Way Over the Monthly Budget! – Actual Spend (Months 11,12 &13)

In this particular post you will see we were off the charts with the budget and then I will tell you why.  I will also somehow convince you that we were actually on budget in some weird twisted way.

Our Monthly Budget in Spain for a family of 4 is $100/day. (not this time)

Wagoners Abroad Venice Italy

We are now in our 14th month and it’s time to provide you an overview/summary of our cost of living in Spain and our actual spend from the last Quarter (July, Aug, Sept).  This post happens to cover months eleven, twelve and thirteen or Quarter 3 of 2013.  I can’t believe we are actually living in Spain for just $100 a day, for a family of 4!  Okay, maybe not for this particular quarter, but we usually do.  This includes our planned travel and our daily expenses.

Yes, I have done all of the math and have some crazy spreadsheets to keep track of everything for our needs in great detail.  Just a reminder, I am providing the general buckets and how we are tracking to goal.  Sometimes when we are over budget, it is just a bit and averages out because we were under in another area.

This post includes our Summer budget, which included a 6 week European Road Trip. How much did that cost us?  Well, we shared all of the numbers and you can go check it out as well …How Much Did Our 6 Week European Road Trip Cost?

Reminder here are our other budget posts:

Are you ready to see the actual spend?

It is Off The Charts!


or is it?


Cost of living in Spain – Summary of our Actual Spend for Quarter 3, 2013.

Montly budget vs Actual_Budget_2013_Q3

So how in the world can you be Over Budget and On Budget at the same time?

Let me see if I can explain.  We have our standard living budget that is $100 / day for the 4 of us.  We knew we wanted to splurge a little over the summer and take a road trip and you wouldn’t believe the math I did to justify this one.  So after much research I figured it would be twice our normal monthly budget to be “on the road” full-time and fast travel.  Meaning we weren’t going to likely be in any one place more than 5 days, so there goes any weekly or monthly rental discounts.  There were several ways I came to this number and perhaps I will do a post on the details one day.  For this post remember about 1/2 of this quarter, we planned on spending about $200 / day for the 4 of us.  The visual above is how we compared to our “normal budget”.

Here is a visual of what we planned to spend for the Summer and how we really did vs. what we planned.
Summer 2013 Budget

Okay, so now that you understand we were on budget according to our “Special Summer Budget”, but Over for our standard budget.  We can now move on to the analysis.

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

During this quarter the exchange rate wasn’t always good to us.  It did fluctuate a bit higher than what we are used to, thus more $ used.  It usually runs about $1.30 to the Euro and for more than half of the quarter it was closer to $1.35 to the Euro.


  • 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).  We did pay rent on our apartment, even though we were on our 6 week road trip.  We didn’t want to move only to return to Almuñécar and have to find a new place.  Also, we wanted to be able to return whenever we wanted to.  That may have been 2 weeks into the trip or 10 weeks, but we wanted the flexibility and felt the price of rent was worth the spend.

Side note:  We pay our monthly rent in Euros from our Spanish bank directly wired to the owner.  In order to get money into our Spanish bank we transfer just enough for the bills each month from the good old USA.  Not only did the exchange rates suck, but our bank adds some extra fees.  We do get the actual transfer fee of $35 waived, but they do nickel and dime you.  So if the daily rate on the market is $1.35 to the Euro, when we transfer the bank actually give us a rate of about $1.40.  That said, we only transfer what we need to cover the direct debit bills.  Other other purchases we use our credit card, which gives us exactly the daily rate.  No additional fees.  I am drafting a post on all of this and should have it ready in the next couple of weeks.


  • We do have this under control when we are home, but when we were on the road we had to eat out often.
  • We were full swing on our Summer 2013 Road Trip in July and 1 week into August as well.  Thus eating out more and a bit more expensive.  So we are over for the standard budget, but on track for the summer budget.  This is excluding September. We added and extra little road trip to the Lo Pagan Mud Baths and a little more eating out.  I guess you could say we missed the summer road trip style.
    Wagoners Abroad at Mar Menor - Lo Pagan Mud Bath


  • 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.


