Our single largest line item bill (excluding tuition) on any given year is travel. This does include travel for work, but that is reimbursed. But, we do fully take advantage of the opportunities given to us by living in SE Asia and we travel. We have lived in Taiwan and Singapore and in the 9 years that we have lived in Asia, we have traveled to Singapore, Guam, China, HK, Macau, Japan, Thailand, Bali, Malaysia, the US and Mexico with the kids. Jeff and I have also traveled to a few other places including Cambodia and a few other spot around Taiwan and Malaysia.
This seems like a lot of travel. It is and no it is not cheap. So for someone who claims to be "live simply" how do I afford this rock and roll lifestyle? Well, this is it, we choose to spend our money on the experience of life. We live very frugally during the year, we are very good about at sourcing good deals on the internet (we just booked a trip this December to KKB in Malaysia where we will stay in the Hyatt for a 100 a night). We also don't buy things here in Singapore. For example. We don't own a car. We have one TV in the house, the first new TV that Jeff or I have ever owned. Our furniture was included when we rented our old place in Singapore and the landlord gave it to us when we moved. You would laugh if you saw the condition of the couch under the slip cover! With the exception of the Ikea bookshelves, tables and TV table, everything else was bought second hand.
We don't dine out much, not really anymore. We would love to, but we love to cook and entertain, we have a helper that loves to cook, it is just as easy to cook at home. We shop at NTCU for groceries, at least the bulk of them. Where others will spend hundreds per week on food, we spend 150 at NTCU for most of our food, plus a 2 time a month trip to Tanglin shopping center for wine and meat and those other foods we can't get locally. Those trips run about 250 each time. So, there you have it, our total food budget for the month (excluding dining out for lunch for Jeff) is less than 1200 Singapore dollars a month for a family of 3 adults and 2 kids.
I don't shop for clothes. My total clothing expenditure for the last 3 years has probably been around 1000 US. That includes shoes. This seems like a lot of money to me, but I have gone down around two sizes and I needed new clothes. The clothes that I have now are getting too big, but I will take them to be altered rather than buy new. I don't buy makeup, shoes or designer bags. The last makeup I bought was at Body Shop, a tube of foundation, I think it was 20 bucks. I don't buy perfume. I bought my first bottle of perfume in 10 years about 3 months ago in Duty Free. I don't buy fancy Jewelery. Give me a 20 dollar ring or some 15 dollar funky earrings and I am good to go.
Our kids don't have tons of toys, but frankly they have too many. We need to whittle these down and donate them to Charity. I do shop for books but I try to go to a used bookstore, Salvation Army or the Singapore American School Booksale when possible. My biggest weekness is scrapbook magazines and supplies, but I have a room full of stuff now, more than I could use in a life time, so I am seriously curbing my expenses there.
Our power bill is low, lower than many others because there is really no need to turn on the Air Conditioning most of the time. It is there when we need it, it is on at night, but most days we get by with fans.
We live frugally where we can so we can give our children this huge opportunity of traveling around the world with us. It is an education, a life altering experince and will make them better people. Rock and Roll lifestyle... well if the ripped up couch is indication of that, so be it!
As mentioned before I started a blog about our travels. You can check it out here.
Globetrotting with Kids