already came in handy with our Orthodontics.

That’s it for the budget this quarter.  Stay tuned for more on our budget in a few months.  It will be interesting to see how we do once we are in Asia the second half of 2014.

Of course, keep the questions coming and we will do our best to answer them.  We love the feedback we have received thus far and are thrilled that this information is helping people make their plans.  Do keep in mind, we can’t speak for the masses, we can only share what we do with our lifestyle.  Of course, another family of 4 may make different choices and spend more or less than what we do.

If you are interested in a Career Break, just ask your questions or read our post.

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Reminder here are our other budget posts:

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