  • We have been either spot-on budget with our fuel and auto expenses, or a bit under each month.  Believe me we did plenty of driving the past few months.


  • Okay, this worked out well over the summer and there wasn’t much that was unexpected.  That said in August and September this grew up a bit.
  • We needed to purchase school supplies for the kids and some school clothes as they are growing like weeds.  I don’t know if there was something in the Road Trip water or what, but the kids both sprouted over the Summer.
  • We renewed our Travel Insurance for 6 months, and also decided to purchase regular medical insurance in Spain.  The travel insurance was about $800 and the Medical Insurance is going to cost us about $70 a month.
  • We also needed to renew our annual Car Insurance at $880 for the year.


  • We were a bit over in September as we decided to get dirty and take a last-minute trip to Lo Pagan and enjoy the Mud Baths.
  • We also purchased air fare for our trip to England, planned for late October.

In retrospect, I think we did GREAT!  I can’t believe we are living in Spain on this budget. Not to mention we were able to spend 6 weeks in Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France and Spain!  You can read all about our Summer 2013 Road trip and let us know if you have any questions.

I was pleased to get some very positive feedback from some of our readers via email on our budget/spend posts.  It seems they have been very helpful to a few families, so I will continue with sharing.

Feel free to ask questions and I can either reply via comments, update the post or email you privately about our budget for living abroad.  I just want to be sure this information is of use to you.

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

Thanks for reading!

10 thoughts on “Way Over the Monthly Budget! – Actual Spend (Months 11,12 &13)

  1. As always, loving the cost posts! I think you’ve done incredibly well with your budget while living in Spain and considering you took that long road-trip around Europe as well, you’ve managed to keep things extremely cheap (but still had a great time by the looks of things!).

  2. Fantastic info thanks for sharing! My wife and I are working a doing something very similar for 2 months. Do you mind if I ask what the average montly rate for an apartment is?

    • Fantastic. You may ask anything you like. If you are looking specifically in Almunecar for a 3 bed 2 bath, then I would say the average is probably 400-750 euros… depending on location and amenities. We pay 550Euros and are 1 block from beach and a great sea view. I think others in our area with bigger terraces and perhaps a dishwasher are closer to 650. Of course you can find things way over that budget too.

      I don’t know about the rest of Spain and of course closer to any city is more expensive. If you are inland a bit, it is the lower end of the price. I bet you could find the right price, it just depends if you like the location. Check out some of the rental sites and compare. Remember, what is pictured isn’t always what is looks like today. Some of those photos are 10+ years old.

      If looking long term, book something short term for a week or so and then look for long term when you arrive. I am in the process of writing this up and should have a post ready in a week or so. I hope that helps.

    • Hey Nelson, long time no see. I am so happy you check in on us. Yes, we decided from the get go that we would be open with this. There were some people open when we were in the planning stage and we said we would “pay it forward”. What harm can it do us, other than people judging…but think how much it can help someone too. That is what we are hoping to do, help others with planning and believing Knowing It Can Be Done


        We have received very positive feedback from readers stating it has helped them, so we will keep it going.

        Thanks for the comment and we hope you are well.

  3. Awesome! I’m definitely interested in the banking information, specially the transfers from US to overseas banks… you know, for science 😉

  4. Hey Juan, we have magic wands! In the US we use Bank of America. As customers of BofA with a “Managed Services” Account (investment account), you are allowed 2 transfers per month with the $35 transfer fee waived. I have a post coming up soon with more info about our banking and credit card choices.

  5. “We do get the actual transfer fee of $35 waived, but they do nickel and dime you”
    Interesting! How did you manage that? What bank do you use in the States for this? I’ve been looking closely at wire transfer rates lately, but so far my bank is not budging on the fees :'(

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