Balancing a baht budget.
Since I’ve arrived in Thailand I’ve been living off of money I’ve saved over the summer. I will not receive my first paycheck until November 30th and it will be significantly smaller than future checks. My school has already deducted two months rent, one for the month of November and one for a security deposit. All I want to do is shop, shop, shop, but I’ve been really good about reigning in my spending until I get that check. I wasn’t really paying attention when our coordinator told us how much we would be getting paid, but I think after rent and utilities it will be about $800 a month. If you’re shocked, don’t be. That’s damn good for Thailand and you’ll realize that by the end of this post.
I’ve been keeping track of every single thing I bought since I got here. You think I’m kidding? I literally have pages of items. Every time I make a purchase I pull out my cute little green notebook that Jessie Fox gave to me and I write it down. At the end of each page I tally up all my expenses in categories like food, transportation, clothing, hotels, random, etc. I used to not keep track of my money while traveling, but it gets really stressful when you don’t know how you spent hundreds of dollars. Now I have piece of mind that I spent it on things I really needed or wanted and there’s no mystery so there’s no feeling guilty. Well there’s still buyer’s remorse, but at least I know what I bought that I probably shouldn’t have and I can learn from it. Like yesterday when I dropped my smoothie after the first sip and I immediately went back and bought another. Or today when I couldn’t find my smoothie lady so I went to another stand and bought the worst smoothie ever (only in comparison to my regular one) and then I spotted my smoothie stand in an obscure location so I gave my smoothie away and bought one from my regular lady, that’s me being lavish. I now realize I just told two double smoothie incidents, but I buy other things I don’t need… like dessert twice a day, other than the smoothies. This is starting to make me look bad, on to the baht budgeting.
I’ve been here since October 19th so about a month and since then I’ve spent roughly $500. That’s more than I planned on spending in the first month, but after looking at everything I bought I feel pretty good about it and here’s why:
4,178 Baht or $140 was spent on meals. I ate roughly sixty meals and had twenty drinks whether they were smoothies, beer, coconut water or plain old H20 for only $140. An entire month’s worth of food for $140; I’m pretty pumped about that. I’m also splurging a lot on food. Since I don’t have a kitchen I have to eat out for every meal so I get whatever I want when I want, that means I eat a lot of ice cream.
1,363 Baht was spent on transportation. That’s roughly $45. I spend at least double that each month just on gas and even more on oil for my poor old car, parking tickets and tows, taxi and subway rides. That $45 dollars paid for at least a dozen song tow rides, some tuk tuks, taxis, bus rides and a few ferry rides.
1,100 Baht was spent on hotel rooms and bungalows. Only $36 for four nights, that’s about how much a campsite costs for one night in Chincoteague, Virginia, so no complaints here.
1,270 Baht was spent in markets on various types of merchandise. I bought ten shirts, two bags, one ring, watch and a lace dress for only $42. See that sweet strawberry shirt? Only six bucks and if I really tried I probably could have had it for less than five. Those bags were three bucks and again, once I get better at numbers I can bargain like a champ. I can’t wait to tally up all my items by the end of the trip. Maybe when I get back to the states I’ll be a personal shopper. I can only shop for myself in other countries because it doesn’t cost a fortune, it feels like every buy is a deal and that’s what I’m all about.
750 Baht or $25 was spent on fun stuff like snorkeling, massages, club cover charges and things of that sort. I file that away under entertainment expenses.
A big chunk of change was spent on things I didn’t really want to buy or don’t have to buy again, so that’s a relief. I spent over $200 on items for my apartment like bed sheets, hangers, a trashcan, a cell phone and all that kind of junk. I also had to buy a couple uniforms for school and pay for photos and blood tests for my work visa. All things I didn’t plan on buying, but at least I won’t have to buy them again.
Since I’ve been living off my savings, I haven’t set up a budget for myself, but once I get my first paycheck I have a general plan for how to spend and save my money. I would like to spend less than $4 a weekday, which is more than possible. That will leave me with $720 for weekend excursions, shopping and saving. Some weekends will be expensive because prices in tourist hotspots are inevitably more expensive, but weekends spent in national parks or on quiet beaches will be as cheap as life in Chonburi. If I stick to this plan I can continue my five-month shopping spree while still saving some money for my travels through South East Asia after the semester is over. I am itching for my first paycheck. I already have the money spent. I’ve seen so many cute vintage looking clothes in the market and I’ve been working on my shopping terms in Thai. Hopefully I’ll buy so many articles of clothing I won’t have to shop until the next time I’m back in Asia.