We have a set budget of $800 per month no matter where we are located. This is a pretty low budget for most but it works for us. I find that sticking to our budget is no different than setting a budget and sticking to it when you live a conventional life. Our budget is all about choices.
Everything we do is a choice. Every choice we make, affects our budget and how we live. For example I could choose to spent $500 on a beautiful Airbnb home that I found online. It wouldn’t leave us much for anything else but it COULD be done. It would be a choice for me to make.
Since we are on an ultra low budget, I normally don’t even look on Airbnb.com for places to rent. They are most often out of our budget. I do find cheap local hotels for a few nights and book a few nights there. ONce we are there we set out to find a house to rent locally. We walk around the neighbours and take photos of the For Rent Signs so we have the phone numbers later. We then ask a local to call the numbers for us and ask how much the rent is for them. They usually get a cheaper rate than if I called and asked. The owners would assume that I am a tourist and give me the tourist rate which is much higher than the local rate. In bigger cities, it doesnt hurt to ask for a discount in exchange for some kind of work. I’ve offered to cut the lawn in an entire complex for a reduction in rent.
You can also try to find your own workaway opportunities wherever you are. BY keeping my eyes open and wandering around the area and talking to people, I’ve been able to find local workaway like opportunities for our family. Getting discounted rent in a basement suite for helping a disabled man (washing dishes, laundry, light housekeeping, mowing the yard etc).
We almost always cook our own meals. We usually buy our food at the local market. We bring our own snacks and lunch when we go out for the day. We also bring water bottles for drinks while we are out. We try to eat like locals as much as possible. The more import foods you buy the more expensive your bill will be. Usually there is some local alternative that is similar to what you’re used to. Try it and you might just like it.
Depending on where we are, we often will just go to the Internet cafe for a few hours to get work done online, rather than getting internet in the house. Especially if we have to get a new hook up and the company wants deposits and possibly a contract.
I have a cheap flip phone that is unlocked that I bought from Walmart. No one wants to steal this phone! No worry of anyone trying to steal it. I get a local SIM card and put it in to the phone and then buy minutes as I need them. I use this phone to make local calls. It’s also good because if we are out and don’t speak the language, I can ask someone to call a business for me and not have to worry about them running off with my phone. I do have an iPhone that I keep in the bottom of my bag. I mostly use it in the house and to take the odd photo in a pinch.
We travel with 2 iPad minis. One is my 6 year old son’s for school. He has educational apps on his iPad that he likes to play. He also can watch Treehouse kids shows and Netflix if we have wifi that is strong enough. I have an iPad with lots of memory that I use for everything. I also have a small Bluetooth keyboard that I use for typing. I use the iPad for everything from blogging and vlogging to reading ebooks and watching movies. I can make and open word documents and all other office documents as I have those apps on my iPad. I like that it takes up so much less space.
We try to keep our baggage to carry on only. This helps cut costs when flying on discount airlines. A lot of airlines now are charging extra baggage or are heading in that direction.
We try to find as many cheap and low cost things to do as possible. The beach, nature walks, walking through local neighbourhoods etc. When there are attractions that are more expensive, try to find out if its cheaper to go on your own rather than with a tour. Also consider calling and asking if they offer discounts. Look online for coupons and other discounts as well. It can’t hurt to ask for a discount, the worst they can say is NO!
My best advice is set a budget that you can realistically manage and stick to it. It’s no different that if you were in a conventional house. If we lived in a house and I only made $1,500 a month for example, would would have to make that budget work for us. We’d have to make choices to ensure that we could afford to live where were living within our budget. It’s no different for full time travel.
Since our budget is ultra low, I like to use http://www.numbeo.com to check cost of living in the places we want to go and compare them to our home city or other places where I know the cost of living. This allows me to anticipate if our ultra low budget will be easily achievable in the place we are going to or if I will need to find some free places to stay like workaway or house sitting to save some money while we are there.