The beautiful Esplanade Lagoon in Cairns, Australia
When I scheduled my trip to Australia, No Spending January wasn't even a tiny thought. By the time I left New York in late January I'd done well not buying any extras. My one major exception was a guide book for Australia. I realized that no spending wasn't an option while I was away, but decided in the spirit of the month and my financial health I would plan out my spending for the trip.
I started by making a budget for the time I would be away. The major cost for my time in Australia was food that wasn't included in the tour. All of our breakfasts were included and a few lunches and dinners. I did, however, have five days on my own when I needed to budget for meals. I estimated sixty dollars a day for food, including coffee -- a real item in my budget -- and snacks. Even though Australia was more expensive than I expected and more expensive than New York, this was a realistic number. My traveling buddy, K, was in line with my thrifty thinking and we splurged for dinner once. We found fun alternatives to big dinners, including picnics on two nights in Cairns. We shopped at the grocery -- great deli counter -- and ate outside at the Esplanade Lagoon. The weather was lovely and we loved being outside in a beautiful park.
My second budget item was transportation. I needed to get to Newark Airport and then to my hotel in Melbourne, and would need to get from hotel in Sydney and then home from Newark Airport. I also added in taxis in both Sydney and Melbourne -- as I was switching hotels. I didn't figure my one trip on the suburban rail commuter line in Melbourne, but that was still inside the budget I estimated.
My last category was souvenirs. I try to be organized about things I buy. As a good friend once said, "When you're traveling you get the fever (to buy), and I definitely didn't want the fever. I made a short list of a few things I wanted to get for myself -- t-shirt, snow globe, hand cream -- and a few gifts I wanted for others, as well. I also planned to buy a new tote bag if I could find it in duty-free and it was less expensive than in New York. The exceptions I bought for myself were a pillbox and my stuffed penguin, Ophelia. I bought Ophelia early in the trip and I know K was concerned I'd be buying koalas and kangaroos all over Australia. I also bought a new baby gift, a first birthday gift, a new house gift, two get well gifts and several house presents while I was away. I enjoy picking up gifts while I travel. The shopping is a lot more fun than Amazon or New York stores and I found some very unique things.
Now I'm home and finishing No Spending January in February. Food is not part of No Spending, but I find I'm spending more than usual since I'm home. I used up just about everything in the refrigerator and made a big dent in the freezer supplies, too. I don't include going out in my No Spending, but I am this month. Morning movies will be okay and very low cost theater tickets, too, but I'm holding off on any major ticket purchases.
I've stopped myself from buying any number of things that I think I "need." I've got lots to read, a gym membership, a museum membership and wonderful friends to spend time with. I've really put my focus on things I enjoy doing that don't cost (additional) money. It's gone so well that I'm thinking of No Spending March.
I hope I haven't been too long-winded, but I also hope that this is useful for anyone else doing a No Spending month or thinking about doing a No Spending Month. Is anyone thinking of jumping in for No Spending March?
As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.