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Research Exchange Expenses Log

Research Exchange Expenses Log

. 5 min read

Budgeting is important for people in a tough financial position but developing the habits that prevent one from getting in that position in the first place is much easier in the long run; inspired by and motivated by financial independence, I feel like I've developed those habits. For my own sake, and for anyone reading this, I'll try to keep a monthly log of my approximate expenses as a world wandering, vegan student.


March 2018 - 239.98

Starting from March 15th.

A cheap bike is almost always worth it if you are staying somewhere for a while, as long as there aren't any repairs needed. Hopefully it will keep it's value when I sell it in two months time. It's important to note that I don't pay for rent in Carbondale; since I'm here as a volunteer/exchange researcher, SIU are paying. The same goes for my flight, UoN covered the travel fees (~£480 one way). I've worked a deal with my landlord back home to pay a reduced rent, costing £540 (when factoring for returning my deposit) for the rest of the contract (July).

If I wasn't in a new place and meeting so many people, I wouldn't be eating out or drinking so often; including the most expensive pizza I've ever eaten (despite suppling the vegan cheese myself) at least Quatros agreed to the custom build! It's insane thinking I spent less on groceries than restaurants, no wonder people can't retire early! There's also a great salad bar on campus that I'm seriously tempted to eat at everyday... must resist!

Food - 111.17

51.35 Groceries
69.82 Eating Out

Transport - 107.81

76.81 Pawn Shop Bike
31 Bike Lock

Other - 47

30 Bars
17 Scratch Brewery

April 2018 - 334.42

Well scratch out what I said about bikes, mine already got stolen. I guess I won't be making money back from it now.

Despite last month's tracking starting on the 15th, the amount of food spent this entire month is around the same. This, again, reminds me of how expensive eating out is.

With that in mind, two abnormally large expenses this month were paying to attend a conference related to my masters thesis and cashing in on liferegenerator's birthday sale of raw vegan recipes and tips. Both represent a change in attitude with money; I've been focusing on reducing costs for so long that I'm worried about/regretting applying that to my health and education. Of course it helps that the conference is on Orlando!

Food - 110.97

Eating out 20
Groceries 90.97

Other - 223.45

97 ENC Registration
12.50 Toiletries
4.95 Sunglasses
15 Charity
17 Paint Party!

Caribbean - Tsamaya

Most of the costs of May and some of June can be absorbed into the payment made for sailing in the Caribbean! I'll include it all under May for simplicity.

Unfortunately, I had become reliant on my bank to help me track my expenses. This worked when I could pay for everything by card, but as I started paying using cash I masssively lost track of where my money was going. Thus for the next few months I can only give rough summaries. Hopefully this is still useful for those planning on travelling in the area and figuring out how much money one may need.

All numbers are in GBP.

May 2018 - 1396.38

  • Tsamaya 1173.76
    Includes: food, accomodation, and travel.
  • Card Payments 57.18
  • Flight to Jamaica 165.44

Central America

June 2018 - 307.73

Includes three weeks of volunteering at Hostel Fe in San Pedro La Laguna, Guetemala. Drinks and a meal (while on shift) included, along with bed and breakfast.

Volunteering also opened up the chance to get discounts and free night's all over Guatemala.

July 2018 - 388.95

Around a week was spent busing between Guatemala, El Savador (twice), Nicuragua (perfectly safe), and visiting a friend in Hondoras.

Includes two weeks as a workawayer in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. You can see the premium of travelling in Costa Rica here.

Working opened the oppurtunity for a 50%+ discount at the hosts airbnb.

On a personal (but related) note I'm frutrated with myself that I let the frugal mentality stop me from enjoying the fresh tropical foods while I could. Having said that the mindset did take me on adventures looking for alternatives (harvesting)...

August 2018 - 1562.73

Excuse the formatting, I'll probably change back to a monthly post because when travelling it gets hard to track currencies and what was spent where. Seeing this months number made me cringe a lot, that's months plural of expenses compared to when I was studying abroad. What happened?!

Okay this month took on a few necessary costs like my flight back to the USA, replacing my broken phone, outstanding bills in the UK, and repairing my health after some bad tap water in the tropics (I should really know better). And, considering this blog is titled all-you-need, there were a few big unnecessary costs like getting a laptop, and paying for the vast majority of my meals to be made for me for a month!

I know, I know, hear me out though. The laptop I have has high resale value and was purchased second hand. Now get this, the public place I had suggested to make the trade? Unbeknownst to me made raw vegan meal plans AND at a reasonable price. I'm in a new city for a few months, wanting to make sure I start taking care of myself instead of eating rice 24/7. I couldn't say no. Part of this change in mentality comes under the health section which includes a membership to a climbing gym.

Costa Rica - 327.36

Cash (food, accomodation, transport) - 278.80
Eating Out - 48.56

USA (from August 15th) - 1235.37

Accomodation - FREE

I'll eventualy write a post about the unique opportunity I found: housitting and managing an AirBnB.

Food - 375.39

Groceries - 25.44
Raw Vegan Meal Plan - 336.68
I'll be writing about this in an upcoming post
Eating out - 13.27

Transport - 261.01

Train - 16.41
Flight - 234.45 SJO > ORD
Lyft - 10.33
Part of the benefits of workaway, my host has given me a prepaid public transport card.

Extra - 598.97

Video Games - 15.99
Second Hand ThinkPad W520 - 271.03
New Phone + 30 Day plan - 32.07
Health - 128.88
Thrift Store - 56.19
Audible - 9.23
UK Bills - 85.58

September 2018 - 452.79

A good month in terms of expenses, as predicted most of the previous months costs came from "setting up". Its usefully tracking these kinds of things. The month to month costs don't matter compared to the average. Unfortunetly some of the "setup" costs I'm referring to may have been wasted. Due to health reasons, September was my last month of gap 'year'ing.

Food - 189.97

Groceries - 189.97

I'm happy that this expense is so low. Though I should consider my circumstance as a volunteer, plus, there is some overlap with the meal plan I started last month. I saved some money trying out a service named Imperfect Produce in which a box of selected produce is delivered straight to your door. As the name implies this produce has not made it through the selection process for a standard sale, however it is still perfectly edible - cheaper, healther food AND its reducing waste!? I would have liked to stay longer to see whether using Imperfect Produce would have been sustainable (in my lifestyle). I think combined with a few bulk staples one could easily maintain an easy, cheap, whole-foods diet using this service.

Extras - 262.82

Flight - 185.82
Climbing Gym - 65.56
Audible - 11.44